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Sunday, April 23, 2006
BCS considering way to make more teams eligible

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Becoming eligible for the Bowl Championship Series might be easier this season.

With the BCS expanding to five games, college football officials will consider increasing the number of teams eligible for at-large bids. To do so, they'll have to lower the standards a bit.

In the past a team needed nine wins and a top-12 ranking in the final BCS standings to be in the running for an at-large bid to the best paying bowl games.

"One thing we will discuss is whether or not the pool of eligible at-large teams should be increased, given the additional two slots with the fifth bowl," new BCS coordinator Mike Slive said. "I'm not saying we will or we won't. There will be discussion and I anticipate a decision will be made and recommended."

Slive, the Southeastern Conference commissioner, and the rest of the Division I-A conference commissioners that make up the BCS braintrust begin four days of meetings in Phoenix on Monday. For the first time in three years, they'll gather with no major changes needing to be made to the system used to crown a major college football champion.

Two years ago the BCS simplified its standings formula, emphasizing the polls over the computers. Last season the formula stayed the same, but a new poll was created to replace The Associated Press Top 25. The Harris Interactive poll, voted on by former college football players, coaches and administrators, plus some media members, took the place of the AP poll.

The status quo will be in effect this season.

"We anticipate that the BCS standings will again be made up of the Harris poll, the coaches' poll and the computers," Slive said.

Last season, after two straight years filled with controversy, everything fell into place nicely for the BCS.

Southern California and Texas were the undisputed top two teams in the country, and both were undefeated when they played in the Rose Bowl for the national title. The Longhorns knocked off the defending champion Trojans in a game that will go down as one of the best in college football history.

The decision to add a fifth big-dollar game was made in 2004, with BCS officials feeling pressure to provide greater access to teams outside the six conferences with automatic bids.

The BCS championship game will now be played a week after the four other marquee games at the site of either the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta or Orange bowls.

The Fiesta Bowl gets the first shot at double hosting. Fiesta Bowl officials will be part of the BCS meetings this week.

"So there are several format and administrative issues that are not necessarily newsworthy, but that will take some time and some thought and some consideration," Slive said.

Representatives from Fox, the new television home of the BCS, will also be on hand.

Fox takes over for ABC after signing a four-year deal worth $320 million for the broadcast rights to the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls from 2007-10 and the national title game from 2007-09.

The Rose Bowl, which negotiates its own TV deal, will still be on ABC.

Fox is in charge of naming the new championship game and finding a sponsor.

"It doesn't do me any good to speculate," Slive said when asked about possible sponsors.

The Sugar Bowl has a new sponsor this year -- AllState Insurance replaces Nokia -- and should be back in its old home.

The Sugar Bowl made a temporary move to Atlanta last season after being forced out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. The Sugar Bowl is expected to return to the Superdome this season.

"The Saints expect to play there so we think by the time the Sugar Bowl comes there won't be an issues," Slive said. "We're really looking forward to getting back to New Orleans."