AP Poll Withdraws from BCS
The Associated Press has told the Bowl Championship Series to stop using its college football poll to determine which teams play for the national title and in the most prestigious bowl games.The BCS has used the AP poll of 65 writers and broadcasters as a component in its rankings since the system was implemented by officials from the Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-10, Southeastern Conference and Notre Dame in 1998. The AP said such use was never sanctioned and had reached the point where it threatened to undermine the independence and integrity of the poll.
The AP sent BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg a cease-and-desist letter, dated Dec. 21, stating that use of the poll is unlawful and harms the AP’s reputation. “We respect the decision of the Associated Press to no longer have its poll included in the BCS standings,” Weiberg said in a statement Tuesday. “Since the inception of the BCS, the AP poll has been part of our standings. We appreciate the cooperation we have received from the organization in providing rankings on a weekly basis. We will discuss alternatives to the Associated Press poll at the upcoming BCS meetings and plan to conclude our evaluation of the BCS standings formula, including any other possible changes, by our April meeting.”
Where the BCS goes from here won’t be determined for a while, but recently Weiberg and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese have said the BCS would look into the possibility of using a selection committee to create the bowl matchups, much like the NCAA Division I basketball tournament.
In its letter, the AP said some of its poll voters had indicated they might no longer participate because of concerns over having their reporters be so closely involved in the process of determining which teams play where. “By stating that the AP poll is one of the three components used by BCS to establish its rankings, BCS conveys the impression that AP condones or otherwise participates in the BCS system,” the letter said. “Furthermore, to the extent that the public does not fully understand the relationship between BCS and AP, any animosity toward BCS may get transferred to AP. And to the extent that the public has equated or comes to equate the AP poll with the BCS rankings, the independent reputation of the AP poll is lost.”
My guess is that the AP is more concerned about disassociating itself with an increasingly illegitimate system than with journalistic integrity. After all, it has participated in the BCS process from its inception and has been naming a national champion for decades. Its public rationale, however, has merit. For a news organization to be creating the news it is supposed to be reporting is a bit suspect.
A selection committee approach may well be an improvement in the BCS. Almost everyone, however, believes a playoff format would be preferable. Unfortunately, the “almost” includes the majority of Division IA college presidents, who believe the present system is more lucrative.