Whither the BCS?

NOTE: This post was begun Monday night, before C&F's Internet connection went out. Though others have covered this to an extent, C&F has done some extra research that he would like to think is enlightening.

Tom Hansen, longtime commish of the Pac-10, is stepping down in July 2009.

At first, this looks like something of little import to anyone who follows SEC football or football in any conference that, you know, believes that defense should still be played.

But Hansen is not just the leader of the poster child for score inflation. He is also the poster child for playoff opposition.

Despite strong public and news media criticism, Hansen never wavered on protecting the Pac-10’s and the Big Ten’s relationship with the Rose Bowl.

"It’s been a good system," Hansen said of the Bowl Championship Series. "It addresses the obvious need we have to determine a national championship."

Hansen is not the only BCS conference commissioner saying his goodbye. Mike Tranghese, leader of the Big Least East, will ride off into the sunset a month earlier than Hansen.

Tranghese has also been a playoff-basher, although a belated and seemingly half-hearted one.

"Our view is we're open to talking about anything," Tranghese said. "But the plus-one idea is just a disguise for a playoff."

Which apparently, we now crystal-clearly understand, is something the Big East presidents hate. It's just somewhat surprising that Tranghese also sounds so opposed to the idea. After the meetings in Hollywood, Fla., he said, "Looked like a playoff, smelled like a playoff." He continued by saying, "We don't think a playoff is in the best interest of college football."

Despite having problems with consistency -- We'll talk about anything, except for anything that sounds like a playoff, which is really the only non-BCS thing people want to talk about -- Tranghese didn't seem likely to move.

So two playoff detractors are gone from the ranks of commissioners. Will it matter? Probably not.

But Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who, like Hansen, staunchly opposes a playoff, said he doubted there would be any change in the B.C.S.

"We wouldn’t have been able to assert the positions we’ve asserted over time if there weren’t a lot of support from a lot of our constituents," Delany said.

And the list of possible replacements backs that up. C&F could find nothing from Bob Bowlsby one way or the other.

But WAC commish Karl Benson has to be a playoff advocate, right?

WAC commissioner Karl Benson -- who spoke for the C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and WAC schools that probably will never have a chance to crash the BCS title game -- said they were still "very pleased with the current system."

Another mid-major guy, Craig Thompson of the Mountain West?

"There's not a perfect system," Thompson says. "Whether you go to a 12-team playoff or an eight-team playoff with eight conference champions ... there's always going to be a 13th or ... a ninth" team left out.

He also sounded lukewarm in a 2002 Web chat.

Very interesting question because if there were a 16-team playoff we would probably only have one participant vs. the three teams each year since our formation that have played in a bowl game. No question the revenue would be greater for the MWC in a play-off situation but our number of post-season participants would be reduced. Ideally we will have greater access to not only a BCS bowl but also keep our other affiliations.

But this year, Thompson called an eight-team playoff "a little better than what we have today." Wobbly at best.

Kevin Weiberg, a candidate for both the Pac-10 and Big East posts, sounds unimpressed by playoff claptrap.

"We've committed to a new four-year contract, so we're moving forward. But if we decided that it just doesn't work ... we would more likely go down the path of returning to the old structure, the old bowl system as it existed prior to the BCS."

Tom Jurich and John Marinatto leave no record on the Web that C&F can find. Greg Sankey is an associate SEC commish, so he might be willing to consider a playoff.

Nick Carparelli Jr. leaves this interesting tidbit.

Differing opinions underscore the absence of central leadership in college football. Nick Carparelli Jr., the Big East’s associate commissioner, said: "Everyone is protecting their place in the college football world. There’s no person or entity looking over college football. It’s every conference’s job to look out for their own best interest."

Over at Notre Dame, the athletics director is out, and some pro-playoff candidates are (believed to be) in the mix. One is Steve Orsini, the AD at SMU.

Rick Chryst, MAC commish, sounds confused.

"We don't get into opinions about whether plus-one, seeded this or that, until there's an alternative structure that may be developed that we can react to," Mid-American Conference commissioner Rick Chryst said. "If there is one, first thing our folks will look at is the access point. Do we still have 10 access points? What's the number, and what will history show about being able to get on the field?"

Other candidates, like Georgetown AD Bernard Muir, Tulsa AD Bubba Cunningham (please let ND pick an AD named "Bubba") and Xavier AD Mike Bobinski leave no Web trail. We can guess about Digger Phelps -- I'm not making this stuff up -- he of the ESPN college basketball Gameday.

In any case, Tranghese and Hansen can hardly be blamed for the improbability of a playoff. There's plenty of credit or blame to go around.

Granted, a few flipped votes could bring the BCS to the cusp; but if the presidents are anti-playoff -- and many of them are -- they're unlikely to appoint a commish that is going to defy them on that point.

So that's good news for those of us nervous about a playoff and bad news for bracket-backers. At least for now.

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