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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

If not BCS format, then what? Conferences think it over

Commissioners gather in New Orleans for first of meetings that could reshape college football's postseason. The spectrum ranges from little change to a play for a 16-team playoff.

January 10, 2012|Chris Dufresne
  • College football's postseason model is poised to undergo significant changes once the Bowl Championship Series contract ends in 2014.
College football's postseason model is poised to undergo significant… (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images )

From New Orleans — Hours after a 21-0 championship game and the conclusion of a bowl season that registered a slide in television ratings, Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners met in a downtown hotel Tuesday to discuss possible changes to the postseason model.

The 14-year-old Bowl Championship Series, which has two more years under the current contract, seems to have run its course.

At the 2008 spring meetings, commissioners voted down a four-team playoff proposal offered by the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences.

There is different sentiment now.

"Very different," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said during a break. "But I think we knew that coming in."

The 11 conference commissioners convened for the first of several meetings in the next few months that could reshape college football's postseason. The BCS needs the next deal in place by early next fall.

Tuesday's meeting was called to allow commissioners the chance to throw all their ideas on the table.

The spectrum ranges from very little change to a plan offered by Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson for a 16-team playoff.

The final model will likely fall in between, but could take months to hone and formalize.

"This will not play well on Twitter," BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said. "It will be very deliberate and very thoughtful."

Any new model would probably add another layer of evaluation to the championship process.

Nick Saban, after leading Alabama to a 21-0 win over Louisiana State in the BCS title game, recalled the controversy in 2003 when his LSU team split the national title with USC.

Oklahoma and LSU finished first and second in the BCS standings even though USC was No. 1 in the coaches' and writers' polls.

"There was a groundswell that a group wanted to have a game between LSU and USC," Saban said at his Tuesday morning, post-championship news conference. "And I said at the time I was all for playing it."

Saban added: "But I think that this is the system that we have. And I think your entire mind-set is to sort of succeed in that system."

It's too soon, Hancock said, to guess what model might emerge. He said there were 50 to 60 concepts with different permutations.

The commissioners could implement the four-team playoff proposed in 2008, or consider an "unseeded" plan that would select the 1-2 matchup after the bowl games.

One plan floated would drop the automatic-qualifier status for the six BCS conferences.

"We have a lot more cans to kick around," Hancock said.

Hancock said the commissioners are unified in preserving the importance of the regular season and conducting an annual title game. The commissioners, he said, "want to build something the next generation will be very proud of."

The BCS could have a rough model to present in time for their spring meetings in south Florida, or the process could extend through June meetings in Chicago.

Most anticipate some sort of shakeup.

"How seismic," Hancock said, "no one knows."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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