BCS unity far from being reached

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/US Presswire

Several of the participants at Wednesday's BCS meeting declared significant progress was made during the dialogue. However, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany killed the universal harmony. If a consensus isn't soon reached, the process will drag on.

It was quite fitting that ACC commissioner John Swofford and SEC commissioner Mike Slive left Wednesday's BCS meeting praising the progress made by the group.

So was it just a coincidence that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott left the meeting early, and that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany bolted without meeting the media to express similar feelings?

The only people who can provide that answer are the ones in each BCS meeting, and no one was willing to offer it.

It once seemed as if a four-team playoff was the overwhelming accord. After Wednesday's meeting, it doesn't sound like such a sure thing anymore.

Each commissioner will report the meetings' discussions to their conference's presidents, with great detail on which commissioner is for what particular stance. The decision will be eventually made by the presidents. That once appeared possible at the BCS presidential oversight committee meeting on June 26. Now, that hope may be fading.

"Ultimately, our presidents decide," Larry Scott told the media before leaving the meeting early. "They'll have options -- plural."

It's Scott's last word, plural, that serves as a red flag. It indicates a consensus may not be so close after all. Progress is being made, but a specific model may be difficult and time-consuming to reach.

"There are some things where we're inches apart; there are some things where we're further apart," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "I'm still confident we will come together, we being the collective commissioners and the presidents."

Hancock described the meeting as a "cooperative effort" between all parties involved. While there was much growth, each commissioner has been respectful to discussions of other models.

"I think there's a focus on the four-team playoff and trying to find a consensus as to the best way that can work, that our conferences can be comfortable with and our presidents can consider," said John Swofford. "I don't think you can cut off all concentration about other models that can come into play."

The difference of opinion serves as no surprise for Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who is the only participant representing an individual school rather than an entire conference. He understands the difficult process of reaching a complete consensus.

"The level of detail here is sometimes underestimated," Swarbrick said. "You can have some difference of opinion on a very finite element of something and still have consensus as to the broader principle. That's the stage we're at, it's all about the narrow detail."

Swarbrick and the 11 conference commissioners will meet again in Chicago next week, with the hope of pushing for further progress.

In April, each individual met in Florida, and there appeared to be a mutual feeling of satisfaction, though many specific elements were not yet agreed upon. The group was able to iron out many issues on Wednesday.

"I thought we had a very productive meeting," Mike Slive said. "I think that if you're measuring it against the meeting we finished in April, I think we've made good progress. I think we're reaching a consensus slowly but surely on several of the issues. We know we need to go back and talk to our league presidents and get ready for the 26th."

The progress constructed in Wednesday's meeting could be seen as encouraging, but many key matters must be resolved -- namely for the group agreeing on one particular postseason model.

Hancock specified the goal for Wednesday's meeting as reaching "further refinement" before presenting to the presidents. If a consensus is not reached, the process will drag on.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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