Sports Update

Jun 26, 2012 7:56 PM

BCS Presidents Approve Four-Team College Football Playoff

(AP) WASHINGTON -- The BCS presidential oversight committee on Tuesday announced the creation of a new four-team seeded playoff for college football.

The presidents announced a 12-year deal for the playoff, with semifinal sites to rotate among six bowl sites.

"By making this change we felt we could enhance the regular season but at the same time provide the fans with the kind of postseason that will contribute to the regular season," Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said.

The committee, which includes University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman, approved the BCS commissioners' plan for a four-team playoff to start in the 2014 season.

The move completes a six-month process in which the commissioners have been working on a new way to determine a college football champion. Instead of simply matching the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country in a championship game after the regular season, the way the Bowl Championship Series has done since 1998, the new format will create a pair of national semifinals. No. 1 will play No. 4, No. 2 will play No. 3.

The winners will advance the national championship game, which would be played approximately 10 days after the semifinals. The neutral site would be up for bid the same way the National Football League rotates its Super Bowl between bidding cities.

The teams will be selected by a committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set, with weight placed on conference championship winners and strength of schedule.

Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford called the new system a "milestone" for the sport.

"It gives four teams rather than two the opportunity to play for a national championship and I think it's good for college football," Swofford said at a news conference Tuesday. "Where we arrived is a consensus built on compromise."

There are still some details to work out, but all the decision-makers are on board.

The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 have favored the move to such a playoff, while Perlman and the Big Ten have resisted. Perlman had argued for a "plus-one" model that maintains the current bowl structure and adds one game after to decide the national champion.

Perlman, a long-time critic of playoff proposals, said the Big Ten Conference presidents ranked their three preferences for the new postseason model. He said the system they adopted is what they ranked third but that they would support the change.

Negotiations on the next BCS television contract are set to begin later this year. The current broadcast deal, under which Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and ABC pay $155 annually for the title game and rights to the four BCS bowls, expires after the 2013-14 season.

The next contract may have a price tag that ranges from $400 million to $500 million annually, said Bob Boland of New York University's Tisch School of Sports Management.

"Because we keep hearing that number repeatedly, that's probably what's being asked for," Boland said in a telephone interview. "This could be exclusive television viewing."

Last season's BCS title game, a rematch between SEC rivals Louisiana State and the University of Alabama, drew the lowest television ratings of the BCS era. It marked the sixth straight year that a school from the SEC won the BCS championship.

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