Football: BCS chair: Rematch in Rose not off table
Ken Fowler | Thursday, November 30, 2006
Notre Dame’s bowl picture just got a little murkier.
Bowl Championship Series (BCS) coordinator Mike Slive, who also serves as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) commissioner, said in a teleconference Wednesday that the BCS commissioners will keep in mind the BCS by-law allowing the Notre Dame and the six BCS conferences – the SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), PAC-10 and Big East – to adjust bowl pairings for maximum “appeal.”
But he added a warning: While many expect the conferences to step in to avoid a Midwestern rematch of Notre Dame and Michigan in Pasadena, the conference commissioners will be hesitant to change what the bowl chairmen want.
According to Section III, paragraph 5(b) of the BCS selection procedures, “After completion of the selection process … the Conferences and Notre Dame may, but are not required to, adjust the pairings taking into consideration … whether two teams that played against one another in the regular season will be paired against one another in a bowl game.”
“It’s something that’s been on the books since the outset [of the BCS in 1998], and of course that’s done after the teams have been selected, and there has never been an inclination to do that,” Slive said. “So, in other words, we don’t try. … We’ve had rematches in major bowls over the last 20 years – a lot of them.”
Because the Rose Bowl has automatic tie-ins with the conference champions of the PAC-10 and Big Ten – and this year USC of the PAC-10 and Ohio State of the Big Ten likely will square off in the BCS National Championship game – the Rose Bowl will get the first two selections for teams. The Rose Bowl committee likely will select Michigan first, who will have an automatic berth to the BCS with a top-3 finish in the BCS standings.
After the Rose Bowl picks twice, the Sugar Bowl will pick an opponent for the SEC champion, then the Orange Bowl will choose a team to face the ACC winner and the Fiesta Bowl will pick the final squad to face the Big XII champion.
Because of Notre Dame’s national appeal and the relatively weak pool of eligible teams this season, the Irish are nearly a lock to be selected for one of the BCS bowls. Boise State will earn an automatic berth for its top-12 finish in the BCS, and three teams in the eligible top-14 of the BCS rankings – two from the SEC and Wisconsin from the Big Ten – will be prevented from attending a BCS bowl due to a rule limiting a conference to two teams in the series.
That leaves Notre Dame a near-lock for an early selection. And while Notre Dame hasn’t played in a Rose Bowl since Knute Rockne led the Irish over Stanford in 1925 en route to a national title, a rematch with Michigan would diminish the appeal and likely hurt television ratings.
But Slive said the search for the BCS’ common good would take a back seat to Bowl autonomy.
“We have a methodology for selecting the teams and … if the teams are eligible, the bowls have the right to go ahead and make those picks that would create a rematch,” he said. “I can’t speak for my fellow commissioners, but there has not been in the past an inclination to make changes.”
u The Walter Camp Football Foundation named Irish quarterback Brady Quinn one of five finalists for its annual player of the year award.
Quinn, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan are the seniors on the list, though Brennan has a fifth year of eligibility remaining. Sophomore running backs Darren McFadden of Arkansas and Steve Slaton of West Virginia are the other two finalists.
Quinn finished the 2006 regular season with 35 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions. He completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 3,278 yards and a passing efficiency rating of 151.59. He also rushed for two scores.
Smith, widely considered the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, an award given by the New York Downtown Athletic Club to the nation’s most outstanding player, completed 67.0 percent of his passes for 2,507 yards, 30 touchdowns and five interceptions. He rushed for 233 yards and one touchdown and had a passing efficiency rating of 167.87.
Brennan led the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 186.7. He completed an NCAA-best 72.0 percent of his passes for 4,589 yards, 51 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Slaton is second in the nation in rushing yards per game with 147.36. He has 1,621 yards and 14 touchdowns on 222 carries, for a 7.30 yards-per-carry average.
McFadden, who was injured early in the year, came on strong and finished the regular season with 1,485 yards on 244 rushes (6.09 yards per attempt) and 14 touchdowns.
McFadden and Arkansas take on Florida Saturday in the SEC title game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.