Jack Swarbrick snickered when the word "vacation" was dropped into the conversation Wednesday afternoon, not that he isn't looking forward to one -- somehow, someday.
But the next steps in helping to shape college football's postseason, and Notre Dame's place in it, continue to top the Irish athletic director's agenda.
The most notable revelations from Swarbrick on Wednesday were the criteria ND must meet to qualify for consideration for the top tier of bowls in years the Irish fall short of the Final Four, and that a selection committee will be charged with not only designating the four teams to play for the national title, but creating weekly standings of what it considers to be the top 20 teams from midseason on.
"We didn't want the top four teams to just come out of the blue at the end of the season," Swarbrick said.
The BCS presidential oversight committee finalized the historic and most difficult piece of the evolution on Tuesday -- rolling out a four-team, seeded playoff that merges into reality at the end of the 2014 season.
But that's just the most lucrative and glitzy part of the postseason picture. There is still a BCS tier of sorts, still a secondary bowl market, still a labyrinth of dangling details and negotiations ahead on all levels for Swarbrick.
"I think the secondary market will have trouble taking shape until we finish the work on the BCS stuff," Swarbrick said, with "we" being himself and the 11 commissioners of the FBS conferences who have done the grunt work in forging the seismic shift.
"And it is a mountain of work, notwithstanding getting agreement on the format. You take any piece of this -- creating a process to solicit bids for potential host bowls and picking them; the television negotiations; the contracts with the bowls; the creation of a selection committee and what its procedures will be -- there's a lot of work to be done."
ND's work, if it's not in the four-team playoff, will be to land somewhere in slots five through 12 of the selection committee's final standings. Those are the teams that are eligible for at-large spots in the top bowls.
But because there are six bowls that will rotate as hosts as the national semifinals and because of bowl tie-ins with the Rose, Champions and Orange bowls, there may be years with very limited at-large spots available.
"Because of the complexity of the Rose and Champions bowls and the Orange Bowl," Swarbrick said, "it's impossible in any year to say it'll be 'X' spots available for teams 5-12."
Currently, and through the end of the 2013 season, the Irish would need to finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings to be considered for the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta or Orange bowls -- and in the top eight to be guaranteed an at-large spot.
In the new college football world order, though, the line may blur between bowl tiers. Whereas, the BCS plateau of games was preordained to have the mega-payouts that dwarfed those of the other bowls, in the new structure, the market will determine payout and appeal.
Swarbrick envisions four tiers of games.
"There's a championship tier of the semis and the final," he said. "There's a tier of the other bowls involved in hosting the semis over a period of time, the six -- we'll call them BCS bowls.
"Then I think there will be another tier of sort of featured games outside that system, because of the location and history, that will be pretty good games. And then there will be a fourth tier."
Swarbrick will also be charged with finding landing spots for Notre Dame outside the top two tiers, though some media have speculated the Irish may try to include the Orange Bowl in those contingency plans.
"I'm confident the outcome of this (postseason plan) for Notre Dame will have better postseason options than what we have now," Swarbrick said of 2014 and beyond. "There is just too much left to do to be able to be able to quantify it beyond that, but these four years (2010-2013), we have not been in a very good position."
Notre Dame football: Still plenty of urgency to playoff details for Swarbrick
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