BCS eyes fixes for troubled system

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MIAMI - After trying to fend off critics after a season in which three teams were unbeaten and more controversy raged over its pairings process, the Bowl Championship Series wants to move quickly to make fixes for next season and beyond.

But Big 12 Conference commissioner Kevin Weiberg, coordinator of the BCS, conceded that the group could take until July to shore up its standings formula and solve the issue of losing the Associated Press poll.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Weiberg, who spoke to the Football Writers Association of America yesterday morning.

Among the major issues facing the BCS:

Whether to switch from a poll-based system of selecting the teams for the BCS championship game to a committee-based approach used by the NCAA for its basketball playoffs.

Whether to use another national poll to replace the Associated Press poll. The AP asked last month that its traditional poll not be used in the BCS standings formula.

Where to set automatic qualification standards for conference champions.

A continued effort, if polls are still used, to make the coaches' votes public.

Weiberg is among those interested in a committee approach to team selection, though he doesn't favor a committee picking all eight BCS participants. Other conference commissioners, some of whom have served on the NCAA's Division I Basketball Committee, like the committee concept. Not all have weighed in.

"I'm not prepared to endorse it because I want to hear more discussion with my colleagues, and I think we certainly need to take a look and see whether there is another poll that could be plugged into to the spot that was the AP poll," Weiberg said.

BCS partners will meet next week in Dallas and again in Phoenix in April.

A new television partner, Fox, must be included when the BCS goes to its new double-hosting concept for the 2007 season. ABC will continue to televise the Rose Bowl and will remain part of the BCS because of that.

Weiberg also said he'll continue pushing the American Football Coaches Association to make public its coaches' Top 25 votes. The votes were an issue when Auburn was snubbed for the Orange Bowl and particularly when Texas jumped over California to earn a BCS spot in the Rose Bowl and send Cal to the Holiday Bowl.

Coaches recently voted 32-29 not to release their ballots. They'll take the issue up again next week at the AFCA convention.

One thing figures to remain constant: There is no playoff in the immediate picture.

"That's not going to happen," Weiberg said. "The presidents clearly don't want it."

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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