Computers will remain a part, with changes

Updated: April 29, 2004, 9:19 AM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Computers will remain a part of the process to determine the teams to play for the national title in the new formula being worked out by the Bowl Championship Series.

Their role, however, will not be so big as to skew the process as they did in the selection of Oklahoma for the BCS title game last season, even though the Sooners were ranked No. 3 in both human polls, behind USC and LSU.

BCS coordinator Mike Tranghese, commissioner of the Big East Conference, revealed those components of a new formula still being put together, and discussed at length by BCS member athletic directors and other conference officials on Wednesday.

While he revealed few other details, he said all four "models" being considered would have had Oregon, instead of Nebraska, reaching the title game after the 2001 season, and USC making it, rather than Oklahoma, last season.

The formula used last season had USC at No. 3 in the BCS rankings, even though the Trojans were No. 1 in both The Associated Press and ESPN-USA Today polls. The ESPN-USA Today poll, determined by a vote of coaches, automatically gives its national title to the winner of the BCS title game. The AP poll has no such requirement.

As a result, LSU won the BCS national championship after defeating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, while USC was voted the champ in the AP poll after topping Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Tranghese said the BCS expects to unveil its revamped formula in early June.

"These models were embraced," Tranghese said. "Now it's a matter of testing some of them. I think we're in the final stage of saying this is exactly how we're going to do it."

The BCS has rejected a proposal that would ban any team that didn't win its conference championship from the national title contest. Oklahoma advanced to the title game against LSU last season despite losing to Kansas State for the Big 12 championship.

"We're not going to put that rule in because I can create a scenario where a team doesn't win its championship, where the public would yell and scream that they ought to be there, or the polls would say that they're No. 1 or 2," Tranghese said.

He said computer polls are needed to tweak inherent problems that exist in The Associated Press and ESPN-USA Today polls.

"The human polls are flawed, and the public doesn't want to hear that," Tranghese said. "They're flawed because they start from a position that is incorrect. You can't rank a team that hasn't played a football game."

For example, he said if one team was ranked first and another No. 25 in the preseason poll, and both win all their games, there is no way for the team that started with the lower ranking to overtake the No. 1 team.

There was a lengthy conversation about the creation of a fifth bowl to give access to conferences that are not part of the BCS, but there were no conclusions and that process was far from completed, Tranghese said.

Meanwhile, a proposal for a fifth bowl game after the other four BCS contests to determine a national champion appeared headed nowhere, at least for now.

Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said his member university presidents are unanimously against it.

"They are philosophically opposed because they believe that its the next step toward a full playoff that they're completely, totally opposed to," Hansen said.

Most BCS conferences have a similar view, Hansen said.

"I think there's general support for 'try everything first and then only as a last resort look at that,' " he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press