College Sports

SEC unanimously supports four-team playoff for major college football

DESTIN, Fla. -- All week long, the SEC's position on the participants in a proposed playoff system for major college football has been clear and united.

Now the conference's stance is official.

The SEC's presidents and athletic directors voted unanimously Friday to support a four-team playoff structure featuring the top four teams in the country.

"I think the fans would expect us to provide the four best teams in the country -- one, two, three, four," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "That is our current position."

For the moment, the SEC's position appears to form one half of a power struggle between the sport's power conferences.

The SEC and the Big 12 have expressed support for putting the top four teams, regardless of any qualifying factors, in a postseason playoff. On the other side, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have argued for a requirement that teams have to be conference champions -- or in the Pac-12's case, division champions, CBS Sports reported Friday -- to be eligible.

Slive and the rest of the SEC are adamantly opposed to those proposals.

Asked repeatedly what the SEC would do if a compromise is required between the two viewpoints -- such as three conference champions and one at-large team -- Slive kept reiterating that the SEC wants the best four teams.

Any other changes, Slive said, should be directed at how the best four teams are determined.

"If people aren't happy with the current system of how we rank them, then let's go back and look at the system that creates 1,2,3,4," Slive said. "I'm very open to how we would do that, whether it's a committee or a different set of data points."

Beyond the SEC's official position,

little was said by SEC administrators about the conference's plans in case the other conferences refuse to budge on the format.

"More or less, I think we're going to take that position, and see what the rest of the conferences do," LSU chancellor Michael Martin said. "I also think, by and large, that we know who the top four teams are. It's going to be very rare that you're going to have a huge discussion on whether or not the top four teams got in."

Another question swirling around the proposed playoff format is how long the plan will be put in place before the format is revisited.

The SEC would like to see a long-term agreement. Slive, in particular, said the agreement needs to last longer than four years.

"I think everybody would like to know what the rules are for a period of time so you can plan for that, visualize it and end that chapter of the discussion, so you can focus on other things," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.

The BCS commissioners will meet June 20 in Chicago. By then, the commissioners hope to have a playoff plan in place.

For the moment, though, the SEC seems set on getting the top four teams in the playoff, not a surprising stance given the conference's recent domination of college football, with the past six national champions.

"I think that's what the public wants, the four best teams," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. "Understand, the selection process and how they get there, all to be determined, but this league has determined it should be the four best teams."

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