BCS will not change current non-playoff system

Updated: May 5, 2008, 5:56 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Saying the BCS was in an "unprecedented state of health," ACC commissioner John Swofford announced Wednesday that college football will not change the way it determines its national champion as it prepares to begin negotiations for future television contracts that will probably run through the 2014 season.

"We will move forward in the next cycle with the current format," said Swofford, who serves as BCS chairman. "I believe the BCS has never been healthier in its first decade."

The decision, made during a five-hour meeting of 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White at an ocean-front hotel here, wasn't unexpected. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said earlier this week that he remained opposed to the plus-one format, which would have seeded the top four teams in the final BCS standings and match them in two semifinal games and the winners playing in a national title game.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive made the plus-one proposal Wednesday morning but said there was little support among the commissioners. In fact, Slive said only he and Swofford showed much desire in seriously pushing forward the proposal.

"There isn't support among the commissioners at this point to move forward with this proposal as we move into the next cycle," Slive said. "There's no doubt in my mind that the discussions had value and it's important that we know exactly what we're going to do with the next cycle."

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said his league's member schools voted in March not to support any changes to college football's postseason.

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"There's a strong feeling in the Big 12 that what we have is working well," Beebe said. "There's great satisfaction with the regular season and the postseason."

Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese told reporters he favored an unseeded version of a plus-one, which would set the championship game matchup after the four major bowls are played using the BCS standings, over seeding the top four and playing them off.

"The seeded model looked like a playoff, and we don't think a playoff is in the best interest of college football," he was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

The concern about a playoff among college football's leaders is that it would make football a two-semester sport and would lessen the importance of a regular season that now has a do-or-die feel to it from week to week.

Also complicating matters for the BCS is the Rose Bowl's separate TV deal with ABC, which runs through the 2014 bowls.

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The BCS' TV deal for the rights to the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls runs through the 2010 bowls. The BCS has two years left on its current four-year, $320 million TV deal with Fox. Negotiations will likely begin in the fall on a new contract with Fox, which will probably run through the 2013 season and lock in the current format.

The Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998 after the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl agreed to join with the other five major conferences and three marquee bowls to create an annual national title game involving the top two teams in the country after the regular season.

While the BCS has created championship games that never would have happened under the old bowl system, it's been far from perfect. For the many college football fans desperate to see a playoff that would crown a more definitive champion, the BCS has been a target for their angst.

Almost every season, there's been some dispute leading into the championship game about whether the BCS selected the two most deserving teams.

Last year, Georgia fans were the loudest to complain when the Bulldogs were left out of the BCS title game in favor of LSU and Ohio State.

In past years, undefeated Auburn was left out of the national title game after the 2004 season in favor of Southern California and Oklahoma; Nebraska reached the championship game after the 2002 season, despite getting blown out in its final regular-season game.

The idea behind the plus-one is to alleviate some of the controversy by sending four teams into the postseason with a chance to win the national championship.

Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mark Schlabach | email

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