Florida president backs off playoff plan at SEC meetings

Updated: June 1, 2007, 10:59 PM ET
Associated Press

DESTIN, Fla. -- Florida president Bernie Machen backed off his playoff football proposal after conferring with colleagues at the Southeastern Conference's spring meeting.

Machen decided it's better to work within the confines of the current Bowl Championship Series system.

"What we learned today from my colleagues is that we see the world pretty much the same way," Machen said Friday on the final day of the annual meeting. "We see the problems in the current system.

"They are persuaded, and I am now persuaded, that the best way to proceed is to try to work within the BCS structure, to make some changes to make it better. That seems to me to be a very good way to go."

The basis of his proposal was to form a limited liability corporation that, much like the BCS, would work outside the framework of the NCAA. He wanted to keep the current bowl structure intact and distribute revenue to all 119 Division I-A schools instead of keeping most of the money for the schools in the six BCS conferences.

They are persuaded, and I am now persuaded, that the best way to proceed is to try to work within the BCS structure, to make some changes to make it better. That seems to me to be a very good way to go.

Florida president Bernie Machen

Machen began devising a playoff plan after it appeared last December that the Gators would miss the BCS title game. His plan didn't include details of how many teams would be involved in the playoff or when and where games would be played.

"We had a full and open discussion about postseason football, ranging from a playoff to the status quo," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who's also the BCS coordinator. "I can assure you that the First Amendment was alive and well in the meeting. The end result of the discussion was that our presidents and chancellors are not interested in pursuing a playoff -- but they have asked me ... to take a hard look at the BCS and what improvements we think might be made over the next couple of years."

Officials from three other BCS conferences -- the Big 12, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East -- all agree that they should continue working within the BCS system, Slive said.

Still, he acknowledged that the BCS is far from perfect.

"We remain open-minded to find ways to work within this system to make it work in a way that might be better for many of us," Slive said. "We'll continue to do that."

The Pac-10 and the Big Ten have been strongly opposed to a playoff, wanting to stick closely to the Rose Bowl tradition. Coaches across the country said they would be hesitant to back a plan that might devalue the bowl system.

Vanderbilt chancellor Gordon Gee didn't like the message the proposal sent.

"We've been consistent all along that we're trying to bring some semblance of integrity and some semblance of balance back into what we're doing, and this moves in exactly the wrong direction," Gee said. "This is a slippery slope toward us finally just throwing in the towel and saying what we're about is fielding football teams and we have a university on the side, and I'm just not in favor of that."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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