It didn't take the Justice Department or a nonsensical congressional committee to finally bring college football's leadership to its senses. All it took was dollar signs.
Last week, the NCAA brought us welcome news of the impending death of the infamous Bowl Championship Series. The clunky and ill-fated BCS had been used since 1998 to select the two teams that would play in the NCAA's championship football game.
But when the 2014 season begins, the BCS will be replaced with a modified playoff system that will involve four teams. The new system is not exactly how we would have designed things, but anything is better than the BCS, and we bid it good riddance.
The new system may also stop the clamoring about the BCS in, of all places, Congress.
The loudest voice against the BCS has been Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, but other lawmakers have complained when their local college football team was somehow slighted by the BCS.
That happened fairly frequently.
The BCS depended on polls, computers and "strength" of schedule, which often came into question. Sometimes, even great records were not enough to make the game.
Utah, Auburn, Boise State and TCU all had undefeated seasons at one time or another and did not make the BCS title game. Fans felt cheated and became cynical. During the Utah controversy, Hatch threw a tantrum in Washington and set about to hold congressional hearings designed to explore the feasibility
As we said at the time, one would think that Congress might have a little more on its mind than telling college football administrators how they should decide who should be their champion. But, well, it is Congress. Enough said.
The new system, which cannot be changed for 12 years, seems on the surface to be a major improvement.
The new format will involve four finalists in two rounds to determine the national champion. This was presented by commissioners of the top football conferences and finally approved by a committee on university playoffs.
We understand that for safety purposes the season cannot go on forever, but a four-team playoff is a fair compromise.
The current BCS bowls -- Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar -- plus two more to be determined later will act as rotating hosts.
Obviously, college football is driven by the almighty dollar, and that was clearly a sticking point during the BCS era, with big sponsors attaching themselves to major bowl games. With fear of diluting those games and the threat of sponsorship money evaporating, university presidents shied from pulling the plug on the BCS. But that has all changed.
TV revenue has become the big player for college athletics. Look no further than the Pacific 12 Conference, which inked the richest TV deal in history to the tune of $3 billion over 12 years. Those who approved the new football playoff were given estimates that the final four of college football could more than double the TV revenue of the BCS and Rose Bowl contracts.