The Bowl Championship Series will not count Division I-AA playoff games in determining a team's strength of schedule, which could help No. 2 Virginia Tech and hurt No. 3 Nebraska in the race for a place opposite No. 1 Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
BCS coordinator Roy Kramer apparently had failed to consider the effect I-AA playoff games would have on the formula used to determine strength of schedule--one of four components used in compiling the weekly BCS standings.
The revision was made last week by Kramer, also the Southeastern Conference commissioner, and he then informed the commissioners of the five other conferences who are partners in the BCS.
The issue becomes important because Virginia Tech (10-0) earlier in the season defeated I-AA James Madison, which qualified for the playoffs that start Saturday. A postseason loss by James Madison would have counted against the Hokies' strength of schedule.
The change gives Virginia Tech an added edge in its points battle with Nebraska to reach the BCS's title game and play Florida State in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.
"We talked about it a year ago, but it never came into place because nobody had played a I-AA team last year," Kramer told ESPN Radio yesterday. "It's been in place all along, but people suddenly realized it because of James Madison.
"But we did not intend to count the I-AA playoffs. We didn't last year. The difference was last year it was not involved in any of the teams."
Charles Bloom, the SEC's assistant commissioner, said the decision was made last week.
"The problem is that a decision had to be made during the season," Bloom told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa. "Once we realized the situation, we made the decision not to count them."
At first glance, it would seem the change is minor, but a James Madison playoff loss could have cost the Hokies .20 points in the BCS standings, according to Chicago-based computer expert Jerry Palm. Virginia Tech is in second place, .63 points ahead of Nebraska.
Virginia Tech plays No. 22 Boston College on Friday; Nebraska is at Colorado, and a win would put the Huskers in the Big 12 title game against No. 7 Texas on Dec. 4.
Florida State is first in the BCS standings with 2.32 points, Virginia Tech has 6.78 points and Nebraska 7.41.
Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg backs the change, even though his team--Nebraska--could be hurt by it.
"I support the interpretation issued by the Southeastern Conference office with respect to the strength of schedule issue pertaining to Virginia Tech and James Madison University," said Weiberg in a statement.
Said Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Byrne: "We have no control over that. Our issue right now is playing a good game in Boulder, Colorado, this Friday and coming away with a victory."