After the conclusion of a three day meeting in south Florida, 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced Thursday, April 26 that they would recommend a four-game playoff system for the 2014 season. Other proposals of both eight-team and 16-team playoffs have been eliminated from consideration.
College football fans can rejoice in the fact that officials have now publicly mentioned a playoff system, but there is still much more that needs to be discussed going into the scheduled meeting with BCS officials in June. Conference commissioners now have the task of returning to their respective universities and discuss the specifics mainly where and when the playoff games would take place and how the rankings would be decided.
In the current system the national championship game concludes the college football season in early January — taking place after the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and Rose bowl. This timeline is something the officials would like to maintain.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said the plan is to “have a championship game and semifinals at a time and place that would allow us to really celebrate college football at a time when people are thinking about college football, which is in and around the end of December and early January.”
As for where the proposed “Final Four” games would be held officials are undecided. Presently the BCS national championship game is held at one of the bowl game sites — either in Arizona (Fiesta Bowl), California (Rose Bowl), Louisiana (Sugar Bowl), or Florida (Orange Bowl). Some of the presented ideas for the future locations include both neutral site options, as well as campus sites to reward teams with a semi-final home game based on their regular season record. No word on how the current bowls would play into the new system if at all.
The most difficult choice of all might be deciding on how teams would be selected to partake in the four-game playoffs. According a statement given to the Associated Press, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, “The whole topic of selection and who would get in is something that we’ve really parked for now.”
Presently, champions from conferences deemed as automatic qualifiers — ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — automatically receive a spot in one of the BCS bowl games while non-automatic qualifying conferences are required to meet additional criteria. This could all change, with reports of the FBS commissioners and other officials in talks to eliminate this practice.
At this juncture, Slive favors selecting the four top-ranked teams regardless of conferences in the playoffs while Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott prefers the top four conference champions.
Aside from those lingering questions, officials will also be waiting to discuss how the new media rights deal, projected to be worth upwards of $350 million — nearly double the value of the current deal — would be divided up.
Hopefully many of these questions will be answered when BCS officials and the FBS Conference Commissioners meet again in five weeks, as fans and athletes alike wonder what the 2014 season could have in store.