Wednesday, April 20, 2005

BCS to Work on Yet Another Formula

Wed Apr 20, 4:41 AM ET
Sports - AP
By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK - Bowl Championship Series officials are set to meet in Phoenix next week, again faced with the task of coming up with a new way to determine which teams will play for a national title.
The BCS reworked its standings formula last year, simplifying the equation and putting more emphasis on The Associated Press Top 25 and the coaches poll. But the increased scrutiny on poll voters and the importance of every vote spawned new controversies and criticism.
The AP asked the BCS to stop using its poll after last season, leaving the BCS in need of another component to insert into its calculations. The AP media poll and coaches poll each counted for one-third of a team's points in the BCS standings last year. A compilation of computer rankings made up the final third.
BCS officials were generally pleased with the scaled-down formula and would prefer not straying far from it this year.
"There was a comfort level with nature of the formula," BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said Tuesday in a phone interview.
But that would mean creating another poll to take the spot occupied by the AP, and where that poll would come from is one of the items on the agenda next week.
"We know we have a coaches poll and computer poll folks who have worked with us in the past, but we have not eliminated any options," Weiberg said.
Introducing a selection committee made up of former college football administrators and coaches — possibly even some media members — into the process has also been discussed.
"How you populate a committee or a poll for that matter is an important issue," Weiberg said. "Under a committee approach, you probably need fewer participants than you do in a poll structure."
It's unlikely the BCS would convert to a system solely reliant on a selection committee.
"There could be a hybrid I suppose," Weiberg said. "What I mean by a hybrid, you could still use elements of the old structure — coaches polls, computers, perhaps a new poll — and couple that with a committee approach and have that standings piece be out there on a weekly basis with a committee providing oversight. Maybe a committee's function would be voting on a 1-2 matchup at the end.
"There are a lot of different ways you can structure it. All of them have different weaknesses and probably different strengths."
The next week's meetings will include commissioners from all 11 Division I-A conferences and will run from Monday though Thursday.
Weiberg said there's no urgency for the BCS to complete its work by the end of those meetings.
"I do believe it's an important meeting though in a sense that we need to have some direction as we go forward so we can moved toward trying to finalize something in, ideally, 60 to 75 days," he said.
Last year, the BCS unveiled its new formula in mid-July.
The BCS was faced with something of a worst-case scenario last year when Southern California, Oklahoma and Auburn all finished the regular season unbeaten. The system, which was implemented in 1998 and has been tinkered with almost every year since, is devised to match the consensus top two teams in the nation. USC and Oklahoma earned those spots and played in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title last season. The Trojans beat the Sooners to finish No. 1 and Auburn, which completed a 13-0 season in the Sugar Bowl, ended up No. 2.
Only expanding the BCS system to make it more like a playoff would have given Auburn a chance to play for a national title and there appears to be no chance of that happening in the near future.
The other BCS controversy involved Texas and California. The Longhorns passed Cal in the final BCS standings after gaining ground for several weeks even though the Bears were winning their games.
The BCS, which includes the Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar Bowls, will expand to five games and 10 teams, starting with the 2006 season. The No. 1 vs. No. 2 BCS title game will be played a week after the bowls and rotate between the four existing sites.

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