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Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

College officials scrambling to find ways to complete season

September 16, 2001

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The Swamp was silent Saturday. So were the Big House, the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl.

Following Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, big-time college football called off its games this weekend, falling in line with the NFL, major league baseball and most other sports.

The next step for college officials is trying to put a plan in place for the rest of the season.

"Our attempt would be to continue to make the system as fair and equitable as possible," said John Swofford, coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series.

It won't be easy.

It took a few days before all 58 games this week involving Div. I-A teams were postponed or canceled, but 10 of the 11 major conferences finally agreed not to play. The Big Ten says it did not postpone games; its teams and other conferences did the postponing on their own.

The sport could use a single voice a commissioner like in pro sports but that's not likely to happen anytime soon, at least not when there are so many conferences with different agendas.

Assuming teams resume play next weekend, college football is looking at ways to adjust the regular season, now set to end Dec. 1. Hopefully, a consensus can be reached on what to do.

Teams are scrambling to reschedule, with some games falling into place easier than others. No. 13 Washington will play at No. 1 Miami on Nov. 24. No. 8 Tennessee at No. 2 Florida, and No. 10 Georgia Tech at No. 6 Florida State have not been rescheduled yet, but Dec. 1 looks like a good bet for both.

And then there are dozens of other questions, such as: Will the BCS standings still work? Will the season be extended? Should all games be made up? Can bowls invite teams with .500 records?

Swofford says it might take 10 days to settle scheduling. Only then will he start deciding.

"There may be a situation where some teams will not complete an 11-game schedule and there may be a timing issue as to the possible extension of the regular season," said Swofford, also the Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner. "We're evaluating any possible changes and I would expect that any adjustments would be minimal."

The BCS standings use The Associated Press media poll and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, eight computer ratings, strength-of-schedule and win-loss records to pick the teams for a national title game. This year, bonus points will be given for wins against teams in the top 15 of the final BCS standings.

Because of the complicated formula, the current system can only work as intended if national-title contending teams reschedule postponed games.

Here are some predictions of what might happen:

l The regular season will be extended to Dec. 8, allowing leagues with conference title games, such as the Big 12 and SEC, to use Dec. 1 as a last-ditch reschedule date. Dec. 1 is the only common open date for Tennessee-Florida.

l Innovative rescheduling: On Saturday, Illinois rescheduled its game against Louisville to Sept. 22, when it was supposed to play Michigan. The Illinois-Michigan game was moved to Sept. 29, which was an open date for the Wolverines.

l More non-conference games canceled: The first three were Navy at Northwestern, Bowling Green at South Carolina, Marshall at TCU.

l Teams with .500 records will qualify for bowl games: The NCAA will allow 5-5 teams to play in the postseason if the team is unable to reschedule a postponed game. In the past, teams needed a winning record to qualify.

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