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Five new rankings, nine-win requirement among changes
Posted: Thursday July 01, 1999 09:11 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The Bowl Championship Series on Wednesday modified its guidelines for selecting teams, adding more computer rankings and toughening eligibility standards for one of the four major games.
And in a move seemingly aimed at the Big East, weaker conferences could be stripped of automatic bids if they fail to remain among the nation's elite during a four-year period.
The BCS took no action to address one of the major concerns from its debut season -- the exclusion of a worthy team such as Kansas State.
Last year, the Wildcats were relegated to a minor bowl even though the lost only one game -- the Big 12 championship in overtime -- and were ranked No. 3 in the final BCS standings.
"We still feel the bowls, after you get past the 1-2 game, need to have some regional flexibility," said Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer, chairman of the BCS. "You can't take two West Coast teams and play in Miami. You've got to have regional ties to make the bowls succeed."
Champions from the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Atlantic Coast and Pac-10 receive automatic bids to the BCS, which also includes two at-large teams.
The 1-2 teams in the BCS standings are matched in a national title game that rotates among the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls. The other six teams are divided by the remaining games.
The 2000 title game will be held Jan. 4 at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Last season - the first for the BCS -- teams were eligible for at-large berths with either eight victories or by finishing no lower than 12th in the BCS standings. Now, teams must have nine regular-season wins over NCAA Division I-A opponents and at least a No. 12 ranking.
Kramer said the main purpose of the stricter standards was to give schools more flexibility in making deals with bowls outside the BCS.
"Last year, we were holding up a lot of teams with eight wins that we didn't need to hold," he said. The BCS standings are determined through four factors: a combined ranking in The Associated Press media poll and ESPN-USA Today coaches poll; computer surveys; strength of schedule; and won-loss record.
This season, the BCS will again use the computer ratings of Jeff Sagarin, The New York Times and the Seattle Times. But it also will consider Richard Billingsley, Dunkel Index, Kenneth Massey, David Rothman and Matthews-Scripps Howard.
The newcomers have all been in existence at least five years, and some have been around for two decades, according to Kramer.
"One or two computer rankings were thought to have a greater impact than maybe they should have. That's the reason we decided to go with eight," Kramer said. "It's always good to get a second, third, fourth or fifth opinion."
A school's lowest ranking from the eight computer services will be thrown out, eliminating the possibility of a team being hurt by an unusual difference in one of the polls.
Beginning this season, each of the six BCS leagues must show it is worthy of that status. If a conference's automatic qualifiers failed to average at least a No. 12 BCS rating over a four-year period, it could be stripped of the bid.
The decision seems most directed at the Big East, which has been criticized for sending subpar champions to the major bowls. Last season, Syracuse (8-4) finished No. 15 in the BCS rankings and was routed by Florida 31-10 in the Orange Bowl.
The BCS discussed a mechanism to prevent another team such as Kansas State from being left out, but decided against it.
As a result, the BCS is considering whether to add a fifth game to its lineup, providing spots for two more at-large teams. While Kramer described the talks as "very preliminary," he didn't rule out another BCS game as soon as 2001.
"It does have the potential to improve the system," he said. Kramer scoffed at complaints that the average fan can't comprehend the BCS and its complex formulas -- especially when more factors are added to the equation.
"This is much easier to explain than a subjective poll," he said. "You don't know why anyone voted the way they did in a subjective poll."
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