Commissioners spend time on potential fifth bowl

A meeting of NCAA Division I-A commissioners in a Chicago suburb on Wednesday bogged down in the details of how to provide increased access to the Bowl Championship Series and ended with no decisions.

Participants made so little progress that they never got around to discussing proposed changes in the BCS formula.

Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, the spokesman for the group, was in transit Wednesday night. However, two commissioners who participated in the meeting provided details of what took place.

The commissioners, who gathered at the Big Ten Conference office in Park Ridge, Ill., studied the proposals submitted by 12 bowls to host the fifth game, as well as the idea of allowing each of the four current BCS bowls to host the fifth game during their national championship year.

Under this "piggyback" plan, the BCS bowls -- the Fiesta, Sugar, Rose and Orange -- claim that they would maintain their financial viability because they would continue to host a national championship game every four years. If a fifth bowl is added to the rotation, officials of the bowls say that it would adversely affect their bottom lines.
However, the interest of the 12 candidates to host the fifth game would lessen considerably if they don't host a national championship game.

The commissioners will continue their discussions next week via conference call. They feel some time pressure because the Rose Bowl was supposed to have begun to negotiate a new contract with ABC Sports on Wednesday. However, the parties won't begin talking until Thursday and can't seriously negotiate until a format is in place.

The proposed changes in the BCS formula would streamline the math, eliminating strength of schedule and quality wins, and leaving only the AP poll, the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and an average of the computer polls.

Rather than merely average the standing in each polls, BCS officials are looking into calculating the percentage of total votes received in each poll in order to gain a more exact picture. The necessary research is pushing a decision on the formula back to June.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com.