BCS - Big Changes Suddenly

During the BCS meetings last month, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive's proposal to look at a "Plus One" model of determining college football's championship was soundly defeated. Since then, there have been three major changes among the pivotal figures in the BCS.

All of those announcing their departures opposed Slive's idea. Could Mike Tranghese of the Big East and Tom Hansen of the Pac-10 retiring change the dynamics of college football? What effect will Kevin White leaving Notre Dame to become Duke's athletics director have? All could prove important, but in the end their departures are not likely to change the landscape with regards to a possible playoff.

Of the three changes, Mike Tranghese's eventual replacement as Big East Commissioner is by far the most important. Tranghese was able to keep the Big East viable as a football conference after the ACC stole Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College away in its expansion to 12 teams. There are more questions to be answered soon, as few believe the current setup of 16 teams for basketball and just eight for football makes sense long term.The conference has agreed to remain intact until 2010, a year after Tranghese's retirement takes effect.

Without Tranghese, will a split between the Big East's football and basketball sides finally occur? What happens if the Big Ten poaches Syracuse or Rutgers to finally create a conference championship game? Could a new leader move the conference toward a more playoff friendly position? Would he pressure Notre Dame to either join for football or stop taking up one of the league's bowl bids if they don't qualify for the BCS?

No other league has as much potential for turmoil in the near future, meaning Tranghese's replacement has huge shoes to fill.

Tom Hansen began working for the Pac-10 in 1960, and has been criticized in recent years for being too slow to adapt to the current realities of college athletics. The conference has no New Year's Day bowl berths other than the Rose for its champion, virtually no national cable exposure for its football and basketball, and has made little progress toward changing either of those things. A new Pac-10 leader is more likely to make an impact on those issues than on playoff discussions, as the league's presidents seem firmly opposed to the concept. A more aggressive commissioner than Hansen might also explore expansion to create a championship game, with schools like Utah and Colorado typically mentioned as targets.

Kevin White's departure as Notre Dame's AD isn't likely to change much about the school's policies. The only thing that would alter ND's plans would be the loss of the revenue from the NBC television contract. That might finally force the school to take a serious look at joining a conference. Otherwise, Notre Dame's going to be perfectly happy with the BCS as it is no matter whom they name as White's replacement.

As much as college football fans might want to believe these changes make room for new leaders who aren't as opposed to the playoff concept, the reality is that the presidents are where that battle needs to be won. The best chance these moves have of reshaping the BCS is if they eventually lead to fewer conferences receiving automatic bids somehow.

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