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Process of changing the BCS underway

Commissioners hold first meeting

The BCS trophy may be handed out after a different process in future years.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The BCS trophy may be handed out after a different process in future years.

NEW ORLEANS - Another Bowl Championship Series title game is in the books, another season has concluded.

But as soon as Alabama’s 21-0 victory over Louisiana State in the championship game in the Superdome on Monday was put into the archives, the focus switched to the future of the BCS.

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With two years remaining on the current contract, the conference commissioners began planning for the future yesterday with the first in a series of meetings to determine the framework of the next contract.

One of the topics of discussion was the possibility of creating a selection committee similar to the one the NCAA has in college basketball to pick the teams that will play in either the championship game or the BCS bowls.

“All things were discussed,’’ said BCS executive director Bill Hancock.

“The spirit of the conversations has been excellent,’’ said Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, who still favors the concept of a Plus-One model. “What the ACC wants is a system that will be well-received and we will go from there.’’

Yesterday’s was the first of a half-dozen meetings that will be held over the next several months as plans are examined and discussed.

When asked if there was a common wish among the commissioners, Hancock said, “Keep the championship game.’’

According to Hancock, no plan has an advantage over another right now.

“There is no leader in the clubhouse,’’ he said. “We have a lot more cans to kick around over the next four or five months. We talked about everything.’’

There are problems to address - Monday night’s game had the lowest television ratings for a championship game in BCS history - but Hancock made it clear there would be no quick fixes.

“This will not play well on Twitter,’’ said Hancock. “There was a general feeling some changes have to be made. When the BCS began 14 years ago, it was extremely popular, but over the years folks want more.’’

There has been talk of increasing the field to include more conferences and going to what many feel is the start toward a playoff system with a plan called Plus-One, which would add another game after the bowls to determine the national champion.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who won his third national championship Monday, remembers the controversial year of 2003, when Southern Cal was ranked No. 1 in both the writers’ and coaches’ polls, but was only No. 3 in the BCS computers - and thus not in the title game between LSU (coached by Saban) and Oklahoma.

After LSU’s win, Saban said, there was a groundswell for the Tigers to play one more game - against Southern Cal - to determine a true national champion.

“I was all for playing it at the time,’’ said Saban, who then paused. “I think this is the system we have. My mind-set is to succeed in that system.’’

Almost everyone says the system will change; perhaps it will be just another in a series of tweaks, perhaps something more radical, such as the elimination of automatic qualifying bids to BCS bowls and having just one BCS game between the two highest-ranked teams.

A form of Plus-One is also being discussed in which the top four teams would be seeded into a pair of semifinal games, with the winners meeting a week later in a championship game.

Eliminating the automatic qualifying for conferences would allow the bowls to select whomever they wanted, with no limitations on the number of teams from a given conference receiving BCS bids.

Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan said his game would accept anything that comes - even going back to the old system in which the bowls made their own deals.

Since the Southeastern Conference champion is contractually obligated to play in the Sugar Bowl, Hoolahan is dealing from a position of strength; SEC teams have won the last six BCS title games.

“I think that would be going backward,’’ said Hoolahan, meaning reverting to the old system. “But as long as I’m riding Secretariat, who cares?’’

Hoolahan would like to see the practice of “double hosting’’ - which the Sugar Bowl did this year - continue. He said the Sugar Bowl had a “war chest’’ to be competitive in the bidding for a BCS championship game if it came down to that.

Alabama’s championship was its second in three years, and the third straight for that state (Auburn won last season).

“This team was a special team,’’ said Saban.

As for the state’s winning streak, Saban said, “We don’t have professional teams in our state, which makes the experience unique. And it speaks volumes about the passion [for college football] in the state.’’

Where the BCS goes from here will be an ongoing question for months, and perhaps years.

The key figures in the picture are SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who have provided the leadership for the group in the past.

Slive called the talks comprehensive but offered no specifics.

So another championship game has been played, another season is over, and the BCS moves forward - slowly.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.
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