ORLANDO, Fla. -- College football coaches want polls to carry more weight during the selection process for the Bowl Championship Series, hoping to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment created by a split national championship.
The American Football Coaches Association, which represents the 117 coaches of Division I-A teams, also wants better access to the high-paying BCS bowls for teams that don't compete in power conferences.
"I'm not surprised by these recommendations," AFCA executive director Grant Teaff said Wednesday. "The current system may not be perfect, but it is one that the Division I-A coaches continue to prefer.
"Coaches also believe that all Division I-A teams should have access to a BCS-level game because it is important that student-athletes all have the opportunity to compete at the highest level."
More than 70 coaches met at the end of the AFCA's convention Wednesday to vote on proposals to the BCS administrators. It is unknown when the conference commissioners who coordinate the BCS would take up the requests.
When the final BCS standings were released in December to set up the bowl matchups, the coaches were stunned to discover that Southern California, their pick as No. 1 in the coaches poll, wasn't playing in the title game at the Sugar Bowl, which instead matched LSU and Oklahoma.
Surprise turned to dismay when it was discovered the 63 voting coaches were contractually obligated to select Sugar Bowl winner LSU as their top team in the final poll. However, three coaches broke ranks and picked the Trojans No. 1.
USC won the Associated Press' poll of sportswriters and broadcasters.
"There needs to be tweaking," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "It didn't come out right. It didn't work."
The BCS formula, designed to match the top two teams at the end of each season, uses the two polls, seven computer rankings, strength of schedule, losses and a bonus-point system for quality wins.
USC had been No. l in both polls heading into the postseason. But Oklahoma topped the BCS rankings and the Trojans were nudged out of a spot in the Sugar Bowl because the BCS computers awarded LSU the No. 2 spot based on a strength of schedule component.
Teaff said pitfalls were apparent when the coaches agreed six years ago to the organization's role in the current system, but "nobody expected that the pit would fall that hard."
Many proposals to change the BCS system were floated during the AFCA's four-day convention.
One proposal called for any team that did not win its conference title to be disqualified from the championship game.
"That would've eliminated Nebraska (from playing the Rose Bowl against Miami in 2001) and Oregon would've gone, and that would've eliminated Oklahoma this year," Washington State coach Bill Doba said.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said that proposal penalizes conferences without title games. He preferred that the No. 1 team in the final poll of the regular season gain an automatic invitation to the BCS title matchup.
All the coaches favored making only small adjustments to the current system rather than junking it for a radical solution, such as a playoff.
"You want to be careful about too long of a playoff system; it's not like the NFL." Kent State's Dean Pees said. "Everybody talks about Division I-AA and II, but I don't remember seeing any other games on TV other than the championship."
Also unanimously rejected was a proposal that would include one additional championship game -- the so-called "bowl system plus one" model.
Increased access to the BCS bowls is be a long-awaited goal for the schools that don't play in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC.
Since the BCS was established in 1998, smaller schools have complained they are shut out of the most lucrative bowl games, even if a team excels.
Options include designating a fifth BCS bowl or loosening requirements for the four existing bowls, AFCA spokesman Todd Bell said.
The timetable for consideration by BCS administrators is unknown.
Other issues discussed by the coaches included:
- Leaving the overtime system in place without any changes for next season.
- Requesting legislation for five years of eligibility.
- Prohibiting mid-term enrollees from participating in bowl practices.
The Associated Press News Service
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