The Mountain West Conference will submit a proposal next month to the members of college football’s Bowl Championship Series calling for adjustments that would give the conference a guaranteed BCS berth, commissioner Craig Thompson said this morning.
Thompson spoke to reporters via conference call in Washington, where he is meeting with staffers for sympathetic members of Congress. Several lawmakers, mostly those from states represented by the Mountain West and WAC conference, have said they would like to hold hearings on the fairness of the BCS. President Obama has also said he would like to see a playoff system replace the BCS, but Thompson said the two had no plans to meet.
The Mountain West’s proposal comes after Utah went undefeated this past season but was beaten out for a chance at the BCS Championship by Oklahoma and Florida, each of whom had one regular season loss.
Thompson offered few details on the conference’s proposal, which he said would be submitted to the BCS leadership within the next two weeks. But he said it would allow for greater BCS access to not only the Mountain West but other non-BCS schools.
The BCS includes the four major bowl games (Sugar, Rose, Fiesta, Orange) plus the BCS National Championship game.
Under the current BCS format, only the champions of the Big East, Big Ten, PAC-10, ACC, Big 12 and SEC are guaranteed berths into BCS bowls. Teams from other conferences are admitted into the BCS on an at-large basis only if they finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings, which are based on a mixture of human and computer polls. Only one non-BCS conference team is permitted to receive an at-large bid. (Utah received a bid this year and beat Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl, but the WAC’s Boise State did not despite being ranked in the top 12.)
“We’re saying, ‘What more do we have to do?’ ” Thompson said.”We’re beating people, we’re playing people, we’re performing at a level that is perhaps different than our access will allow. That’s our main genesis for this. Why are we not in consideration for playing in the national championship game? Why aren’t we included in one of these five bowls annually?”
History suggests that even a team with a perfect record would have difficulty being ranked in the top two of the BCS standings at the end of the regular season, a necessary criteria for playing in the BCS Championship game.
Despite some lawmaker support, Thompson said he believed a path to change will come not from government intervention but by negotiating a deal with current BCS member conference and schools. He acknowledged that changing the current BCS format could be hard because the series just signed a new television contract with ESPN that extends through 2014.
“We’re going to take our stand and make our case,” he said. “You can’t propose something unless there’s something to look at and suggest changes with. Certainly, we’re not the most popular kid in the room, we understand that.”