If only we had known that an all-Southeastern Conference championship game would be the nail in the BCS' coffin and the springboard to a Division I-A college football playoff, well, we could have saved years and years of anguish.
How many years? Let's see. One of the first recorded quotes on a playoff system was attributed to Michigan coach Fritz Crisler -- he didn't see it happening, by the way -- in 1947. By the time a playoff game is finally played after the 2014 season, 67 years will have passed and Crisler will finally have been proved wrong.
Why after decades and decades of feasibility studies and committees and abandoned ideas with the bowl structure and college presidents pushing back against many coaches, fans and media … why and how after all of that did this come together in a matter of five months? It isn't as though it was rocket science -- four teams, three games, two weekends, one national champion.
First and foremost, somebody got out an adding machine. They plugged in TV income, title sponsorship, championship game site bids, and a dozen other revenue streams, hit the total button and came up with more money than Fritz Crisler ever envisioned existing. TV money alone could surpass $5 billion over the first 12-year agreement. That's opposed to the $155 million per year that the BCS-Rose Bowl coalition currently combines to produce.
No wonder Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, one of the last holdouts in the discussion, walked away calling the playoffs "probably the best new property that has come to the sports marketplace -- think about it -- maybe in our lifetime."
The sports marketplace -- and, by the way, fans, that would be you -- had a lot to do with it too. You were sick of the BCS. The recent Alabama-LSU title game was the tipping point that eroded whatever support fans might have had for the BCS system and convinced even the most recalcitrant conference leaders like those in the Big Ten and Big 12 that it was now or never.
That left a powerful and wealthy bowl system that had fought a playoff tooth and nail for years and was perfectly happy with the BCS formula. Then something interesting happened.
The SEC and Big 12 announced in May that they were creating a new bowl game, the Champions Bowl. Presto, just like that. They let it be known that they would support all three playoff games, not just the title round, being placed for bid outside the current bowl structure.
The message to Mr. Orange, Mr. Sugar and the rest was to get on board or get out of the way. They got on board and, incidentally, the Champions Bowl, which exists only in theory at this point, is now an equal as part of the semifinal playoff rotation.
There are still questions to be answered -- how big is the selection committee and who will serve; do the smaller schools and smaller leagues get an equal slice of the pie; how will conferences and bowls line up outside of the playoff rotation -- to name a couple. Plus, already, the subject of stipends for college athletes is being revived, probably for good reason. Regardless of the answers, the college football landscape has finally and forever been altered.
Even regular seasons should take on a different look because if the selection process mirrors the NCAA basketball tournament, strength of schedule during the nonconference slate will become a bigger factor. Teams that are serious players in the title chase will have to play serious schedules.
It should all be seriously fun. And it took only five months, give or take a few decades, to figure it out.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.