Official: 'Plus-one' proposal may not be realistic

Updated: April 28, 2004, 3:07 AM ET
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

While ABC Sports tantalized the BCS commissioners Tuesday afternoon with the concept of a championship game after the bowls, the chair of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee said that the "plus-one" plans are dead in the water.

"I know of three and maybe four conferences where the additional bowl model would be the only one acceptable," said University of Oregon president David Frohnmayer, the committee chair, speaking from his office. "No one is authorized to agree to anything other than what we agreed to in Miami, and fine-tuned in Washington, D.C. last week."

Frohnmayer referred to the plan that he and Tulane president Scott Cowen announced last month in Miami that would add a fifth bowl to accommodate qualifying teams from the current non-BCS conferences. That plan would increase the amount of BCS revenue that goes to the smaller conferences from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

ABC Sports vice president Loren Matthews met with the commissioners of the 11 Division I-A conferences Tuesday in Phoenix to present various plans using the "five-plus-one" concept, in which the BCS would include five bowls, plus a game between the top two post-bowl teams a week later. Matthews made no monetary offer concerning the five-plus-one proposals, nor did any of the commissioners ask him for an estimate.

"There was no talk of money at all," Big East commissioner Michael Tranghese, the BCS chairman, said Tuesday night. "Our interest is to develop an overview from the fifth game to the plus-one to the economic issues, and present it to the presidents."

Frohnmayer and his committee said in March that the presidents are against a "plus-one" concept because they believe that football should be a one-season sport. The added game would take college football as late as Jan. 10.

The Pacific-10 Conference has been adamant in its opposition to the additional championship game. However, another BCS official said that the presidents in the Big 12, the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences favor it. While all members in the BCS are equal, there's also the knowledge that the Pac-10 and Big Ten can always withdraw to the Rose Bowl and be happy.

To this point, the conferences have never taken a vote on any issue. They have always reached a consensus. However, as if to underline the necessity of everyone being in agreement, Tranghese pointed out, "This is a voluntary association."

In March, Frohnmayer and Cowen said that the fifth bowl would be added "if the market supports it." However, by discussing the proposal, it's clear that ABC and the commissioners consider the fifth bowl a fait accompli. Before Matthews met with the commissioners, representatives of the four BCS bowls met and reiterated their opposition to adding a fifth game, which will dilute their franchise by 20 percent.

"They didn't say anything we hadn't heard already," Tranghese said. "The bowls are looking at it from a business point of view. They made the argument that it does not hold up. But we've been told to create more access."

The solution to creating more access and maintaining economic viability, Tranghese said, is the plus-one model. ABC clearly believes that the appeal of a five-plus-one plan in the commercial marketplace could be sufficient enough to override the presidential concerns.

"What we're going to have to do," Tranghese said, "is go back to them with how the five-game model can be done and what it would mean financially. I guess the presidents reserve the right to change their mind."

While Tranghese didn't go into detail, two people in the meeting said that ABC suggested moving one or two of the five games before Christmas in order to rake in the holiday advertising dollar. However, since the BCS participants are not determined until the first Saturday in December, the logistics of playing one of the games fewer than three weeks later are considered too daunting.

On Wednesday, the commissioners will begin discussing how to alter the BCS formula to avoid the dilemma of last season, when USC was No. 1 in both major polls and failed to qualify for the BCS championship game. Tranghese said Tuesday night that no decisions will be made Wednesday.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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