NEW YORK – The only things standing in the way of a major college football playoff are 12 university presidents.
They figure to be more of a speed bump than a road block.
The BCS commissioners will present their four-team playoff proposal to the presidential oversight committee Tuesday in Washington.
The committee is headed by Virginia Tech’s Charles W. Steger and includes one university leader from each of the 11 major football conferences, as well as independent Notre Dame.
Whether approval will come quickly or the presidents will take some time to mull over the proposal, maybe toss it back for tweaks, is unknown. The commissioners have been careful not to get too far out in front of the presidents when publicly talking about a playoff.
But it is safe to say the men who have spent hours upon hours hashing this out over the last six months believe their bosses will approve of their work.
“I’m confident as we brief (the presidents) over the next week or so, give them an understanding of the evolution of the ideas what’s been put off to the side, why it’s been put off to the side, how we were able to manage the things that seemed to be irreconcilable for a long time that they will give our advice appropriate weight,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said after last week’s meetings in Chicago.
“Could there be a present with a bow on it and everything wrapped up (Tuesday)?” Delany said. “It could happen, if you’re real optimistic. But I would think we’ll probably need to spend some more time together, and probably resolve some outstanding issues.”
The Big Ten presidents and their cohorts in the Pac-12 haven’t been as quick to embrace the idea of a playoff. A model called the plus-one, which is basically the BCS but with participants for the No. 1 vs. No. 2 championship game determined after the bowls are played instead of before, was deemed preferable to a playoff by those leagues.
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman, who is a member of the oversight committee, has said he still prefers the status quo to a playoff and that he will need convincing to sign off on the commissioners’ plan.
But he also usually qualifies his comments on changes to the college football postseason the way he did to The Washington Post last week: “Clearly, that all the commissioners reached a consensus of some sort is a big step,” he told the newspaper. “I think the presidents would be reluctant to overrule the people that actually work in the area unless there was good reason to do so.”
The plan to be presented would go into effect during the 2014 season. Under the proposal, national semifinals would be played on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. The sites for those games will rotate among the four current BCS games Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta and possibly another bowl or two.
The national championship game would be played about 10 days later at another neutral site. The title game site would be bid on the way the NFL handles where the Super Bowl is played. Any city that can pay the multimillion-dollar tab and accommodate a huge event could potentially host college football’s championship game, including those that don’t currently host bowl games.
The plan also calls for college football’s final four to be determined by a selection committee, though who will be on that committee and how big it will be is to be determined.
The commissioners are also working on parameters and guidelines to give the proposed selection committee that they hope will eliminate some of the subjectivity that hampers the current system.
The commissioners want strength of schedule emphasized and to give conference champions some preference. They are also working on power rankings, similar to the RPI used by the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee.
The commissioners will have about four hours Tuesday to make their case. While they would like to have this wrapped up sooner rather than later, there is really no hard deadline.
The new format needs to be finalized by the time television contract negotiations begin in the fall. The current deal ends after the 2013 season.
Current TV partner ESPN will have an exclusive first crack at making a deal, but there is no drop-dead date for that window to open.
So even though there is no finish line, the end of this playoff process seems to be approaching.