COLLEGE FOOTBALL is on the verge of finally having a playoff, its own version of the final four. For the first time, all the power brokers who run the highest level of the sport are comfortable with the idea of deciding a championship the way it's done in just about every other sport.
"Yes, we've agreed to use the P-word," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said.
They want to limit it to four teams. That's for sure. Now they just have to figure out how to pick the teams, where and when to play the games and what to do with the bowls. The new format would go into effect after for the 2014 season.
"This is a seismic change for college football," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said after the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director wrapped up three days of meetings at a beachside hotel in Hollywood, Fla.
Hancock said the commissioners will present a "small number" of options for a four-team playoff to their leagues over the next month or so at conference meetings. Hancock estimated about two to seven configurations are being considered.
Now it's up to each conference to determine which option it likes best. The commissioners will get back together in June and try to come up with a final version, and eventually the university presidents will have sign off on it. That would probably come in July.
Hancock warned that if no agreement is reached, the fallback could be sticking with an overhauled version of the old system, which aims for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 championship game.
In other college news:
* Former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine was been hired as a consultant by the Maccabi "Bazan" Haifa franchise of the Israeli Basketball Super League. Fine will be based in the United States and will consult on player personnel decisions and help in the search for a coach. Fine was fired by Syracuse in November after two former team ball boys accused him of sexually abusing them more than 20 years ago. Fine has denied the allegations and has not been charged.
* The NCAA's Division I Board of Directors agreed to give some schools an additional year to meet new, more rigorous academic standards tied to postseason eligibility.
Cameron Tringale and Ken Duke shot 7-under 65 to share the lead at the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La., leaving defending champion Bubba Watson six strokes back in his first tournament since winning the Masters.
* Jennifer Rosales, Katie Futcher, Lindsay Wright and Caroline Hedwall shot 5-under 67 to share the first-round lead in the Mobile Bay (Ala.) LPGA Classic.