Bumbling BCS unlikely to change anytime soon

The Baltimore Sun

If McDonald's or any other company got only one out of every four orders right, the place would be empty the next day.

Not the Bowl Championship Series.

Business has never been better. The people in charge have more money to throw around, more of their pals at the chambers of commerce are sharing in the take and their TV partner couldn't be happier, largely because the suckers who pay the freight by tuning in to games aren't going anywhere.

Since hijacking the game's postseason in 1998 with the promise of matching No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the title game, the BCS has delivered exactly twice. Once in the 2002 season, when undefeated Miami and Ohio State met, and again in the 2005 season, when Texas and Southern California did the same.

This year? Don't ask.

Befitting a season that began with a colossal upset and got more unpredictable as it unfolded, Ohio State will play LSU on Jan. 7 in New Orleans. The Tigers' appearance marks the first time a two-loss team has made the championship game.

"I don't think that it's so much the system as it is the year," BCS chief and Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive said Sunday night, in a classic case of blaming the victim.

In the past, the BCS fended off demands for a playoff by "tweaking" the format - a half-dozen times in its brief tenure - only to find an additional tweak or two is needed the next year. What they've done the past two years to escape blame is suggest they might be ready to change.

Slive and his pals back at headquarters already know how the "format" should be adjusted - and have from the beginning: a playoff of some sort. That's why a fifth BCS game was tucked into the current TV deal that runs through the 2011 bowls. Known as a "plus-one," it could be played after the four BCS games as a kind of college football Super Bowl.

Yet when Slive was asked how soon it might happen, this is how he answered (keep in mind that he's a lawyer by training):

"We have to put this one in the mix and look at it. If you go to a plus-one, you're going to have years in which it is just very, very appropriate. You're going to have years where it may not be so appropriate. ... The only way to solve that is to have a flexible format and just make sure that we look at the standings and then decide how to finish the year."

Translation: We ain't changing anytime soon. We like things exactly the way they are, and as long as we have the TV rights and the backing of the university presidents from the power conferences, we'll keep making it up as we go along.

Jim Litke writes for the Associated Press.

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