- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2004

NEW YORK — Where the Bowl Championship Series goes from here remains to be seen — but it’s definitely not going away.

“We’re not heading toward a playoff,” Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said.

The Associated Press has told the BCS to stop using its poll to determine which teams play for a national title, but the BCS appears willing to move on without it. Coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg has said the BCS hopes to have a new formula ready by April.

So for the second straight season and the fifth time since the system was implemented in 1998, the BCS will change the way it computes its standings.

“I wasn’t surprised by the AP’s decision,” Tranghese said. “I don’t think it’s a negative issue. We’re just going to have to put our heads together and come up with an alternative way of picking the teams for the 1-2 game.”

This season the BCS streamlined its formula and put heavy emphasis on the AP and ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. The goal was to make it more likely that Nos.1 and 2 in the polls played in the national title game, unlike last season when Southern California was a consensus No. 1 but was left out of the BCS championship.

Without the AP poll, the BCS’s current formula is left with the coaches poll and six computer rankings.

The BCS could just stick with those two and change the weighting system. Or it could add more computers. Or maybe it could even revive the strength of schedule component, which was eliminated because it was deemed redundant.

“We certainly have other options on how to select and rank the teams,” Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said.

The BCS already was looking at the possibility of a selection committee picking the teams for the championship game, taking a page from the NCAA basketball tournaments. But a committee probably wouldn’t be the best way to fill the two at-large spots.

And starting with the 2006 season, the number of at-large teams is destined to go up as the BCS expands to five games to allow greater access to teams from outside the six conferences that now have automatic entry.

“Adding the fifth game is going to give us less pressure,” Hansen said. “One of the problems has been good teams being left out. With one more game, that’s less likely to happen.”

The original BCS formula was composed of an average of the two human polls, an average of three computer rankings, total losses and strength of schedule.

Since then the computers rankings have changed in number and name, and other elements have come and gone. The polls have been a constant.

The coaches poll is not likely to follow the AP’s path.

“We went into it with a specific reason,” said Grant Teaff, president of the American Football Coaches Association that oversees the poll. “When the concept came up to have two teams play for a national championship, it fit with the coaches’ desires. We have the BCS, which is far from perfect, but it has provided by and large what the coaches want. We’ll be a part of it if we are asked to be a part of it.”

The AP’s move is not without precedent. The New York Times also pulled its computer rankings out of the BCS this year because the newspaper felt it was a conflict of interest.

The AP said in a statement that the BCS’s unauthorized use of its poll has “harmed AP’s reputation and interfered with AP’s agreements with AP poll voters.”

So losing the AP poll doesn’t spell doom for the BCS and is not a step toward creating the playoff system the fans and a growing number of coaches want.

The university presidents have made it clear they won’t sign off on a playoff system. When the BCS added its fifth game earlier this year, the idea was floated to have the top two teams after the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowl play in the new game for the championship. Even that was shot down.

ABC, unhappy with idea of another BCS game with no championship ramifications, tried to push the BCS toward a playoff during contract negotiations for broadcast rights. But the BCS simply found another suitor happy to buy what it was selling.

The BCS signed a four-year deal worth $320million with Fox last month for the broadcast rights to the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls from 2007 to ‘10 and the national title game from 2007 to ‘09.

“The BCS is here, and it’s going to continue,” Tranghese said. “But the BCS is a target for all the playoff proponents. When something like this happens they jump on it. They look at something like this as a crack. They don’t understand the strong position of our presidents.”

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