The BCS has made its' official announcement regarding the future of college football's playoff: two to seven four-team playoff plans will now be taken back to the conferences for further discussion. Two-team plans, eight-team plans and 16-team plans have been ruled out*. But the biggest news here is that a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 is all but unavoidable now.
BCS director Bill Hancock called the development a "seismic change," saying conferences are "listening to the fans."
Automatic qualifications for certain conferences will be done away with, Hancock also announced, rendering a portion of the latest conference realignment scramble moot. This means all conferences will hypothetically have a fair shot at making the tournament.
Concrete decisions will begin to be made later in the summer. Hancock hopes for July. Plenty remains to be squabbled over, chief being who gets which slice of money. Conferences will also need to work out where to play the games (on-campus games are still alive, said Hancock), how to choose which teams get to play, the fates of the bowl games and when exactly games will happen.
And, officially, that Rose Bowl plan the Big Ten proposed is not going to happen.
The full statement from the BCS:
"As part of our deliberations, we have carefully considered a number of concepts concerning the post-season structure for the BCS. From the start, we set out to protect college football's unique regular season which we see as the best regular season in sports. We are also mindful of the bowl tradition and seek to create a structure that continues to reward student-athletes with meaningful bowl appearances.
"Having carefully reviewed calendars and schedules, we believe that either an 8-team or a 16-team playoff would diminish the regular season and harm the bowls. College football's regular season is too important to diminish and we do not believe it's in the best interest of student-athletes, fans, or alumni to harm the regular season.
"Accordingly, as we proceed to review our options for improving the post-season, we have taken off the table both an 8-team and a 16-team playoff.
"We will continue to meet and review the exact structure for what a new post-season could look like. We are making substantial progress. We will present to our conferences a very small number of four-team options, each of which could be carried out in a number of ways.
"We have discussed in detail the advantages and disadvantages of in-bowl or out-of-bowl games.
We have discussed in detail the advantages and disadvantages of campus sites or neutral sites. We have discussed in detail the advantages and disadvantages of various ways to rank or qualify teams.
"Our process is proceeding as we have planned and we look forward to further conversations."
* Yes, this mean we can start advocating for a 32-team playoff, but we're not going to get very far.