BCS makes a few tweaks to its formula

Wednesday, June 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A change here, an adjustment there, and the Bowl Championship Series is ready for another season of determining who plays in college football's national title game.

The BCS on Tuesday eliminated the margin of victory calculation used in the computer ratings portion of the BCS standings, and also reduced the number of computers used from eight to seven.

The move was designed to end the possibility of teams running up the score in an effort to improve their position in the BCS standings.

``We'll never get a system that will satisfy everybody,'' said Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, serving as the BCS coordinator this year. ``We evaluate it every year to see if it's better. Hopefully, this is a more appropriate and fair system.''

In addition, teams will now receive bonus points for wins over opponents in the BCS' final top 10 instead of the final top 15, as they did last season.

The margin of victory change is not a drastic measure, but it shook the computer ratings lineup. Out are Herman Matthews and David Rothman, both deciding not to eliminate margin of victory from their ratings. The New York Times poll is in after a year's absence.

``By eliminating margin of victory, it takes the idea of how you win and puts it in a proper perspective,'' Tranghese said. ``The coaches didn't want it and the athletic directors didn't want it. We're putting more value in the strength of schedule.''

The computer ratings count 25 percent in the BCS standings _ the other elements are The Associated Press media poll and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, strength of schedule and won-loss record.

If margin of victory had not been counted last season, there was a good chance that Oregon _ not Nebraska _ would have played Miami for the national title in the Rose Bowl.

In four of the eight computers that did not use margin of victory in 2001, Oregon was second in one and third in the others. In the four that did, Oregon was sixth in one, seventh in two and eighth in the other.

Oregon finished fourth in the final BCS standings, but was No. 2 in both the media and coaches' polls.

``It's possible there could have been a different team in there last year,'' Tranghese said. ``It was a very close call and if I recollect, Oregon won about a half-dozen games by less than a touchdown.''

The BCS was formed in 1998 in an effort to match the top two teams in a national title game. In the first two years, the system worked smoothly. But problems have dogged the BCS since.

In 2000, Miami believed it should have played Oklahoma for the title instead of Florida State after beating the Seminoles in the regular season. So the BCS tweaked the system.

Before the 2001 season, a bonus-point plan was added. If it were in place the previous year, Miami would have played in the title game.

The BCS consists of six major conferences _ the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern _ plus Notre Dame. The four BCS bowls are the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange.

On Jan. 3, the Fiesta Bowl plays host to the 2002 national title game.

Other changes were discussed, including the addition of an oversight committee, which would play a role if problems arose with the final BCS standings.

``There was genuine interest in a human element,'' Tranghese said. ``But if we are going to make a change there has to be a consensus and there was not. We thought the stakes were too high to put that in the hands of a few individuals.''

The seven computer ratings for this season are Anderson & Hester, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Colley Matrix, Richard Billingsley, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin's USA Today, The New York Times and Peter Wolfe.

The first BCS standings will be released Oct. 21.