Believe it or not, there could be at least one postseason positive that comes out of the recent spate of expansion hysteria that’s rendering geography and tradition in college football obsolete.
Speaking to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.com, interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas thinks “there is growing sentiment to eliminate the automatic qualification part of the BCS.” Neinas believes the moves that have been made from one conference to another over the past two years, by both the schools and the conferences, can be traced to the jockeying for membership in a BcS AQ league.
“You can see what’s happening,” Neinas told Dodd. “They [conferences] are gerrymandering all over the place under the intent to maintain an automatic qualification. History has shown you don’t need that if you are qualified.”
And how would you qualify if changes were to be made? The sentiment currently making the rounds would be to abolish automatic qualifying for a conference and allow the current 10 BcS slots be decided by their standings in the final set of rankings released before the start of the bowl season. Such a system — any system, for that matter — wouldn’t happen until the after the current BcS cycle ends following the 2013 season. To illustrate how dramatic a move this would be, below are the schools that played in BcS bowls in 2010, followed by the Top Ten in the next-to-last BcS rankings:
- 2010 BcS participants: TCU-Wisconsin (Rose Bowl); Oklahoma-UConn (Fiesta Bowl); Stanford-Virginia Tech (Orange Bowl); Ohio State-Arkansas (Sugar Bowl); Auburn-Oregon (BcS title game)
- BcS Top Ten, from one through 10: Auburn, Oregon, TCU, Stanford, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan State and Boise State
In such a scenario, the Big Ten, with Michigan State as the conference’s third representative, and Boise State would have been the big winners, both on the field and financially. On the other hand, the ACC would’ve lost Virginia Tech and the Big East UConn, which wasn’t even ranked in the Top 25 at the time the bids were handed out.
It would appear those latter two conferences would be against such a radical change to the current BcS system; in two of the past three years, each conference’s champion has finished outside of the Top Ten in the BcS rankings leading into the postseason. The Big East’s objection to such a sweeping change could be mitigated somewhat by the potential addition of Boise State, although past performance is no guarantee of future financial BcS success.
Of course, power conferences such as the SEC and Big Ten would likely favor any system that included more chances for their membership to be included in a revamped BcS system, as would a conference like the Mountain West, especially if it were to retain Boise State.
Dodd makes sure to note that it’s unclear how much support such a significant revamping would garner among conference commissioners, or how the all-mighty dollar would be divvied up.
As far as Neinas is concerned, however, the overriding issue appears to be finding some way to put a halt to the game of conference musical chairs that’s been at the forefront of college football news since the spring of last year.
“You can make it on your merit without having to be in an automatic qualifying situation,” Neinas said. “That would solve some problems here with people just scrambling because they think they have to take in certain institutions. Let’s eliminate automatic qualification. If you merit it, you’re in …
“The point is, then you wouldn’t have this effort to cobble together a conference for the purpose of automatic qualification.”
Such a change to the BcS that’s being tossed around certainly doesn’t solve the real issue in college football on the field — lack of a playoff system — but at least another slothful trudge toward where the system ultimately needs to be could be taken.