Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Football [Print without images]

Friday, February 20, 2009
Commish fans D.C. with BCS message

By Graham Watson
ESPN.com

Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson on Friday concludes a two-day trip to Washington designed to raise awareness of what he considers inadequacies in the Bowl Championship Series system.

We're not the most popular kid in the room. I understand that. But we feel that we are trying to help college football, fans and basically institute a more equitable system for the entire populace of college football.

-- Craig Thompson, MWC commissioner

Thompson, who held a brief teleconference with reporters, said he met with seven members of the House of Representatives' senior staff on Thursday and has several other meetings planned Friday. Because Congress is in recess, Thompson said he's speaking with staffers who will relay his message.

"We're simply here to educate, inform, make awareness about the BCS and we're trying to help our cause -- the Mountain West's cause and other conferences -- with the entire BCS system," Thompson said. "We are planning to submit within the next two weeks a proposal for changes in the BCS system. ... Our proposal will basically be for a more equitable system and we will have some suggested changes in the determination and a little more performance-based results and determination."

Thompson would not elaborate on specifics in his proposal, saying he needed to present it to his conference's board of directors before speaking publicly about his suggestions. He said the entire proposal would be released to his nine-member institutions and the media in the next couple of weeks.

Initially, it was believed that the Mountain West's case for BCS inclusion was prompted by Utah finishing its season undefeated, but Thompson said the foundation to change the BCS system was laid in the fall. The BCS, formerly broadcast on Fox, formed a new partnership with ESPN that runs from 2011 to '14 for the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls and from 2011 to '13 for the BCS National Championship Game. The deal certifies that each of the 11 conferences in the FBS and independents abide by the current rules of the BCS -- rules that still consider the Mountain West a non-automatic qualifying conference.

The Mountain West has hired Washington-based lobbying firm Arent Fox to aid its cause. Thompson said the firm helped him move from office to office Thursday to get out his message and educate senior staffers.

"I'm not certain that we're ultimately looking for government intervention, we're trying to raise public awareness," he said. "We're going to try and work within the system. Our proposal is going to go to the BCS commissioner."

Thompson and three Mountain West presidents met with ACC commissioner and current BCS coordinator John Swofford and administrator Bill Hancock in North Carolina last week and will meet again when the proposal is complete. Thompson would not say whether he was proposing a playoff to replace the current BCS system. He did say this proposal is solely being brought by the Mountain West and not the other four conferences without automatic qualifying bids.

Thompson acknowledged that his decision to lobby the federal government for BCS change is not a popular one with the current automatic qualifying conferences, but said such change needed to occur for the betterment of college football.

"You can't change something if there's nothing to look at and compare it to and suggest changes to," Thompson said. "Certainly, we're not the most popular kid in the room. I understand that. But we feel that we are trying to help college football, fans and basically institute a more equitable system for the entire populace of college football."

Graham Watson covers college football for ESPN.com.