It's a playoff. You can call it a playoff. College football will have a playoff system. Even Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, told Sports Illustrated that it's... a playoff:
"Playoff," Hancock said. "Let's call it a playoff."
OK, we will. And while such news on its own is earth shattering, like anything else in college football, the devil will be in the details as the BCS is expected to officially recommend a four-team playoff system beginning in 2014. Here's a long list of what we do know:
- The playoff will feature only four teams. Variations including eight and 16 teams were taken off the table for the time being. Already some of the commissioners are voicing opinions against an expansion of teams (notably the SEC's Mike Slive).
- There will be no weird concession made to the Rose Bowl, so we'll assume the Big 10 and Pac-12 will operate in lock-step with the rest of the conferences.
- There will not be automatic qualifiers, which means that seven-win Big East Champions won't be sent to the title tournament because of requirements. The term "BCS conference" is now void.
- There will be no limit to the amount of teams per a particular conference that could be sent to the four-team playoff. This is great for the SEC and horrific for the ACC and Big East.
- The system is NOT a "plus-one," which would pit two teams against each other after the bowls were played. There will be four teams playing each other, with two teams advancing to the title game.
Here's a long list of what is either unknown, or has not yet been revealed. There's a lot left to be determined past the concept of four teams competing for a title:
- The location of the games. They could take place on campus (doubtful), at neutral sites like conference title games, or within the current bowl system (i.e., as bowl games). The conference commissioners will take the issue to school presidents for a vote.
- How the seeds will be determined. There's no clear plan - top conference champions, top overall teams in the poll(s), or a newly created system (via a selection committee, perhaps?) With some major conferences (Big 12, Big East) without conference title games, it's doubtful those championship will have bearing on the seeds.
- Television. It's the biggest, nastiest beast in the jungle, and there's now a new property up for the bidding. Expect a rush from the usual suspects (ESPN, FOX) and maybe dark horses like NBC and CBS as well. According to Andy Staples, the negotiating window would begin in October.
- The future of the bowls. Obviously four teams and three games won't dash the entire bowl system - as playoff proponents have argued for years, there's room for both if managed correctly. While the selection process for the Kraft Fight Hunger and BBVA Compass Bowl aren't set to change much, how major revenue events like the current BCS bowls and the Cotton and Chick-Fil-A Bowls respond or are courted by the BCS will be interesting.
For more on the proposed college football playoff system, visit SB Nation's college football news hub.