NEW YORK – Don’t expect Mark Cuban’s money to break the BCS.
Bowl Championship Series executive director Bill Hancock doubts “financial inducements,” such as the one the Dallas Mavericks’ outspoken owner is considering, will lead to a major college football playoff.
Cuban told reporters before the Mavs’ game Wednesday night that he was “actively interested but in the exploratory stage” of trying to bankroll a 12- or 16-team playoff to replace the often-criticized BCS.
He thinks about $500 million might do the trick.
Hancock responded to Cuban’s comments in an e-mail to the AP on Thursday, saying, “Given how much support our current system has among university presidents, athletics directors, coaches and athletes, I don’t think any amount of financial inducement will make people abandon” the BCS.
Cuban, who has made unsuccessful attempts to buy the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers in recent years, said he’s spoken to two athletic directors from conferences with automatic BCS bids who were enthusiastic about his idea. He intends to contact several school presidents and state senators to determine whether the idea is worth pursuing.
“Put $500 million in the bank and go to all the schools and pay them money as an option,” Cuban was quoted by ESPNDallas.com. “Say, ‘Look, I’m going to give you X amount every five years. In exchange, you say if you’re picked for the playoff system, you’ll go.’ ”
The BCS, using polls and computer rankings, matches the top two teams in the country after the regular season in a national title game. No. 1 Auburn and No. 2 Oregon meet on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
The BCS is wildly unpopular among fans, but the leadership of the six most powerful conferences – the Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-10 – supports it and the bowl system, making any radical changes in the near future highly unlikely.
“It speaks to the power and popularity of college football that a successful businessman and innovator like Mark Cuban would have this level of interest in investing in college football,” Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said in an e-mail.
“But the fact is that college football has never been more popular in its current format, and it’s a mistake to assume the impediment to a playoff is money. We could get a lot more money tomorrow from lots of folks by moving to an expansive playoff; this is about a broader set of priorities benefiting schools and student-athletes.”
Cuban suggested trying to persuade major donors to college athletic programs to cut off financial support until their presidents approve a playoff system. He said he thinks it would take about three or four years of planning to get a playoff up and running.
He called the BCS “an inefficient business where there’s obviously a better way.”
“The only thing that’s kept them from doing it is a lack of capital,” Cuban said, “which I can deal with.”
Hancock, of course, disagrees.
“College football is so popular today,” he said, “because we have a great regular season and because we have an important bowl tradition that provides a meaningful experience for the students and fans – all of which would be at risk if this concept were implemented.”