After months -- scratch that -- years of speculation, the much anticipated criteria to make a nonautomatic qualifying conference into a qualifying conference has finally been released.
As we already knew, results from the 2008-2011 regular seasons are used to evaluate whether a seventh conference will join the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC as an automatic qualifier and here are the criteria that conference must satisfy (straight from the release):
*The evaluation includes the following for each conference (1) the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS Standings each year (if a conference does not place a team in the final BCS Standings, then its highest-ranked team is determined by the conference member that has the highest average ranking in the computer rankings used in the BCS Standings), (2) the final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year, and (3) the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS Standings each year, with adjustments to account for differences in the number of members of each conference.
A conference will become the seventh automatic qualifier if it finishes among the top six conferences in both No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 50 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.
*Further, a conference will be eligible to apply to the Presidential Oversight Committee for an exemption if it finishes among the top six in both No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3, OR
If it finishes among the top seven in either No. 1 or No. 2 and among the top five in the other and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.
No. 3 above, the “Top 25 Performance Rating,” will be calculated as follows: Points will be awarded to the conferences based on their teams’ finishes in the top 25 of the final BCS Standings each year. Points will be awarded as follows:
Teams finishing 1-6:4 points for each team
Teams finishing 7-12:3 points for each team
Teams finishing 13-18:2 points for each team
Teams finishing 19-25:1 point for each team
The point totals will be adjusted to account for the size of the conference, as follows:
12 or more members no adjustment
10 or 11 memberspoints increased by 12.5 percent
9 or fewer memberspoints increased by 25 percent
* The computations will be made according to the conference’s membership on December 4, 2011.
So, the Mountain West looks like it's in decent position to earn an automatic qualifying bid, but it might not satisfy provision No. 2.
Of the six computers used in the BCS system, only Dr. Peter Wolfe and the Colley Matrix had the Mountain West ranked in top six of all conferences in 2009. The Massey, Billingsley and Anderson and Hester ratings had the conference seventh and Sagarin had the Mountain West eighth.
I checked with the BCS and the Mountain West to see exactly how this particular criterion is calculated. Looking at the calculations, the Mountain West has not yet passed provision No. 2, which computes the conference ranking from the various computer. The Mountain West would rank seventh among the conferences.
Of course, there’s an exemption, but the Mountain West would have to place a team in the top five of either No. 1 or No. 2 and then in the top seven in the other.
This is a pretty complex formula because it doesn't say exactly how all of this is ultimately figured once it's all said and done. The formula also doesn't provide a provision for one of the current AQ members could be dropped if it doesn't satisfy the criteria.
And really, the Mountain West is just on the fringe of the provisions for which it doesn't qualify. I'm going to let the conspiracy theorists take a stab at that one.