College football's newest way to crown a national champion should become a lot clearer in south Florida today and Thursday.
The conference commissioners in charge of the Bowl Championship Series will meet for the fourth time this year, trying to sort out the future of the BCS. They are focusing on four options, though within each plan there are details to be worked out.
A final decision isn't expected to come from this round of meetings, but BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock has said he'd like the conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director to come out of them with extensive plans for the leagues to chew on over the next month or so.
■ BCS With Adjustments
What is it?: Basically, more of the same with tweaks. No more automatic bids. No more two teams per conference limit.
Pros: Three SEC teams in the big games.
Cons: Three SEC teams in the big games.
Chance it is chosen: It seems unlikely that the powers that be would tantalize fans with talk of expanding to a format that allows more teams the chance to enter the postseason with a shot to win the national title, and then pull the chair right out from under them.
■ Original "Plus One"
What is it?: Consider this the retro option. Instead of setting the championship game matchup after the regular season and conference title games are over in early December, the title game teams would be selected after the bowls are played. But it's not No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in the bowls.
Pros: The bowls are still important, and if you liked the old days when No. 1 could be playing in the Orange Bowl, while No. 2 was in the Cotton and No. 3 was in the Rose, this is for you.
Cons: Hard to sell this as progress.
Chance it is chosen: Outside chance. It allows the Big Ten and Pac-12 to keep the Rose Bowl as their private domain and injects championship implications into more postseason games.
■ Four-team event
What is it?: No. 1 plays No. 4 while No. 2 plays No. 3. A week later, the winners play for the national title.
The conference commissioners want the season to end closer to New Year's Day than it has been, so semis would likely be a few days before the calendar flips.
The games could be played in the traditional bowls, rotating around the way the BCS does now. Or the three new games could be awarded to the highest bidders and be played separate from the bowls. Or possibly some combination of those two.
But will fans travel to two neutral site games?
Pros: It's a playoff.
Cons: No matter how they configure it, people will complain that they screwed it up.
Chance it is chosen: If there is a leader among the formats, and Hancock insists there is not, this is it.
■ Four Teams Plus
What is it?: The four highest ranked teams meet in the semis, but the Big Ten and Pac-12 always play in the Rose Bowl. This could produce the oddity of three semifinals.
Pros: Delany and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott get what they want.
Cons: Three semifinals?
Chance it is chose: All you need to know is this quote from Slive: "It's not one of my favorites. What we're trying to do is simplify in many ways. I don't think that adds to the simplification of the postseason."
Good luck getting that through.