WASHINGTON (AP) — The best way to determine a major college football champion seemed so obvious to so many for so long. Just have a playoff.
Now the people in charge of making that decision are on board, too.
Come 2014, the BCS is out. Playoffs are in.
A committee of university presidents approved a plan Tuesday for a four-team playoff put forward by commissioners of the top football conferences.
For years, the decision-makers had balked at any type of playoff because they said it would diminish the importance of the regular season. If only two teams had a chance to win a championship in the postseason, even one loss could be too many. That made for some high stakes regular-season matchups. As recently as 2008, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive proposed the type of plan adopted Tuesday, and it was quickly shot down.
Four years later, minds changed.
"It's a great day for college football," BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said. "As soon as the commissioners realized they could do this and protect the regular season, the light went on for everybody."
The move completes a six-month process for the commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champ after years of griping from fans. The latest configuration is certain to make even more money for the schools than the old system — and it still won't satisfy everyone. Some will think it's too small and, yes, there are some who liked things just the way they are.
"There were differences of views," Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said. "I think it would be a serious mistake to assume it was a rubber stamp."
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman was the most notable holdout. He had said that he preferred the status quo or a tweak of the Bowl Championship Series. Perlman said the playoff still wouldn't be his first choice, but he was not going to stand in the way of progress. After the commissioners presented their proposal to the presidents, it took the CEOs about an hour and a half to come to a decision.
"This is the package that was put forth and we will strongly support it," Perlman said.
Instead of simply matching the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a title game after the regular season, the way the BCS has done since 1998, the new format will create a pair of national semifinals.
The BCS has been a constant target for criticism. Lawmakers have railed against it. A political action committee was formed dedicated to its destruction. The Justice Department looked into whether it broke antitrust laws. Even President Obama said he wanted a playoff.
Now it's a reality.
No. 1 will play No. 4, and No. 2 will play No. 3 on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. The sites of those games will rotate among six bowls. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., is guaranteed a spot, and the to-be-determined site of the newly formed bowl created by the SEC and Big 12 is likely to be another, Slive said.