The BCS announced the adoption of the piggyback as its working model on Thursday, and publicly bade farewell to any notion of more than one round of postseason play.
The best way to look at the new system, Big 12 Conference commissioner Kevin Weiberg said in a teleconference Thursday, is that "The fifth game is the national championship game. We really have the four traditional bowls, and then a championship game that is separate and distinct."
And rotated among the sites of the current four games as well. That means cities such as Orlando, San Diego, Jacksonville and Dallas, as well as eight others, will not be added as a fifth city in the BCS rotation.
The teleconference was long on answers and short on detailed answers. Weiberg stressed that the piggyback is a working model, and that the commissioners have a lot of work left to do in the coming months. Among the issues still to be tackled are selection order, dates, title sponsor for the championship game, etc., etc.
The sticking point that postponed this agreement came unstuck when the Rose Bowl agreed to consider teams from outside the six current BCS conferences to play in Pasadena.
Weiberg said it is no more than an agreement in principle. He said no details as to how that agreement will work have been determined.
The rise of the piggyback meant the end of the "plus-one" format, in which two teams would be selected after the bowls to play for the national championship. Oregon president Dr. David Frohnmayer, representing the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, said the plus-one was "the thin end of the wedge, if you will," toward a playoff.
The plus-one format landed on the table after the controversy over last year's national championship, when No. 1 USC failed to qualify for the championship game in the Sugar Bowl. Asked about solving similar such problems in the future, Frohnmayer expressed confidence that a new ranking system, which is still being tested, will solve those problems without question.
However, Frohnmayer could no longer use the rationale that he used as recently as several months ago, when he said that the presidents did not want football to become a two-semester sport. A national championship game in the piggyback format will be played a week after the bowls.
On Thursday, Frohnmayer turned that argument, frequently used against the presidents, into a weapon of his own.
"Only 23 institutions will be affected by a game as late as Jan. 9," he said. "Thirteen are already affected by a game on Jan. 4. There are only 10 schools affected any differently."
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.