CFB: BCS releases formula for automatic qualification
RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Bowl Championship Series has released its formula for determining how conferences, such as the Mountain West and Western Athletic, can earn an BCS automatic bid.
The BCS uses three criteria that measure conference strength over a four-year period. The criteria are: the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings; the final regular-season computer rankings of all the teams in a conference; and the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings.
Six conferences — the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-10 — have automatic bids that are contractually bound through the 2013 season.
Another league could earn an automatic bid if it meets certain thresholds using those criteria.
For the first two criteria the thresholds are being among the six best conferences in the country. For the third criteria, the league has to have an adjusted performance ranking of 50 percent or better. That number is derived using a point system that takes into account how each team in the conference was ranked (or not ranked) at the end of the season.
"By putting out the data we're hoping we can uncomplicate it," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said.
The BCS is in the middle of a four-year evaluation period. Hancock said the MWC is making a push to earn automatic bid status for the 2012 and '13 seasons. Automatic bids for the next four-year cycle of the BCS, which will start in 2014, have not been determined
Utah and TCU both earned BCS bids the past two seasons. Hawai'i earned a berth in the BCS Sugar Bowl as a member of the Western Athletic Conference in 2008.
"The Mountain West has had two great years," Hancock said. "They have a chance."
The numbers for the past two seasons that correspond with those three criteria were not released, but the raw information is available and no doubt those inclined to crunch numbers will be trying to figure out where each conference stands entering the next season.
Hancock stressed that it's important to remember that these numbers can change dramatically from year to year and that conferences are being judged relative to each other.
So another big year by the Mountain West in 2010, when TCU, BYU and Utah are again expected to have strong teams, is far from guaranteed.
While the three criteria the BCS has used to determine how a seventh conference can earn an automatic bid have been clearly stated, BCS officials have been criticized by not giving details of how the formula is weighted and specifically what targets a league needs to qualify.
Hancock said releasing the formula is part the BCS's effort to be more transparent.
The BCS also released its revenue distribution for the past bowl season, which was obtained by the AP in January.
The five non-automatic qualifying conferences — the MWC, the Western Athletic Conference, Sun Belt, Mid-American and Conference-USA — split a record $24,723,000. TCU and Boise State received BCS bids last season, marking the first time two teams from leagues outside the big six played in the marquee bowl games since the BCS was implemented in 1998.