A committee of university presidents, including University of Texas President Bill Powers, stood together on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and said ‘No more.’ The committee approved a plan from Bowl Championship Series (BCS) leadership calling for a four-team playoff system in college football, set to start in two years.
The move completes a six-month process for the BCS commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champion after years of griping from college football fans.
What does this mean for the Texas Longhorns?
“There’s going to be more money,” UT Athletic Director (and longtime playoff advocate) DeLoss Dodds tells KUT News. “If the BCS can run the games, and bid the games for television and bid the cities for the sites, get the sponsors, and keep the money inside the system … It’s an enormous amount of money. It probably doubles or triples what currently is in play.”
Instead of simply matching the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams 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, and No. 2 will play No. 3. The sites of those games will rotate among the four current BCS games – Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar – and two more to be determined.
The commissioners want to lock in this format for 12 years with a television partner. The current BCS deal with ESPN runs through the 2013 season. The new format will be presented to potential TV partners in the fall, starting with ESPN.
“And that in turn,” Dodds explains, “you know those moneys go back to support all the sports – swimming, track, tennis, golf – at all the institutions, and it puts money in the pockets of the schools. It puts money in the pockets which can really help athletics, and not just football, but to the non-revenue sports.”
The teams will be selected by a committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set. There are still some details to work out, such as how exactly the money will be distributed among the conferences and who will be on the committee.
“I would like to see the BCS pick a board of maybe nine people that are experts in college football,” Dodds says, “and have that board after the end of this season, before the bowl games, pick four teams and put them in order.”
With so much money on the line, it would seem a dangerous task of finding unbiased members to serve on the committee that decides the top four teams. But Dodds believes the method already has a proven track record.
“I still think the committee is the best way. I’ve watched the computers work, I’ve watched the coaches vote their own team, I’ve watched them vote other teams that impact their team. And having coaches vote on national rankings is probably not a good thing. I want the human element to have all the polls, all the rankings, all those kinds of things … But let the humans pick them.”
A college football playoff system has been a long time coming. Many fans will tell you the weight this step forward holds, but Dodds says there is more progress to be made.
“I said a while ago I’d like to see eight teams in the playoff. But four is an improvement. I would guess over time, you name the years, they’d start looking at eight.”