Officials kicking around BCS playoff formats

ACC chief Swofford says at meeting that sentiment has shifted

January 10, 2012|By Chris Dufresne Tribune Newspapers

New Orleans — — Hours after a 21-0 championship game and the conclusion of a bowl season that registered a downturn in television ratings, Bowl Championship Series conference commissioners met in a downtown hotel Tuesday to discuss possible changes to the postseason model.

Could you blame them?

The 14-year run of the BCS, which has two more years under the current contract, seems to have run its course.

At the 2008 spring meetings, commissioners voted down a four-team playoff proposal offered by the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences.

Is there a different sentiment now?

"Very different," ACC commissioner John Swofford said during a lunch break. "But I think we knew that coming in."

The 11 conference commissioners convened for the first of several meetings in the next few months that could reshape college football's postseason.

The BCS needs the next deal in place by early next fall.

Tuesday's meeting was called to allow commissioners a chance to throw all their ideas on the table.

The spectrum ranges from very little change in the current format to Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson's plan for a 16-team playoff.

The final model will likely fall in between but could take months to hone and formalize.

"This will not play well on Twitter," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "It will be very deliberate and very thoughtful."

Any new model would probably add another layer of evaluation to the championship process.

Nick Saban, after leading Alabama to a 21-0 win over LSU in the BCS title game behind five field goals from Jeremy Shelley and a late 34-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson, recalled the controversy in 2003 when his LSU team split the national title with Southern California.

Oklahoma and LSU finished first and second in the BCS standings even though USC was No.1 in both polls.

"There was a groundswell that a group wanted to have a game between LSU and USC," Saban said at his Tuesday morning news conference. "And I said at the time I was all for playing it."

Saban then added: "But I think that this is the system that we have. And I think your entire mindset is to sort of succeed in that system."

It's too soon, Hancock said, to guess what model might emerge. He said there were 50 to 60 concepts with different permutations.

The commissioners could begin the four-team playoff proposed in 2008 or consider an "unseeded" plan that would select the 1-2 matchup after the bowl games.

One plan floated would drop the automatic qualifier status for the six BCS conferences.

"We have a lot more cans to kick around," Hancock said.

Hancock said the commissioners are unified in preserving the importance of the regular season and conducting an annual title game.

The commissioners "want to build something the next generation will be very proud of," he said.

The BCS could have a rough model to present in time for its spring meetings in South Florida, or the process could extend through June meetings in Chicago.

Most anticipate some sort of shakeup.

"How seismic," Hancock said, "no one knows."

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