Rational observers have long since understood that the death of the BCS was imminent and that some form of a playoff would eventually be implemented in college football. Now, though, it's all but official: the BCS is dead and college football will finally have a playoff beginning in 2014. The relevant post-BCS structural details, per the New York Times:
The four national semifinalists will be selected by a committee, much as the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament is set. No conference will automatically qualify one of its teams.
The two semifinal games will be rotated among six bowl sites over a 12-year period, and will be played Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. Those bowls have not been selected yet.
The championship game will be held at a neutral site, and cities will have the opportunity to bid on the event. The game will be played on the first Monday in January, unless it falls on Jan. 1.
The playoff selection committee’s makeup has not been determined. Its criteria for evaluating teams will include record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and whether it is its conference champion.
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but perhaps we should start the S-E-C! chant right about now, no? Prudence be damned, the SEC has seemingly gotten everything it wanted in the post-BCS environment. Four team playoff? Check. No automatic bids? Check. No cryptic computer rankings with unpublished formulas? Check. No cap on teams per conference? Check. If there is something that the SEC wanted that it apparently is not getting, I am not aware of it.
Now, keep in mind that several key details remain to be determined. As I see it, we've got three major issues which have yet to be resolved:
(1) Selection Committee: How many members will comprise the Selection Committee, and what backgrounds will the individual members have? Precisely how will they go about reaching their collective decisions, and will they be given unfettered discretion in doing so?
(2) Game Locations: The semifinals will rotate between six current bowl sites, which obviously allows for the four current BCS games (Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta), but what about the other two bowl sites? The Cotton Bowl will all but certainly be in the rotation for a variety of reasons -- tradition, facilities, major metropolitan area, etc. -- but who gets the final spot? The smart money is on either the Capital One Bowl or the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, but with two seminal sites already in the South, is it possible we have an outside-the-box choice located in a major metropolitan market in the northeast, mid-west, or mid-Atlantic? Also, will the National Championship Game go to the highest bidder of the six rotating semifinal sites, or will they open up bidding to other venues in other locations? If the latter is answered in the affirmative, venues such as, say, Yankee Stadium, FedEx Field, Arrowhead Stadium, or Soldier Field could very well host a national championship game.
(3) Playoff Name: Given that the "Final Four" has such brand value and tradition associated with NCAA basketball, it's highly unlikely that the NCAA will allow that to be diluted by also having the college football playoff referred to by the same moniker. Additionally, it was made clear today that the "BCS" would not be used moving forward, so what name do you have?
Exit question: With a four-team playoff in place and no automatic bids for conference champions, can there be any justification whatsoever for the continued existence of conference championship games? Money notwithstanding, the answer may very well be no. The SEC Championship Game could be going the way of the BCS.