Posted: Tuesday May 2, 2006 11:55AM; Updated: Tuesday May 2, 2006 5:07PM
Vince Young and the 'Horns clinched the national title in Pasadena, which will host the BCS title game in 2010.
BCS coordinator Mike Slive acknowledged last week that he and his colleagues need to do a better job of explaining the bowls' new "double hosting" format to the general public. Judging by my inbox recently, I'd say he's right.
The general impression I get is that most college football fans are aware that the BCS is undergoing changes this season but are either unaware or utterly confused as to what those changes are. And if the fans are confused, you'd better believe coaches and players are as well.
So, as a personal favor to Mike -- and as a public service to the college football populace -- I will now attempt to explain the sport's impending postseason makeover in a quick, easy-to-follow fashion. Call it The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New BCS:
1. The national title game is now a separate entity from the four existing BCS bowls.
In the past, the BCS championship game rotated annually among the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose bowls. Starting this season, the title game will be played after those four bowls but will continue to rotate among the same four cities. This year's championship will take place Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., site of the new Arizona Cardinals stadium, to which the Fiesta Bowl is moving from its old site, Sun Devil Stadium. Following the 2007 season, the game will be played in New Orleans, home of the Sugar Bowl; the next season, in Fort Lauderdale (Orange Bowl); the next season, in Pasadena (Rose Bowl).
2. The No. 1 and 2 teams will not play in one of the existing bowls.
Think of the title game as a fifth BCS bowl, even if it won't have a bowl-sounding name. (Organizers have yet to announce it, but the game is expected to be called the BCS National Championship Game.) It is not a so-called "plus-one" game, where teams would advance to the title game by winning their bowl games, an idea that had previously been discussed as a possibility. There will simply be two additional BCS berths, bringing the total to 10 -- the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC, as well as four at-large teams.
3. It will be easier for teams from "non-BCS" conferences to gain access.
In the past, teams from the Mountain West, MAC, WAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt had to finish in the top six of the BCS standings to be guaranteed a BCS bowl berth. The only such team to meet that standard over the past eight seasons was 11-0 Utah in 2004. Starting this season, a champion from one of those leagues, or an independent, can earn a guaranteed berth either by finishing in the top 12 or by finishing in the top 16 if one of the major-conference champions is ranked lower. If the new standard had been in place last season, 10-1 TCU would have earned an automatic berth because it finished 14th while ACC champion Florida State, at 8-4, was 22nd.
4. More teams will be eligible for an at-large berth.
In the past, teams that did not gain an automatic BCS berth -- either by winning one of the six major-conference titles or by meeting other criteria for a guaranteed bid (a top four finish for major-conference teams, top six for others) -- were required to win at least nine games and finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings to be eligible for an at-large berth. Starting this season, teams that win at least nine games and finish in the top 14 will be eligible. Notre Dame, meanwhile, is guaranteed an at-large berth if it finishes in the top eight.
5. Notre Dame will be guaranteed an at-large berth if it finishes in the top eight.