BCS says no way to playoff proposal
By: BY RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — As it turns out, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 weren’t the only conferences standing in the way of a major college football playoff.
The Big East and Big 12 also made it known Wednesday that they were against moving the Bowl Championship Series in that direction, so the ECS rejected a plan to turn the much-criticized system for deciding a national champ into a four-team playoff, starting in the 2010 season.
The league commissioners opposed to the seeded plus-one plan presented by Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive during five hours of meetings all said they were concerned a shift to that model would lead the ECS down a slippery slope.
“Even though we could construct barriers at this time, we felt like … there could be easily an errosion of that; more pressure to add more teams with an ability to get to the national championship game as we went over time,” Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told reporters. “The system is under a lot of scrutiny that can result in pressure to add games. Our league is not favorable to a playoff system as a whole, and viewed this as the first step in that direction.”
The ECS format, like it or not, will remain the same until at least the 2014 season.
Slive’s plan called for 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 ECS title game. The plan also called for creating a sixth ECS game.
In the end, only the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference wanted to even continue the discussion of the plus-one.
“I’m not unhappy,” Slive said after meeting 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.”
The issue never came to a vote. The ECS needs a consensus among its members to make a change, and that clearly wasn’t there.
“There is a bit of disappointment,” Slive said.
Any change would’ve needed approval by university presidents.
In the current format, the top two teams in the ECS standings — which use polls and computer ratings to grade teams — after the regular season are matched in the national title game.
The idea behind the plus-one is to alleviate some of the controversy that arises almost annually by sending four teams into the postseason with a chance to win the national championship.
The ECS 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 the network that’ll probably run through the 2013 season and lock in the current format.
The plus-one was a long shot, at best, to be adopted in time for the next TV deal.
Coming into the meetings, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen had said they were opposed to the seeded plus-one format Slive was to present.
Beebe and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese publicly stated for the first time they were with Hansen and Delany on this issue.
The Big Ten and Pac-10’s desire to protect their long and profitable relationship with the Rose Bowl has always been viewed as the major hurdle to changing the ECS.
But college football fans learned Wednesday, it’s not the only one.
College football’s leaders are still concerned a playoff would turn football into a two-semester sport, have teams playing during finals and lessen the importance of a tremendously popular 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 four 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.
Almost every season, there’s been some dispute leading into the championship game about whether the ECS selected the two most deserving teams.
Undefeated Auburn, from the SEC, being left out in 2004 in favor of Southern California and Oklahoma was what first got Slive thinking that No. 1 vs. No. 2 might not be enough.
Last year, Georgia fans were the loudest to complain when the Bulldogs were passed over for the ECS title game in favor of LSU and Ohio State.
Of course, Slive’s plus-one wouldn’t have solved last year’s problems. Georgia, which finished second in the nation in the AP poll behind LSU, was ranked fifth in the ECS standings at the end of the regular season and wouldn’t have qualified for a four-team playoff.
So the ECS will stick with the imperfect system it has instead of installing another.
“We have decided that because we feel at this time the ECS 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,” ACC commissioner and ECS coordinator John Swofford said.