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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

By the looks of it, BCS won't be going away anytime soon

The Mountain West is in position to secure an automatic berth for its champion; the Big Ten and Pac-10 continue to mull expansion.

April 22, 2010|Chris Dufresne

Reporting from Scottsdale, Ariz. — Exit thoughts from the Bowl Championship Series spring meetings, where very little officially got done but, unofficially, a lot did.

• The BCS isn't going away. (Sorry.) It began in 1998 as a crapshoot mechanism to hold a "title" game while avoiding a playoff but would now be as easy to get rid of as a tattoo.

"I think for a while they administered it as if it wasn't going to last," said Bill Hancock, who was hired this year as the BCS' first executive director. "But we're now planning that it's going to be here in the year 2040."

Did you hear that, world?

BCS commissioners are convinced that they can withstand any antitrust legal challenge and are emboldened by the fact they have withstood challenges for 12 years.

Next season, for the first time, a team from outside the six-conference power structure, Boise State, has a legitimate shot to win the national title.

Hancock also said the Mountain West is in a position to earn BCS automatic-qualifying status for its champion in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The qualification is based on performance over a four-year evaluation period.

The Mountain West would become the seventh automatic qualifier.

"They've had a good couple of years," Hancock said of the conference.

• The Big Ten — with or without Notre Dame — is going to expand, probably to 16 schools. Commissioner Jim Delany this week did not deny that the Big Ten was looking to grow, he merely tried to put the process back on a 12- to 18-month time table.

The Big Ten would love to have Notre Dame, but the school declined the last time it was asked to join.

The Big Ten, which is starting to print money with its Big Ten Network, might be able to offer Notre Dame $25 million a year, more than double the Irish's annual haul from NBC. But Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick reiterated Thursday that the school plans to remain a football independent.

He said it has nothing to do with victories and losses but "everything to do with, 'This is our identity.'"

Money has a way of changing hearts and minds, but it might come down to Notre Dame never being able to stomach seeing its football team one game behind Purdue in the Big Ten South Division standings.

• Pacific 10 Commissioner Larry Scott said his conference will make a decision on expansion before the end of the year. Scott wants a plan in place before he starts negotiating the league's new television contract. The Pac-10's current deals with Fox and ABC/ESPN run through the 2011-12 basketball season.

Pac-10 expansion is not imminent and does not seem to be tied to what happens with the Big Ten.

The Pac-10 last expanded in 1978, when Arizona and Arizona State joined. Scott is sticking to the league's "Noah's Ark strategy" of bringing in schools by pairs.

"Part of the DNA of the Pac-10 is the idea of natural rivals," he said.

Couples that would fall into that category include Utah- Brigham Young and Texas-Texas A&M, yet state politics and the Pac-10's vast landscape make expansion complicated.

A viable option for creating revenue without expansion would be to stay at 10 teams, split into divisions and play a Pac-10 title game.

This would require a change in NCAA bylaws that require a conference to have 12 schools in order to hold a championship game, but that isn't expected to be an obstacle.

Given the sparse crowds that attend the Pac-10 men's basketball tournament at Staples Center, having a permanent host (or even a revolving one) for a football championship game has its challenges.

Scott has not ruled out an NFL-type format in which the top-seeded school would get home-field advantage for the title game.

A 10-league team with a championship game would provide additional revenue without having to divide it among two more schools.

Scott is also looking hard at other potential revenue streams.

"The Pac-10 is extremely well laid out for a TV network," he said.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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