Well, you can remove last week’s asterisk. The Presidential Oversight Committee had their meeting today and approved pretty much everything the commissioners agreed upon last week. Some details still need to be worked out, but the broad strokes are set. From the statement released on the BCS Facebook page:
The group of university presidents who oversee college football’s Bowl Championship Series agreed today to launch a new four-team, seeded post-season playoff to determine the national collegiate champion. The new format will begin with the 2014-2015 season.
So what details do we know, and what questions are still left to be answered? We can break it down into a few categories: the field of teams, the scheduling of the games, the distribution of revenue, and peripheral questions. Here are the big questions, with sourced answers whenever possible:
Questions about the Field of Teams:
Q: How many teams?
A: (via BCS Facebook) Four teams, seeded; selection will not favor any conferences over others (i.e. there is no AQ status for the playoff), and there will not be a cap on the number of teams that can come from the same conference.
Q: How will they be chosen?
A: (via BCS Facebook) Selection committee. The makeup of the selection committee hasn’t been decided, but (via @schadjoe) Bob Bowlsby of the Big 12 envisions a 15-member committee.
Q: Are polls or other rankings going to be considered?
A: (via BCS Facebook) The committee will consider “win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and whether a team is a conference champion.” Also, (via @schadjoe) Larry Scott of the Pac-12 doesn’t think a football RPI will be used.
Questions about Scheduling the Games:
Q: When does this system begin?
A: (via BCS Facebook) After the 2014 season (i.e. December 2014 and January 2015).
Q: What are the dates of the playoff games?
A: (via BCS Facebook) So they’re trying to take back New Year’s: “The date of the first semifinal games will be either Wednesday, December 31, 2014, or Thursday, January 1, 2015.” Additionally: the championship will be “the first Monday in January that is six or more days after the final semi-final game” which means the first few dates for the championship will be Monday, January 12, 2015; Monday, January 11, 2016; Monday, January 9, 2017; Monday, January 8, 2018; and Monday, January 7, 2019.
Q: Where will the games be played?
A: (via @slmandel) Six bowls will rotate hosting, but BCS Director Bill Hancock said those bowls have not yet been decided. The four current BCS bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange) are almost certain, and the Cotton Bowl is a good bet to make a play. The new SEC/Big 12 “Champions Bowl” will likely be included, but it might be absorbed by the Cotton or Sugar, leaving a sixth spot up for grabs.
Q: What happened to home hosting?
A: That died a long time ago, haven’t you been paying attention?
Q: What about when those bowls aren’t hosting semifinals?
A: (via Brian Murphy) “Rose Bowl would have a Big Ten/Pac-12 match-up, the Champions Bowl would have a SEC/Big 12 match-up and the Orange Bowl would have an ACC team if those teams and/or bowls are not involved in the semifinals”
Questions about Distributing the Revenue:
Q: How much is this thing going to be worth?
A: (via CBS Sports) “Conservative estimates project the new playoff model to be worth $360 million annually — or double the current total BCS payoff — and it could fetch as much as $400 million.” Some estimates are floating up to $500 million, meaning the twelve-year contract could reach $6 billion (yeah, with a “B”).
Q: How are they going to distribute the revenue?
A: Short answer (via @MattHayes_SN) that hasn’t been decided yet. Longer answer (via CBS Sports) last week, “commissioners were considering dividing the revenue based on the league’s past performances” and that method “would likely create a divide between five power conferences (SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC) and the rest of the leagues.” Also: (via BCS Facebook) “Generally speaking the concept would (1) reward conferences for success on the field (2) accommodate teams’ expenses (3) acknowledge marketplace factors and (4) reward academic performance of student-athletes.” So yeah, we don’t know, but we have a general idea.
Q: Could arguments over revenue distribution hold up the deal?
A: Probably not, since it’s been officially announced. The conferences should be able to strong-arm the bowls into giving them good deals, and the bidding war between TV networks is going to be insane. There should be plenty of money floating around to please all conference, at least for now.
Q: Is the NCAA going to take a cut of the money, like they do for the basketball tournament?
A: Almost certainly not, since this playoff will not be administered by the NCAA.
Questions about other stuff:
Q: Wait, so this still isn’t going to be an officially designated NCAA championship?
A: It appears not, but who’s going to argue that the champion of the playoff isn’t legit?
Q: Doesn’t the NCAA have to change some rules to allow for the extra round of the postseason?
A: Yeah, they’ll probably need to change some bylaws.
Q: Does that mean other, competing playoffs could be created?
A: Well, that’ll depend on how the NCAA changes postseason rules. We haven’t seen anyone ask that question yet, but check out our thoughts on it. This could end up being a pretty sticky issue down the line.
Q: Does this thing have a name yet?
A: No. But it won’t be called the BCS. Leave your name suggestions in the comments.
Q: But I want a bigger playoff!
A: (via BCS Facebook) This deal is locked in for twelve years, from the 2014 season to the 2025 season. So get comfortable with it.
Q: Won’t this create travel problems?
A: Yeah. Teams will probably be on the road for a couple of weeks. Fans will have to either scramble for championship tickets after the semifinals or gamble that their team will go all the way and buy in advance. In reality, the championship game will probably be a relatively sterile, corporate affair with the tickets sold well ahead of time, a la the Super Bowl. Yeah, bummer.
Q: What happened to that plus-one idea?
A: They talked about it, but as everyone already knew, the revenue for a playoff would be astronomical, and public sentiment was so strong behind a playoff that fans and media would’ve made a mockery of anything less.
Q: But I have another question that didn’t get answered!
A: Leave it in the comments and we’ll try our best to find out an answer. We’ll also be updating this post with any other news that comes about.