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BCS meetings open with pitch for new voters

4/26/2005

PHOENIX -- The BCS officials came to the Valley of the Sun looking for some credibility, as if the desert heat could warm up the bones of their creaky system for picking a national champion.

In one regard, the BCS meeting that began Monday at the Royal Palms Resort sounded like the meetings of springs past. Once again, the officials are trying to rejigger the BCS formula.

"It's like a soap opera," Mid-American Conference commissioner Rick Chryst said before the meeting. "Watch 10 minutes and you get caught up.

"'Isn't that Erica Kane?'

"'Are we talking about the polls?'"

In another regard, however, the changes the BCS must make this year are more significant. Unlike past years, when the BCS officials tried to strike a balance between human polls and computer rankings, this year the officials are trying to peer into the souls of the would-be voters. The commissioners didn't like the controversy stirred up last December when the voters pushed Texas past California into the Rose Bowl in the final poll.

"Up until last year, there hasn't been a real focus on integrity," said Big 12 commissioner and BCS chair Kevin Weiberg. "That seemed to be a new element."

The Associated Press surveyed the wreckage, packed up its collective laptop and went home. The coaches, who have insisted for years that they would never reveal their ESPN/USA Today poll votes, are backpedaling faster than an All-American cornerback. If the coaches must reveal their final votes to remain part of the formula, American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff hinted Monday that they would do so.

"It is the desire of our coaches that we be involved," Teaff said before meeting with the BCS officials. "It's our game. It's our championship."

Afterward, he added, "If they tell us that they need us to release the final poll, we'll do what we believe is best for the game and best for the BCS."

The commissioners and athletic directors who are guiding the BCS sat and listened to Teaff, as well as representatives of the other major constituency groups in college football. If the BCS needs a new poll, then the fill-in-the-blank organization should run it.

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics made a pitch.

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame made a pitch.

"We're interested in a small poll of former coaches and administrators," said foundation head Steve Hatchell. "They asked us to come in and make a presentation and here we are."

The Football Writers Association of America, a separate group from the AP, explained why it wouldn't allow its poll to be involved.

The bones, creaky though they may be, will remain the same. There will be no playoff.

"I don't think discussion is all that bad a thing," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "The debate has been good for college football."

Oklahoma, of course, is 2-0 in that debate. The Sooners made the last two national championship games, edging out USC two years ago and Auburn last year.

"That's a good point," Castiglione said. "But we need to be 2-0 in the games."

And at the end of the day, the meeting broke up and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl hosted a reception. More meetings -- and more listening -- are scheduled for Tuesday.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.