Having stood on this very spot not four weeks ago and described in flippant detail the complete coast-to-coast inventory of reasons college football could never and would never agree on a viable playoff format, it is nonetheless more in relief than contrition that we discuss today the general outline of a miracle.
It is certainly no miracle that I was wrong about this or about anything else, as you're reading the words of a person who once put his hand on the shoulder of a suburban Philadelphia bartender and said solemnly, "Tony, listen to me, there will never be and I mean there will never be casino gambling in Atlantic City."
The important thing is that big-time college football, after just 143 years of mulling it over, has its little playoff miracle. Only two days old, it's still pink and pointy-headed and screaming for some kind of clarity, but there it is, the precious thing.
What shall we call it?
I know, The Finally Four.
"It doesn't go too far," said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger. "It goes just the right amount."
These parents of little miracles sometimes say the goofiest things, don't they? A four-team playoff for the national championship.
Not too far.
Not too short.
Amazing how that happens.
A committee shall select four teams after the regular season, with two semifinal playoff games in rotating bowl sites on or about New Year's Day, and the winners advancing to a title game the following Monday.
The authorities may consider this my formal application for a spot on that committee, there being an estimated 10 to 20 openings to be filled. The only real requirement announced so far is the so-called eye test, described in another burst of new-parental brilliance from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany:
"You can't pass the eye test unless you watch. You have to use your eyes."
What you have to watch is "plenty of college football."
How do you suppose that will be enforced?
I can watch plenty of college football, particularly if there is some implied compensation approximating the traditional amounts doled out to bowl presidents and committees.
But is the NCAA going to bust in on me one sunny Saturday to make sure I'm tracking Furman at Clemson?
Could be uncomfortable.
NCAA goon: What are you watching Collier? Is that . . . Swamp People?
Me: No, I swear.
NCAA goon: Well it's not Furman and Clemson!
Me. No, it's Rice and Louisiana Tech on ESPN3. They just talk like the Swamp People people.
NCAA goon: Gimme that remote. I'll find out. There, previous channel, and . . . oh my god.
Me. See, not Swamp People.
NCAA goon: What is that?
Me. All right, it's Hard Core Pawn. You gotta have mercy, man. I just watched Maryland at Temple and North Carolina State and Connecticut!
NCAA goon: We'll have your resignation please.
I wouldn't have been good on the committee anyway. Oregon, for example, would never have a chance with those uniforms. It's a football playoff fellas, not an apocalyptic battle between superhero beekeepers on some dystopian futurescape.
The committee is supposed to consider each school's record, its strength of schedule, its success in any head-to-head meetings (absent the concussion issue), and its place in conference standings.
That should represent a fundamental change in the approach to scheduling, as margin of victory doesn't seem to appear anywhere in the criteria.
So there is no longer any point in Oklahoma, for example, beating Texas Optometry, 77-3, in the opener, except that it hurts the Sooners to put the Fighting Fledgling Optometrists on the schedule in the first place.
This is not the college football you've known and despised lo these many years.
The first championship game is scheduled Jan. 12, 2015, giving all the engaged parties plenty of time to exchange their direct-deposit information.
One former BCS source was telling The Sporting News Wednesday that ESPN will have first crack at buying the whole package for what figures to come in at $5 billion over 10 years.
The new format is scheduled to be in place through 2025, but I expect that once some of the initial moneys are realized that an eight- or 16-team playoff grid won't be another 143 years in the making.
When that happens, you will eliminate the stubborn flaw still present in the new system, the six weeks of downtime Ohio State will have to wait between beating Michigan and playing in the national semifinal. By that time, many of the Buckeyes will have run out of available tattoo space.
In the meantime, you may take some quantum of solace in the two-year wait for the Finally Four to start walking.
Maybe by then, even Pitt and Penn State will be relevant to this discussion.
Talk about miracles.
Gene Collier: email@example.com First Published June 28, 2012 4:00 AM