A committee of university presidents on Tuesday approved the BCS commissioners' plan for a four-team playoff to start in two years.
"A four team playoff doesn't go too far," Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger said. "It goes just the right amount."
The move completes a six-month process for the commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champion after years of griping from fans.
"There were differences of views," Steger said. "I think it would be a serious mistake to assume it was a rubber stamp."
Instead of simply matching the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a championship game after the regular season, the way the Bowl Championship Series has done since 1998, the new format will create a pair of national semifinals. No. 1 will play No. 4, and No. 2 will play No. 3. The sites of those games will rotate among the four current BCS games - Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar - and two more to be determined.
The winners will advance to the championship.
The teams will be selected by a committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set.
The commissioners want to lock in this format for 12 years with a television partner. The current BCS deal with ESPN runs through the 2013 season. The new format will be presented to potential TV partners in the fall, starting with ESPN.
There are still some details to work out, but all the decision-makers are on board.
Lower divisions of college football already have a playoff, but the highest level has always used bowls and polls to determine its champion. Those days are coming to an end.
"By making this change we felt we could enhance the regular season but at the same time provide the fans with the kind of postseason that will contribute to the regular season," Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said.
As far as what is driving this decision, CBS News' Armen Keteyian said it's money. "It was driving the massive realignment in college football this year," he told anchor Scott Pelley on "The CBS Evening News. "Just the television deal alone on this could be $350 or $400 million each and every year."
Earlier, former acting Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said before the meeting at a hotel in the DuPont Circle area of Washington that the commissioners will make about a 30-minute presentation, and then take questions from their bosses.
"The presidents have been pretty well briefed by their commissioners coming in, so it will be a matter of how much they want to discuss," he said.
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman has said he would prefer to keep the BCS as is or make a small modification to it that would have the championship matchup set after the bowls are played instead of before. The tweaked BCS is referred to as a plus-one.
"I know Harvey Perlman will speak to the plus-one. That's very well documented," Neinas said with a chuckle.
The commissioners have been working on a new postseason format since January. They have held six formal meetings, the last of which was last week in Chicago. At that meeting, they announced that they had come to a consensus on a plan.
Neinas, whose career in college sports spans more than five decades, said he is not surprised to see major college football on the verge of implementing a playoff for the first time.
"What people forget is the BCS is part of an evolution," Neinas said. "There was the alliance, the coalition, the BCS and now this new (format) would be the four-team playoff."