More changes to the BCS this season? You bet

By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006

When it comes to the Bowl Championship Series, you all know the words by now.

The BCS, it's a-changin'.

Come on. Join in. Don't be shy.

The BCS, it's a-changin'.

For the umpteenth time since its inception in 1998, the BCS has been tweaked. New this year? The BCS national championship game will be between No. 1 and No. 2, which is a fifth game hosted by the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange or Rose bowls on a rotating basis. That finale will be Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., a week after the Fiesta.

Another BCS game means two more spots and, perhaps, greater access for teams outside power conferences and, organizers hope, no more antitrust prattle.

What you need to know:

* The conference champions from the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East and Pac-10 all will have spots.

* One conference champion from Conference USA, the Mountain West, WAC, Mid-American and Sun Belt will qualify automatically if it's among the top 12 in the final BCS standings or it's ranked in the top 16 but higher than a champion from one of the six power conferences. (Last year, Florida State, an upset winner against Virginia Tech, was the lowest ranked BCS team at No. 22. Mountain West champ Texas Christian was No. 14 and went to the Houston Bowl.)

* Notre Dame is guaranteed a spot if it's in the BCS's top 8. If it receives a BCS bid, it earns $4.5-million. If it doesn't, it still gets $1.3-million.

* No league can send more than two teams to the BCS. Only the ACC and Big East have not done that in the first eight years of the BCS. That second bid means $4.5-million for a league's kitty.

* The BCS standings will be calculated the same way for a second straight year, using the USA Today coaches' poll, the Harris Interactive College Football poll and the average of six computer rankings.

* Fox Sports, in yet another change, will broadcast the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls for the next four years and the new fifth game for the next three, but ABC, which once had all the games, has only the Rose Bowl each year and the BCS national championship game in 2010 when that game is in Pasadena.

* And one more time, things are a-changin' when it comes to the release of the BCS standings. Instead of on Mondays, that all-important ranking will come out on Sundays on Fox just after the network's NFL doubleheader.

- BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer