Commentary

Expect BCS venues to stay the same

Originally Published: February 12, 2009
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

The last piece of the postseason puzzle for the four seasons beginning in 2010 is about to fall into place. The BCS will meet with the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls in Naples, Fla., on Monday, the final day of the bowls' exclusive 30-day negotiating period. And within a matter of days, the BCS will announce that those three bowls again will join the Rose in the next four-year rotation.

Ho and hum. The format will be the same. The bowls will be the same. The network for the next four-year rotation might be different, but even that decision (FOX to ESPN) is a return to the status quo.

[+] EnlargeRose Bowl
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireThe Rose Bowl will have some familiar company when the next BCS rotation is announced.

In other words, as the public clamors for change, the commissioners who run the BCS continue resolutely down the same path.

"Everything has gone well so far," said ACC associate commissioner Mike Finn, the current spokesperson for the BCS. "They will finalize things in the next couple of weeks."

The meeting next week, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said, is "to iron out any differences in the final contract."

If this were high school, the BCS would be the geek. Everyone harasses him. The kids who like him keep it to themselves. Even Headmaster Obama chides him. And the BCS doesn't care. He knows who he is and where he's going. If that means he gets mocked, then he gets mocked.

That resolute manner is evident in the selection of the three bowls that will join the Rose Bowl (which, in a separate deal from the others, already is signed with the BCS through 2013). Every backslapper wearing a bowl blazer yearns for a BCS slot. You might think that the commissioners would conduct a bidding war, even in this economy.

For instance, there's Jerry World. The Dallas Cowboys Stadium that opens this year will seat at least 80,000. It will have a TV screen that stretches from Fort Worth to Dallas. It already has won the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, Super Bowl XLV (2011) and the 2014 Final Four. All that leaves out among America's great sporting events is the BCS National Championship Game and the U.S. Open.

Give Jerry Jones some time, and he'll figure out how to get Tiger Woods in the door. In the meantime, more pertinent to this discussion, Cowboys Stadium is the new home of the Cotton Bowl.

You remember the Cotton Bowl. It used to be one of the big four bowl games. But the Cotton Bowl couldn't withstand the demise of the Southwest Conference and the crapshoot that is the weather in Dallas on New Year's Day.

The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is now home to the Big 12 Conference. Cowboys Stadium will have a retractable roof. Those are two problems solved. Oklahoma and Texas A&M have both scheduled nonconference games there. Notre Dame and Arizona State will play there in 2013.

[+] EnlargeDallas Cowboys Stadium
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesThe new Dallas Cowboys Stadium will be ready, but don't expect the Cotton Bowl to be in the BCS mix.

But the Cotton Bowl has not had the first discussion with the BCS.

"Our philosophy is, we're ready when they're ready," Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker said. "We'll be there willing to do whatever we need to do to compete at the highest level of college football. … Arguably this is going to be the finest football facility in the world. It's out of our control. We're really just on hold."

The commissioners have handled this decision the same way they have handled every major decision: There's nothing wrong with what we're doing. So we'll keep doing it.

To their credit, the BCS is a success in the way that commissioners measure success. The BCS continues to attract TV viewers. It keeps the regular season relevant. It keeps the bowl system intact. It matches No. 1 and No. 2, and it prevents college football from leaking farther into January.

Those aren't reasons that make the heart of Joe Fan go pitter-patter. But the commissioners believe in the BCS, even if their decisions challenge rule No. 1 in any business that sells to the public: The customer is always right. The customer has been screaming loudly at the BCS for years, to little avail.

The Cotton Bowl might be a better venue than the Fiesta, the Sugar or the Orange. It might not. But all you need to know about the BCS and how it has done things is that no one has asked the question.

Before this year is out, there will be new commissioners in the Pac-10, the Big East and the Mid-American conferences. New blood will circulate. President Obama will continue to wave a pom-pom for a playoff. It could be that the next four-year rotation will be the last for the BCS in its present form.

Or it could be that the BCS is the kid in class who doesn't care that all the other ones make fun of him.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at Ivan.Maisel@ESPN3.com. His book, "The Maisel Report: College Football's Most Overrated & Underrated Players, Coaches, Teams, and Traditions," is on sale now. For more information, go to TheMaiselReport.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com