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How The BCS Playoff Is Likely To Be Decided

Here’s what will probably happen.

On Wednesday, the BCS meetings continued in Chicago, though there was no word on whether any of the outstanding issues had been resolved. While it has been communicated that the status quo is no longer acceptable, the only item that the BCS commissioners (and ND’s Jack Swarbrick) have agreed upon is that a four team playoff seems likely.

As they say, the devil is in the details. If there are only four spots available in the playoff, and five major conferences (sorry Big East), how do you go about deciding who makes the cut? What if the top three teams in the country reside in the same conference? What about Notre Dame?

The ACC and Big East, neither of which has had a team in the BCS National Championship since 2002, are both pushing for conference champions to be given preference for the playoff. The Pac-12 also favors conference champions, but not as adamantly. The SEC and Big 12 stand opposite, pushing for the best four teams regardless of conference affiliation. The Big Ten sits squarely in the middle, advocating the four teams be chosen by a selection committee (I’ve explained my theory on that here). Notre Dame, an independent, obviously doesn’t want conference champions to be given preference, and has voiced that it wants strength of schedule to become a bigger part of the equation.

Clearly, there is going to have to be a great deal of compromise. If an ACC team is among the top four in the nation, it deserves to have a shot at the title. Similarly, if the SEC boasts two of the top four teams, it deserves to see them both be invited to the playoff. If Notre Dame has a great season, it also might deserve inclusion.

As stated earlier, the main word here is compromise. When you have two or three extremes, the solution usually lies in the middle ground. And in this case, the middle ground is a selection committee. A committee could objectively look at every team in the top 10 or 15 and use a variety of factors to determine whether they warrant a shot at playing for the championship. Would there still be complaints? Of course – I’m sure the 5th ranked team every year would cry foul. But it’s obvious that these BCS meetings won’t end until everyone feels they’ve been heard. With a selection committee, the ACC and Big East at least have hope, and the Big 12 and SEC will continue to have the opportunity to show the country that they boast the best teams.