The guys in charge of changing the BCS are headed back to Chicago, hoping to make more progress at a meeting Wednesday than they did the last time they were there.
Last week’s gathering of conference commissioners did little to advance the goal of reformatting the way college football crowns a champion.
It did produce reports of a standoff, with the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 on one side and the Big Ten and Pac-12 on the other. Fans started to worry the four-team playoff which once seemed inevitable after April meetings in Florida had fallen into jeopardy.
Talk of a “plus-one” format, which would not create national semifinals but instead pick the championship game participants after the major bowls are played, had seemingly crept back into the conversation.
But football fans can relax. There is no reason to panic.
Chances are still very good SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and their fellow conference leaders will get this thing worked out.
“There will be something for everybody,” BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said after the last get-together in Chicago, “but there won’t be everything for anybody.”
And deadlines might not be so firm.
In a perfect world, Wednesday’s meeting would produce a fairly detailed plan to be presented to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee when it meets on June 26 in Washington.
In that perfect world, the presidents would sign off on a plan that day and everyone could head for summer vacation knowing that at least the where and the when of the new format. That would set the table for television negotiations in the fall.
Nothing about the Bowl Championship Series has ever been perfect, of course, so don’t be surprised if the commissioners leave Chicago with things unsettled. And remember, the commissioners have said that deciding how the teams are picked is not even a priority right now.
After bolting a bit early from last week’s meeting, Scott told reporters the commissioners would present the presidents with “options – plural.” That comment set off a small firestorm and concerns that Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Florida President Bernie Machen and the 10 other university leaders on the oversight committee would be left to hammer out details.
There’s been plenty of positioning and posturing over the last month, but ultimately the commissioners have come too far and there is enough common ground for them not to reach their goal.
Just don’t expect perfection.
• Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press.