With college football thriving, BCS officials have no need for 'plus-one'
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- With its luxuriant, two-level pool and oceanfront view, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa serves as a tranquil escape from the realities of everyday life.
It was here in a third-floor conference room Wednesday that the commissioners of the 11 Division I-A conferences, along with Notre Dame AD Kevin White, reached a conclusion that for many college football fans does not jibe with their reality: That the oft-criticized BCS is fine exactly the way it is.
"The thing that came through loud and clear in our discussions," said ACC commissioner and current BCS coordinator John Swofford, "is that there's a lot of satisfaction with where we are."
Wednesday morning, SEC commissioner Mike Slive -- with the support of Swofford -- proposed to his colleagues the first-ever specific plan for a so-called "plus-one" system in which the top four teams at the end of the regular season would be seeded and pitted against each other in a pair of bowl games.
The calendar of games would have remained largely unchanged. A fifth non-championship bowl would have been added to the rotation to retain the current total of 10 BCS berths. The two-bids-per-conference maximum as well as the top-12 requirement for non-BCS teams would have remained in place.
To use a Congressional analogy, the bill stalled before it could even go to a vote.
"Of the original six BCS conferences, it's fair to say that John and I were the only ones that were anxious to bring the model to our conference [presidents and athletic directors] for discussion," said Slive. "It was my hope that all of the conferences would do that. That didn't come to pass."
The end result of the commissioners' discussion -- that the current BCS format will remain in place through at least the 2014 bowl games (an additional four years beyond the two remaining on the current contract) -- was hardly a bombshell. We'd known for some time now that at least two leagues, the Big Ten and Pac-10, adamantly opposed the plus-one concept.
What came as a surprise, however, was finding out Wednesday just how little support there was for the model among the other conferences as well.
Unbeknownst to even those in the room, the Big 12's presidents had already decided last month they would oppose such a change. "Our league is just not favorable to a playoff system at all and viewed this as a first step in that direction," said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.
The Big East held no formal vote, but its commissioner, Mike Tranghese, echoed the same sentiments. "The seeded model that's been discussed looked like a playoff to us, and we don't think a playoff is in the best interest of college football," he said.
Interestingly, last season's extraordinarily chaotic finish -- one that many felt might push the BCS over the edge toward change -- may actually have had the opposite effect. As Tranghese noted, a "Final Four" of No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Virginia Tech and No. 4 Oklahoma would have been no more satisfying than the current system to those who felt Georgia or USC were more deserving.
"We would have exchanged one piece of controversy for the other," he said.