Sensing its window of opportunity off a banner year -- 10-5 against "Big Six" conferences! Utah got snubbed! -- the Mountain West has been the most aggressive player this offseason for Bowl Championship Series change. The league pushed for entrance to the BCS' auto-bid club, proposed a playoff for 2010, lobbied Congress, testified in front of Congress, probably sent commissioners from the major BCS conferences little MWC cookies. All of it so far has either failed or seems doomed to fail. Unless/until Congress renews its charge, the deck is stacked against the upstarts for the time being.
For the sake of a little offseason drama, though, the Denver Post's preview of this week's Collegiate Commissioners Association meetings in the Mile High City is telling us there's a chance:
A radical proposal from Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson will be further examined Tuesday. If any aspects of the proposal are accepted, the commissioners will recommend them to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, which has a conference call June 24.
"I think there's a good chance some recommendation will be made," BCS administrator Bill Hancock said Sunday. "I really don't know what that might be."
"I've heard from about half (the commissioners)," Hancock said. "People are interested in it. They want to hear more. But generally the support has been limited."
Under his proposal, a conference would qualify for one of the BCS bowls only by meeting two criteria: playing at least 20 regular-season games in a two-year period against teams from the six major BCS conferences; and winning at least 40 percent of those games.
In the case of the current BCS conferences, I have to assume the 20-game/40-percent standard would apply to games against the other BCS conferences, though that isn't specified. If that was the case, and the clause were to go into effect based on the last two years, the Mountain West would qualify for an automatic bid, and how. But so does everyone else:
Regular Season Record vs. Other BCS Conferences/ND, 2007-08
ACC: 26-19 (.578)
Big East: 16-15 (.516)
Mtn West: 17-13 (.567)
SEC: 13-16 (.448)
Big Ten: 15-11 (.577)
Big 12: 12-14 (.462)
Pac-10: 12-13 (.480)
In one sense, Thompson's plan would be a sort of stopgap to the declining art of non-conference scheduling: Teams would have to hold up their end to hit the 20-game plateau. But simply maintaining the status quo in that regard would mean the current auto-bids are safe, and the "radical change" is nothing more than a thinly veiled wedge for the Mountain West to get its foot in the door. (None of the other mid-major conferences are in question here, because none aside from the Mountain West approaches the required .400 win percentage against the "Big Six" leagues.) In that case, the MWC is just another mouth at the table, demanding a slice of the pie. Those with pie do not typically vote to share with those without pie.
What else you got?
A new 12-person committee, made up of one representative from each of the 11 conferences, plus Notre Dame, would determine the top 25 teams at the end of the regular season.
As long as Notre Dame is involved, that sounds plausible. Everybody hates the computers, anyway.
The top 10 teams would play in the Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls, plus a to-be-determined fifth bowl currently hosting a non-BCS bowl. The winners of the top four bowls would play in semifinals one week later, with those two winners meeting in another week for the national title.
That sounds suspiciously like ... like a ... like a playoff, Mr. Thompson. You had us going there. You did. But now you're just wasting our time, and yours.