CHICAGO — The BCS commissioners are backing a playoff plan with the sites for the national semifinals rotating among the major bowl games and a selection committee picking the teams.
The plan will be presented to university presidents next week for approval.
Once the presidents sign off — and that seems likely — major college football’s champion will be decided by a playoff for the first time starting in 2014.
“We are excited to be on the threshold of creating a new postseason structure for college football that builds on the great popularity of our sport,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said Wednesday.
All 11 commissioners stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind Swarbrick, who read the BCS statement from a podium set up in a hotel conference room.
The commissioners have been working on reshaping college football’s postseason since January. The meeting Wednesday was the sixth formal get-together of the year. They met for four hours and emerged with a commitment to stand behind a plan.
“I think we’re very unified,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.
The commissioners refrained from providing specifics of the plan in their announcement.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott did say the two semifinals would be worked into the existing major bowls and the site of the national championship game will be bid out to any city that wants it the way the NFL does it with the Super Bowl.
People with firsthand knowledge of the decision tell The Associated Press the semifinals of the proposed plan would rotate among the major bowls and not be tied to traditional conference relationships.
They also said that under the plan a selection committee would choose the schools that play for the national title.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the commissioners did not want to reveal many details before talking to their bosses.
“I am delighted,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who has supported a four-team playoff for years and whose league has won the last six BCS titles. “I am pleased with the progress we have made. There are some differences, but we will work them out. We’re trying to do what is in the best interest of the game
There was some debate about whether to have semifinal sites rotate between the major bowls or link the sites of the games to traditional conference affiliations. By linking sites to leagues Southeastern Conference teams could host games at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Pac-12 and Big Ten teams could host games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
But the logistical issues that come with not having the sites for the semifinals set in advance were too big a problem. Now it will be possible for Ohio State and Oregon to play a semifinal in Miami, the site of the Orange Bowl.