Now that the current BCS system is on a two-year journey to the scrap heap, what remains are the how and the why.
While college football administrators have decided to ditch the status quo, the rest of the journey is right into a thicket with briars and brambles.
This we know: In two years, Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football will have a playoff system.
The devil is in the details as far as shape and form.
College presidents still have to get involved. Several of them, as well as other college officials, will have agendas.
It appears the playoff system will involve a four-team playoff that will likely be conducted on neutral sites, possibly alternating among major bowl sites.
That’s where things get tricky. Who chooses the four teams and by what criteria? Will this give other power conferences, particularly the Pac-10 and Big Ten, an avenue to limit the Southeastern Conference’s influence on the final four or two? And will that come about naturally, anyway? To get to the championship game in a playoff system, an SEC team must survive: 1. normally the toughest divisional schedule in the country; 2. a conference championship game; 3. a major bowl matchup against a very capable opponent.
One more major hurdle on the track.
It’s a good bet some form of the current bowl system will be preserved. It represents a good experience for the players, an extra couple of weeks of practice time (in essence, the equivalent of a spring practice); and something nice for coaches to put on their resumes — and another entry on the rotating dial of job security.
Nothing will be perfect. The other NCAA divisions have had playoffs (and larger ones for years) and there is usually controversy or debate.
If it’s a four-team playoff, some fifth- and sixth-teams will squawk and make their case that they belong in the four. If it were eight, the ninth- and 10th-teams will gripe.
There will always be the case, statistically, by strength of schedule, by late-season performance, et all, that somebody else really belong in the mix rather than the chosen ones.
No selection process can be flawless or completely objective.
While the rest of the road has a few bumps, if the national championship game is at a neutral site, it does pave the way for Jerry Jones to offer Cowboy Stadium, a first-class indoor facility in an easy accessible city, as that neutral site on a regular basis,
The powers-that-be, who will be lobbied relentlessly by coaches, college administrators and bowl officials, have a year or two to smooth some rough edges.
What is definite is some kind of small playoff set is on the way. And folks are going to have something else to cuss, discuss and kick around other than the BCS.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)