Georgia president: Schools need to regain control of postseason

Updated: January 9, 2008, 1:11 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ATHENS, Ga. -- The president of the University of Georgia proposed an eight-team playoff system to determine the NCAA's national football champion.

Michael Adams, chairman of the NCAA executive committee, has opposed a playoff for 20 years but said Tuesday the current BCS system is "undercutting the sportsmanship and integrity of the game."

Adams wants the NCAA to seed eight teams into the four bowls. If one of the major bowls declines to participate, then another bowl could fill the void.

"I believe the season is already too long and demands too much of athletes and the universities that serve them," Adams said at a news conference. "But this year's experience with the BCS forces me to the conclusion that the current system has lost public confidence and simply does not work."

Adams would like a special NCAA committee to work out the particulars, but the plan calls for the winners of the four major bowls -- Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta -- to play semifinals at least one week later, with the championship game the following week.

I was disappointed that the story came out today. This is LSU's day and the Southeastern Conference's day.

--SEC Commissioner Mike Slive

In a statement posted on the NCAA Web site Tuesday afternoon, NCAA president Myles Brand said he would take Adams' request to the Division I board of directors Monday at the NCAA convention in Nashville. Brand said the structure of postseason football for the Football Bowl Subdivision rests with the presidents.

"The BCS has produced some exciting games since it came into existence, but there may be a feeling among some presidents, though not all, that there is need for structural changes. This is an issue that will be decided through presidential leadership," Brand said.

Georgia was ranked fourth in the BCS entering the last week of the season, behind Missouri, West Virginia and Ohio State. When Missouri and West Virginia lost, Georgia did not rise to second behind Ohio State but dropped to fifth in the BCS. Southeastern Conference champion LSU vaulted from seventh to second.

LSU defeated Ohio State 38-24 Monday night to win the BCS title. Georgia routed previously undefeated Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, 41-10.

LSU coach Les Miles wasn't overly pleased with the timing.

"There's a time for proposals. There's a time for adjusting the schedule. It might not be today," he said Tuesday.

"Whatever the rules are is fine with me," Miles said of the plan. "I can tell you this, a year ago if we had an eight-team playoff, we might've fared pretty well. This might've been our second trophy. I look forward to whatever setup there is."

Even SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who essentially works for the university presidents, gave Adams a light slap on the wrist.

"I was disappointed that the story came out today. This is LSU's day and the Southeastern Conference's day," said Slive, whose two-year term as the BCS coordinator ended with Monday night's game.

Adams insisted he was prepared to advance the proposal even if Georgia had played in the title game.

"It is a matter of fairness and equity," he said.

Adams said he was influenced by players and coaches. He added that he would let Mark Richt speak for himself, but the Georgia coach had been "positive" in discussions about a playoff.

Adams is frustrated by the power of the television networks and of the commissioners of the bowls and conferences.

"The television networks … have grown powerful in deciding who plays and when they play, and, indeed, whom they hire to coach," Adams wrote in a letter to Brand.

"The Bowl Championship Series has become a beauty contest largely stage-managed by the networks, which in turn protect the interests of their own partner conferences."

He said the commissioners of the conferences and the bowls are guilty of "closed-circle decision-making based on traditional contract alliances. It is time to take the ultimate power out of their hands and give it to the student-athletes on the field."

"The most visible element of our most visible sport has almost no presidential involvement," Adams added.

Adams said he understood the consequences of an extended the season.

"This would involve only four schools, and only two into the second week," he said. "To answer concerns about the wear-and-tear on the student-athletes, I would consider returning the regular season to an 11-game schedule."

Adams is the second SEC member president to advocate a playoff in the past year. Last year, University of Florida president James Bernard Machen -- whose Gators played in the BCS Championship Game and won the title -- said the time had come for a playoff system, but backed down from his position after conferring with his fellow SEC presidents.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said on Tuesday that he is not a big fan of the playoff format.

"I would say this -- every year there has been a third team that probably felt wronged," he said to XM Sports Nation. "And if you wait around long enough every conference will have a third team [that felt wronged]. If you had four teams, within 10 years every conference would have a fifth team that didn't get in. And, in fact, if you look at the standings at the end of the regular season, Southern Cal and Georgia would not be in the four. How long would that last?"

On Monday, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford and Slive said the ACC, SEC, Big East and Big 12 are open to a "plus-one" Final Four format in which the top four teams would be selected and seeded.

"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," Swofford said.

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.

The Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), Division II and Division III all have a postseason playoff.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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