College football's conference commissioners plus Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick are meeting this week and next to make some final decisions on the postseason format that will replace the BCS. They released a statement after today's meetings that is as follows:
We made progress in our meeting today to discuss the future of college football's post-season. We are approaching consensus on many issues and we recognize there are also several issues that require additional conversations at both the commissioner and university president levels.
We are determined to build upon our successes and create a structure that further grows the sport while protecting the regular season. We also value the bowl tradition and recognize the many benefits it brings to student-athletes.
We have more work to do and more discussions to have with our presidents, who are the parties that will make the final decisions about the future structure of college football's post-season.
Paragraph 1 in plain English: we haven't made the final decisions yet. Paragraph 2 in plain English: our talking points haven't changed. Paragraph 3: don't blame us if you don't like the system.
The third paragraph seems to be the one that the commissioners are focusing on most. They want everyone to know that the university presidents are the ones who will decide the final path forward. They said it right there, and BCS executive director Bill Hancock made a point of saying it too.
This is a bit of a cop out. With the BCS, the commissioners basically picked something and took it to the presidents to rubber stamp. They ran the show and the presidents just went along with it. However now that there's going to be a large change, they want you to know that their hands are clean. If you don't like something, don't blame them.
Hancock says the group hopes to have two or three options to present to presidents for them to pick from. I have a feeling that the disagreements are more about selection process than format. If they have two proposals, I'll bet they're a four-team playoff with special provisions for conference champions and a four-team playoff with a selection committee. If there is a third, I'd guess it's a plus one to placate Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
The other issues that they're still working on probably have to do with the distribution of revenue. That, however, I expect wouldn't change based on the selection process. It may not even change based on the format itself (plus one versus playoff) if they decide on a system that divides most of the revenue up independent of who actually plays in the games.
For now though, it sounds like nothing other than the status quo and a playoff system larger than four teams have been eliminated from consideration. It also sounds like the commissioners plan to deflect any criticism of the final system onto the presidents. Given that there will be complaining no matter what they choose, that's not a bad strategy. It won't work, but we're still in the stage where all hopes and dreams are still on the table.