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Status quo is dead for BCS, but it's up for debate what's still alive

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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The Pac-12's Larry Scott isn't necessarily in favor of a college football selection committee. (Getty Images)  
The Pac-12's Larry Scott isn't necessarily in favor of a college football selection committee. (Getty Images)  

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- BCS executive director Bill Hancock, for once, didn't mince words.

"I can officially say that the 'status quo' is off the table," Hancock said.

What is still on the table? Sit down. This could take a while.

After Wednesday's BCS meetings at the Westin Diplomat, the 11 FBS commissioners are considering three options on how to structure college football's new playoff format beginning in 2014. However, each option also contains different variations.

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The most likely format, as CBSSports.com reported Tuesday, is a four-team playoff held at neutral sites, most likely the current BCS bowl sites.

"The majority of us want four teams [in a playoff]," a commissioner said. "However, we have no consensus idea how we're going to pick them."

There are two ways to pick the four-team field: the top-four ranked teams after the conference championships are played or the four highest ranked conference champions.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive prefers the four highest ranked teams, because his league conceivably could have half of the four-team field every year. The SEC would have last year.

"This is not a tournament," Slive said. "It's to figure out who the best teams are and let them play for the national championship."

However, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he is "warm" to limiting the four-team field to conference champions only.

"It's hard to say there's a favorite model because certain circumstances work for some people and don't work for others," Scott said.

Whether it's the four-highest ranked teams or the four-highest ranked conference champions, they still must decide how to seed the teams. Use the current BCS formula or use a selection committee?

"I think [a committee] is worth looking at," Slive said. "I think in the final analysis, we need to look at the entire process. That's a matter that applies to any format."

Scott said he wasn't necessarily in favor of using a committee.

"There are a lot of open issues about how you select the four teams in it," Scott said. "Use the BCS standings, conference champions, [do you make] some change the way computers work that emphasizes strength of schedule, a committee? We probably spent four hours talking about that issue." While Hancock and the commissioners have said repeatedly in the past three months their desire to move the championship game closer to Jan. 1, that may not be a realistic possibility. One discussion was about playing the semifinals on the Saturday of the final weekend of the NFL's season and then having the national title game nine days later on Monday night.

If this format is in place in 2014, the semifinals would be Dec. 29 with the national title game on Jan. 8, 2015.

While it appears the semifinals and final would be held at bowl sites or neutral sites, Scott said the possibility of the semifinals being played on campus is not dead.

"We spent three to four hours the past two days if it's a four team playoff: home hosted vs. neutral sites. We wouldn't have spent three or four hours on it if it was dead.

"In fairness, it's probably dead for some people. Just as neutral sites are dead for some people."

Having the semifinals on campus is all but dead to Slive, whose league has won six consecutive BCS titles. He believes holding the semifinals on campus presents a "competitive disadvantage.

"The NCAA tournament is not played on home floors -- for a reason," Slive said.

Scott said if a four-team playoff is chosen, the selection of the four teams needs to be "more credible, a more objective, fair system that balances strength of schedule.

"We don't all play over the same course," Scott said. "We play a different caliber ... some play nine conference games, some eight. Some play stronger out-of-conference competition, some tend to not. They just want to get home games."

Scott didn't say which conference he was referring to, but he didn't have to -- their initials are S-E-C.

Sources also told CBSSports.com that one of the many formats the BCS is considering is a model that would allow the bowl games the flexibility to host a semifinal game -- if it's not scheduled -- if its anchor team qualifies for the playoff. In other words, if the Rose Bowl is not scheduled to host a semifinal game, but the Big Ten or Pac-12 champion qualifies for a four-team playoff, then the Rose Bowl could host a semifinal. This also would be the case for an SEC champion and the Sugar Bowl or a Big 12 team and the Fiesta Bowl.

Also, the commissioners discussed the bowl teams that lose their anchor teams would be allowed to replace those teams based on a "free market system." In other words, they would be able to take whatever team they wanted that would fill their stadium, meaning the smaller market schools would likely never get selected for the major bowls.

This, of course, is only one of several possibilities.

The good news is that Hancock said he expects the commissioners on Thursday to provide him with two or three options they can take back to the university presidents this summer. The NCAA Presidential Oversight Committee, which has the final say, could then have the recommended playoff format by July 4.

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