Progress was declared after the BCS meetings in Chicago on Wednesday, but the laborious march toward a college football playoff is "far from finished," in the words of one participant in the talks.
That participant also described it as "wishful thinking" to believe a playoff plan would be finalized after the Collegiate Commissioners Association – the commissioners of the major conferences in NCAA Division I – meets a week from today in Chicago. It appears more likely that this will carry over to the BCS Presidential Oversight meetings June 26-27 in Washington – at least.
"Some conferences still want their presidents to be able to compare multiple options before they agree to anything," the participant told Yahoo! Sports. "Good intentions in the room. Just nothing definitive."
So the discussions will continue into the latter half of June and possibly spill over into July, if not later.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"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."
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told The Associated Press that the university presidents will ''have options – plural'' to consider when they meet in two weeks.
The BCS decision makers arrived in Chicago on Tuesday with consensus that college football's postseason had to be changed this summer – but with little consensus on how that should happen.
The most likely scenario after meetings in Florida in April was a four-team playoff, but even that rudimentary building block was challenged by some conferences after their spring meetings as talk of a plus-one formula resurfaced. Also to be decided were how the new postseason would be executed – via bowl games or neutral-site games to be bid out or a combination of the two (support for campus sites for the semifinals waned weeks ago).
There also has been significant disagreement over who would be involved in a potential playoff. Some – most notably Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive – wants the four best teams, regardless of conference affiliation. Others have said the field should be limited to conference champions, and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany suggested a caveat that the league champ must be in the top six of whatever ranking formula is used. And a hybrid of the two ideas – three conference champions plus one at-large team – has been touted as well.
The other major issue – which doesn't necessarily need to be hammered out this summer – is the method for choosing those four teams. Few people are happy with the current BCS rating system, which combines human polls and computers, and there has been much discussion of a selection committee that works similarly to the one used by college basketball and baseball.
But heading into this week's meetings there was no firm consensus on any of those points. That appears to be true coming out of Chicago as well.
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