SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A bag full of money or just another roomful of suits?
That's the question Tuesday at the Royal Palms resort when ABC's senior vice president of programming meets with the BCS commissioners and athletic directors.
Loren Matthews questioned the veracity of a report that stated he was ready to make a lucrative "hardball" offer to BCS commissioners Tuesday afternoon that would "blow people away" in restructuring college football's postseason beginning in 2006.
Citing BCS and ABC sources a Boston Globe story on Sunday said that ABC was ready to propose a blockbuster "five-plus-one" model to start with the new BCS contract in 2006.
Such a proposal would begin to solve an increasingly complicated college football postseason of the future. The sport's power brokers have been scratching their heads since late February when BCS presidents decided to add a fifth BCS bowl game.
It is generally assumed that adding a fifth bowl and easier access for non-BCS schools would dilute the product and decrease revenue from the lucrative system that produced $100 million in revenue last year.
But a "plus-one" model might be the best way to keep revenue at least at the current level. The six BCS conferences are guaranteed at least $17 million each from the BCS each year.
Under a five-plus-one, the winners of the four existing BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange), plus the new as-yet undecided fifth bowl would then be pared down to two through the BCS ratings. Those two would meet the next week in the BCS championship game that would be played in one of the five bowls. That means one of the five bowls each year would be hosting both a semifinal and a championship.
Had the plus-one model been in effect last year, LSU would have played USC.
"I've read the Boston Globe article and I don't know where a lot of that came from," Matthews said. "At one point it credited BCS and ABC sources; it wasn't ABC sources. First off, not too many people know what we're thinking about.
"If you take the Globe article at its word, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people in that room tomorrow."
Without denying the story, BCS chairman Mike Tranghese said no one at ABC has said there is a "pre-emptive offer" coming. However ...
"If most people called me I'd dismiss it," said Tranghese who was quoted in the story. "But my history with (the reporter) is he doesn't deal with those things unless he has a legitimate source."
Another BCS source at the meetings said Monday that even, "if ABC says, 'We're going to give you $10 billion for eight years ... we're just not there (able to decide)."
There are so many tentacles to the issue that it's hard to speculate what the final result is going to be. Commissioners, ADs and television executives will meet here through midday Thursday continuing a process that is becoming increasingly urgent.
ABC has an exclusive negotiating window with the Rose Bowl on a new contract from May 12 to June 11. It has exclusive window with the BCS that expires later this year.
Matthews made it clear that his network intends to keep both properties despite telling the Knight Commission earlier this year that ABC had lost money on the BCS.
"The economy is what it is," Matthews told reporters on Monday. "9/11 and the effect of that is what it was. I'm no economist, but things are tougher now than they were then."
There might be some sentiment, though, from BCS commissioners who might want to take their deal out to bid to maximize the revenue. CBS and Fox are said to be interested in the BCS if it became available. On the other side, there has been speculation that ABC would like a 10-year deal to televise the BCS to keep it away from other suitors.
So while the addition of a fifth game might not wreck the system, it is going to change it. The "plus-one" model at least hints at a playoff, something that most college presidents are dead set against.
The five games would be played on or around Jan. 1 and be followed by the championship game a week later. That gets into an area where presidents don't want to tread, so-called "second-semester football."
"It depends on who you talk to," Tranghese said. "I don't think it's a dead, dead issue but I don't think there's overwhelming support for it. Everybody is telling me what we have to do to get more money. A plus-one would probably get us the greatest amount of money."
The four existing BCS bowl executive directors are also skittish about how and where a non-BCS team that qualifies will be plugged in. For example, the Fiesta Bowl doesn't want to get stuck with a Marshall and the Orange Bowl doesn't want to get stuck with a Boise State.
That's why there are other proposals out there at least being talked about:
- The five-bowl model. The five bowls would rotate the championship game. Bowl executives already are howling at that possibility saying that their sponsors would not support having to wait an extra year for the championship game. Currently, the four BCS bowls rotate the championship game. Among them, there is a general feeling that a fifth bowl, whatever it is, hasn't paid its dues and is getting into the BCS only by presidential decree.
- The four-plus-one model. Still five bowls but one would be broken out each year to host the championship game a week after the other four games are played. As with five-plus-one, two teams would be selected among the winners to play for it all.
- The three-plus-two-plus-one model. This is perhaps the most intriguing possibility. There would be six bowls: One East Coast-based accommodating a non-BCS school from the region, one West Coast-based accommodating a non-BCS school from the region. Neither would be involved in the championship rotation. The Rose Bowl would stand alone with the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions unless either or both of those teams were ranked 1 or 2. In that case, the Rose would be able to fill in with second place teams from those conferences. The Fiesta, Orange and Sugar would then rotate hosting the BCS title game. Four teams would play in the two national semifinal games a week before the championship game. The No. 1 seed would play No. 4 and No. 2 would play No. 3. Such a model would probably mean playing into mid-January. The model makes sense because it provides more access for non-BCS schools (two spots, instead of one) and makes it easier for non-BCS schools to play for the championship. Those schools would have only to finish among the top four, instead of the top two.
But probably the most that will get done here this week is tweaking of the BCS formula. Tranghese reiterated that the most likely result is lessening the impact of the computers by giving more weight to the human polls.
He also said approximately 12 of the 24 non-BCS bowls have expressed an interest in becoming the fifth bowl.
Any formal announcement on any of the issue will come in June at the earliest.