April 26, 2012

BCS change inevitable

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Follow Noon | Rowland | Givler | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Changes won't be announced today in the third and final day of Bowl Championship Series meetings. But it is inevitable that major college football will have a new way in determining its national champion.

College presidents will vote on the final decision this summer, with momentum gaining for a four-team playoff to replace the current archaic model. The 11 conference commissioners, Notre Dame's athletic director and one AD from each league have held lengthy discussions throughout the week in Hollywood, Fla.

"The status quo is off the table," BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said.

That is music to many people's ears, as the BCS has become a polarizing and unpopular topic from Columbus, Ohio to Palo Alto, Calif., to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Still, it doesn't mean the alternative will please everyone.

"I would say there is an expectation that there will be significant change," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.

At this point - the fourth meeting between the commissioners's this year - they are just looking to make progress. The public sentiment is akin to its approval of Congress - low. Every time changing the BCS is on the table, there is no movement. This time is different, according to Hancock.

"I think that's what everyone wants to do," he said. "I think we're making good progress on that. I think we're going to make it."

Hancock said there will be two or three options to mull over, and that in 2014 the new system will be implemented.

The model that has been most talked about - and has fans excited - is a four-team playoff. Where opinions differ is on the sites for the national semifinals. Some - the Big Ten included - want them hosted by the higher seed, while others - the SEC - are in favor of neutral site games at the current BCS bowls.

"I think maybe it has more disadvantages than advantages," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said on playing on campus. "One of the disadvantages is I think when you're trying to determine who's going to play for the national championship, what's the competitive environment in which you put a team to play for the national championship."

There is also some question as to how the teams will be selected. Humans, computers or neither?

The biggest roadblock, though, has been identified. And it's the same stubborn grandparent who has objected to change for more than a century - the Rose Bowl.

Executives from the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls have questions and reservations about how their bowls would work in a new postseason model. But staunch opposition is coming from Pasadena, Calif., where the Tournament of Roses still wants its traditional Big Ten-PAC-12 New Year's Day game.

Since 1947, only five Rose Bowl games have featured one or both teams from a conference outside the Big Ten and PAC-12. If the BCS bowls are not used as semifinal hosts, it is possible that the Rose Bowl could still have its traditional matchup.

"We feel like we have something very special and unique in college football," Rose Bowl spokeswoman Gina Chappin said. "We went into the room with the intention of reaffirming what we are."

The Rose Bowl's views have irked many over the years, including Slive and Texas AD DeLoss Dodds.

Delany has been the game's most vocal supporter for years. He is still in favor of preserving the game in some fashion, along with PAC-12 counterpart Larry Scott. Not only is tradition at stake, but for the Big Ten and PAC-12, a large chunk of change could disappear. In present-day college athletics, money trumps all. Delany, however, has begun softening his stance and seems open to the expected change.

"I just want to make sure that the changes that we make are evolutionary," Delany said. "That they support the regular season. That they - from a Rose Bowl perspective - sustain that tradition. That we're also able to produce something that the public appreciates and supports.

"You want to control change. You want to have evolution, not revolution because you don't know that the unintended consequences will be."

It's hard to believe that there will be much outcry from the public. For years now, fans have made their opinions on the BCS known - and they aren't favorable. By July 4, when the presidential oversight committee votes on the matter, expect campus-wide celebrations to erupt from sea to shining sea.


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