Presidents set to hear playoff pitch

Updated: June 25, 2012, 9:54 PM ET
By Joe Schad | ESPN

Members of the BCS presidential oversight committee have been asked to block their schedules until 10 p.m. Tuesday to have extra time to discuss and possibly approve a proposed four-team college football playoff.

The 11 BCS commissioners and Notre Dame will present their consensus plan for a playoff starting with the 2014 season Tuesday in Washington.

Originally, the presidents were told the meeting would last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. but one BCS source said the "plan is to stay until it gets done."

The group will gather around a large, rectangular table and at some point, the commissioners will leave and the presidents will discuss among themselves.

The presidential oversight 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.

A member of the committee said the plan is for a 12-year format cycle that would incorporate six bowls as part of a rotation that saw two bowls host national semifinals every three years.

Current BCS bowls -- Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta -- would get the first chance to host the semifinals but there will be a bidding process.

The length of the deal is in part to prevent the temptation of "bracket creep" or postseason expansion for the foreseeable future.

The president said the Rose Bowl and newly-formed Champions Bowl will have concessions related to selection in the years in which they are not semifinals.

"We are ready to stop the hedging," the president said. "I believe we will have a presidential consensus on approach. I think even the Big Ten is pretty sold on this plan. I do not expect much controversy tomorrow."

The Big Ten presidents and their Rose Bowl 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.

Big Ten representative Harvey Perlman of Nebraska is expected to lay out his conference's issues with the proposed playoff. 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 presidents expect to explore big-picture issues related to any concerns that could arise from this playoff, without drilling down on all the specifics commissioners have spent hundreds of hours on.

For example, momentum is for a playoff selection committee utilizing current NCAA officials such as commissioners and athletics directors. The committee would have at least one representative from each conference. But these details are not considered pressing.

One issue that could arise is from presidents representing conferences that have previously been labeled non-automatic qualifying. That label and process will be eliminated, but what type of guaranteed access -- if any -- could be allowed for a highly-rated team that just misses the top four?

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 plan calls for national semifinals on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. The national championship game being held on a Monday with at least one week in between. The potential lateness of the title game is one topic presidents plan to discuss.

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 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.

A college football postseason cannot be approved without the consent of the presidents but they understand the time commissioners have put into developing the proposed consensus.

"We needed to do a better job than the BCS," the president said. "This is the next logical step, without turning college football upside down and without destroying the bowls."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Joe Schad

College Football

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