Posted on: August 13, 2011 1:37 pm

Pac-12, Big Ten ADs discussed plus-one

There was at least a "discussion" of a plus-one college football playoff system by Pac-12 and Big Ten ADs, CBSSports.com has learned.

The Seattle Times reported that a "consensus" had been reached by the ADs after a straw vote, favoring a radical departure from the current BCS system. The report said the consensus was nonbinding and not a recommendation. Any such official move would have to come from the BCS presidents.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told the Chicago Tribune Saturday that his conference's ADs do not favor a plus-one system. He called the Times report "erroneous". However, CBSSports.com has determined that the subject was at least raised during a meeting last week. Even a discussion about the subject would suggest a possible sea change in college football's postseason.

It could be simply a matter of semantics as to what went on in the room last week during a meeting in Newport Beach, Calif. The Pac-10 (now 12) and Big Ten have been in lockstep supporting their exclusive arrangement with the century-old Rose Bowl.

The Times said the proposed format would include adding a fifth BCS bowl, most likely the Cotton. Four bowls would then rotate a four-team playoff system with two semifinal winners meeting in a championship game. According to the Times, the Rose would not host semifinal games but would remain in a five-year championship rotation.

The current championship rotation is four years. In the past, adding a fifth bowl was seen as an impediment because it would be harder to lure bowl sponsors to a championship that would take place once every five years.

BCS executive director Bill Hancock was not immediately available for comment.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:48 am

NCAA Football 12 is out today!

NCAA Football 12 is out today and I'm jacked. Hope the feeling is mutual because college football needs a break. The sport has been dipped in controversy, cheating, lawyers and courts too long this offseason. We need us some cfb even if it is from a PS3.

Quick background: For those of you who don't know, NCAA Football 12 is a video game. It is more addicting than 30 Rock depicting the thrills, detail and game day experience. This year's edition is the best yet. The Coaching Carousel function puts coaches on the hot seat. The new version includes the ability take the BCS out of the equation. That fantasy alone should be worth the $60 price. A MAC team can play in the Rose Bowl. The Big East can be kicked out of the BCS.

Think of the possibilities:

--Can't wait to play Ohio State in "shame" mode. That's assuming I can navigate my way through the "having a conscience" function to access the Buckeyes.

--Miami (Ohio) in the Rose Bowl. The RedHawks have never won a national championship in anything. Ever. This streak goes back a couple of centuries to when the school was founded. This being a video game is it possible Paul Brown (Class of '30) could jump on the dog pile if Miami beats USC for the national championship?

--Will asking the game to assemble the current membership of the WAC crash my PS3? Don't even try to sort out Legends and Leaders.

--If the Big East is cut out of BCS will West Virginia start an ugly rumor about the game's creator having a "reputation of being a partier"? 

--Mascot mode must: Delanys vs. Slives.

--There has to be a seven-on-seven function where gamers start with $10,000 in funny money and can pay it out to players any way they want. Will Lyles could narrate the tutorial.

--In light of the upheaval at Ohio State and deadlines for the game's production I'm really interested in who will be coaching the Buckeyes. Mike Leach is available.

--Need input, gamers: Jordan Jefferson on EA: Cotton Bowl version or spring-game version? 

--Does Texas Tech include Craig James on the sidelines or not?

--Where's the Pac-12 Network button?

--It seems only fitting that Mark Ingram graces the cover of this year's game. A tailback who won the Heisman in 2009 is pimping a fantasy version of the 2011 season marketed as NCAA 12.

Some things never change. In what might be an EA first, it is featuring a player whose school is currently on probation. Since 1987, Bama has been involved in more major football infractions cases (three) than national championships (two).

In this offseason of sleaze, there are some things you can't escape.

Posted on: June 19, 2011 8:15 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 7:53 am

BCS head will meet with Justice on June 30

BCS executive director Bill Hancock will meet with Department of Justice officials on June 30, CBSSports.com has learned.

Hancock said earlier this month that he would honor a Justice Department request to go to Washington D.C. for what was termed a "voluntary briefing". The date of the visit is now firmed up. Hancock plans to describe the BCS system to DOJ officials.

At the time of the request a DOJ spokesman said officials continue to look into the legality of the BCS in relation to anti-trust laws. NCAA president Mark Emmert referred an earlier letter from DOJ to the BCS which essentially controls college football's postseason.

"We take seriously any connection in Washington, and we’re certainly taking this seriously," Hancock told the Associated Press earlier this month. "But I view it as an opportunity, because we’re confident that the BCS is on strong legal ground."

Among the critics of the BCS are Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff who has said he will file an anti-trust suit against the BCS.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 6, 2011 6:09 pm

USC vacates, is Ohio State next?

Ohio State, you're next.

 Well, maybe, but the non-story that was the BCS finally and absolutely vacating USC's 2004 title on Monday does have implications colored Scarlet and Gray. The way things are trending in Columbus, Ohio State could be the next to vacate a BCS bowl win. A BCS source told me that the same standard would hold for Ohio State if it was forced to vacate this year's Sugar Bowl: Wait until the case is decided and all appeals are exhausted.

 Admittedly, the stakes would be a bit smaller but no less embarrassing. A national championship wasn't involved in Ohio State's 31-26 win over Arkansas. Six players mysteriously reinstated for the bowl somehow were. Five of those six players were key contributors in the win. At issue is how many of those victories will end up standing when the NCAA is through with Ohio State.

 Those six players were cleared by the NCAA to play that particular game but this case has miles to go -- no pun intended re: Terrelle Pryor loaners -- before it is finalized.

 And, no, that doesn't mean Arkansas becomes Sugar Bowl champion if Ohio State vacates. Just like USC in 2004, if the Buckeyes vacate, there likely will be no 2011 Sugar Bowl champion in the BCS' eyes.

 USC is believed to be the first team in the wire service era (since at least 1936) to have a national championship removed. 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS, NCAA, Ohio State, USC
Posted on: May 26, 2011 12:41 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 8:50 am

USC almost certain to lose '04 title

It now seems a certainty that USC will vacate its 2004 BCS title after losing its appeal of crippling NCAA penalties. CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer reported Wednesday that USC had been notified that the NCAA had rejected the school's appeal. An official announcement from the NCAA is expected on Thursday.

The BCS has maintained for months that it would vacate the title only after the case was concluded.  More than five years since Yahoo! Sports broke the story of Reggie Bush's extra benefits, the case now seems finished. USC AD Pat Haden is expected to say Thursday that the school will take no further action.

BCS executive director Bill Hancock told reporters in July, "If USC loses the appeal, the [2004] championship will be vacated. And the feeling is in our group, the commissioners group, is that there was not a game, no game happened."

Hancock added at the time, "They [commissioners] will vacate, they will not elevate anyone," referring to the 12 school presidents who make up the BCS Oversight Committee.

"The presidents could decide to do something else, but I think it's most likely that they will vacate it."

Early Thursday, Hancock reiterated that no other team would be elevated to win the BCS title. "It would simply be vacated," he said in an email.

Prior to the NCAA's official release of the appeal denial, Hancock also said Thursday: "If, at the conclusion of the NCAA’s process, it is determined that an ineligible athlete participated in one of the BCS games, then the commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee members will consider whether vacation of the team’s participation in a BCS game—or vacation of the championship, in this case—is warranted. There is no set timetable for the group’s consideration of the matter, but I expect it would happen sooner, rather than later."

If they decide to take action, the oversight committee's decision would most likely be unanimous. If USC loses its title it would mark the first such occurrence in college football since at least the beginning of the wire service era in 1936. USC is expected to keep its '04 title in the AP poll. Instead, it would essentially be stripped of its final No. 1 ranking in the coaches' poll. The winner of the BCS title game is mandated to finish No. 1 in the final version of that poll.

On June 10, the NCAA vacated 14 victories from USC's 2004 and 2005 seasons as part of the penalties stemming from the Bush investigation. Bush essentially competed while ineligible for two seasons because he had taken money and benefits from marketers trying to win him as client when he turned pro.

Because the NCAA doesn't stage a championship in Division I-A football, it has no control over the BCS championship process. 

The Football Writers Association of America last year stripped USC of the '04 title and asked the school to return its Grantland Rice Trophy that goes with the honor. The Heisman Trust vacated Bush's winning of the 2005 Heisman Trophy. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 3:34 pm

NCAA prez to DOJ: Ask the BCS about playoff

Mark Emmert just hit it out of the park in terms of shoving it back in the Department of Justice's face.

In the NCAA president's answer to the DOJ Wednesday regarding the BCS, he essentially said, "Don't blame me, I just work here."

Or, if you want it verbatim: "... It is not appropriate for me to provide views on [football's postseason]. With regard to the Association's plans for [a playoff], there are no plans absent direction from our membership to do so."

Here is the entire letter.  

Everybody satisfied? The NCAA has little to do with major college football's postseason. What control it does have is minimal. A few of my peers had kittens when DOJ sent the letter to Emmert, like this was some sort of end of the BCS.

Me? I was surprised that the DOJ shook its finger at Emmert when it should have contacted the BCS initially in the first place. To me, it kind of shows how clueless DOJ is at this point. They're not even asking the right questions of the right people in a possible anti-trust investigation.

Wednesday's letter basically tipped the leverage back in the BCS' favor. The system's power brokers are on record as saying they'll go back to the bowl system before installing a playoff. In short, Wednesday's developments can be summarized in these possible quotations ...

Emmert: The membership doesn't want a playoff.

The BCS: You can't make us have a playoff.

Big Ten commish Jim Delany basically said as much when he told USA Today, "There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into an four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff."

That's good enough for me.  It's OK for you not to hate the BCS, but don't look for the DOJ to install a playoff. It isn't going to happen. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 11, 2011 4:56 pm

Surprise! (Not) Fiesta stays in BCS

It's what we all thought it would be.

Fiesta Bowl gets its Tostitos slapped, gets fined $1 million. In Wednesday's statement the BCS was "deeply troubled" by the financial shenanigans for a bowl that had "scant record for ethics." A BCS task force huffed and puffed and took 15 pages of legalese to explain why it was so upset ...

... and then conditionally allowed the Fiesta to keep its place in the BCS

Reasonable folks can debate whether the Justice Department will be able to touch the BCS. But it's obvious they're not going to harm themselves. Remember, many of the eight-person group that evaluated the Fiesta has been gorged with the bowl's food and drowned with its drink in the past. The Fiesta has this annual three-day retreat that used to be called the "Fiesta Frolic." Yes, legitimate business is done there but there's a lot of free stuff too. One critic called last week and laughed, telling me a member of the bowl licensing subcommittee that is going to decide the Fiesta's NCAA fate "hasn't paid for a round of golf in his life."

I get that every AD in the country gets invited to the Frolic, now renamed the "Valley of the Sun Experience and Fiesta Seminars". I get that it's a great way to network. I also question, still, why eight truly independent persons couldn't be found by the BCS to decide the Fiesta's fate. The Fiesta itself did it, forming the special committee that uncovered all the graft and political contributions that the task force re-investigated.

Per that task force, the Fiesta is now subject to annual audit. Fair enough, but why not all the BCS bowls? If you think the over-the-top spending stopped in Phoenix, you're nuts. It would add a layer of credibility and wouldn't cost much. Isn't that how the Fiesta got in trouble in the first place? It didn't have proper oversight.

"We have no reason to suspect there is any kind of issue for the other bowls," said Bill Hancock, the BCS executive director.

Oh, really? Party on, Orange, Rose and Sugar.

By trying to localize the problem, the BCS is inviting more scrutiny. One of the "reforms" being put on the Fiesta is that two members of its board must be from the "collegiate community." Bet me a bag of those chips that both persons will be veterans of the FrolicExperienceSeminars.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS, Fiesta Bowl
Posted on: May 8, 2011 5:45 pm

Responding to last week's cfb bombs

Proving once again there are no offseasons ever in any sport, these bombs dropped during my vacation last week. Each one deserves a response from this space's department of justice ...

The Bomb: Pac-12 agrees to a 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.

The Response: The first thing that came to mind: Larry Scott is gold. The commissioner was hired to drag the sleepy Pac-10 out of its past and rocket it toward a lucrative future. In less than two years, he delivered big time. As of right now, Scott can pretty much write his own ticket as a sports CEO. I'm talking about commissioner of baseball, the NFL, head of the U.S. Olympics, maybe even the next president of the NCAA. (More on that later in the week). 

Scott delivered because these commissioner jobs have evolved into giant fundraising endeavors. Sure, every once in a while a commish has to suspend or fine someone but that's small stuff. The commissioners' mandate from the presidents they serve is to make as much money as possible for the schools. Mike Slive and Jim Delany, two powerful guys with powerful NCAA backgrounds, had been the best at it -- until now. In less than two years Scott reshaped and repackaged his conference in such a way that it became the most lucrative league television property in history. Remember, this is a guy who sees profit centers in China for UCLA gear. 

The question now becomes what the Pac-12 schools do with their windfall. You can be sure that most of it won't be spent adding sports. There's a reason that only 10 or so schools out of 120 in I-A are turning a profit. The cash will go to the bottom line -- existing facilities, recruiting and coaching salaries. Adding non-revenue sports adds nothing to the bottom line. 

In other words, the Pac-12 just became a player for the likes of Urban Meyer. I'm not saying Meyer will be hired in the Pac-12, I’m saying that the Pac-12 can now afford coaches of his stature. UCLA, not exactly Fort Knox when it comes to paying coaches, now has the ability, if it chooses, to pay Meyer if it fires Rick Neuheisel. The question is not whether it will, the reality is that it can make that call without getting hung up on.

The Bomb: The Department of Justice writes the NCAA and asks, "What's up?" about a playoff. 

The Response: First, I'm not even sure Justice sent the letter to the right person. Mark Emmert and the NCAA he oversees has minimal control over college football in general and almost none over postseason football. Emmert's answer should be short and to the point: The reason we don't have a playoff is because the membership doesn't want it

Never mind that the NCAA technically isn't responsible, the commissioners seemingly have a way of diffusing any coming legal challenge.

"We never could have believed the regular season would have grown over the last 15 years like it has grown," said Delany, the Big Ten commissioner. "I think that's due, in part, to the BCS. We did what we set out to do, which is [stage] a 1-2 game, preserve the bowl system and grow the regular season ... We feel like we're on good [legal] ground. We never know about what a judge or jury could do, [but] we feel like we've got good representation."

I talked to noted anti-trust attorney Tom Rhodes about this issue last week. He isn't concerned for the BCS, calling the letter a political issue, not a legal issue, adding that assistant attorney general Christine Varney's interest is a "war dance" not a "war." Rhodes also intimates that Justice is a political animal that serves a president who made populist statements about a playoff while trying to get elected.

"It's important to understand what the letter does not say," Rhodes told me. "It doesn't say, 'You're in violation of the anti-trust laws.' ... Second thing is, if she [Varney] thought she had a case she wanted to bring she'd have brought it already. The third observation I would make is that the Department of Justice often has to be responsive to the political realities of the world. A political reality here is [Republican Utah Senator] Orrin Hatch is important to the administration.

Hatch has been a constant critic of the BCS but you wonder who his constituency is at this point. Utah is now in the BCS club. BYU, by its own choosing, went independent electing to join Navy and Army in having the worst BCS access in I-A. Those three schools will be considered if any finish in the top 14 of the BCS, but they are assured of a BCS berth only if they finish 1 or 2 in the final standings.

"People who are going to go to war usually don't spend a bunch of time jumping up and down with a war dance," Rhodes added. "This letter is consistent with the idea that Justice can do a war dance and if the BCS then makes a change, the [Obama] administration can claim, 'Look what we've done.' " 

Think of it this way: The BCS has been called in for questioning but no one is ready to make an arrest.

The Bomb: Ohio State will investigate the sale of cars to Buckeye players and their relatives at two local dealerships. 

The Response: I think I speak for everyone when I say there are few people in this world more trustworthy than used-car salesmen. Yeah, right. Those 14 magic words have, at some point, rung in all of our ears: "What's it going to take for me to put you in this car today?"

Next thing you know you're meeting the finance manager and making chit chat about how much you make a year. Having jaw surgery is more pleasant. Yep, something smells about the school now investigating 50 sales to determine whether players or relatives received price breaks (translation: extra benefits). My dad was a car salesman. Never once did he mention that cash-poor college kids were an untapped customer base. 

So now the case goes to the Ohio State compliance department which is the collegiate equivalent of those used-car salesmen. This is the crack group that forgot to tell the Buckeye Five that selling their gear to a tattoo-parlor owner was against the rules. This is the sharp-minded department that decided to check Jim Tressel's computer after it was way too late. Yep, they're the ones you want searching for the truth with the program potentially eligible for the death penalty.

"I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred," Doug Archie, head of Ohio State compliance, told the Columbus Dispatch.

Sorry, but we've heard it before: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

If this case has legs -- or rather, keys --  greasy car salesmen will be the least of Gene Smith's problems. Ohio State could be looking at lack of institutional control and a postseason ban, two penalties it has so-far dodged. But, damn, the Buckeyes will still have a badass set of wheels.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com