Officials: BCS too healthy to change
Bowl Championship Series officials rejected a plan Wednesday to turn the system for deciding a national champ into a four-team playoff, starting in the 2010 season.The BCS format will remain the same until at least the 2014 season.
"After a very thorough, very good discussion among the group, we have decided that because we feel at this time the BCS is in an unprecedented state of health, we feel it's never been healthier during its first decade, we have made a decision to move forward in the next cycle with the current format," Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said.
During five hours of meetings with the other conference commissioners, Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive presented a plan for a plus-one format, matching the No. 1 team in the nation against No. 4 and 2 vs. 3 in the marquee bowl games. The winners would meet about a week later in the BCS title game. The plan also called for creating another BCS bowl game.
In the end, only the SEC and ACC wanted to even continue the discussion of the plus-one.
"I'm not unhappy," Slive said after those meetings with the 10 other conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White at a resort hotel. "There's no such thing as standing pat. I think we've done a service. We owed the fans and media an explanation as to why we're not moving ahead.
"I can't say I'm surprised. There is a bit of disappointment."
There was no vote taken, the commissioners said, but the leaders of the Big East, Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten made it clear they did not want to move the BCS toward a playoff in any way.
Any change would've needed approval by university presidents.
In the current BCS format, the top two teams in the BCS standings which use polls and computer ratings to grade teams after the regular season are matched in the BCS national title game.
The idea behind the plus-one is to alleviate some of the controversy by sending four teams into the postseason with a chance to win the national championship.
The BCS has two years left on its current four-year, $320 million TV deal with Fox. Negotiations will likely begin in the fall on a new contract with Fox, that'll probably run through the 2013 season and lock in the current format.
The decision came as no surprise. It was a long shot to survive, at best.
Coming into the meeting, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen had said they were opposed to the seeded plus-one format that Slive was to present.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, for the first time, made it known publicly that their leagues were also against moving the BCS in any way toward a playoff.
"There's a strong sense in that room of the slippery slope view that there's never been a collegiate or professional playoff that's stopped at four teams," Delany said.
Tranghese said he favored an unseeded version of a plus-one, which would set the championship game matchup after the four major bowls are played using the BCS standings, over seeding the top four and playing them off.
"The seeded model looked like a playoff, and we don't think a playoff is in the best interest of college football," he said.
The Big Ten and Pac-10's relationship with the Rose Bowl has always been viewed as the major hurdle to changing the BCS. Turns out it was far from the only obstacle.
The concern about a playoff among college football's leaders is that it would make football a two-semester sport and would lessen the importance of a regular season that now has a do-or-die feel to it from week to week.
The Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998 after the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl agreed to join with the other five major conferences and three marquee bowls to create an annual national title game involving the top two teams in the country after the regular season.
While the BCS has created championship games that never would have happened under the old bowl system, it's been far from perfect. For the many college football fans desperate to see a playoff that would crown a more definitive champion, the BCS has been a target for their angst.
Almost every season, there's been some dispute leading into the championship game about whether the BCS selected the two most deserving teams.
In past years, undefeated Auburn was left out of the national title game after the 2004 season in favor of Southern California and Oklahoma. It was Auburn getting left out that first got Slive thinking that No. 1 vs. No. 2 might not be enough.
Nebraska reached the championship game after the 2002 season, despite getting blown out in its final regular-season game.
Last year, Georgia fans were the loudest to complain when the Bulldogs were left out of the BCS title game in favor of LSU and Ohio State.
"If it isn't broke," White said, "don't fix it."
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