Barring a last-minute shocker from the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, come 2014 college football will no longer use the polling system as a method for determining its national champions, having moved from the BCS model to a four-team playoff and moving the selection of those four teams from the BCS rankings to a committee.
This represents the abandonment of nearly 80 years of relying on either the Associated Press or the Coaches Poll to anoint the sport's ultimate champions. But Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association -- which has helped supervise the poll since its inception in 1950 -- told poll sponsor USA Today Thursday that the poll's reduced influence won't make any difference to the poll's operational future.
"We serve strictly at the request of the commissioners and if they want to do something else that's certainly their prerogative and that's fine," Teaff said.
In fact, Teaff expressed some measure of relief that the poll would no longer play a direct role in the workings of the BCS championship-decider.
"This isn't something that we have happily done," Teaff said, referring to the poll's inclusion in the annual BCS rankings, which the AP withdrew from in 2005. "We've done it because the commissioners wanted us to and the coaches wanted to be part of the selection process and that's the only reason we've done it. There's no other reason."
Teaff said he has not yet been contacted by the commissioners to discuss whether the poll might be included as part of the selection criteria for the committee, much as the RPI has been used in college basketball. Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas, however, told reporters (including SI.com's Stewart Mandel) that the committee would use a new ranking metric specifically developed for playoff selection.
"There aren't enough data points to establish an RPI for football," Neinas said.
Neinas's comment illustrates how seismic Wednesday's shift in the college football landscape truly was. For most of the sport's existence, the credibility, selection of voters, and final results of the polls -- whether AP, Coaches, or eventually Harris -- were of absolute critical importance, for better or (more often) for worse. Now all of those matters are virtually irrelevant, as the rankings that matter are poised to come down not to which poll will help determine a national champion, but which of their replacements might provide the best advice.
As Teaff's own comments suggest and as CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart has written, removing the polls from the championship selection process is a positive step--there's too many conflicts and biases and not enough transparency for them to continue in their previous role. But given their privileged place at the very heart of college football for the past eight decades, the polls' exclusion from that process remains a moment of historic import for the sport.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.
Get CBSSports.com College Football updates on Facebook