- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Tom Hansen wants you, college football fans of the United States, to know that he reads your e-mail. The Pac-10's longtime commissioner has reviewed your myriad proposals for a Division I-A playoff, whether they include highly detailed narratives with supporting visual aids or briefly sum up their positions with colorful expletives.
He hears you. But he's not biting. Or cowed.
Hansen called the Bowl Championship Series an "amazing success," even while acknowledging the well-documented glitches.
He supports the bowl system, particularly the Pac-10's cherished relationship with the Rose Bowl. He believes any playoff, whether it be a "plus-one" four-team model or something more extensive, will do more harm than good.
And, yes, he realizes that many fans see him, one of the most affable gentlemen in college sports, as a villain on the matter.
"Yes, I get very tired of debating the whole subject, but it's part of what I'm supposed to be doing," he said.
Hansen's position might seem curious because his Pac-10 has experienced a bumpy ride with the BCS over the past 10 years.
On the one hand, no team has lorded over college football like USC. The Trojans have won two national titles -- though one was split with LSU -- and played for a third. They've gone 5-1 in six consecutive BCS bowls and finished ranked in the top four each of those seasons.
That's the one-team upside. The downside is the conference hasn't earned two BCS berths -- the gold standard payday in major conferences -- since 2002, and it's suffered a handful of notorious shaftings by the system, even one to the magisterial Trojans.
• Immediately after joining the BCS in 1998, fifth-ranked Arizona, at 11-1, was passed over during the selection process, most notably by the Orange Bowl, which tapped No. 7 Florida, loser of two games, to play Syracuse.
• In 2001, BCS math failed Oregon, ranked No. 2 in both polls, and Nebraska was selected to play No. 1 Miami in the national title game, even though the Cornhuskers had lost their season finale to Colorado, 62-36. The decision looked even worse when the Ducks buried Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl.
• USC finished the 2003 season No. 1 in both polls. Yet the BCS computers chose Oklahoma and LSU to play for the championship, even though the Sooners were coming off a four-touchdown defeat in the Big 12 title game.
• California lost only one game in 2004: a 23-17 nail-biter to USC. But Texas coach Mack Brown launched a public campaign to convince poll voters to promote his sixth-ranked Longhorns, whose only loss came to No. 2 Oklahoma, ahead of the No. 4 Bears. It worked. Cal, which hadn't played in a Rose Bowl since 1959, ended up sucking lemons in the Holiday Bowl while the Rose Bowl was forced to select Texas, due to BCS rules.
"The one that was particularly bitter was Cal, because Cal was the apparent victim of what I would term to this day unethical voting in the coaches' poll," Hansen said.
For Cal, it wasn't just about missing a BCS bowl. It was about missing the Rose Bowl. The Pac-10's and Big Ten's obsessive dedication to the Granddaddy of Them All -- both conferences were the last to join the BCS -- is a big reason both presently lead the anti-playoff charge and are so supportive of the "double-hosting" format, which added a fifth bowl as the championship game and further insured the Rose Bowl will match the two conferences.
As for the perception that the Pac-10 has become USC and the nine dwarfs during the BCS Era, that's a recent phenomenon.
From 1995 to 2001, seven different teams went to the Rose Bowl as Pac-10 champions (or co-champions). In 2000 and 2002, the conference produced two BCS participants.
Of course, 2002 was the first year one of those teams was USC, which was enjoying coach Pete Carroll's second season. The Trojans dynasty emerged and has yet to face a consistent challenge, even though six of its eight losses over the past six seasons have come against conference foes.
This dominance has made USC a national villain, and Hansen is quick to point out that the BCS has advanced college football from a regional to a national fascination, where every game in the regular season is meaningful. Therefore, every contender follows -- or roots against -- the progress of every other contender across the country.
Consider the bitter USC-LSU rivalry, which inflames passions even though the programs haven't played since 1984 (hint, hint). Tell an LSU fan USC fell just short of three-peating in 2005 and then watch the boiled crawfish spew from his ears.
Such passion is healthy. And, in sum, Hansen believes the BCS is healthy and good for the Pac-10.
But he's not counting on that opinion staunching the flow of e-mail clamoring for a playoff.
Ted Miller is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ted at email@example.com.
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