Final Four format for football would need to be seeded, commissioners say

Updated: January 7, 2008, 4:45 PM ET
By Joe Schad and Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

ACC Commissioner John Swofford and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said Monday morning at an annual meeting of the Football Writers Association of America that they believe a "plus-one" format would have to be seeded.

The other possibility of the "plus-one" was considered to be playing an extra game after the BCS title game.

Each commissioner also stated that the SEC, ACC, Big East and Big 12 are open to discussing the "plus-one" format. The Big Ten and Pac-10 have been opposed to it.

Swofford, who is the incoming BCS chair, said the nature of the 2007 season and its weekly upheaval has motivated his presidents and athletic directors to reconsider a plus-one model.

"A lot of people look at it and say ... maybe it would be better if more than two teams had the opportunity to play for the national championship," Swofford said.

"There's a comfort level with what we're doing today," Swofford added. "In our conference, there's much more open-mindedness about the plus-one than there was two years ago. There's an interest in it ... and a willingness to discuss it in full."

Slive, the outgoing BCS chair, said one focal point of discussion will be discerning whether the 2007 season and its parity is an anomaly or "the beginning of something bigger."

"It's a little bit like turning a big battleship," Swofford said.

Commissioners from all 11 major college football conferences will meet in Miami in April and the plus-one will be a topic.

"I think we would be remiss if we didn't have that discussion in full and play it out and see what the ramifications of it are in great detail," Swofford said. "To see if there are unintended consequences there. What are the pluses, what are the minuses? Really drill into it so we can have the right kind of information.

"Evaluate it in a thorough way and ultimately make a decision. You don't know unless you have that discussion."

Swofford acknowledged a meeting of No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in a Final Four of football could still leave out a team with a participation argument.

Slive acknowledged "logistics" and multiple television agreements will take efforts to work through for the possible format to become a reality.

The BCS is in the second of a four-year, $320 million contract with Fox that runs through the 2009 season and 2010 bowls. The BCS will begin negotiating with Fox on another deal in the fall. Fox has exclusive negotiating rights with the BCS.

No changes are expected before the 2010 season.

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN. Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Joe Schad

College Football

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com