BCS Officials Scheduled To Meet Today To Discuss Postseason Format Changes
College football’s postseason "is poised to undergo significant change" as BCS officials meet today for the "first of several discussions on altering the sport’s postseason," according to Pete Thamel of the N.Y. TIMES. Many college athletics and TV industry officials “revealed that change to the current structure of college football’s postseason was imminent.” BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock said, “I think there will be some change. Now will it be seismic? No one knows.” An NFL-style playoff of 8 or 16 teams “is not coming,” nor is a “reversion to the bowl system before the creation of an annual title game.” The changes will fall “somewhere in the middle, and will not be put into effect for two more seasons because of the existing television contract.” Thamel notes it is also “important to remember that the Rose Bowl remains a huge factor in the postseason,” as Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott “have declared their leagues’ relationship to that game essentially to be sacred.” There will be “40 to 50 ideas and models discussed, and many will be eliminated.” The idea of “a four-team playoff -- a Final Four of football -- is considered by many a viable option, and perhaps the most realistic one.” Today’s meeting is "important because it will be the first time" that the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick "will be in the same room to discuss options." Meanwhile, in the wake of the perception that ESPN “had a strong role in conference realignment, network executives are worried about how their role in a potential postseason change could be viewed.” A playoff “would drive up the value of the postseason programming exponentially, although it would probably devalue other bowl games.” ESPN Senior VP/College Programming Burke Magnus said that a “critical part of the next bid for the BCS rights would be an extension of the length of the contract to eight years from four” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).
TIME FOR A CHANGE: In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff notes what will become of current BCS bowls “is uncertain, but everything is on the table.” Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson said, “We have a real opportunity for the first time to look at several models, and start the process if there’s change in the BCS structure” (K.C. STAR, 1/10). Thompson yesterday said, “There needs to be some kind of different culmination of the season. We need a process after which we can truly say, ‘This is the national champion.’” Hancock said of the BCS discussions, “This will not be easy. But everyone will roll up their sleeves and work collectively to do what’s best for the future of the game.” Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said that he sees “the plus-one as inevitable.” Scott “has shown himself to be open to almost any new idea in his two years in his post.” In New Orleans, Ted Lewis notes the "lone holdout might be" Delany (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/10). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote, “College football needs to take control of its postseason and do what’s best for itself” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/10). But ESPN's Mike Greenberg said "Whatever it is you do, BCS guys, don’t diminish the regular season. I genuinely believe if you tamper with this, you will see slowly but surely an erosion of the popularity of college football. What makes college football as popular as it is is that it is the one sport whose regular season remains fully sacrosanct ” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 1/10).
SHOW ME THE MONEY: In Birmingham, Jon Solomon wrote Thompson believes the entire bowl enterprise “needs to be discussed, not just the most lucrative BCS games.” He said that a coach “recently told him at a bowl function that there are too many bowl games, which now number 35.” Thompson said, "I think we have to take a hard look at the way they're licensed, how bowls are set up contractually (where) if you buy $650,000 worth of tickets and sponsorships and get a $750,000 payoff, people write that it's a $220 million enterprise. Well, you're paying $205 million to play in the $220 million enterprise and it costs about $500,000 to send a football team to a bowl site unless you can drive." Hancock said he believes if there aren't too many bowls, "we're getting mighty close." But he added: "Who are we to say to some group of athletes that we're taking away a bowl opportunity? I'm not comfortable doing that" (AL.com, 1/9).