BCS Information & Process
Selection Process | Automatic Qualification | At-Large Eligibility | Tie-Breaking Procedures | Future BCS Automatic Qualification
The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a five-game showcase of college football. It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.
It has been undeniably successful in achieving those goals. Thanks to the BCS, the top two teams have played each other 12 times in 12 years by BCS measurements and 9 times in the last 12 according to the AP poll -- including the last six years in a row. Additionally, it has provided more access to the major bowls for all eleven conferences, more television exposure, and more postseason revenue than ever before.
The five bowl games are the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Discover Orange Bowl, the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game that is played at one of the bowl sites.
The BCS is not an entity. Instead, it is an event managed by the 11 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision conferences -- all of them "BCS Conferences" -- and the University of Notre Dame. The conferences are Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Pac-12, Southeastern and Western Athletic.
Representing their constituents, the conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletics director make decisions regarding all BCS matters, in consultation with an athletics directors advisory group and subject to the approval of a presidential oversight committee whose members represent all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) programs. All eleven conferences are represented on the Presidential Oversight Committee and the athletics directors advisory group. For more information about governance, click here.
The BCS games are operated by community-based organizations in each of the host cities. In addition, there are 29 other postseason bowls, which are managed independently by entities in 26 cities around the nation and in Canada. All bowl games provide meaningful season-ending opportunities to student-athletes, other students such as band members and cheerleaders, fans, alumni and the schools themselves.
This robust system of post-season bowl games offers rewards for teams and places a great premium on the regular season. Football weekends are an important ingredient in the overall college experience -- going well beyond simply what occurs in the athletics department. For many institutions, a significant amount of the revenue that supports all athletic programs is generated by regular-season football. Regular-season football weekends also permit universities, alumni, and other supporters of higher education to build and maintain close and lasting relationships. A thriving bowl structure helps ensure that the regular season remains strong and vibrant.
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Team Selection Procedures
The bowls will select their participants from two pools: (1) automatic qualifiers, all of which must be selected, and, (2) at-large teams, if fewer than 10 teams qualify automatically. The following sequence will be used when establishing pairings:
1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings will be placed in the National Championship Game (NCG).
2. Unless they qualify to play in the NCG, the champions of selected conferences are contractually committed to host selected games:
Atlantic Coast Conference—Orange Bowl
Big Ten Conference—Rose Bowl Game
Big 12 Conference—Fiesta Bowl
Pac-12 Conference—Rose Bowl Game
Southeastern Conference—Sugar Bowl
3. If a bowl loses a host team to the NCG, then such bowl shall select a replacement team from among the automatic-qualifying teams and the at-large teams before any other selections are made. If two bowls lose host teams to the NCG, each bowl will get a replacement pick before any other selections are made. In such case, the bowl losing the No. 1 team gets the first replacement pick, and the bowl losing the No. 2 team gets the second replacement pick. If the Rose Bowl Game loses both the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions to the NCG, it will receive two replacement picks.
A bowl choosing a replacement team may not select any of the following:
A. A team in the NCG;
B. The host team for another BCS Bowl;
C. When two bowls lose host teams, then the bowl losing the number one team may not select a
replacement team from the same Conference as the number two team, unless the bowl losing the
number two team consents.
4. Any bowl with an unfilled slot after steps 1, 2, 3, have been completed, shall select a team from the automatic qualifiers and/or at-large teams in the following order:
A. The bowl played on the date nearest to the National Championship Game will pick first;
B. The bowl played on the date second nearest to the National Championship Game will pick
C. The bowl hosting the game that is played in the time slot immediately after the Rose Bowl Game
will pick third.
The rotation noted in paragraphs A, B and C will be as follows:
January 2012 games: Orange, Fiesta, Rose
All host teams earning an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game must be selected to play in one of the BCS bowls. No more than two teams from any single conference may be selected to play in the BCS bowl games.
5. After completion of the selection process as described in Paragraph No. 1-4, the Conferences and Notre Dame may, but are not required to, adjust the pairings taking into consideration the following:
A. whether the same team will be playing in the same bowl game for two consecutive years;
B. whether two teams that played against one another in the regular season will be paired against
one another in a bowl game;
C. whether the same two teams will play against each other in a bowl game for two consecutive
D. whether alternative pairings may have greater or lesser appeal to college football fans as
measured by expected ticket sales for the bowls and by expected television interest, and the
consequent financial impact on rights-holding television networks and the bowls.
The pairings may not be altered by removing the Big Ten Champion or the Pac-12 Champion from the Rose Bowl.
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Automatic Qualification (AQ)
1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings will play in the National Championship Game.
2. The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern conferences
will have automatic berths in one of the participating bowls after the 2009 regular seasons.
3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the
Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl
game if either:
A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year. (Note: A second team could be eligible for at-large selection.) If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth, and the remaining team or teams will be in the pool of teams eligible for selection by the bowls as at-large teams.
4. Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.
5. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 4, and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 3 in the final BCS Standings,
that team will become an automatic qualifier, provided that no at-large team from the same conference
qualifies for the national championship game.
6. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 5, and if no team qualifies under paragraph No. 5 and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 4 in the final BCS Standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game.
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If there are fewer than 10 automatic qualifiers, then the bowls will select at-large participants to fill the remaining berths. An at-large team is any Division I-A team that is bowl-eligible and meets the following requirements:
A. Has won at least nine regular-season games, and
B. Is among the top 14 teams in the final BCS Standings.
No more than two teams from a conference may be selected regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections.
If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then the bowls can select as an at-large team any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular season games and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings subject to the two-team limit noted above and also subject to the following: (1) if any conference has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected and (2) from the teams ranked 15-18, a bowl can select only a team from a conference which has fewer than two teams in the top 14.
If expansion of the pool to 18 teams does not result in 10 teams eligible for selection, then the pool shall be expanded by blocks of four (4) teams until 10 eligible teams are available subject to the two team per conference limit noted above and also subject to the following (1) if any conference has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected and (2) from the teams ranked 15 or lower, a bowl can select only a team from a conference that has fewer than two teams in the top 14.
Relative to the two preceding paragraphs, all teams ranked in the top 14, other than those from conferences which have already had two teams selected, must be included in the bowl selection.
Note: in order to participate in a BCS Bowl game, a team (i) must be eligible for post-season play under the rules of the NCAA and, if it is not an independent, under the rules of its Conference and (ii) must not have imposed sanctions upon itself prohibiting participation in a post-season game for infractions of the rules of the NCAA or the rules of its Conference.
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The following steps may be used to resolve an ties in the standings after computation is carried out to full decimal points.
1. Look to head-to-head result;
2. If the tie is not resolved by paragraph No. 1, then evaluate results against the highest-ranked, common opponent in the BCS Standings;
3. If the tie is not resolved by No. 1 or No.2, then calculate tied teams place in BCS Standings using all six computer providers (i.e., do not throw out the high and low computer rankings) and the Harris and Coaches polls;
4. If the tie is not resolved by No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3, then draw.
Standards for Future BCA Automatic Qualification
Under the terms of the agreements with the bowls and television rightsholder, the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC will have annual automatic qualification for their champions for the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Results from the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 regular seasons will be evaluated to determine whether a seventh conference earns automatic qualification for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 bowl games. The evaluation process includes the following for each conference:
(1) Average Ranking of Highest-Ranked Team, 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) Average Conference Ranking, The final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year, and
(3) Top 25 Performance Ranking, 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:
Conf. membership Adjustment
12 or more members - no adjustment
10 or 11 members - points increased by 12.5 percent
9 or fewer members - points increased by 25 percent
* The computations will be made according to the conference’s membership on December 4, 2011.
If the BCS continues under the same or a similar format, conferences will be evaluated on their performances during the 2010 to 2013 regular seasons to determine which conferences without bowl contracts will have
Conference agreements with bowls will continue. The Pac-12 and Big Ten champions will host the Rose Bowl if their teams are not in the BCS National Championship Game. Likewise, the Southeastern Conference champion will host the Sugar Bowl, the ACC champion will host the Orange Bowl and the Big 12 champion will host the Fiesta Bowl.