Brand Is Withholding Judgment on Playoff

Times Staff Writer

Myles Brand says the time will come when he'll have a stronger opinion on how the NCAA can best determine a Division I-A football champion. For now, the association's new president concedes, "I do not have all the answers."

The bowl championship series, which produced last week's 31-24 double-overtime victory by national champion Ohio State over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, runs through the 2006 Rose Bowl, when the television contract will expire.

Brand said his thinking on the highly politicized, long-debated issue of how to most effectively crown a No. 1 football team is most influenced by two questions:

Is it in the sport's best interest? Can it be accomplished while improving academic opportunity?

"This year's deciding game was a very exciting football game, one of the classics of all time," Brand said. "Some would argue, 'Why do you want to fiddle with that?' "

Yet, when Brand visited the American Football Coaches Assn. meeting in New Orleans this week, he said he learned that several coaches preferred 11 regular-season games. Some teams played as many as 13 this season, and, including bowl games, 15 BCS-eligible teams played 14 games.

Brand said he was intrigued by the potential of an 11-game regular season becoming the national norm.

If that were the case, he said, the addition of a playoff involving the winners of the four major bowl games -- Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar -- would be an acceptable plan because most football players would be afforded an extra weekend between the start of the season and the bowl games to devote to academics.

"The length of the football season is a very important issue to me," Brand said. "Revenue is not irrelevant, but it shouldn't be the driving force behind every decision we make."

Mike Tranghese, the Big East commissioner and BCS coordinator, said a six-member oversight committee made up of university presidents from the six BCS conferences would be announced by the end of February.

The committee will work to determine whether to continue the BCS.

"Obviously, [Brand] has access to college presidents," Tranghese said. "He will have his opportunity to have his say. If his opinion differs from what our presidents decide, he can interact with them. Can he be an effective lobbyist? I don't know."

Brand says he's a fan of bowl games and believes a football playoff should not be handled like the NCAA basketball tournament.

Beyond that, he said, a football playoff could be created only after "a whole set of questions are addressed," including television coverage, game sites, financial payoffs and how many teams will be involved.

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