College football's leaders came out of their meetings in Florida on Thursday saying that they've pretty much agreed to instigate a "Final Four" playoff -- a four-team playoff -- to begin when when the current BCS contract expires after the 2013 season.
Looks like we will have a playoff after the 2014 season, barring a major reversal when the Football Bowl Subdivision commissioners (and Notre Dame's Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick) meet again in June in Chicago. The commissioners will represent a variety of playoff models --all of them are four-team models -- to their university presidents in the next five to seven weeks.
What affect will the four-team playoff have on BYU's postseason chances if the Cougars remain a football independent? Hard to say right now, but they certainly didn't get any worse, and probably didn't get much better.
Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples explains it fairly well in this piece, including this telling paragraph:
"One thing is certain: The concept of the Automatic Qualifying conference is dead, and so is the rule that limits conferences to a maximum of two teams in the top bowls. That is terrible news for the Big East, which used its AQ status to lure several new programs after Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia announced their intentions to leave the conference. It is bittersweet news for the former non-AQ leagues. They no longer have to worry about schools leaving to chase AQ status, but they also gave up the bowl access points for which they fought over the past 10 years. With the exception of the Rose Bowl, which prefers a Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, the bowls may opt for an open-market system that should produce better matchups than the rigid rules that governed the BCS."
Talk of changes to the BCS system reminded me that BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe fielded a few questions regarding the matter two weeks ago.
""I am glad, I think there are proposals, or options, or whatever you want to all them, that are on the table that change the BCS," Holmoe said back then. "I think the changes are good. The BCS is always somewhat cloaked in secrecy, which is their modus operandi. But you can see they definitely want to make a change.
As you look at it, I mean, you have all seen it. Those changes are pretty drastic from what they have been. You can tell that they really don't want to go to a big playoff like March Madness or anything like that. They want to change what is perceived to be not the best for the sport."
Case you missed it, here's more of what Holmoe had to say two weeks ago when he was asked about BYU's independence and football future:
On whether BYU leaders have given him permission to approach conferences and perhaps leave independence:
"It is important for me to do whatever it takes to get the information that I need to lead BYU athletics forward to where we want to be.
You know that there are scenarios that are played out, and you have all talked about them, from the doomsday [scenario] where we are left out to where we are in the best conference in America. And everything in between.
So we have a contingency plan for every one of those. In order to have those contingency plans, you have to reshape them every time something new comes up. So as you see things happening, like in the Mountain West Conference, and Conference USA, since that is public and people are talking about that, although that has had its starts and stops. A number of things that they do effect us, and so as they move it kind of sets off a little reverberation in the sense of, 'what do we do?' How do we react?" So, physics, for every action there is an equal reaction."
Holmoe on whether there are any roadblocks, or things BYU won't give up, to get into a conference:
"I think Sunday play is the biggest. I think that goes to the mission of our university, and the foundation of our sponsoring institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everybody knows that, everybody is aware of that, and that won't change. I think that all the other topics have been discussed. And I think they are all things that can be worked out."
Holmoe on the longterm viability of independence knowing that the BCS system will be changed:
"What is longterm? I mean, people ask me that question. I have scheduled out for a number of years. I think that is longterm. Two years from now is longterm, for me. I think you can't plan beyond a year. I mean, it will be something we will get to in a while. But we are working on football contracts with Utah. And whoever thought we would be going year-to-year with the University of Utah in football contracts? So I don't know what longterm means. I know that it is viable now. I will say that things won't change much at all through the BCS contract, which is the [through] the 2012 and 2013 seasons. So we got two more years, two more seasons of football, that are going to be pretty much similar to how they have been now.
From this point forward, the April meetings with the BCS, and whatever meetings they plan after that, they will change things. And as they start to agree upon procedures and policies, then people start to ... it will start to distill out into what is going to happen. At that point in time, I will let you know. Or I will find out for myself."
Holmoe on whether BYU wants to be linked to Notre Dame, also a football independent:
"I think Notre Dame is in a great position. They are Notre Dame. They are an independent, we are an independent, but there are big differences in that. You have to understand that. Some schools have come and gone in their forays into independence. But we look at them as a model that they make it work, and they have made it work with that. There are issues at Notre Dame that have changed from 10-15 years ago. It is definitely not the same as it was, for any number of reasons.
I talk to Jack Swarbick, the athletic director at Notre Dame, occassionally, and I consult him on things that we are thinking about doing. And he is just a friend and an associate. And he has been helpful.
But we are really different. But he represents us, and helps me with the BCS issues, because we are similar. We are more similar to them than anyone else. And we will see what happens with them.
If they would lift a finger, for the past 50 years, they would be invited to any conference. So it is not a matter of them not getting an invitation. It is a matter of what they want to do. So I am not sure exactly what would be the tumblers that would make them want to leave where they are."
Knowing that BCS changes were in the works, but not knowing what they would be precisely, Holmoe talked about whether BYU would be more likely to join a conference:
"It just depends on what happens, because it depends on where an independent fits into that. Some of their proposals would probably be fine for us, and we could go on as an independent and play as an independent and get into whatever the series is going to be. But depending on what the entry is, into the BCS, or playoff, that could determine whether or not we would need to be associated with a conference."
Holmoe on whether potential changes scare him at all:
"Yeah, sure, it does. Because dealing with the unknown is always hard. The potential thoughts about what could happen are scary. But I think right now those are outlying [concerns]. I think it is going to fit right in here where we could go one way or the other. I don't think that the outlying things are going to happen right now, based on what you see. But, things change."