March 9, 2009

Big 12, Big Ten considering tiebreaker changes

A tiebreaking procedure that caused controversy in the Big 12 Conference last season may be adopted by the Big Ten.

Under the Big 12's formula, in a multi-team divisional tie, one of the tiebreakers is that the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings advances to the conference championship game.

That formula drew criticism last season when Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech finished 7-1 in the South Divisions. Oklahoma advanced to the Big 12 championship game even though it had lost to Texas 45-35 at a neutral site. Oklahoma was ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings before the Big 12 championship game and Texas was No. 3.

Although the rule came under heavy scrutiny, Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said there has not yet been a formal call for change from within the conference. The Big 12 typically sends out calls for agenda items about three weeks before the spring meetings, but proposals also can be made in teleconferences.

"As of yet, there has been no proposal for action to be taken relative to our tie-breaker," Burda said. "But I think in our spring meetings there could be potential for extended dialogue."

The Big 12 will hold its spring meetings in May in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten will study a proposal to tweak its method for breaking ties to determine its automatic representative to a BCS bowl at its spring meetings in Chicago in May.

After head-to-head competition, the Big Ten's next tiebreaker previously was eliminating the teams that played more games against FCS (Division I-AA) opponents. The Big Ten also stipulated that in event of a tie, the team most recently receiving a BCS berth was eliminated. Both of those tiebreakers would be eliminated. Instead, any ties not settled by head-to-head competition will be settled with the team ranked highest in the BCS standings advancing.

"Nothing has changed," Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman said. "The administrations have discussed it and have a final review in May. As of right now, the tiebreaker has not changed. Until they review it and vote on it, there's nothing more to say."

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said the Big 12 conference office has been asked to analyze the various tiebreaking procedures used by other conferences. The conference's athletic directors plan to discuss those procedures at meetings Wednesday and Thursday in Oklahoma City at the Big 12 basketball tournament.

But he said the conference coaches will review the various formats at the spring meetings before any changes are made.

"We are looking at it," Dodds said. "I don't know if somebody else's [format] is better than ours. We want to look at all the scenarios. There is no perfect deal.

"Right now, I'm not leaning toward anybody's tie-breaking rule and I'm not leaning toward a change. I just want to see all the possibilities."

One possibility some conferences uses in event of a three-way tie is to drop the team ranked lowest in the BCS standings and use head-to-head results of the remaining teams.

"Everybody wants to do the fair thing, but I don't know what that is," Dodds said. "I know we got caught in one this year. If we change it, we might get caught on one next year. There is no safe way."

Any proposal for change would have to be approved by the athletic directors, faculty representatives, then the university presidents.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.




 

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