Tuesday, December 21, 2004
BCS formula may be on its deathbed
By Ivan Maisel ESPN.com
The Associated Press did the dirty work for the Bowl Championship Series. The AP's decision to pull its poll from the BCS Standings is all but a death sentence for the 7-year-old idea of the formula, which has gone through more changes in its brief life than Madonna.
Rather than use another poll in the formula, a BCS official said Tuesday night that the BCS commissioners are considering appointing a blue-ribbon committee of athletic directors and other executives to name the teams that will play in the national championship game.
The concept, although foreign to college football, is not foreign to the NCAA as a whole. Many NCAA postseason playoff participants are named by committees, including March Madness.
The commissioners understand that the credibility of the BCS is at stake. The AP is out, and the American Football Coaches Association has refused to reveal the votes of its members in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, the current BCS chair, released a statement Tuesday saying that, "We respect the decision of The Associated Press to no longer have its poll included in the BCS standings. Since the inception of the BCS, the AP poll has been a part of our standings. We appreciate the cooperation we have received from the organization in providing its rankings on a weekly basis. We will discuss alternatives to The Associated Press poll at upcoming BCS meetings and plan to conclude our evaluation of the BCS standings formula, including any other possible changes, by our April meeting."
Weiberg was traveling Tuesday and couldn't be reached for further comment. As the BCS chair, he will give an informal State of the BCS talk at the Football Writers Association of America annual meeting on Jan. 4, the morning of the BCS championship game, the FedEx Orange Bowl.
By pulling out of the formula, the AP has come full circle. In 1998, a sufficient number of AP members didn't want their college football writers to be responsible for voting teams into the national championship game that the Division I-A commissioners developed the Bowl Championship Series formula to determine the standings used to pick teams for the BCS games.
AP members, worried about making the news instead of reporting it, felt better that their poll was only indirectly responsible for which teams received the eight-figure payout (this season: $14.4 million).
However, after the controversy in 2003, when USC finished No. 1 in both the AP and the ESPN/USA Today polls and failed to qualify for the championship game, the BCS simplified its formula to rely more heavily on the polls.
With USC, Oklahoma and Auburn all finishing the regular season undefeated, the simpler formula didn't end the controversy. The controversy, however, renewed the AP's concerns regarding making news.
An AP voter in Alabama, Paul Gattis of the Huntsville Times, was chastised for voting Auburn No. 3 by the editor of his paper -- in print. Three AP voters in Texas drew attention when they moved Texas ahead of California in the final poll, helping the Longhorns qualify for a BCS berth in the Rose Bowl instead of the Golden Bears.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.