WASHINGTON — College football will finally have a playoff. Come 2014, the BCS is dead.
A committee of university presidents on Tuesday approved the BCS commissioners' plan for a four-team playoff to start in two years.
"A four-team playoff doesn't go too far," Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger said. "It goes just the right amount."
The move completes a six-month process for the commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champion after years of griping from fans.
"There were differences of views," Steger said. "I think it would be a serious mistake to assume it was a rubber stamp."
Instead of simply matching the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a championship game after the regular season, the way the Bowl Championship Series has done since 1998, the new format will create a pair of national semifinals. No. 1 will play No. 4, and No. 2 will play No. 3. The sites of those games will rotate among the four current BCS games — Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar — and two more to be determined.
The winners will advance to the championship.
The teams will be selected by a committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set.
The commissioners want to lock in this format for 12 years with a television partner. The current BCS deal with ESPN runs through the 2013 season. The new format will be presented to potential TV partners in the fall, starting with ESPN.
There are some details to work out, but all the decision-makers are on board.
Lower divisions of college football already have a playoff, but the highest level has always used bowls and polls to determine its champion. Those days are coming to an end.
"By making this change we felt we could enhance the regular season but at the same time provide the fans with the kind of postseason that will contribute to the regular season," Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said.