Bye-bye, BCS

Some sort of playoff system is on its way.

The expected became a reality Wednesday as college football’s leaders announced that they will move forward with a four-team seeded playoff to decide the sport’s champion starting in 2014.

The decision effectively ends the controversial and polarizing Bowl Championship Series system, which began in 1998 as a way to match the sport’s top two teams in a title game.

The decision has been expected for months as conference commissioners conceded as early as January that the relentless controversy would prompt a change to a playoff-style format. The only step remaining, which appears to be a formality, is the presentation of their plan to the B.C.S. oversight committee in Washington on Tuesday.

But much like the B.C.S. was constantly steeped in controversy, the selection of a four-team playoff still appears destined to inflame the sport’s passionate fans. While the B.C.S. commissioners did not announce the details of how they would pick the teams for the four-team playoff, a source with direct knowledge of the decision said the plan is for a selection committee to “more than likely” pick the four best teams.

There are still a lot of details to be worked out, including minor things such as how the money will be split up, but the first step has been taken. More from ESPN:

Sources told that under the recommended model, four participating teams would be selected by a committee, which would consider certain criteria such as conference championships and strength of schedule.

The two national semifinal games would be played within the existing BCS bowl games (Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar) on a rotating basis, with the host sites being predetermined before each season. The national championship game would be offered to the highest bidding city.

“We’re very unified,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. “There are issues that have yet to be finalized. There’s always devil in the detail, from the model to the selection process, but clearly we’ve made a lot of progress.”

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the recommendation was the product of a lot of negotiating and cooperation among the commissioners.

“I’m sure it won’t satisfy everyone,” Scott said. “Until you have an eight-team or 16-team seeded playoff, there will be folks out there that aren’t completely satisfied. We get that. But we’re trying to balance other important parties, like the value of the regular season, the bowls, the academic calendar.”

I think they ultimately will get to an 8-team or 16-team playoff, which is how it’s done in all other levels of college football, but just breaking out of the old system that everyone had to admit wasn’t working was the key. The reality distortion field around the league commissioners was strong enough for them to deny that for a long time. I’m still kind of amazed it has happened. We’ll see what format they approve next week. Hair Balls has more.

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