Monday, April 28, 2008
Television contracts, potential plus-one format among topics at BCS meetings
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- As they kicked off three days of meetings at an oceanfront resort, the Bowl Championship Series overseers appear to have a better chance of getting a sunburn than making any major changes in the controversial system.
"I continue to sense a certain comfort level, if you will, with the current status of things with the BCS," BCS coordinator John Swofford said after Monday's session. "I think it's been a pretty stable few years."
Still, the commissioners of the 11 major college football conferences, along with Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White, will have their most detailed discussions to date of the plus-one model, which could use two bowls as semifinals and another as a national title game, with the four participants seeded.
That conversation will take place Wednesday, with Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive leading it.
"We'll have a pretty specific discussion about that," Swofford said. "Up to this point, a lot of it, in some circles, has been somewhat conceptual. At some point, it needs to be a reasonably specific discussion and the potential ramifications of what that might be. We'll get there while we're here."
With negotiations on the next television contract set to begin in the fall, there's pressure to leave South Florida with some sense of what the BCS will look like after the present Fox deal expires in two years. Fox's current four-year, $320 million contract runs through the 2010 bowls, and the network is interested in being part of the next cycle.
"There's a lot to be done coming out of these meetings, and these meetings will help us lay the foundation of where we go with the next cycle, including format, including television, including the bowl partnerships," Swofford said.
The plus-one may not seem complicated. But the plan requires unanimous approval, and the Big Ten and Pac-10 have already made clear they oppose it. The other conferences have been noncommittal.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Monday that moving to a plus-one would equate to a playoff, and he sees no support for that option among the league's presidents.
Any new formula would have to work around the Rose Bowl's contract with ABC, the Pac-10 and the Big Ten, which runs through the January 2014 game. In a scheme governed by contracts, that's a hefty roadblock to overcome.
"That contract and that agreement is to be respected by this full body, and I think everyone understands that," Swofford said. "And that's a factor in the deliberations, and where those deliberations may lead us.
"With that said, there may well be other issues there as well. I don't think it's fair to say that that's the lone issue in terms of what the model and the format is the next cycle."
It's almost certain that the next cycle won't include a playoff, which remains a fantasy for many college football fans.
On Monday, the BCS announced that its oft-tweaked formula will undergo no changes this season.
The BCS will retain the same six computer rankings services and will use the Harris Poll for the next two years. The Harris and coaches' polls will still account for two-thirds of a team's BCS average, with the computers accounting for the other third.
"The formula itself, in the early years of the BCS, it seemed like almost annually we were tweaking that in some way," Swofford said. "That's stabilized in large measure and seems to be reasonably effective."
Swofford said the commissioners "feel like the initial two years with that poll have worked out quite well. That seems to have stabilized well."