BCS makes it harder to be national champ

No. 1 qualifiers to need 9 I-A wins, top 12 ranking

July 01, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Becoming the nation's No. 1 football team will be tougher next season than last as a result of changes announced yesterday in the Bowl Championship Series.

College football teams looking to qualify for the series in 1999 will have to win at least nine regular-season games against Division I-A opponents and finish in the top 12 in the final BCS rankings, said BCS chairman Roy Kramer.

Last year, when the BCS format debuted, teams needed only eight wins or a finish in the top 12.

The first BCS championship game was played last January between Tennessee and Florida State at the Fiesta Bowl, and won by the Volunteers.

Other changes were made to help the process become less muddled, and potentially less controversial, than last season.

Five new outside computer polls were added to the three used last season. Those eight polls will be averaged with the two subjective Top 25 polls, by the Associated Press (of writers and broadcasters) and by USA Today/CNN (coaches).

Kramer said that computer ranking will be done by taking the seven highest scores and discarding the lowest score, a change from last year. It results from the discrepancies among the final regular-season rankings in Sagarin, Seattle Times and New York Times computer polls.

"It gives us a broader spectrum of information," said Kramer, who is also commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.

Last year, the Sagarin poll had Kansas State ranked No. 1 even after losing the Big 12 championship game to Texas A&M.

Looking back to the 1996 season, Kramer said that if this format had been in place, Florida State would have played Arizona State rather than Florida.

The BCS consists of the four premier bowl games: the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. The purpose of the BCS is to place the top two ranked teams on the field to determine the national champion.

This season, the first ranking will be released Oct. 23. The top teams will play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 4, 2000.

The at-large teams are chosen from among six conferences -- the Pac-10, Big Ten, SEC, Atlantic Coast, Big East and Big 12 -- as well as Notre Dame, which remains an independent in football.

The other components of the BCS will remain virtually untouched. Teams will be ranked on a basis of their respective strength of schedule, which includes the won-lost record of their opponents as well as their opponents' opponents. If a team beats a Division I-AA opponent, it will not count toward the nine wins necessary for inclusion.

Neither will any victories in exempt games, such as the Kickoff Classic between Penn State and Arizona. A team's won-lost record also will be judged as a separate category, as it was last season.

Another change has to do with the four-year average of conference champions in the BCS poll. To guarantee inclusion in the BCS, a league's regular-season champion must maintain a top 12 ranking over a four-year period.

"If you can't do it very well for four years, we feel you can't be considered for a national championship," Kramer said.

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