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Report: conferences narrow postseason preferences to four

BCS Meetings Football AP

With the clock ticking toward a resolution to major college football’s postseason future, it appears the men who will make recommendations to their collective bosses have whittled their original to-do list down from what was originally 50-60 possibilities to a manageable handful.

Included in that list?  A format that could include three semifinal games.  And, yes, you read that correctly.

According to Steve Weinberg of USA Today, and based on an outline obtained by the paper, BcS officials and conference commissioners have turned their focus to four options for college football’s postseason beginning in 2014, the season after the current BcS cycles ends.  The two-page summary obtained by the paper, prepared ahead of the next set of scheduled meetings on the issue later this month, states that while no options have been eliminated from consideration, there are four that are currently classified as the preference of the collective.

Below are the four preferences as outlined by the paper, with how each would’ve played out in 2011 as well as the individual format’s viability:

1. Status quo, using the system that’s been in place for a decade to determine a national champion.

Last year: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama, of course.

Viability: The fact it’s even one of the preferences is eyebrow raising to say the least, especially given the comments of late by many in positions of power that they sense a movement to shift away from the BcS and into some type of playoff.  While an unchanged postseason remains a far-fetched proposition, no one should ever put it past the “leaders” in the sport to conclude that all is well with the current system.  Especially when those very same leaders are considering…

2. A four-team playoff consisting of the four highest-ranked teams that would include two semifinal games… unless one or both of the champions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 are among the four highest-ranked teams, at which point the Rose Bowl would become a third semifinal game.  The next highest-ranked team(s) would replace the Big Ten/Pac-12 champs in one of the two true semifinal games, with the title game finalists being determined after those three “semifinals” have been played.  How it would be determined which two of the three winners would play in the title game is unclear.

Last year: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford, No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State.  There would’ve been no third semifinal game as the Cardinal was not the Pac-12 champion; that honor went to Oregon, which won the inaugural conference championship game but was ranked No. 5 in the final regular season BcS rankings.  Whether the format would’ve impacted how the voters ranked Stanford/Oregon at the end of the regular/championship-game season is a matter that’s certainly up for debate.

Viability: ROTFLMAO!!!  LULZ!!!  Or whatever mocking ‘Net shorthand you want to attach to the mere idea that this was something proposed, let alone apparently being seriously considered.  Suffice to say, this proposal has Jim Delany‘s haughty ego written all over it, with a sprinkling of his Pac-12 counterpart, Larry Scott, thrown in for good measure.  In no way, shape or form is a format that includes three semifinal games an acceptable change.  Then again, the Big Ten has 12 members, so that conference has not been historically shy about flouting mathematics.  Based on this proposal, and the fact that the status quo is reportedly a serious consideration, it’s hard to believe the game’s leaders will do anything but — some how, some way — screw-up the future of college football’s postseason.  Short of reverting back to the old bowl system, I didn’t think that was even a remote possibility.

3. A true plus-one format, with the two participants in a title game squaring off after their bowl games have been completed.

Last year: It’s impossible — with any degree of accuracy, anyway — to determine how this format would’ve played out.  It’s fair to say that, if LSU and Alabama had both won their respective BcS bowls, they would’ve met for the crystal under this format.

Viability: This format has long enjoyed significant support among some of those with influence on the game’s future.  It’s far from optimal, but would have to be considered progress when compared to the status quo.  Or a three-semifinal format.

4. A seeded, four-team playoff.

Last year: Assuming the seeding is determined by the highest rankings, and not limited to conference champions-only as some want, the participants would look exactly the same as Option No. 2.

Viability: Common sense would suggest that, short of an eight-team playoff, this would be far and away the best option for getting beyond the current system.  Then again, with two of the options listed above reportedly in play, common sense may not have a seat at the table that will determine the future of the postseason.

As far as the latter proposal is concerned, there are still myriad details to refine if it’s in fact the format that is ultimately agreed upon.  USA Today details some of those too-be-determined issues:

• Fold entirely into existing bowls.

• Stage the semifinals and title game at neutral sites selected through a bidding process. A bowl or bowls could buy in, hosting the games atop their own annual events.

• Place semifinals in bowls, bidding out the championship site.

• Or play semifinals at campus sites, again bidding out the title game.

Also still to be worked out is the team-selection process. Will the BCS let its mathematical rankings — melding polls and computer ratings — determine who makes a four-team playoff cut? Will it change that formula? Could it go to a selection committee instead?

If I were the commissioner of college football, and an eight-team — or six- or 16-team or any other number plucked out of the air– playoff were not part of the equation?  A seeded four-team playoff involving the three highest-ranked conference winners plus the highest-ranked team that did not win its conference — unless the four highest-ranked teams are all conference winners, of course — with the latter team being the lowest seed regardless of its ranking to the other three teams.  Play the semifinal game in the home stadiums of the two top-seeded teams, with the title game bid out to cities on an annual basis.  Such a format would add some needed value to winning your conference and, with just four teams taking out of the selection pool, the bowls — Rose and otherwise — would survive just fine if such a limited playoff were implemented.

Getting back to the idea of an eight-team — or even larger — playoff format, and because I know it will be mentioned in the comments section below this post, anything above a four-team playoff, while it’s not necessarily been issued a death certificate, is on life support and family and friends have been called home to say their final goodbyes.

“The underlying theme of all this,” BcS executive director Bill Hancock (pictured) said, referring to little support for a format that would involve more than four teams, “is to protect the regular season. That keeps coming up and keeps coming up and keeps coming up. We have the best regular season in sports, and we don’t want to mess with it.”

Some would say that argument went out the window with this past season’s title game matchup, but that’s another story for another day.

A final decision from school presidents and conference commissioners on exactly how the postseason will look in 2014 and beyond is expected at some point before the end of summer this year.

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26 Responses to “Report: conferences narrow postseason preferences to four”
  1. fcmlefty1 says: Apr 4, 2012 2:42 PM

    I think you need to re-write your paragraph that lays out your plan. Surely you don’t mean that the 4th spot is strictly for a non-conference winner. I’m assuming you mean the #4 team could be a 4th champion, a non champion, Notre Dame, BYU or Army, whomever is rated the highest after the first three conference champions have been placed in the bracket.

    The fly in the ointment for seeding is going to be Notre Dame. They aren’t going on the road if they are #1 or #2 when the bracket is set – so that’ll have to be the exception to the “wild card” always being locked into the #4 spot.

    For the record, I hate Notre Dame. But we all know that they are not created equal…

  2. John Taylor says: Apr 4, 2012 2:53 PM

    Yeah, that didn’t come out exactly as it was intended. Added a clarification. Gracias.

  3. wvuandsteelers says: Apr 4, 2012 2:56 PM

    My idea is to go back to 11 regular season games, dump league championship games and then have a 32 team playoff. Each “bowl” could host a playoff game. You could rotate who gets what level of game every year if you want. It would take 5 weeks. So, if you started Thanksgiving weekend, you could finish up around New Years. Then, maybe we could get back to some sort of normal conferences (give conference champions an automatic bid with the rest of the teams slotted based on something like the BCS rankings are done now).

  4. fcmlefty1 says: Apr 4, 2012 3:11 PM

    I’ve taken a few moments now to really digest this, and I’ve come to this conclusion: The “Rose Bowl plan” and the “true plus one” are the same thing essentially. The only difference is spreading your teams up for consideration over three bowls instead of 4. Personally, If they are going down that road, I want the true plus one. If I’m going to watch the traditional Rose Bowl, I also want the tradition of the SEC champ in the sugar, etc. Right or wrong, if tradition is going to be a factor, don’t half-ass it.

  5. udub says: Apr 4, 2012 3:34 PM

    These options are lame. One is the same and the other three are too small. You think the BCS is controversial? Just wait until we have to bicker over 4 teams in a playoff.

    This is not like being the 69th team left out of March Madness.

    Imagine the controversy when a football superpower like Alabama finishes 5th one year and is left out, and on the flip side imagine the same controversy when a Boise State team of the future wins the lowly rebuilt Big East goes 14-0 and finishes outside of this 4 team mini playoff.

    It needs to be 8, 12 or 16 teams or even more.

  6. tigersgeaux says: Apr 4, 2012 3:44 PM

    Is this the best systems the choices available to them can be narrowed? Seems strange that the similarity between two plans, leaves just one plan there, and the other choices are limited and lame.

    Have to agree with fcmlefty1. The hypocrisy of keeping the Rose Bowl, but not the Sugar, favoring one bowl and two conferences above the powerhouse of the SEC is quite strange and must be coming from Delaney and Scott as JT states.

    If they cannot come up with better choices than these, what a mess they are heading into. Certainly we want a change, but why not truly make it better than just resort to making it different? Wake up NCAA!

  7. whoisedgy says: Apr 4, 2012 4:05 PM

    Having been thoroughly oversaturated by the NCAA basketball tournament, I would be happy to see a true plus-one. Play the bowls and let a committee choose the finalists.

  8. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 4, 2012 5:17 PM

    Best solution to the BCS… Either keep it the same or have a seven team play off..
    #1 -#7 … No questions asked … No bitching and crying about too many teams in the same conference … Who’s ever #1- #7 is in the playoff:
    First week: #1 Lsu off
    #2 Bama vs. #7 (let’s say Wisconsin) plays in The Cotton Bowl
    #4 Stanford vs #5 Arkansas (calm down folks just an example) plays in the Orange Bowl
    …. Winners of those two game plays each other, loses are eliminated
    Next bracket, still in the first week.. Evening game because the others was an afternoon game..
    #3 Oklahoma State vs. #6 Oregon plays at the Fiesta Bowl… And the winner of this game takes on the idle #1 LSU

    Second week:
    #2 Bama vs. #4 Stanford (I almost put Arkansas but I thought that might be too much and some of you might blow a gasket). Plays in the Sugar Bowl

    And in the evening game, same day, #1LSU vs. #3 Oklahoma State plays in the Rose Bowl
    Third Week off : to play remaining bowls for other schools that hadn’t played yet
    Fourth Week : first week of January, winners of the Sugar Bowl plays winners of the Rose Bowl…
    #1 LSU vs. #4 Stanford (for kicks and giggles.. Also to keep SEC haters at bay) plays for the National Title and call it The National Title Bowl Game in New Orleans at the M SuperDoom..

    Best solution if not keeping the status quo

  9. deadeye says: Apr 4, 2012 5:36 PM

    They can introduce a “plus-one” format, but it’s not going to matter. Ultimately, just as earlier posters had noted, if #5 is a power house, there will be pressure to expand the field. The playoff system will not stop at four. I think it will go to at least 8, and possibly 12 at some point way down the road.

  10. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 4, 2012 5:44 PM

    My number one through number seven is perfect because it still keeps the regular season a must win and every game important

  11. fcmlefty1 says: Apr 4, 2012 5:47 PM

    @crazy – 1) the schedule is never going to go that deep into January. 2)they are never going to put in a plan where the fan bases have to travel 4 times in 5 weeks for the cof championships + three playoff games. 3) The Cotton and Fiesta aren’t going to get moved to before Christmas. Your plan is a nice dream, but a logistical nightmare for all parties involved.

  12. mrpowers88 says: Apr 4, 2012 5:56 PM

    A plus-one system is GARBAGE. Thats just like saying, “Well we screwed up the 1st Title game, lets just do another.”

    The only way I would even consider being close to on-board with that idea is if the plus-one game is played at the HOME of the 1st Title game winner- if you want to take their title away, go into their house and take it (Since this doesnt include a bidding process to drive money into the BCS/NCAA pockets, this would never happen).

    Out of the 4 possibilities mentioned, the 4 team playoff is the best BY FAR (The 3 semifinal plan is just a plus-one with more indecision involved).

    The best option (outside of an 8/16 team playoff) is either a 6 team playoff, with #1 and #2 getting a bye, or the 7 team playoff mentioned by @thecrazyasianinseccountry (so theres incentive for finishing #1).

    Overall, I prefer bickering about who finishes 6th/7th/8th/16th etc. with a chance at a title over arguing about who’s #2 and gets a one-game-winner-take-all chance at a championship.

  13. psl1196 says: Apr 4, 2012 6:47 PM

    conference winners go to their traditional bowls on Jan 1 (SEC – Sugar, ACC – Orange, Big12 Fiesta, B1G & Pac12 – Rose )….at large type teams fill in the empty spots in Sugar, Orange, Fiesta (no seeding necessary)…2 highest ranked winners of those games play the second Saturday in January. It isn’t complicated, new years day returns to former glory, and no team backs in

  14. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 4, 2012 7:43 PM

    It is only a logistical nightmare if you make it so!!! Other wise people must compromise traditions must be tested and alter for the best and yes sir… People will travel to watch their teams in the playoff. Sec fans will follow their teams through the depths of ocean and climb the heights of mountains and will gladly except a Crystal Sears Football in the hot brims of hell !!! Damn right we will travel you can bet your panties on it

  15. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 4, 2012 7:59 PM

    And for your information MR. fcmlefty1…. Dreams are only dreams because no one has made it real yet!!! I ain’t trying to be corny but this system #1 to #7 is the best I’ve heard so far if I had to say so myself . Everyone of those traditional Bowl game will triple in viewerships alone because of how important the outcomes will be.. This system has everything all the old traditional every regular games matter because your team are still being rates by Coaches (which I hate) and the AP and Harris Poll… And then you get awarded for being number one by having an extra week off…. And you get to keep all your traditional powerhouse bowl games such as Rose, Orange, Sugar , and Fiesta … Of course who plays in it will be slightly modified according to seeds. But I’m sure for most 90% of the time we can arranged to have PacXII and BIGX in the Rose Bowl if they are part of the “Magnificent Seven” … Wow it’s getting better by the minutes… I want compensation for this when my idea is excepted because your heard it here first… “The Magnificent Seven” and finally the “Title Two” playing the last game of the season in either the “National Championship Title Bowl” or the “Student Athletic SuperBowl”

  16. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 4, 2012 8:07 PM

    NCAAB will have nothing on that… No sweet sixteen or the big eight final four no no no no!!!! NCAAF have the Magnificent Seven… Not the final four but the Four Horsemen (maybe I need a little more work on that one) but then the Title Two .. You have to admit it does have a nice ring to it.. Please contact my agent first before we negotiate

  17. effosugoblue says: Apr 4, 2012 9:01 PM

    Please, an 8 or even better a 16 team playoff is the only acceptable solution !!!

  18. floridacock says: Apr 4, 2012 9:01 PM

    I would LOVE to have a playoff of some type, but not one that favors ANY bowl or conference. Unfortunately I don’t think any system is going to work. Not with the bowl system. Just keep it like it is.

  19. rabbdogg says: Apr 4, 2012 11:38 PM

    maaaaannnn..just take the top 4 bcs ranked schools conference champs or not and let #1 play #4…and #2 play #3..winners play for the title…winning your conf. doesnt make u better than a team ranked higher than u are..was oregon better than alabama?..umm NO

  20. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 5, 2012 3:39 AM

    fcmlefty1
    You apparently didnt read the part that said the National Title Bowl game will be the last college football game for that season ending on the first week of January

  21. fcmlefty1 says: Apr 5, 2012 8:03 AM

    @crazy –

    get out a calendar, and try to lay out your playoff plan on it. Its not feasible. You cant finish the first week of January if you are using new years day for semifinals. For all the other logistics that need to be in place, you need at, a bare minimum, 10 days between the semis and finals.

    Also, i know the SEC travels. But your conference, as a group, has never been asked to travel all that many miles. Its one thing for a, say, LSU fan to go to Atlanta in the beginning of December and then travel all the way (sarcasm) to the Superdome in the middle of January. Its quite another, under your plan, to ask them to travel to, say, Atlanta the first weekend of December, Tempe, Arizona right before Christmas, Pasadena on New Years weekend, and then who knows where (Indianapolis? Minneapolis? if it gets bid out) 10 days after that for the championship game (because it isn’t always going to be in the Superdome).

    And that doesn’t even address the other elephant in the room that you failed to see clearly: 2 of those traditional bowl games are not getting moved to before Christmas. It just isn’t happening. They’d go dark before they moved to December.

  22. lasseter1113 says: Apr 5, 2012 10:10 AM

    I don’t like the idea of conference champs only. Leaves too many teams out. In that scenario you could loss two games, win your conference and get into the playoffs despite the fact that you are the 8th ranked team in the nation. Right? How would that be fair?

  23. fcmlefty1 says: Apr 5, 2012 10:51 AM

    “How would that be fair?”

    The argument (not neccesarily my opinion) would be that you actually won something on the field. Being ranked 8th (or 1st or 4th or 35th) is nothing more than someone’s opinion.

    While I think its a flawed idea, the concept isn’t without merit.

    The fatal flaw is that you could still win your conference, and it would still come down to somebodys opinion if your conference was strong enough. If you make a tournament of conference champions, it has to include all of them that are champions of FBS conferences.

    To me, alot of this realignment/playoff talk has brought me to a conclusion that I considered before, but now I am certain of: The divide between the SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac 12 and to a lesser extent ACC and Big East and the rest of the FBS is nearly as big as the divide between FBS and FCS. Boise State, TCU and Utah tricked us into believing the divide wasn’t as big as believed, but its obvious to me now that it is there.

    I’m almost certain that FBS will have to divide in 2 at some point. It wouldn’t be a bad thing. It would be fun to have another level of playoff that is for the level of play that is the MAC, WAC, Sunbelt and MWCUSA.

  24. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Apr 5, 2012 2:52 PM

    fcmlefty1
    Should we keep tradition because it’s tradition?
    Asked yourself, does money talk???
    Even though I have to admit I do agree with a few logistic nightmares you give me some pencil, crayons and an eraser .. A calendar and a few hours in room by myself and can definitely address them big elephants..
    “so you don’t want to be part of the playoff and keep your tradition ..okay..”
    Now what was your answer about “does money talk?”
    It has to be what I think it has to be for this to work otherwise we need to go ahead and stop playing this little game.
    And about that other questions, you know at one time it was a tradition for certain people to expected to sit in certain places when in a bus, restaurant, or even schools
    Something great happened one day, a tired momma said I’m tired of walking to the back because of tradition so I’ll just sit right here and make them make me because of stupid traditions…
    She didn’t know it then and lots of people didn’t know it then… But she broke all kinds of traditions and lots of people are happier because of it.
    Now what was your answer again?
    That’s right … For traditions to change people back then had to realize something , when I say people I mean business people and politicians, that those people’s money is the same value as them there other people’s money …. When people began to realize this.. Even traditional Senators, like the one from South Carolina who was like 190 years old was still elected .. Stroms I think , anyway all started singing a different tune.
    Do you really think he sang a different tune because he afraid he wouldn’t be elected, considering the fact that he has been a Senator for over 90 years already by now, or do you think he sang a different tune because he realize now that all money under “God We Trust” spends the same way and now he has more of it…
    And to save you from another long and boring story I’ll just say it.. “Yes sir money talks”

  25. fcmlefty1 says: Apr 5, 2012 4:08 PM

    The question isn’t if we should keep traditions at this point. That question got answered already – the group of 12, most likely at the urging of thier respective presidents, have already said it will indeed be protected.

    They’ve also said the season will end as close as possible to Jan 1st, the season will not stretch into 2nd semester, the bowls, especially the big ones, will be protected at all costs in thier traditional form, and that no games will be played between the conference championship weekend and the end of finals. No amount of dreaming/bitching/rationalizing is going to change that in this current round of discussions.

    Those parameters are set, nearly in stone. Any plan that doesn’t meet that set of parameters is DOA. Its that simple.

    Any scenarios you, I, or anybody else come up with needs to be a continuation of that. No re-inventing the wheel this time around.

  26. ellisstapp says: Apr 7, 2012 10:54 AM

    Hancock says “the underlying theme in all this (keeping the playoff to four teams) is to protect the regular season.” Other times talk is about “protecting the bowls.” Occasionally people talk about “protecting the academic year.” It disgusts me that NOBODY talks about “protecting the health of the players.” The proposal to add two games to the NFL was widely discussed in terms of physical impact on players’ bodies, but college football fans (and commentators, and commissioners and school presidents) seem to care nothing about the fact that an 8 team playoff would add two additional games – a 16 team playoff would add three. Don’t college players get concussions? Don’t college players blow out their knees? Whether this would be a huge safety issue is, I suppose, debatable. What’s disgusting to me is that it’s never even debated.

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