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Friday, January 3
BCS committee to address playoff option

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The Bowl Championship Series will form a committee to discuss changes that eventually could lead to a college football playoff.

One president from each of six conferences -- the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern -- will be picked for the committee this month. They are expected to make a recommendation in 2005.

"There are four options. We can go back to the old system, we can stay where we are, we can tweak it, or we can go to a playoff,'' BCS coordinator Mike Tranghese said Friday. "We're going to spend some time and talk about all of them.''

The BCS is committed to a second rotation of the championship bowls, which began Friday night with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between No. 1 Miami and No. 2 Ohio State.

The next three title games will be in the Sugar, Orange and Rose bowls before the contract runs out after the 2005 season.

ABC, which has a $525 million, seven-year contract to televise the BCS games, has an exclusive negotiating period in the second half of 2005 to keep the games on the network.

The BCS was formed in 1998 in an effort to match the top two teams in a national title game. The system is not problem-proof and some people would prefer a playoff system.

"My presidents don't want to play football in December during exams and they don't want to play in the second semester,'' said Tranghese, the Big East commissioner. "They ask if the regular season is healthy and the answer is a resounding 'Yes.' They ask if a playoff would affect that and the answer is 'Yes.' Just look at basketball.''

A more likely solution would be to add one game after the existing bowls to determine the national champion.

"It's not a home run like everyone thinks. A lot of issues have to be resolved,'' Tranghese said.

In three of the first five years, the BCS system worked smoothly, with a consensus over the top two teams.

But in 2000 and 2001, there were disputes over who should play in the title game, and this year the Rose Bowl was upset about not having its traditional matchup between the Big Ten and Pac-10.

In 2000, Miami believed it should have played Oklahoma for the title instead of Florida State. The Hurricanes beat the Seminoles in the regular season.

Last season, Nebraska played Miami for the title even though the Cornhuskers didn't win their conference.

This year, Ohio State went to the Fiesta Bowl, and the Orange Bowl picked Iowa with the first at-large selection, leaving the Rose Bowl with Big 12 champion Oklahoma against Pac-10 champ Washington State.

The Orange Bowl was dubbed "Rose Bowl East'' for its matchup between Iowa and Southern California.

The Rose Bowl attendance of 86,848 was the lowest since 1944 in the 91,000-seat stadium. Tranghese said changes for the Rose Bowl will be discussed, but only if they don't hurt the other three BCS games.

"I think what transpired this year blind-sided them,'' he said. "They didn't expect it. It will take some time for them to adjust.''

Tranghese doesn't see any sentiment for returning to the old system that had conference champions locked into bowls and led to three split championships in eight years.

"I think we had a system 10 years ago that was awful,'' Tranghese said. "Ten years ago, Ohio State wouldn't be playing Miami. The BCS solved that.''