MWC pitches playoff to BCS
The Mountain West Conference has pitched an eight-team playoff to the BCS
The playoff would provide non-BCS schools with more title game access
MWC team Utah failed to reach the title game despite finishing undefeated
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Mountain West Conference wants to lead the fight for a major college football playoff.
The MWC presented the BCS with a proposal Wednesday to create an eight-team playoff system that would allow greater access to the national championship game to teams outside the six most powerful leagues.
Commissioner Craig Thompson and four university leaders from the MWC announced details on a conference call and the entire 21/2-page proposal was posted on the league's Web site.
"I will put this as bluntly as a I can," said Tom Buchanan, University of Wyoming president and chairman of the MWC board of directors. "We all believe that change is needed. The current system is not fair and somebody needs to stand up and say that and ask for dialogue amongst all the parties involved.
"Our goal is to find a system that is best for college football."
The next BCS meeting is scheduled for April in Pasadena, Calif.
"I would strongly suggest this will be a conversation topic," Thompson said.
Thompson would not speculate how the proposal will be received, but the chances of it being met with anything other than a resounding 'No thank you' from the rest of the BCS commissioners -- at best.
"We have received the Mountain West proposal," BCS coordinator and ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "Some of these ideas or similar ones have been addressed before in BCS meetings. We will make sure that the proposal has a full airing by the commissioners and presidents, and we will respond to the Mountain West at the conclusion of those discussions."
The Bowl Championship Series last spring shot down a proposal brought by Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive that would have created a four-team playoff.
Meanwhile, fans and many members of the media grow more vocal in support of a playoff each time the current BCS format, which only gives two teams a chance to win a national title in the postseason, fails to produce totally satisfying results.
Now, the Mountain West is vowing to be an advocate for those frustrated by the BCS.
"This is not a gesture on our part," San Diego State University president Stephen Weber said. "There is a fundamental unfairness here that I think the whole country is aware of and somebody's got to stand up and confront that unfairness."
The conferences with automatic access to the five BCS games are the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-10.
The call for change comes after a season in which MWC champion Utah was the only unbeaten major team but was never seriously in the running to play in the BCS title game. Florida beat Oklahoma for the championship, while the Utes finished No. 2 after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The MWC's proposal has four parts. The first creates a new way to determine which conferences receive automatic bids to the big-money bowls.
The current criteria weighs the BCS rankings of teams in each league.
It's a system that makes it difficult for the Mountain West, Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt to earn an automatic bid because those teams usually don't fair as well in the major polls, which make up two-thirds of the BCS standings formula.
Under the MWC's proposal, a conference would qualify for an automatic bid if its teams have a winning percentage of at least .400 in games against the current automatic qualifying leagues over a two-year period.
Using that standard, the MWC would join the other six leagues as automatic qualifiers starting next season.
Part two of the proposal suggests doing away with the BCS standings and creating a 12-member committee to pick which teams receive at-large bids, and to select and seed the eight teams chosen for the playoff.
The BCS has previously discussed, and dismissed, the idea of using a selection committee.
Under the MWC's proposal, the four current BCS games -- the Sugar, Orange, Rose and Fiesta bowls -- would host the four first-round playoff games. Another BCS bowl would be awarded to a current non-BCS game and would host the lowest ranked of the 10 teams selected in a game with no championship implications.
The semifinals would be played about a week later, with the current BCS bowls given the opportunity to host those games.
The championship game would be played a week after that, and again the current BCS bowls would be given the opportunity to host.
While bowl organizers from the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowl have said they would be open to a playoff format, the Rose Bowl -- which has a long-standing and profitable relationship with the Big Ten and Pac-10 -- has been resistant to such change.
The final part of the MWC's proposal calls for each of the 11 major conferences and Notre Dame to have equal representation on the BCS presidential oversight committee and for revenues to be distributed equally among all leagues.
Currently, the five non-BCS conferences have one vote when the BCS makes decisions and those leagues receive millions less from year to year than the big six conferences.
The BCS agreed to a new, four-year TV deal with ESPN last year that will go into effect in 2010. That deal was negotiated using the current BCS format. While ESPN has said it would not stand in the way if the BCS wanted to change, the new deal allows the BCS to put off making any drastic changes until the 2014 season.
The MWC is the only conference that has not signed the new deal with ESPN and has until April 20, 2010, to do so. Thompson said he's not sure how long the conference will hold out.
"Now is the time to have the conversation about change in the current system, because we have a contract in front of us that will extend the status quo for another four years and we want to have the conversation now, not four years from now," Buchanan said.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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