The Pac-12 is ready to embrace a four-team playoff, no plus-one attached. They got what they needed in negotiation. Now they're ready to embrace the new age.
Sources said the emphasis on conference champions by the selection committee was enough for the Pac-12 and Big Ten, which preferred a two-team, plus-one model, to compromise its position and join the other leagues in supporting a four-team playoff.
"We've had some differences," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said about the entire process, involving at least six in person meetings and hundreds of hours of discussion in the past six months.
How the selection committee will be chosen, how many individuals it will consist of and who will make up the committee (media, former coaches and/or athletic directors, current university personnel, etc.) has not been determined.
While many of you are probably grumbling about the Rose bowl cahooters in the B1G and the Pac dragging their feet, this is all about self-interest. With a selection committee that will probably be working off a college basketball model, more important factors like strength-of-schedule will become an integral part of the final metrics to determine the top four, the football final four. Considering the Pac-12 generally plays the hardest out-of-conference schedule, it'll be hard to exclude the top performer in the conference if they manage to score victories against their tougher foes in the conference and outside of it.
Additionally, the conference champion emphasis (not requirement) will make a selection committee have to think long and hard about considering the qualities of the best at-large against the Pac-12 champion if it ever came down to that final spot (and likewise if a Pac-12 at-large like the recent Stanford squads had to battle out a Wisconsin for a position in the battle). But the tradeoff of possibly having two teams for the likelihood of always having one can't be ignored. The conference has to fight for the arrangement that should generally secure their best squad a chance at a national championship.
With the rankings now obsolete, those hopes should be realized on a regular basis. In determining a #1 vs. #2 matchup, the rankings system was always prejudiced and based on which voting bloc was swayed the most, and voters tended to be as well-informed on who should be ranked 5th as much as they knew which local officials to vote for in their city elections. The selection committee should put the decision-making in the hands of a select few who have a solid understanding of what's going on here. As Dan Wetzel pointed out, it won't really matter how the four teams are selected, whether it be with conference champions only or top four or the proposed compromise of each pattern. The college football rankings system is hurtling toward its death spiral. The Pac-12 (and pretty much every conference not titled SEC) is better off with a selection committee that will recognize the merits.
And so will they be better off in this four-team playoff system, which should rake in millions more for the conference and its members and give players in the Pac-12 the feeling they're always in the mix for something bigger than just a trip to Rose Bowl.