Change of guard in Pac-10 won't likely affect BCS Print
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Thursday, 07 May 2009 22:58
NCAAF Headline News

 PHOENIX (AP) -The coming change of commissioners in the Pac-10 provided a glimmer of hope for advocates of a college football playoff.
The retirement of Tom Hansen and the hiring of Larry Scott, the leader of the Women's Tennis Association, made some wonder whether the Pac-10 might soften its anti-playoff stance. The questions multiplied when Scott, who takes over in July, said he wanted ``to keep an open mind'' about expanding the Bowl Championship Series.
The leadership transition created a bit of buzz at the Pac-10's annual spring meetings at a resort here this week, as Hansen wound down his tenure and Scott unofficially made the rounds of meetings and cocktail parties.
Scott, who declined to be interviewed, has made a favorable impression on athletic directors, who used the informal setting to become acquainted with their new leader.
good said. ``Fresh eyes, fresh vision.''
But perhaps not a fresh take on the BCS.
``I don't expect (Scott) to come in and advocate revolution,'' said Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, chairman of the commissioner search committee. ``I think he'll come in and talk to the people in our league and hear a strong message that the BCS - we're there because we want to be.''
The Pac-10 isn't alone. The Big Ten, Big East and Big 12 also rejected an effort last year to turn the much-criticized system for deciding a national champion into a four-team playoff, starting in the 2010 season. The BCS later signed a four-year deal with ESPN, which would seem to forestall any drastic changes through 2014.
But even when things seem settled in the BCS, they aren't.
The Mountain West Conference, a partner in the current deal, has proposed an eight-team playoff. At the same time, Congress has become involved, with some politicians pressing for a playoff.
``I think a lot of people are talking about our proposal and the BCS in general,'' said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, whose conference coaches met across a hallway from the Pac-10 this week.
People also are talking about the changes that might come when Hansen retires after 26 years as Pac-10 commissioner.
h his ``open mind'' comment. He quickly learned that even a seemingly innocuous comment can churn the waters in the BCS.
``I think that was overplayed,'' Hansen said. ``He got snookered a little bit on that. He was trying to say that he wanted to learn more about that and other things, and a couple of writers jumped on that and just wanted to make a story about it.''
Bowlsby translated Scott's comment to, ``I'm here to learn.''
``I wasn't particularly troubled by that,'' Bowlsby said. ``It did sell some papers.''
Even if Scott did favor a drastic change, he wouldn't have the power to bring it about on his own. Commissioners can help shape a conference's position, but the ultimate authority belongs to university presidents.
``He'll reflect the position of the Pac-10, and the position of the Pac-10 is that it is very supportive of the bowl system and doesn't see positives in a playoff,'' Hansen said.
Hansen has long been portrayed as a sidekick to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, a staunch playoff opponent, and as a guardian of the Pac-10's long association with the Rose Bowl. Colleagues within the Pac-10 know Hansen as a strong advocate of women's sports - Pac-10 schools have won 113 national titles in women's sports, by far the most in the nation.
e public eye, the more people will see the warts,'' Livengood said. ``Tom doesn't have a lot of warts.''
The 44-year-old Scott, an All-American tennis player at Harvard, has been called the architect of the WTA's six-year, $88 million title sponsorship with Sony Ericsson, the largest sponsorship in women's sports.
Bowlsby said Scott was able to blend a diverse group of tournaments, sponsors, agents and players into a common entity.
``He put them all in a room and got them singing off the same sheet music,'' Bowlsby said. ``That's the environment in college football. It's the environment in our league.''
 

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