Tigers vs. Utes Was Never An Option

BCS Coordinator Kevin Weiberg discusses this year's BCS matchups, some of the problems that are obvious with the current system and what it might take to make some drastic changes in the future.

Dallas, Tex.--BCS Coordinator Kevin Weiberg, who is also the Commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, said Sunday in a BCS media teleconference that there was never any thought given to matching up 12-0 Auburn with 11-0 Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

"There was not," Weiberg said about the thought of matching up the other two undefeated teams besides Oklahoma and USC that were in the BCS. "We went through the pairings process, again starting with the champions and replacement of those departed teams. Once the parings were completed through the selection process, we then paused to see if there were any concerns to be raised by ABC, by any of the bowls or by any of the conferences and no one raised a concern about the pairings.

"I really think there was a feeling that these matchups were good for the places in which they would take place," he continued. "There was a lot of excitement on the part of the Sugar Bowl, I know, about the Auburn-Virginia Tech matchup. I think Utah was a team the Fiesta Bowl was very interested in. They felt like they would travel extremely well to Phoenix. I think ABC felt like these matchups were good in terms of potential ratings and really there was just not anyone that stepped forward wanting to seek a different kind of approach."

One reason many people believe that the Tigers were not able to make up enough ground on the second-ranked Sooners was the fact that Auburn was given preseason rankings of 17th and 18th in the two major polls that constitute 2/3 of the BCS formula while Oklahoma started the season ranked second in both.

Weiberg said that both he and the BCS as an organization agree that the polls should not be issued until some point in the season, but adds that the AP and AFCA were less than excited by that idea when presented with that option prior to the start of the 2004 season.

"We did it this past year," the BCS Coordinator said about addressing the idea of starting the polls later. "We talked to both the Associated Press and to the American Football Coaches Association about delaying their polls, and my sense is that would be the preference of our group (the BCS) relative to the standings formula. So, I would expect it would come up again.

"And the answer we received last year is that the preseason polls are valuable to both organizations and that they didn't really have a desire to not wait," Weiberg added. "I think in a perfect world I would agree. We would not like to see these polls being issued until October."

He refused to speculate, however, on what effect releasing the polls later in the season would have had on Auburn's chances to play in the Orange Bowl. "I don't know that it would have and it would be very difficult to speculate on it," he noted. "I just think that we have thought about it more from the principle of needing to take a look at how teams play in the year of which they are playing to really have a fair assessment of those teams."

Weiberg also discussed the fact that at the end of the season the system seemed to force teams not only win their games, but also win by a wide margin to try and influence poll voters to improve their position in the BCS standings.

"I don't think you are ever comfortable when those kinds of issues are being raised and that is one of the things that we will have to go back and talk about," he explained. "You'll remember a few years ago these issues were being raised about the computer polls and we moved at that time to remove margin of victory from the computer rankings.

"As I have said before though, I think as it relates to human voting you are going to have some of that inherent in that process no matter what system you have," the Big 12 Commissioner continued. "Even if we had a plus-one game or some kind of playoff structure, it seems to me the issues of seeding of teams and who gets in to that structure--how you beat a team and how you look playing against them are still going to be part of the equation in terms of how human beings think about their voting.

Still, even with the multitude of problems that have been exposed with the current system with this season's final results, Weiberg said he is not sure if there will be any major changes to the BCS in the near future. "I think this will be interesting, in light of this year's situation to see if there is any movement," he noted about the BCS possibly moving toward more of a playoff type of environment. "It wouldn't probably be fair to say this is an issue that is solely driven by presidents and chancellors. You have had coaches in the past, as represented at least by the vote that is always taken at the AFCA Convention every year, who have been opposed to extra games in the postseason.

"I think you have had some conference commissioners that have been opposed as well and you have had some faculty concerns about expanding the postseason as well," Weiberg added. "But, clearly presidents and chancellors are the ultimate decision makers in this process and if they were open to exploring other models, those models could be explored. We are just going to have to see whether the results of a single season make a difference in that way."

He added, however, that the television executives that pay exorbitant sums of money for the rights to broadcast the BCS games have made it clear that they would be interested in some type of progression in the system.

"I have said this before that the model that we took forward to the television negotiations is one that could be friendly to a plus-one type of approach," he said. "And certainly as we worked our way through the television negotiations we heard repeatedly from television entities that they would be interested in such a model. But, then again I think it goes back to whether or not people that are actually in the collegiate community are prepared to go down that path."

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