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Dick Harmon: Proposal could end nonsense called BCS

Published: Thursday, March 5 2009 12:23 a.m. MST

Finally, we have a blueprint for a more equitable way to determine college football's national championship.

It isn't perfect, but it's a start.

The proposal comes from Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson. Wielding statistics and data comparing successful conferences who've competed respectfully against automatic qualifying conferences, the proposal is a bold marker placed before institutions of higher learning and their presidents who govern the NCAA.

Coming from Thompson, aimed at tweaking the BCS, it is a little like a squire entering the court of the king and telling him how to tax the kingdom.

But if anything is going to fix the controversial BCS system, it's gotta involve some toppling of kingdoms and realms.

Thompson presented the proposal at Notre Dame on Wednesday. Labeled the "MWC Proposal" to reform the BCS, it was pitched before its fellow Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) universities.

The proposal is an interesting gauntlet thrown down to college football's royalty. It asks a very novel idea: Let a championship be determined by competition and players actually on the field — not computer geeks, sports writers, polls and twisted bias formulae.

Once placed before the moguls that run the BCS cartel (major bowls, six automatic qualifying conferences and TV network executives), the hope is it will begin a much-needed debate: Is there an effort by the elite of college football to work on a fair solution? Or is it business as usual, a selfish money grab by protectionists and obstructionists who are greedily unwilling to budge?

Thompson's proposal states that a FBS conference will be an automatic qualifying conference (AQ) to BCS bowls and place its champion in a BCS bowl if, after a two-season period, the conference has (a) played a minimum of 20 inter-conference regular-season games against the six current AQ conferences, and (b) has a minimum winning percentage of .400 in those games.

Going by that formula, the Mountain West would easily be an AQ conference next season.

Under that criteria, AQ conferences would be the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, MWC, Pac-10 and SEC for the 2010 through 2013 seasons.

Even if the criteria were applied to the past four seasons of competition instead of the previous two, and you inserted postseason bowl competition the same seven conferences would achieve AQ status.

"Over the past five postseasons, only the Pac-10 (.750), MWC (.700), SEC (.636) and Big 12 (.545) have winning records against AQ conference teams," claims Thompson.

The Thompson proposal calls for creation of a new committee that will replace the BCS standings, computer programs and pollsters.

Instead, a 12-member selection committee "comprised of one representative from each of the 11 FBS conferences and one representative from Notre Dame, will determine these standings."

Wow. This would spread authority for BCS rankings around the entire block over a broad spectum, hopefully representative of the entire FBS. It would pry open a tight-fisted cartel created by the six conference administrators.

"This committee will carefully study and evaluate the teams over the course of the season before determining the rankings. The committee will rank the Top 25 teams at the end of each regular season, and these rankings will constitute the final BCS standings."

The proposal tries to build in some protection for traditional bowl alliances with flexibility in extending invitations to keep the guys in the colored sport coats happy and satisfied.

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