Congressional lawmakers want college football to change from BCS system to a playoff to determine a national champion

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers pressed college football officials Friday to switch the Bowl Championship Series to a playoff, with one Texas Republican joking it should be labeled "BS," not "BCS."

John Swofford, the coordinator of the BCS, rejected the idea of switching to a playoff, telling a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that it would threaten the existence of celebrated bowl games. Sponsorships and TV revenue that now go to bowl games would instead be spent on playoff games, "meaning that it will be very difficult for any bowl, including the current BCS bowls, which are among the oldest and most established in the game's history, to survive," Swofford said.

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who has introduced legislation that would prevent the NCAA from calling a game a national championship unless it's the outcome of a playoff, warned Swofford: "If we don't see some action in the next two months, on a voluntary switch to a playoff system, then you will see this bill move."

It is unclear whether lawmakers will try to legislate how college football picks its No. 1 before the first kickoff in the fall. Congress is grappling with a crowded agenda of issues, and college football's new four-year $125 million TV contract that begins in 2011 also could be an obstacle. That deal allows the BCS to put off making major changes until the 2014 season.

The current system features a title game between the two top teams in the standings, based on two polls and six computer rankings. Conferences that get automatic bids — ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC — get about $18 million each, far more than the conference schools that do not get automatic bids.

Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West Conference, which does not get an automatic bid, called the money distribution system "grossly inequitable."

The MWC has proposed a playoff and hired a firm to lobby Congress for changes to the BCS. The proposal calls for scrapping the BCS standings and creating a 12-member committee to pick which teams receive at-large bids, and to select and seed the eight teams chosen for the playoff.

Women's basketball: Coach Michael Cooper, the former Lakers star, will leave the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks after this season to coach Southern Cal.

Congressional lawmakers want college football to change from BCS system to a playoff to determine a national champion 05/01/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2009 9:06pm]

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