BCS ponders more changes (but don't mention 'playoff' yet)
NEW ORLEANS -- BCS commissioners came away from their annual meeting with orders from the top.
BCS coordinator Mike Slive wants his peers to "start thinking about the process of the next go-round." Translated, that means a year from now, commissioners will be entering negotiations on a new TV deal with Fox (which holds the rights to the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange through the 2010 bowls).
Which way do they want their creation to head? To another network? To a playoff? Both?
Slive, the SEC commissioner, never used the p-word during the three-day meeting that ended Wednesday. But he did ask fellow commissioners to start the discussion in their conferences about the future of the postseason.
That future ultimately seems headed toward a playoff, but will it be three years or 30? Slive is open to anything, including the status quo. In the first year of the double-hosting format, there was relatively little controversy with the addition of a fifth BCS bowl.
"We need to see if this system works. I view this as a beginning of a process to fully evaluate postseason football, with an open mind," Slive said. "We're old enough now. We've moved out of our infancy into early adolescence."
The Bowl Championship Series turns 10 this year with the national championship game here on Jan. 7. In the BCS era, the game has reached a high point in popularity. It set an attendance record last year, while TV ratings have increased, almost across the board.
Slive became a convert to reevaluating the postseason when undefeated SEC champion Auburn was not allowed to play for the national championship in 2004. Since then, he has gently pushed for at least an examination of the process.
The first year of double hosting in January produced one of the best college games of all time (Boise State over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl). But there was a pregnant pause in the week between that and the national championship game won by Florida.
This city will double host both the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 and the championship game six days later.
"I would think we've have another year evaluating the second year of the current model," Slive said. "I would hope (then) we'd have some better sense about people thinking about their future."
• The two-team limit per conference was upheld by the commissioners. Wisconsin, at 11-1, qualified last season out of the Big Ten but it was trumped by Ohio State and Michigan, which went to BCS bowls.
• No change was made in the criteria that allow a runner-up team from a conference to play for a national championship. Nebraska didn't even win its division in 2001 but played for the national championship. With the advent of divisional play, commissioners don't want to penalize a team that could finish ranked No. 2 and not play in a conference championship game but play for the national championship.
• It's no secret that Dallas (Cotton Bowl), Orlando (Citrus Bowl) and Atlanta (Chick-fil-A Bowl) are interested in joining the BCS. There are no current openings, but membership is always being evaluated. A playoff could compel the commissioners to add a fifth bowl.
• Contingency plans to move the Sugar Bowl again in case of a major storm again were discussed. The easiest solution would be moving the game on a temporary basis to Atlanta. That's where the game was played after the 2005 season following Katrina.
• The next date of significance on the BCS calendar is early June, when SEC presidents meet in Destin, Fla. Florida president Bernie Machen has created a stir lately by calling for a playoff. However, Slive said, "I don't anticipate coming out of Destin with a definite position of the SEC."
• How badly was the SEC scarred by Auburn being left out in 2004? Slive has created a saying: "Remember Auburn."