The BCS National Championship trophy. Source: Michael Casagrande, "Alabama's Crystal National Title Trophy Shattered in Accident," USA Today, Apr. 17, 2012
After over 140 years without a playoff system, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee approved a four-team college football playoff on June 26, 2012. The new Football Bowl Series (formerly Division I-A) playoff will begin in the 2014-15 season and continue through the 2025 season.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick presented the playoff proposal from 11 NCAA conference commissioners to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee's 12 university presidents at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, DC. The four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, the semifinals will be held at current bowl sites, and the national championship game will be awarded to the highest bidding bowl site.
The group of presidents also approved a rotation of the semifinal games among six bowl sites and a rotation of the championship game among several neutral sites. Semifinals will be held on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, and the championship game will be played on the first Monday that is at least six days after the last semifinal. The first playoff game will be Dec. 31, 2014.
The move to a playoff system comes after years of criticism by college football fans who questioned the ability of the BCS to determine an objective national champion. President Obama in a Nov. 17, 2008 interview on 60 Minutes said that "[I]f you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season [with] one loss or two losses and no decisive winner, then we should be creating a playoff system."
"A four-team playoff doesn't go too far; it goes just the right amount," said Virginia Tech president Charles Sterger, chair of the presidential oversight committee. "We are very pleased with this arrangement even though some issues & remain to be finalized."
The proposal creates three contract bowls: the Champions Bowl, a partnership between the Big 12 and SEC; the Rose Bowl, a partnership between the Big Ten and Pac 12, and a bowl to be determined for the ACC, which according to ESPN.com is likely to continue its partnership with the Orange Bowl. Three other "access bowls" have yet to be determined.
The championship game will be managed by the conferences and will not be branded as a bowl game. The presidents also announced the creation of a selection committee that will rank the teams to play in the playoff, "giving all the teams an equal opportunity to participate." The committee will consider win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and whether a team is a conference champion.
Columnist Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call criticized the creation of a selection committee, saying that it "needs to deliver some details before selling sponsorships and printing logos. Who’s on this committee? Who picks the committee? Conference commissioners and college presidents? Look at how long they took to arrive at a playoff... [A]s a bowl nostalgist, I’m bracing for a future in which they’re flattened by a 16-team, trillion-dollar behemoth."
According to ESPN.com, revenue distribution under the new playoff format is still being discussed. The BCS press release mentions that any revenue sharing deal should "(1) reward conferences for success on the field (2) accommodate teams' expenses (3) acknowledge marketplace factors and (4) reward academic performance of student-athletes."
The final playoff decision is subject to passage of appropriate legislation by the NCAA Board of Directors to permit the two semifinal winners to play an additional postseason game.
[UPDATE: In a July 5, 2012 email to ProCon.org, NCAA Associate Director for Public and Media Relations Cameron Schuh wrote: "The FBS members of the Division I Board of Directors are expected to consider necessary legislation for the extra football game a playoff will create at its August or October meeting. No legislation on the extra game has been passed at this time."]
Bowl Championship Series, "BCS Presidential Oversight Committee Establishes New Postseason Format," BCSfootball.org, June 26, 2012
Les Carpenter, "Finally, It's a Reality: Presidents Sign Off on a Four-team College Football Playoff System," sports.yahoo.com, June 26, 2012
Heather Dinich, "Playoff Plan to Run Through 2025,”
ESPN.com, June 27, 2012
Chris Dufresne, "Are College Football Playoffs Really a Good Thing?," latimes.com, June 27, 2012
Dan Wetzel, "The BCS Finally Has a Stake Driven Through Its Heart, But the Bowls and the Big Bucks Still Reign," sports.yahoo.com, June 27, 2012
David Whitley, "Transparency a Must for BCS Playoff Selection Committee," aol.sportingnews.com, June 27, 2012
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