The athletics directors of the Big Ten and Pac-12 have agreed on the basics of a plus one playoff format for the BCS. Here's what they came up with:
The proposed format the ADs favored in a straw vote calls for adding a BCS bowl, probably the Cotton, and seeding the top four teams, which would play semifinals in two BCS bowls on a rotating basis. Presumably, the current BCS formula still would be used to rank teams. Winners would advance to a title game in what has become known as a "plus-one" format.
In this format, the Rose Bowl wouldn't host semifinal games in exchange for the right to preserve an annual matchup of the Big Ten and Pac-12, but would host the title game every five years.
Bud Withers, the journalist who wrote the report, points out that the above doesn't even count as a recommendation. It's also important to stress that this format was decided upon by athletics directors, who don't wield much power as far as these things go.
Conference commissioners and to a lesser extent bowl committees shape the format of the BCS. The commissioners do what they do based on the wishes of the university presidents they represent, so this plan has zero chance of coming to fruition if the presidents don't get on board. If you need evidence that presidents don't necessarily listen to their athletics departments, consider that SEC presidents voted 12-0 to cap football signees at 25 per year after the coaches voted 12-0 against the limit.
If the Big Ten and Pac-12 do end up on board with a plus one, it's likely that we'll get one after the current BCS contract expires in January 2014. The SEC and ACC made a joint pitch for a plus one in 2008 only to be shot down at BCS meetings. If those four all agree, I can't see the Big 12 or Big East wanting to or even having the power to resist.
There are plenty of issues with this plan, not the least of which is that all three components of the BCS formula are travesties. It's also nowhere near final though. We're a long, long, long way away from getting a plus one in the BCS. However, this is the first we've seen of any kind of broad support for a plus one out of those two conferences.
This is truly a time of great change in college athletics.