CHICAGO - It was college football's version of Band of Brothers.
The sport's top decision-makers, 15 strong, stood together on a podium in the Camelot Room of the InterContinental Chicago Hotel late Wednesday afternoon.
"The fact we're all here together," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, "is an important statement."
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick made the announcement: "We are on the threshold of creating a new postseason structure for college football."
A group previously known for jousting over the complex issues surrounding a seeded four-team playoff achieved a consensus and will present its ideas Tuesday in Washington to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.
Once the presidents sign off -- and that seems likely -- major college football's champion will be decided by a playoff for the first time come the 2014 season.
Details of the plan were not made public. Slive said commissioners want to inform school presidents and athletic directors, as opposed to having them "read it in the paper."
One source, though, said the commissioners will recommend the creation of a selection committee to choose teams. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany probably will not get his way on the "hybrid" model of three conference champions and a wild card, but a selection committee would be charged with favoring teams that win a conference title and challenge themselves in the nonconference schedule.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has stood with Delany on the issue. He agreed that forming a selection committee could be an important step toward enhancing "the value of regular-season play."
There's consensus on using rotating bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange -- for now) to host semifinal games with the championship game to be bid out like the Super Bowl. And Delany and Scott are satisfied the Rose Bowl's value will be upheld; it is slated to host a semifinal game and a Big Ten-Pac 12 showdown in alternate years.
Several issues still need to be worked out, including dates of the games, the criteria a selection committee would use and revenue sharing.
Scott cautioned that it's "unlikely that every 'i' gets dotted and every 't' gets crossed" next week in Washington. "But I'm hopeful that on some main concepts we get the green light," he said.
Delany said details don't need to be hashed out until negotiations with TV partners begin in September or October.
Bottom line, this group of 11 conference commissioners, two assistants, Swarbrick and BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock found unity on the matters that really count.
"The biggest change," Hancock said, "is when the commissioners realized that they could preserve the importance of the regular season and have a playoff, that let them go down the road to considering how to do a playoff."
Camelot, according to Wikipedia, is viewed by scholars as "being entirely fictional, its geography perfect for romance writers."
What took place Wednesday not only marks one of the final steps in a historic change for college football. It was real.
Contains information from the Associated Press.