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Change to BCS system likely to come by summer

February 23, 2012|By Chris Dufresne
  • Bill Hancock, the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, and Alabama Coach Nick Saban hold The Coaches' Trophy, which signifies the BCS champion.
Bill Hancock, the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series,… (Andy Lyons / Getty Images )

Don’t do a touchdown dance every time you hear college football commissioners are meeting somewhere to discuss a possible playoff.

We might have to flag you for excessive celebration.

Make no mistake: Change is coming to a sport that for 14 years has used a wacky rankings system to pick its national title-game participants.

Change, though, will unfold slowly over the next few months.

Bowl Championship Series officials met for two days in Dallas this week as part of an ongoing process to restructure college football’s postseason.

“We have until the fall of this year to finalize any possible changes to our current structure,” BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said in a statement issued after the Dallas meetings. “It’s still early in our process.”

BCS commissioners met the day after January’s national title game in New Orleans and put an estimated 50 to 60 proposals on the table.

There are still two years left on the existing BCS contract. The Orange Bowl will host next year’s national title game, with the Rose Bowl “double hosting” its game and the title game after the 2013 season.

The BCS, however, has imposed a summer deadline on itself for change in order to start broadcast negotiations for the next contract.

The most likely outcome will be some version of a four-team playoff similar to the one proposed, but rejected, in 2008 by the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences.

One proposal would involve seeding the top four teams at the end of the year. No.1 would play No. 4 and No. 2 would play No. 3.

The proposal would have the teams meeting in semifinals on the home fields of the higher-seeded schools, with the winners playing in a title game.

That game could be played in an existing bowl or offered to an independent site similar to the Super Bowl or NCAA Tournament.

The existing bowls could also agree to become part of the four-team playoff. There are a lot of moving parts and decisions to be made.

“Every idea has exciting upsides, as well as complicated consequences,” Hancock said.

Protecting the bowl system and preserving the value of the regular season are the guiding principles for change. The only proposal you can count out is any system that leads to eight- or 16-team “NFL-type” playoffs.

“Whatever we do, we want to protect college football’s regular season, which is the best and most meaningful in sports,” Hancock said. “We want to preserve the great bowl tradition while making it better and more attractive.”

The commissioners will meet several times in coming months. News of significant change could come at this year’s spring meetings in South Florida, or not come together until May or June.

The key word for those anticipating the end of the BCS era: Patience.

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