The BCS commandants sound almost cocky about the system's new ranking system.
Words like "precise", "simple" and "intuitive" are being thrown around about the new BCS math, which should be announced to the world by the third week of July. This from the guardians of a system that still have to be reminded that three (deserving teams) doesn't go into two. Ask LSU, Oklahoma and USC.
"We went back to square one," said one source closely involved in the process. "We asked, 'What's the fairest, best, most precise formula?'
Well? We're waiting.
|'It's not like I'm trying to hide something,' Larry Coker says about making his ballot public.(Getty Images)|
The mood seems to be that the new rankings will redefine the system, making it more acceptable to the public.
"You can't have a formula that is perfect and have a three-paragraph footnote," the source said. "When you see the formula it's going to change the (matchups) of some of the past championship games."
The commissioners also are interested in a "weighting" of the votes in each of the human polls. In other words, the No. 1 team would get credit for its percentage of the votes instead of just its poll position.
"That's something that mathematicians have told us about as being a weakness," BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg said Thursday. "That's a change we're very interested in, taking into account the actual votes."
Good idea but there are two issues: The powerful Associated Press Sports Editors won't be happy with their reporters having such an increased influence on deciding the national championship. When the BCS was formed in 1998, AP basically scuttled an original idea to simply combine the two human polls.
The New York Times already pulled its computer out of the BCS because of a conflict of interest.
Also, the coaches' poll has been criticized for not releasing the ballots of its voters. The American Football Coaches Association has stubbornly refused to make the ballots public. However, two of the 63 voters told SportsLine.com this week they would have no problem going public.
"I don't care if mine is released or not," Central Florida coach George O'Leary said. "You'd be amazed at how many (undeserving) guys vote for themselves. When we were at Georgia Tech, I'd see this guy would get three votes. I'd say, 'Who voted for him?' All they're doing is taking votes from somebody else."
O'Leary raises a good point. At least the media has the ethical duty, because of its profession, to be impartial. Coaches claim to have the same credibility but secret ballots do little to support their case when so much is at stake. There already was a mini-controversy a few years ago when Joe Paterno let his sports information director fill out his ballot.
The claim (by some coaches) that releasing ballots could potentially motivate an opponent is tired and, really, a high school mentality.
"We've always been concerned about the transparency of the voting process," Weiberg said.
USA Today officials have said in the past that coaches are regularly reviewed. They are dropped from the poll after the season if their ballots aren't credible or reliable. One more expected BCS change: This year coaches will be given more time to turn in their votes (perhaps until noon Sunday, instead of Saturday night).
"It's not like I'm trying to hide something," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "I'm fine with not releasing it or releasing it."
There is hope that perhaps the ballots will be publicized, further legitimizing the BCS but Weiberg isn't holding his breath. However, there seemingly was a breaking of AFCA ranks at the end of last year. Three coaches voted USC No. 1 even though they were compelled by the AFCA to vote for LSU, the BCS title game winner.
USA Today editors debated whether to run that final poll before agreeing to publish it.
Doing Justice To The World Wide Leader
The U.S. Justice Dept. poking around ESPN's college football dealings seems so 20 years ago.
Let's explain: Justice's anti-trust division is looking into the network's "warehousing" practices. That's TV talk for how it acquires and builds inventory. Inventory is the games that are sold for rights fees.
The case -- which is nothing more than Justice "initiating an inquiry" according to one source -- is similar to the landmark Supreme Court case regarding college football in 1984.
Major-college football (led by plaintiffs Oklahoma and Georgia) eventually won the right from the NCAA to market and control the rights to their football telecasts. The NCAA essentially lost its ability that day to govern big-time college football. It is relegated to setting playing and recruiting rules and certifying bowls.
From the looks of it, ESPN could be assuming the role the NCAA had 20 years ago.
Justice seems particularly interested in how the network warehouses conference contests but only broadcasts, perhaps, a small percentage of those. In essence, shutting out the competition.
Whether ESPN is at fault, though, is almost a secondary point. A free-thinking individual might wonder how Justice got interested in such a probe and who might benefit from getting the government involved.
Connect the dots. Fox Sports' regional networks were driven out of competition by ESPN in the late '90s. The network tied up major conferences in football and basketball for up to 10 years keeping the inventory out of the hands of competitors.
Good business or monopolistic? We'll see.
The last and biggest deal in the sport was the ACC growing to 12 teams in order to land a huge TV contract. There is no argument that the ACC crippled the Big East by taking Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Who, then, might have the motive to "help" Justice to get the investigation started? Probably not the Big East. While there is no love lost between Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and the ACC, the Big East has a lucrative basketball deal with ESPN.
Most likely some of the impetus has come from some of the coalition conferences that have had to settle for lesser rights fees.
SportsLine.com has learned that at least the Big 12 and ACC have been contacted by Justice. The ACC is no surprise but the Big 12? The league does not have an ESPN deal in football. Its primary games are carried by ABC. A secondary deal exists with Fox.
One source said there were "vitriolic" negotiations with ESPN a few years back when the Big 12 tried to exercise an option to negotiate with other parties in football. ESPN does own part of the Big 12 basketball rights.
Weiberg would not comment on the record.
Whatever the case, this might be nothing more than a hacked off school president chatting up a senator he knows on the Judiciary Committee.
Come to think of it, that's pretty much how Tulane president Scott Cowen got the BCS to bend to his wishes.
So many bowls, so few teams
The number of bowls could grow to 31 in 2005 with proposed games in Indianapolis, Denver and Miami.
That's 62 slots in a sport that struggles now to find enough bowl eligible teams. Last year there were only 62 bowl eligible teams with teams playing a 12-game schedule. Until 2008, teams will be limited to 11 games.
Since the BCS started in 1998, there has been an average of 58.3 bowl-eligible teams per season according to NCAA research. What's the solution? There isn't an easy one for the NCAA, which must certify the new games (if promoters come up with a $1.5 million letter of credit) or face legal action.
The assumption is that market forces will limit the number of bowls but those market forces haven't hit yet if three more cities want in.
"We know there is an issue there," said Dennis Poppe, the NCAA's senior director of football. "We know you should not have more bowls than to accommodate 58 teams."