Tuesday was filled with blind optimism, Wednesday with concrete reinforcement, and Thursday with breathtaking finality. College football is getting a playoff.
This week at the BCS meetings in Hollywood, FL, the sport’s power brokers narrowed the options for the postseason structure to some form of a four-team playoff, beginning with the 2014 season. Several excellent writers made it to the Westin Diplomat Resort to cover the meetings* and gave their take. Bloggers and the general commentariat also said their piece. Here’s a round up of the reactions to give you a better sense of what happened and where things go from here.
The AP story gives a solid but bland summary of the results from the meetings. The wire story includes some of the flashier quotes that have been floating around on the recaps:
“This is a seismic change for college football,” BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said.
“Yes, we’ve agreed to use the P word,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said.
“I’ve always tried not to use the dreaded P-word,” Slive said. “But now we’re all using it. So what the heck?”
Mandel gives an excellent postmortem on the BCS era, its triumphs and pratfalls, and the factors that ultimately led to its demise.
Sixteen years ago, all college football fans knew was the traditional bowl system… The BCS was a noble, if undeniably clunky, attempt to maintain that system while adding an official No. 1 vs. 2 game.
For the most part, it worked. BCS detractors hate to admit it, but memorable championship matchups like Ohio State-Miami (2002), USC-Texas (2005) and Auburn-Oregon (2010) would never have been possible pre-BCS. The other undisputed truth: National interest in the sport’s regular season skyrocketed in large part due to the BCS championship race. “We injected steroids into the regular season,” said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, long the staunchest proponent of the current system who is now looking to “do something the public can appreciate.”
His take is unique in the sea of reaction columns, and is a fitting eulogy for the well-meaning but ultimately flawed BCS. It’s a must-read.
On Wednesday, after the first big news broke, Staples latched onto that day’s money quote:
“The BCS as we know it — the exact same policies will not continue,” Hancock said. “That does not mean that there is definitely going to be a four-team event or a plus-one.”
In his column, he discusses the three biggest questions from there (“1. How many teams? 2. Where will the games be played? 3. How will the teams be chosen?”). This column paints the on-campus semis and selection committee options as contested but still on the table, although both of those have been in disputed territory seemingly all week.
Staples’ Thursday column takes essentially the opposite approach to the Mandel column; Staples celebrates “V-BCS Day,” then dwells on the decisions and details that the power brokers will have to work out from here.
In the next few weeks, commissioners will take the models to their presidents. The first debates will encompass the location of the semifinal games. At the same time, presidents also will discuss the conference-champion issue. Presidents in each league will vote in the next few weeks on their preference of semifinal locations. (Expect a heavy push for bowl-based semis.) They’ll also vote on whether the playoff would include the top four conference champions, the top four teams or some mix of the two.
The column follows its advice, though: “Celebrate today. Worry about the details tomorrow.” Staples doesn’t make any predictions, but does a good job explaining all the work that still needs to be done.
Forde covers all the bases: a glimpse of the future (semifinals played on January 1st, 2015 at bowl sites, with a championship game a week later at Cowboys Stadium), then a celebration of the sport and the long-awaited change, some of the reporter-bait “p-word” quotes, paints the discussions as a tug-of-war between Slive and Delany, discusses the remaining where/who/when questions and takes a stab at possible answers. Forde skims over the tropes and topics that other writers flesh out a little more, but this column is a pretty representative of the Zeitgeist right now.
McMurphy’s Wednesday column is a solid quote dump from the power brokers and touches on all the major issues. The most interesting paragraph is near the end and mentions an intriguing “flex” plan:
Sources also told CBSSports.com that one of the many formats the BCS is considering is a model that would allow the bowl games the flexibility to host a semifinal game — if it’s not scheduled — if its anchor team qualifies for the playoff. In other words, if the Rose Bowl is not scheduled to host a semifinal game, but the Big Ten or Pac-12 champion qualifies for a four-team playoff, then the Rose Bowl could host a semifinal. This also would be the case for an SEC champion and the Sugar Bowl or a Big 12 team and the Fiesta Bowl.
This may be the kind of compromise that the BCS brokers are looking for in the hosting debate.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the commissioners will determine, in order, where the games will be played, what teams will qualify and then what ranking system will be used.
So that’s the order I’ll present for what likely will be in place after the 2014 regular season.
His outline of the issues is pretty comprehensive and his conclusions are well-grounded.
McMurphy’s CBSSports colleague, Dennis Dodd, cuts out the recap and goes straight for the “if I were in charge” tract. He has a lot of good ideas for how to select the teams and restructure the ranking system formerly known as the BCS Standings.
Hayes’ piece from Wednesday goes point-by-point on the important and interesting issues. Specifically: structure, ranking, semifinal sites, conference champs, revenue issues. It’s pretty comprehensive.
In Hayes’ Thursday column, before the BCS is even cold, he lays out a new complaint out of the blue:
As the wildly successful sport slowly wades into uncharted and unthinkable waters with a four-team playoff, it can no longer be denied: College football needs a commissioner.
Not 11 commissioners and a powerful athletic director. Not a presidential oversight committee. Not two powerful conference commissioners butting heads and eventually coming up with a workable plan.
One man—or woman—and one voice.
Whiteside has some fun and predicts what the first playoff will look like at the end of the 2014 season, including semifinals at the Rose and Sugar Bowls, a championship game in Cowboys Stadium, and Major Applewhite and Bobby Petrino as head coaches of Texas and Kansas State, respectively.
Schlabach mentions in his Wednesday column that the selection committee option is still on the table. Then on Friday has two columns; the first claims that campus sites and selection committee are now both dead and the second fleshes out the “flex” plan mentioned by McMurphy.
Kirk gives a solid rundown of SBN blog reactions, including Boise State, Penn State, Notre Dame, the SEC, and Utah, among others. And of course the comic absurdity of EDSBS. This post gives a good round-up of team-specific excitement and concerns now that we have a new system.
Cook discusses the absurdity of the claims that campus sites can’t handle the hosting of semifinals. He lays out a good case, but there are potential logistical concerns at some locations that he fails to address.
Myerberg warns that the new system may ultimately fall victim to the same pitfalls and biases of the old regime.
*Your humble correspondent, Jams, works 30 minutes away from the Diplomat. Due to delays at the day job, he was unable to get to the resort until 4:00, about an hour after the news broke. He did get to see Pat Forde hopping on the elevator to his hotel room, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher heading to the pool, and ESPN’s Joe Schad leaving the hotel. He also snapped the photo at the top of the post.