BCS officials want to steady system

SAN FRANCISCO -- As schools chase BCS automatic-qualifying by switching conferences, the college football leaders in charge of the postseason system began discussing its future.

"I don't think any of us are happy that the BCS is one of the contributing factors to conference realignment," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said Monday after a meeting of conference commissioners and university presidents. "It's certainly not the only (factor), by any means. The BCS was never intended to be a divisive event. To the extent that the BCS can be a part of lending stability to the conferences, I think that's what everybody would like to see."

The current BCS TV and bowl contracts run through the 2013 season. Beyond that nothing about the BCS is a given.

Hancock said "everything under the sun" is open for discussion, including eliminating automatic-qualifying conferences or changing the amount of at-large bids.

The Bay Area meeting was more about setting the agenda for the next year than introducing new plans.

The presidents and commissioners hope to have a solid plan in place in the next six to eight months, Hancock said, and that could take longer depending on television partners.

The board will decide a replacement for Penn State president Graham Spanier as BCS presidential oversight committee chairman in the next few weeks, Hancock said. Spanier's successor will be another member of the committee.

Spanier, along with coach Joe Paterno, was dismissed last week as part of the fallout from a child sexual abuse scandal involving a former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with assaulting eight boys.

"(Spanier) did a great deal for the BCS during his short tenure. Many of these people are his friends," Hancock said. "I do know that they all share the same view, which is what happened is a tragedy."

How the new BCS system will look is still unclear.

The group will hold a lengthier meeting during the first week of January before the BCS championship game in New Orleans. Hancock said he's "not hearing any ground swell of support" for a playoff system.

"There is strong support in the group for the BCS," he said. "They recognize the benefits it has had to the regular season. And they recognize the benefits that the bowls have had for the athletes. I don't sense any support for blowing up the bowls.

"I think they all realize we have the best regular season in all of sports. And we're seeing that every weekend. Every weekend I think, 'It can't get any better than this.' And it does."

Conference realignment will certainly play a part in any BCS changes.

The Big East is losing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference. West Virginia is also leaving for the Big 12 as soon as next season, and TCU -- once headed to the Big East -- will join the Mountaineers.

The Big East is trying to add at least six new schools, including Boise State. The Big East is one of the six conference that has an automatic bid guaranteed through the 2013 season.

Boise State and other schools the Big East is pursuing -- such as Houston, Air Force, SMU and Central Florida -- don't play in conferences with AQ status, but would like to. The Big East, meanwhile, wants to protect the status it has by rebuilding a 12-team football conference around teams that have had recent success.

"It's not for this group to put the brakes on anything. That's not this group's charge," Hancock said. "My view on realignment is schools have changed conferences forever. And it will probably continue. But I don't think anybody ever imagined that when the BCS was created, that the BCS could ever be a contributing factor in realignment.

"The BCS is so misunderstood," he said. "It was created to match up No. 1 vs. No. 2. And because of the way the critics have reacted to it, it has become more than that. It was never intended to be anything more than that. And in our minds, it's not anything more than that. And it has been so successful in doing what it's supposed to do it's worth preserving and worth fighting for."