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BCS Band ready for Wednesday's gig -- and so are eager fans

by | College Football Insider
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Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will be involved in planning the big playoff decision. (US Presswire)  
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will be involved in planning the big playoff decision. (US Presswire)  

CHICAGO -- Their North American farewell tour began in New Orleans on Jan. 10. After that smashing debut near the French Quarter, the BCS Band of Commissioners -- lead vocalist Mike Slive, lead guitarist Jim Delany and drummer Larry Scott -- later played gigs in Dallas-Fort Worth, a beach bash in Fort Lauderdale and sang some blues in Chicago last week.

In all, the BCS Band -- with Bob Bowlsby on the bass, John Swofford on the saxophone, Jack Swarbrick on synthesizer -- has played six different dates.

On Wednesday, before what's expected to be a packed house (or at least a crowded hotel lobby hallway), the BCS Band -- Craig Thompson and Britton Banowsky backup vocals, Karl Benson on rhythm guitar, Jeff Hurd on tambourine, Jon Steinbrecher on harmonica, Joe Bailey on cow bell and Bill Hancock as Col. Tom Parker -- gets together for their farewell show.

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Since that first bash in New Orleans, they've come a long way. At the outset, they compared this tour to a marathon. They've said dozens of times how much progress they've made, but still there have been some bumps in the road. Remember when they floated that "Four Teams Plus" playoff model? Really? Three semifinals? That was a huge flop.

They've had some ups and downs. No Almost Famous-like plane crash scares, but there were casualties. Four band members -- Chuck Neinas, John Marinatto, Wright Waters and Benson -- have been replaced with new talent. Only Benson remains in a new role.

Not only has one-third of the commissioners changed, but one of the 11 conferences probably won't even be around in 2014, when college football's new playoff begins, to collect its share of the estimated $400 million annually the new system will bring in.

What will the new system look like? That's up to the Presidential Oversight Committee to determine, but multiple sources have given CBSSports.com an idea of what formats the commissioners will forward to the oversight committee.

Those formats are:

 A four-team playoff consisting of the top four ranked teams. The semifinals will be held at neutral sites using existing bowls;

 A four-team playoff consisting of the top four ranked teams. The semifinals will be held at neutral sites outside the bowl system;

 A four-team playoff consisting of conference champions (if ranked among the nation's top six or eight teams). This would also allow access for at least one non-conference champion or independent or more if at least three conference champions don't rank among the top six or eight teams. The semifinals will be held at neutral sites using existing bowls;

 A four-team playoff consisting of conference champions (if ranked among the nation's top six or eight teams). This would also allow access for at least one non-conference champion or independent or more if at least three conference champions don't rank among the top six or eight teams. The semifinals will be held at neutral sites outside the bowl system;

 A two-team "plus one" championship game, which would pit the nation's top two ranked teams after the bowls are completed.

In each of the above formats, the championship game would be bid out to any bowl/city willing to pay for the opportunity to host college football's national title game.

Other details about what the commissioners will present, sources told CBSSports.com, include that there "appears to be more support now for the top four ranked team model than the conference champion model among 'the five [conferences].'

"The five [the Big Ten's Delany, SEC's Slive, Big 12's Bowlsby, Pac-12's Scott and ACC's Swofford] are going to make this decision," a source said.

Also, the proposal to hold semifinal games on-campus was not discussed at last week's meeting and is no longer being considered by the commissioners.

"The challenge of agreeing on the format issue is the resistance or pushback from the Big Ten and Pac-12," a source said. "Will they say they'll agree to favor a four-team playoff instead of the plus-one if the four-team model is based on the conference champions? We'll see."

There's also the issue of how the revenue will be distributed among the FBS membership with the new playoff. Past BCS performance is one proposal under consideration, sources told CBSSports.com.

Also, how will the teams be selected? Will the commissioners recommend human polls, computers or a combination of the two? Or will they opt for a selection committee, similar to what's used in basketball? That all still must be determined.

All of the recommendations will be forwarded to the presidents, who are somewhat at a disadvantage. All 12 conference commissioners have met at least six times, with several subcommittees meeting numerous other times or conducting teleconferences. The BCS Band has spent literally hundreds of hours jamming on the road trying to come up with one final greatest hit -- a new college football playoff model.

The BCS commissioners will hand off their liner notes and make their recommendations to the Presidential Oversight Committee, who will decide what shape the new playoff will take.

"The presidents aren't 'rubber stamping' anything we give them," a commissioner said. "The challenge is the commissioners have had eight or nine meetings, we've been talking about it for 100 hours and then you can't give it to the presidents and expect them to digest it in four hours."

Those 12 presidents -- one from all 11 FBS leagues plus Notre Dame -- will get together on June 26.

Oh yes, June 26. That's when the Presidential Oversight Committee Orchestra takes the stage in Washington D.C. -- with Harvey Perlman on violin.

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