Fifth game to help non-BCS schools

The Division I-A commissioners found consensus in the most financially viable plan Wednesday and agreed to use the "piggyback" as the working model for the next BCS contract, according to officials at two I-A conferences.

Each of the four current BCS bowls would host a second game in the year in which it hosts the national championship game, beginning with the 2006 season.

Although commissioners were asked not to comment before a Thursday teleconference, the decision must have been made, if only because the commissioners and their representatives have begun to refer to piggybacking with the more refined term, "double-hosting."

Incoming BCS chair Kevin Weiberg, the Big 12 commissioner, and Oregon president David Frohnmayer, will announce the decision.

In this working model, the four bowls -- Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange -- will stage their bowls around Jan. 1 and one of them will host the national championship the following week.
The additional game is necessary to accommodate a qualified champion from a I-A conference not in the current BCS. I-A presidents from BCS and non-BCS schools agreed in February to increase access to the games by adding a fifth bowl.

The I-A presidents left one caveat, that the fifth bowl must be financially viable. That won't be decided until the BCS opens negotiations with its current television partner, ABC Sports, in the fall.
However, early discussions indicated the piggyback was more financially sound than adding a fifth bowl organization to the BCS. The four BCS bowls, each of which hosts the national championship game every four years, objected to the financial implications of having that game every five years.

Twelve bowls, most prominently the Capital One, the Gator, the Cotton and the Holiday, had applied to host the fifth game.

The addition of a fifth game for increased access was approved by university presidents without regard to the financial implications. The Rose Bowl, scared of its ability to sell 93,000 tickets if a non-BCS school qualified for its game, balked at hosting such a school. The Big 12 and SEC balked at the idea of having to play such schools more often than did teams from the Big Ten and Pacific-10 Conferences.

There had been discussions of quelling the Rose Bowl's concerns through ticket guarantees, but enough of a consensus was reached that the "piggyback" won support.