DALLAS – There are still a myriad of things to determine how the Bowl Championship Series’ postseason format ultimately will look like in 2014, but one topic seems apparent: college football’s playoff will not be larger than four teams.
“I would say obviously eight or 16 team (playoff formats) are not on the radar screen,” said a person attending the four-hour plus BCS meetings Tuesday at the Dallas-Fort Worth Grand Hyatt Hotel.
On Tuesday, the 11 conference commissioners, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, two BCS officials and a BCS attorney met to discuss what form college football’s postseason will look like beginning in 2014.
While sources at the meeting said a four-team plus-one format looks likely when the new BCS format starts in two years, BCS executive director Bill Hancock stressed the meetings were “very broad and analytical” and that no decisions were reached.
The group will meet Wednesday then again in Dallas next month and in Fort Lauderdale in April. However, Hancock says he would be surprised if a decision is reached before summer.
“I don’t think this will be an overnight decision,” Hancock said.
Added SEC commissioner Mike Slive: “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Maybe so, but when they’re done running there likely will be a four-team playoff.
Now comes the intriguing part: how will the plus-one model look like?
Will it be a seeded model (one vs. four, two vs. three); where will the semifinals be played; and how - or will - the bowl games be utilized? Will the bowl games host the semifinals and final or will the plus-one semifinals and final be awarded to the highest bidder – i.e. the Cotton Bowl or another current non-BCS bowl?
Even with a four-team format some of problems are "insurmountable" according to source in attendance Tuesday. Hancock and others spoke of not wanting to hold BCS games during the December exam period, usually between Dec. 1-21. While FCS (Division I-AA), Division II and III stage playoffs in December, FBS (Division I-A) would be doing it for the first time. The scrutiny would be enhanced on presidents at the highest level of college athletics if football cut into that exam time.
Besides wanting to avoid BCS games during the exam schedule, they also want to avoid playing BCS games around Christmas. Another challenge, Hancock said, is scheduling games around the NFL.
Presidents also want the season to end before the second week of January and closer to Jan. 1. Ohio State has flown back from a BCS championship game site immediately after the game at least once because school had started back home.
Last season's BCS title game between Alabama and LSU was played on Jan. 9 and resulted in the lowest TV ratings in BCS title game history.
Based on those preferred timelines (no exams, no Christmas and no NFL conflicts), the most likely time for a plus-one would be holding the semifinals a few days after Christmas and the final about a week later.Any changes to the BCS format, which expires after the 2013 regular season, must be approved by the NCAA’s Presidential Oversight Committee, which must decide whether to approve the recommendation of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision commissioners and Swarbrick.