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No Easy Answers for BCS, But Openness Gains Currency

Saturday, January 8, 2005; Page D02

GRAPEVINE, Tex., Jan. 7 -- Architects of the Bowl Championship Series huddled behind closed doors Friday to start hashing out next season's formula for determining which teams play for college football's national title in the wake of the Associated Press's demand that its poll no longer be a factor. No consensus was reached, but three scenarios emerged:

• Replace the AP poll with another poll, if a suitable alternative can be found, and weigh that alongside the formula's two remaining elements -- the coaches' poll and computer average.

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• Appoint a selection committee. Unlike the committee that issues wild-card berths and pairings for the NCAA basketball tournament, a postseason football selection committee would likely release standings multiple times during the season and publicize its members' votes.

• Create a hybrid that includes the coaches poll, computer averages and a selection committee.

But there is strong sentiment among the 11 conference commissioners who set the rules of the BCS that coaches should make their votes public if their poll is going to continue to be part of the BCS formula.

Coaches have repeatedly voted against publicizing their votes, saying it would create too much pressure from fans, other coaches and their conferences. They're scheduled to debate the issue again at their convention next week in light of the controversy that erupted when No. 5 Texas leap-frogged No. 4 California in the final week of the BCS standings to secure a spot in one of the four lucrative BCS bowls.

"If the coaches are unwilling to move in that fashion [public votes], are we going to be able to include the poll in the direct way that we are now?" said BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg, the Big 12 commissioner.

"I understand the pressure voters are under, but it seems to me at the end of the day that releasing how people have voted really relieves some of that pressure."

-- Liz Clarke

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