|ON FOOTBALL: BCS rarely moves without push|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 29 April 2008 13:09|
They had come to South Florida to discuss the merits of the plus-one model, which could radically alter major college football's bowl system. They might as well have been debating whether to order shrimp or stone crabs.
Nothing produces change in the BCS like conflict. And there wasn't much at the oceanfront resort where the BCS overseers are meeting this week.
That's why the 11 commissioners who run the BCS, along with Notre Dame's athletic director, are hesitant to make the seemingly simple move to a plus-one model. They don't have to.
Fans and commentators have labeled the BCS unfair and anti-American. But no one - not even the passionate followers of the Georgia Bulldogs, the latest in a long line of parties aggrieved by the BCS - stormed the beach this week, demanding that the BCS be blown to the heavens.
There simply hasn't been the sort of pressure required to bring significant changes in the BCS, the latest scheme to create a national champion in a sport ruled by intensely regional interests.
``To be honest with you, I think the calls for change are more external than they are internal,'' Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said on Tuesday.
Change can be good, even when it's forced on the BCS.
When the BCS has tweaked (read: improved) its incomprehensible formula for ranking teams, it has often been in response to prior injustices.
The BCS added a fifth bowl after Tulane president Scott Cowen pressed for access for nonaligned conferences. Faced with Congressional action, the overlords reluctantly opened the gates to the Mountain West, Conference USA and their ilk, beginning in the 2006 season.
The BCS chiefs and their bowl partners gritted their teeth all the way. Then along came Boise State, which stunned Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Suddenly, having the little guys around didn't seem like such a terrible idea.
``We didn't embrace it,'' Delany said. ``It was put on us by Cowen and Congress, but sometimes you don't always do what you should do, but we did that.''
So now the question is, should they move to the plus-one model that will be presented by Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive on Wednesday?
Under that plan, the top four teams would be seeded in semifinal bowls, with the winners meeting in a national title game. The plus-one would replace the present format, by which the No. 1 vs. No. 2 title game is set after the regular season, often creating a storm of controversy.
Delany and the Big Ten oppose the change, as does the Pac-10. Most other conferences seem to be lukewarm at best.
``We're in a situation now, I don't think there's any doom and gloom, either about the regular season or about the postseason,'' Delany said.
Read: Everyone, or just about everyone, is happy with the status quo.
Change isn't likely to be forced by the three Congressmen who recently said they want the Justice Department to investigate whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.
It's been suggested that television networks might pressure the BCS to move toward a playoff. But after meeting with BCS officials on Tuesday, Fox representatives said they're committed to re-upping when their present four-year, $320-million deal expires after the 2010 bowls - change or no change.
``Certainly the public would like to see a change,'' Fox sports president Ed Goren said. ``If there's a change, we're on board. If it stays the same, we're thrilled. We just want to be associated with this product. It is a great, great product.
``I think there's this wonderful misconception that television controls these leagues,'' Goren said with a chuckle. ``I'm still waiting.''
And many college football fans are still waiting for the BCS to morph into a playoff. They should not hold their breath.
The BCS will continue to evolve, although it probably won't change dramatically until 2014, at the earliest. That's when the Big Ten and Pac-10 contract with the Rose Bowl expires. At that point, the whole system could come into play, and things might start to move.
``Sometimes, these types of things are there and considered and don't bear fruition at this given point in time, but could possibly bear fruition at a later point in time,'' BCS coordinator John Swofford said. ``You just never know.''
With the BCS, change often comes when no one expects it, including the people who run the thing. The sky may be clear for now. But storm clouds are never far away.