While there’s something straightforward about matching 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 and then letting the winners face off in the BCS title game, there’s a significant logistics problem with that format, namely, the Rose Bowl’s insistence that it be able to maintain its traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 pairing while remaining a top tier postseason venue (a privilege it certainly pays for).
If you can’t get around the Rose Bowl roadblock and you’re still trying to find a way to tweak the postseason formula to get a BCS title game matchup that satisfies more of the critics, it’s off to Plan B.
From Matt Hayes, in the Sporting News, comes this tidbit on an alternative Plus-One arrangement:
Administrators will again explore a plus-one championship model at the annual BCS meetings next week in Fort Lauderdale — but this time, according to BCS sources, with the specific intention of appeasing the Big Ten and Pac-10. Both conferences are against further tweaking the formula; Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen told me last fall his league would break away from the championship series if a plus-one model becomes a reality. The focus this time: finding a way to secure the Rose Bowl for the Big Ten and Pac-10, no matter how the series formula plays out. The Rose Bowl organization also has concerns about the current double-hosting format, and those concerns likely will lead to the addition of a fifth BCS site (Atlanta or Dallas). A plus-one model — which would provide a championship game between the two highest-ranked teams after the bowl games — would give the series more bargaining power in the next television negotiations, which are expected to begin this fall. But the series has to have the Big Ten and Pac-10 on board to make such a move. Network television won’t pay top dollar for a series without two conferences and two of the sport’s most television-friendly schools (USC and Ohio State). If the BCS does go to a plus-one model, it won’t happen until the 2010 season. . . .
There are pluses (heh) and minuses to this proposal. It’s good for the networks, because all of the conferences are on board and there’s more product with one more game. It’s good for the schools for the same reason (more product means more money, of course). It’s good for the one other bowl game that gets elevated to BCS status (I’d bet on Dallas, with that football palace Jerry Jones is constructing). And it’s good, of course, for the Rose Bowl.
For the fans, though, it’s a mixed bag. One the one hand, the BCS games are strengthened, since #1 and #2 would be included in the mix. Looking at last year, for example, Ohio State would have been slotted in the Rose Bowl, instead of Illinois, to play USC. On the other hand, with ten schools participating in the BCS games, it’s very easy to construct a scenario where more than two schools have an argument that they belong in the title game. Which means all that’s been accomplished is to put off the same argument being made now for one week later.
That would make for good fodder on ESPN and the college football Blogosphere, though. From my selfish standpoint, there’s something to be said for an extra week of subject matter to blather about.