BCS considering way to make more teams eligible

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

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."