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Playoffs could be cash haul for college football

The Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the trophy after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9, 2012 in New Orleans, La. College football fans are on the cusp of getting a four-team playoff, which is also attractive to the NCAA's bottom line.

Jeremy Hobson: Today a committee of university presidents is expected to give college football fans something they've always wanted: a true football playoff resulting in one national chamption.

St. Louis Public Radio's Adam Allington reports.


Adam Allington: Call it a college football Final Four. Under a plan approved by BCS commissioners last week, the four "best" teams would play a semifinal within the existing BCS bowl games. The winners would then square off for the national championship.

Jon Steinbrecher is the commissioner of the Mid-America Athletic Conference. He says the new system, set to kick off in 2014, is more fair because it gives two extra teams a shot at a national championship. And it would do it, he says, without undercutting the existing bowl structure.

Jon Steinbrecher: We think it allows us to do that. So we're going to be able to grow the post-season or grow that national championship playoff a little bit, yet at the same time preserve some of the things about the regular season that we think are very important.

And by important, he means insanely valuable.

Michael MacCambridge: More money than you can shake a stick at plus the stick.

Michael MacCambridge is the author of the ESPN College Football encyclopedia.

MacCambridge: The conservative estimates are that a true national championship playoff could generate three to five times what the current BCS package makes.

Early numbers being tossed around claim a football playoff could generate nearly a half billion dollars for the NCAA.

But the plan is not without its critics. Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Pearlman chairs the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, which has to approve the new system.

Harvey Pearlman: I think if the Big 10 presidents were to vote today, we would vote for the status quo. We think it best serves college football; we think it best protects our student athletes.

As a member of the Big 10 Conference, Pearlman's teams risk being somewhat marginalized by the likes of the South East Conference, home to the last 6 BCS football champions.

On top of that, the complicated task of revenue distribution has yet to be hammered out -- but at this point, it seems clear that the money on the table will be more than enough to buy a little intercollegiate compromise.

In St. Louis, I'm Adam Allington for Marketplace.

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