As conference commissioners and BCS officials continue to work on putting together a four-team playoff in the FBS, the group is leaning toward having floating bowl sites for the semifinals, according to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.
While discussions continue over where the semifinals and final would be played, whether inside or outside of the bowls, there's reportedly a growing consensus that bowl games serve as hosts of the semifinals. Of course, the issue of where the games will be played is just one of the many aspects of the playoff that officials are working through as they hope to have a model in place by June 20 when they congregate in Chicago.
At the heart of the site issue, according to Dodd, is the issue of fairness. Officials do not want the top two seeds to be unfairly placed in semifinal sites. For instance, if the Rose Bowl was determined in advance to be a semifinal site, it's possible that a fourth-seeded UCLA squad could have home-field advantage over the No. 1 seed in Pasadena.
As Dodd notes, though, the major point of contention centers on the SEC's relationship with the Sugar Bowl, which has had an agreement to take that league's champion since 1976. Many of the conference's teams are situated close to New Orleans, and LSU has essentially played a national championship game in its backyard at the Superdome three times during the 14-year period of the BCS. What could occur to help that issue of unfairness is a “flex” plan being put in place, which would allow the bowls with the highest-seeded teams to host semifinals.
Five conferences currently have bowl tie-ins for their champions: Fiesta (Big 12), Sugar (SEC), Rose (Big Ten, Pac-12) and Orange (ACC). Beginning in 2014, however, only the Rose is certain to have its current tie-ins. The Rose is cool on the idea of being a national semifinal but would likely agree to it to make a playoff happen. The Champions Bowl, meanwhile, could also be involved in the four-team championship rotation. That game will pit the champions from the Big 12 and SEC.
It will be interesting to see how this plan, if it gets put into place, would affect independents like Notre Dame and BYU. Many believe that the Fighting Irish should join a conference in this ever-changing college landscape, but would there be a need to join a league if there's a floating bowl plan? Perhaps ND could align itself with the Orange or Fiesta Bowl so that it could land in one of those spots if it finished in the top four.
Certainly there is a lot to still work through, but officials continue to move forward in their attempt to bring a playoff to major-college football.
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