The Associated Press has told the Bowl Championship Series to stop using its poll to determine which teams play for the national title and in the most prestigious bowl games. The BCS has used...

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NEW YORK — The Associated Press has told the Bowl Championship Series to stop using its 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.

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“We respect the decision of the Associated Press to no longer have its poll included in the BCS standings,” Weiberg said in a statement yesterday. “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.”

In its letter, the AP said some of its 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.

Georgia Tech routs Syracuse

ORLANDO, Fla. — Reggie Ball threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score and led Georgia Tech to a 51-14 victory over Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl last night.

Ball was 12 of 19 for 207 yards, with one pass picked off. He had 38 yards rushing.

He got plenty of help. P.J. Daniels ran 17 times for 119 yards and two scores, Calvin Johnson set a school record for touchdowns by a freshman with his seventh, and the defense set the tone by returning an interception for a touchdown on the second play of the game.

Georgia Tech (7-5) dealt Syracuse (6-6) its worst loss in a bowl game since the 1953 Orange Bowl, a 61-6 drubbing by Alabama. The rout also means more questions about the future of embattled Orange coach Paul Pasqualoni.

Georgia Tech scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to virtually put the game away before halftime.


• Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, 43, signed a new contract that will pay him $1 million a year and a $100,000 bonus if the Cardinals win the national championship.

Petrino was making $550,000 a year under his previous contract. The new contract runs through the 2010 season, as the previous deal did. Petrino will earn a $1 million bonus if he stays through the 2007 season.

• Memphis coach Tommy West, 50, agreed to a one-year contract extension. The Tigers play Bowling Green today in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

West’s new contract runs through 2009 and raises his income to $800,000 a year. The $200,000 raise comes primarily from pay for radio and TV shows featuring the coach. Athletic director R.C. Johnson said West’s base pay of about $146,000 will remain unchanged.

• Bulletin-board material: Oklahoma defensive end Larry Birdine said No. 1 USC’s offense is “average.”

Birdine made a series of statements that showed he wasn’t all that impressed with the Trojans, who play No. 2 Oklahoma for the national title in the Jan. 4 Orange Bowl in Miami. Birdine repeatedly praised USC’s Reggie Bush, but was less impressed with quarterback Matt Leinart and other Trojans. “I feel like they’re, I’d say, a one-and-a-half-man team,” Birdine said. “I want to respect them just because I have to play them, but then I watch them on tape and everything, and I realize that they’re an average team.”

Of Heisman Trophy winner Leinart, Birdine said, “He’s definitely overrated. Like I said, he’s a good quarterback, but he’s not a Heisman-winning quarterback.”