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A “Constructive” B.C.S. Meeting in Dallas

The B.C.S. held a “constructive and highly detailed” meeting yesterday in Dallas, which was to be expected: All such meeting are described thusly by its participants, much like every head coach in the country feels his annual recruiting class “addressed our needs.” The meeting of the 11 B.C.S. commissioners — the heads of each F.B.S. conference — and Jack Swarbick, Notre Dame’s athletic director, was convened as part of the body’s “continuing discussions about how to decide college football’s national champion while maintaining the best regular season in sports,” according to a B.C.S. statement.

What can we take from the meeting? Very little in the way of substance, and more questions than answers. That should be taken literally: Swarbick and the B.C.S. commissioners offered up five questions as a way to underline the process that might lead from the current postseason system to, at the minimum, a plus-one championship game.

“If we change the current format, would we play some games on campus or all games on neutral sites?”

“If some games are on campus, is that too much of a competitive advantage?”

“If all games are at neutral sites, would fans be able to travel to two games in a row?”

“How would teams be selected? By a committee, by the current ranking formula, or by a different formula?”

“When exactly would games be scheduled, considering finals, holidays and our desire to avoid mid-January games?”

All valid questions, and questions that have been raised in this space and elsewhere as we attempt to work out a more universally competitive postseason system. “While no decisions have been made about the overall structure, our talks have entered the ‘brass tacks’ level,” read the B.C.S. statement.

And the fact that the B.C.S. is raising these questions indicates that it is strongly considering some sort of change to the current format — read: a playoff. What sort of playoff? The B.C.S. will take the five above issues into consideration when discussing any future alterations. The plan is to have a concrete proposal to forward to the governing bodies of the F.B.S. by the summer.

Four of the questions are game-specific — who, when, where. The fifth, however, is the one that will most significantly impact a new system’s bottom line: How will the postseason participants be selected? Read between the lines with that question. What’s one thing we can take away?

That as of now, Swarbick and the B.C.S. commissioners are not considering a postseason system consisting of conference champions. Based on the question — “How would teams be selected? By a committee, by the current ranking formula, or by a different formula?” — the seeding and selection criteria might resemble our current, much-maligned selection system.

In a perfect scenario, a new postseason plan might be streamlined by simply going 12 teams deep: the 11 conference champions and the top Independent. But how would the “top Independent” be selected? In a more realistic scenario — but still a dream scenario, perhaps — the F.B.S. would use the same sort of selection committee the N.C.A.A. uses to select its at-large bids in the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

This is too “brass tacks” for the B.C.S., at least at this point. Swarbick, the commissioners and various B.C.S. brass will meet again at the body’s annual meetings in Florida in late April, at the conclusion of which the B.C.S. should have cemented the nuts and bolts of its postseason proposal.

Anything else from the B.C.S.? “As we discuss the upsides and downsides of our decisions, we are united in our desire to protect our great regular season and honor the bowl tradition, while maintaining the collegiate nature of our sport.” There’s always that to consider.

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Comments

  1. We at the Plus-Two Plan have all the solutions to their problems:

    Q: “if we change the current format, would we play some games on campus or all games on neutral sites?”
    A: The +2 Plan says play semifinals on campus. This guarantees sell-outs for semifinals, and still allows fans the ability to travel later to the championship. Bid out the championship game to hosts. Current bowl games (who have experience hosting postseason college football) would have a leg-up on hosting experience, but places like Indianapolis could bid as well, ala the Super Bowl.

    Q: “If all games are at neutral sites, would fans be able to travel to two games in a row?”
    A: The fans wouldn’t travel to both. Either semifinals or championship would be mostly corporate/local attendees if both rounds were played at neutral sites. If fans can travel locally to home site in the first round, then they can save money to travel to neutral sites for the championship game.

    Q: “How would teams be selected? By a committee, by the current ranking formula, or by a different formula?”
    A: Use current formula (perhaps modify the polls used: Coaches poll is inherently biased; Harris has unqualified voters). Take #1, #2 no matter what, then fill the two lower seeds with the next-highest teams who are conference champions.

    Q: “When exactly would games be scheduled, considering finals, holidays and our desire to avoid mid-January games?”
    A: Semifinals should be scheduled on the first weekend of the bowl season. “Semifinal Saturday” is two weeks after conference championships are played, and two-to-three weeks before January 1st. This gives time before the semifinals to prepare, but doesn’t start the playoff any earlier than the current postseason reaches. It also allows the championship game to be pulled back toward January 1st. Gives teams and fans plenty of time to prepare for travel, game-plan, and rest between games.

    plus2plan.com | twitter.com/Plus2Plan | Facebook.com/Plus2Plan

  2. GTWrek says:

    I think if you look at the BCS rankings from the past, and took the top 4 teams in the final rankings each year, and placed those 4 teams in the playoff, it would have always worked out in a fairly satisfactory manner. There would have still been years when an undefeated mid-major didn’t make it. But the biggest controversies over the years would have all been avoided.

    It still isn’t foolproof, but it’s far more difficult to build a compelling case when you’re number 5 than when you’re number 3.

    For all other unanswered questions I say just copy FCS, Div-II, Div-III as a starting point go from there. They *might* be able to pull off neutral-field if there’s only 4 teams, or a “final 4″, but there’s no way they can do that in the first round with 8 or more.

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