More BCS changes, but no playoffs

Published: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 11:27 p.m.
GRAPEVINE, Texas - While there still won't be a playoff in the Bowl Championship Series, the system will definitely be changed again.
Commissioners from the 11 Division I-A conferences met for more than five hours Friday to discuss needed changes. The meeting on the first day of the NCAA convention was only the first step.
"We just really began conversations," ACC commissioner John Swofford said. "I don't think any of us had the expectations that this would go too awfully far."
The primary issue is determining how to rank teams, especially the two that play for the BCS championship. This was the commissioners' first meeting since The Associated Press last month asked that its poll not be used in the system's formula any longer.
BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said commissioners discussed a wide range of BCS issues. They also talked about determining which conferences get automatic spots in the system and the format for 2006, when a fifth BCS game is added.
"We had a productive discussion," Weiberg said. "We were framing the issues, not making any decisions."
There was no discussion of a playoff, Weiberg said, because there is no interest from school presidents and chancellors for such a system.
Weiberg said the BCS could look for a suitable replacement for the AP poll in rankings or use a committee approach similar to the one used by the NCAA to select the 65-team basketball tournament. Or there could be a combination of those two approaches.
"I don't know if I heard a best idea, but I heard a lot of thoughts," said Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive, who is more open-minded to a committee approach since the AP poll has to be replaced.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, the past BCS chairman, has championed the idea of a selection committee. He left early to catch a flight home, referring questions to Weiberg.
The BCS formula had been streamlined this season to put heavy emphasis on the two human polls, the AP and the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. Six computer rankings are also part of the formula.
If the system moved ahead with just the coaches poll, Weiberg said he would be concerned if the coaches continue to keep their votes private.
"The transparency issue is one of our most important," Weiberg said. "That would put us is a position to have some level of discomfort moving forward."
The American Football Coaches Association is expected to discuss that issue when it begins its convention Sunday in Louisville, Ky. Coaches voted last month against releasing their final ballots.
The I-A commissioners aren't expected to meet again until April, but may not make any final decisions then.
"Our goal is to get to April with a pretty firm direction," Weiberg said.
Weiberg said a committee approach to the BCS would be different than that of basketball, which uses a 10-person committee of conference commissioners and athletic directors to set the 65-team field at the end of the regular season. He envisions a committee meeting several times through the season.
"We did not get into the details, but I think there is interest in it," Weiberg said. "We realize a lot of the same issues apply."
In the same way that coaches and media have voted on polls, a committee would have to rank teams. Determining who votes and the criteria they would use remain issues.
This was the seventh year of the BCS. Five teams, two from non-BCS conferences, went into the postseason undefeated.
No. 1 Southern California won the BCS championship and completed its undefeated season with a 55-19 win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. No. 3 Auburn also finished 13-0, beating West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.
Mountain West Conference champion Utah was the first BCS outsider to play in one of the four big-money bowls, winning over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Western Athletic Conference champion had to settle for the Liberty Bowl, and lost its first game to Louisville.
Notre Dame is also part of the BCS, but athletic director Kevin White was unable to attend Friday's meeting because of a football recruiting weekend on the South Bend campus.
Issues facing the NCAA Here are the major issues that will be discussed at the NCAA convention this weekend.
  • Increasing the regular football season to 12 games: A proposal would create a 12-game regular season every year for Division I-A and I-AA instead of occasionally, as it is now. Proponents mention revenue increases. Detractors say it would make the season too long. Others say lengthening the season would kill all talk of a playoff.
  • Academic penalties: A committee draws the line for what scores teams will need in new academic performance ratings. Teams that don't meet the standard could lose scholarships starting with recruiting during the 2005-06 academic year.
  • Selection of BCS teams: This isn't an official part of the convention because the Bowl Championship Series isn't a part of the NCAA. The conferences and Notre Dame run the BCS. Conference commissioners will meet to discuss alternatives for team selection now that The Associated Press has prevented the BCS from using its media poll.
  • Fiscal responsibility: This will be NCAA President Myles Brand's theme, and it comes at a time when the number of football coaches making $2 million a year is increasing.
  • Division I-A membership standards: The Division I board of directors will decide whether to soften a controversial rule that went into effect this year, requiring schools, among other things, to average at least 15,000 fans per home game in football. This is an important issue for schools that fall below that mark.
    - The Indianapolis Star
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