NEW ORLEANS — College football leaders, including Big Ten commissioner and staunch playoff opponent Jim Delany, are open to considering the idea of turning the Bowl Championship Series into a four-team playoff.
The commissioners from the 11 FBS conferences met Tuesday at a hotel in New Orleans to exchange ideas about what the system for crowning a national champion will be starting in the 2014 season. BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said 50 to 60 possibilities for various changes were presented. He said the process will be deliberate, and he expects it will take between five and seven meetings before July 4 to come to a decision.
“They have a lot of cans to kick down the road,” Hancock said. “This will not play well on Twitter.”
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said ideas were neither ranked nor ruled out.
“I think people realize there are flaws in the current system and people are ready to think creatively about ways to improve it,” he said.
One of the ideas is a four-team playoff called a plus-one model that would create two national semifinals and a championship game played a week later. The idea was proposed in 2008 by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive and supported by the Atlantic Coast Conference’s John Swofford, but it was emphatically shot down by the leaders of the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12 and Notre Dame.
This time, there will be a serious discussion about the plus-one.
“Four years ago, five of us didn’t want to have the conversation,” Delany told reporters. “Now we all want to have the conversation.”
In the past, playoff discussions have been a non-starter for Delany. The Big Ten, along with the Pac-12, have a long-standing and lucrative relationship with the Rose Bowl and have been cautious about damaging the game’s value.
Delany has said that he is against even a four-team playoff because he fears it will inevitably grow. On Tuesday, though, he at least said he’d listen.
Scott, who wasn’t in the job back in 2008 and was the force behind the recent Pac-12 expansion, said he was encouraged by his first formal meeting about the future of the BCS.
“Today was more a philosophical conversation about the extent to which people are open for change. I was very pleased. People are open-minded,” he said. “But we didn’t officially rule out ideas or rank ideas.”
The current BCS format has four marquee bowl games and a championship game matching the top two teams at the end of the regular season by a combination of polls and computer rankings.
Alabama beat LSU 21-0 in Monday night’s BCS championship game at the Superdome. As with many years, many people thought another team should have had a chance to play for the title. This year that was Oklahoma State (12-1).
A new BCS format must be in place before the fall when television negotiations with ESPN open. The BCS is in the middle of a four-year deal with ESPN that runs through the 2014 season.
BCS NOTES: A field goal-filled shutout couldn’t compete with a thrilling finish for television viewers. TV ratings dipped for this year’s BCS title game, Alabama’s 21-0 win in a rematch against Southeastern Conference rival LSU. The Crimson Tide went up 15-0 late in the third quarter on five field goals while the Tigers offense struggled to even cross midfield. A year ago, Auburn drove for a winning field goal on the final play to beat Oregon 22-19. Monday’s game on ESPN earned a 14.0 rating, down 8 percent from last year. It’s the second-lowest rating of the 14 BCS title games, beating only a 13.9 for Miami-Nebraska in 2002. The average of 24.2 million viewers is the second-largest audience in cable history behind the 2011 title game. The BCS championship moved to cable last year. Ratings measure the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program. The game earned a 16.2 fast national rating among households that get ESPN. Eight BCS title games have drawn a rating of more than that for all homes.