New postseason structure approved for college football

Presidents approve four-team plan

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College football's Bowl Championship Series for years was known by its acronym "BCS" and often was referred crudely by only two of those letters. Now, the same number of letters remain, only they're different — B.C.

The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee approved a four-team postseason Tuesday equipped with seeded semifinals within the existing bowl structure and a championship game outside of it beginning with the 2014 season. A selection committee will rank the four teams using criteria such as win-loss record, strength of schedule and conference championship status.

"We believe this new format will be good for student-athletes, alumni and for our institutions," Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger said in a televised news conference. "It's a best-of-both-worlds result. It captures the excitement of  a playoff while protecting the best regular seasons in sports and also the tradition of the bowls. A four-team playoff doesn't go too far; it goes just the right amount."

The semifinal games will rotate among six bowl sites with the inaugural staged either Dec. 31, 2014 or Jan. 1, 2015. The first championship game, which has no bowl relationship, will be staged at a neutral site on Jan. 12, 2015. The college conferences will manage the title game.

The new system, which is scheduled for 12 years, will replace the current BCS structure, in which teams are ranked according to polls and computer formulas. But controversy is likely to follow despite the shelved BCS moniker. Even a selection committee with transparency as a key tenet will have members with natural bias.

"I can assure that there’s going to be as much controversy as there has been in the past," Nebraska Athletics Director Tom Osborne told The Gazette last month. "The fifth-place team is not going to be happy. Maybe even the sixth or the seventh. And there will be going to be all kinds of arguments and justification as to why they should be in the top four."

The subject has received heavy banter and speculation this offseason with several models discussed openly and behind closed doors.While the Southeastern Conference advocated heavily for a four-team format, Big Ten officials preferred either the status quo or a plus-one system that selected the best two teams after bowl games. But the league will support the four-team playoff, Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman said Tuesday.

"I'm proof that we had a good conversation in the room," Perlman said. "We've got our third priority. But there are a lot of smart people in the room and this is a package that's put together and we will strongly support it."

While their was interest and discussion for a playoff field consisting of eight or 16 teams, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said maintaining the regular season's popularity along with player safety makes a four-team event more practical.

"We think the more robust the postseason is, the more negative effects that it has on the regular season," Delany said. "Right now the regular season is the best in sports and we intend to keep it that way."

Revenue distribution and a funding formula remain open for discussion, as do the selection committee's procedures and composition. Among the six bowl sites, it's likely the Rose, Orange and Sugar plus the Cotton and Fiesta have solid chances for making the rotation.

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