The Pac-10 hopes to advance a plan on Wednesday that would restructure the Bowl Championship Series beginning in 2006.
Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White first started kicking around the idea between themselves late last month at the BCS meetings in Phoenix. Pac-10 administrators seemed interested and discussed the plan two weeks ago at their spring meetings. Pac-10 coaches talked it over at their meetings last week.
While there is no solution to the future look of the BCS close to finalization, this latest model seems agreeable to most parties. It will at least be discussed Wednesday when all 11 Division I-A commissioners meet in Chicago.
The Pac-10's plan calls for one of the four existing bowls (Sugar, Rose, Fiesta, Orange) to host two games each year, presumably on a rotating basis.
The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the BCS ratings would be predetermined by the BCS ratings. The pair would face off in a title game the week after the four bowls are played.
That would free up access and provide a higher profile for the non-BCS teams. BCS presidents agreed in February to provide more access to non-BCS schools. The access included a fifth BCS bowl game, if the market supported it.
"We're all for it," said one source close to the Pac-10, adding that traditional partner, the Rose Bowl, has approved the plan.
Though no concrete decisions are expected to come out of the Chicago meeting, there is an increasing sense of urgency to resolve the postseason picture.
ABC and the Rose Bowl are conducting negotiations this month and need to know what the BCS structure is going to look like beginning in 2006; the current BCS contract expires after the 2005-2006 bowl season.
The problem with any fifth game is that BCS presidents are against any so-called "second-semester football." Though there has been no formal approval from Pac-10 presidents, one source said, "I think we may have a shot at that."
The Pac-10 has been against the so-called "plus-one" format, which is still on the table for consideration by BCS commissioners. A plus-one would match two teams in a championship game emerging from the winners of four or five bowls played the previous week.
BCS bowl executives and their sponsors are against adding a year to the once-every-four-year rotation. Under the Pac-10, each BCS bowl would continue to get the national championship game once during a four-year period. It remains to be seen how they could logistically stage two games in a week.
However, incoming BCS chairman Kevin Weiberg said that most every option is still on the table, including one that would add a new fifth bowl to the BCS. Twelve second-tier bowls have applied to become the fifth member of the BCS.
"We're trying to decide: Do we have enough information to actually ask for a specific proposal face to face?" Weiberg said of the 12 bowls.
Some of those 12, however, are disturbed about recent speculation that the commissioners will keep the new BCS structure among the four existing members.
"That remains an option we're looking at," said Weiberg, the Big 12 commissioner. "You could accommodate a fifth game inside the existing four bowl games."
Using last year as example, under the Pac-10 plan: Oklahoma and LSU would have still met in the Sugar Bowl. However, the Sugar would have played host to a game a week earlier as well, along with the regular Fiesta, Orange and Rose bowl games. It is not known how or where the non-BCS qualifier would be placed in those four bowls.
Weiberg also said the "plus-one" model is not dead.
"In my judgment, it does remain one of the options," Weiberg said. "That one we may not fully put an emphasis on until TV negotiations go on."
During BCS meetings last month, ABC talked "generally" about a possible pre-Jan. 1 bowl being part of the BCS, Weiberg said. The game would be played sometime before Christmas. It would have "extra value in the run-up prior to Christmas," said Weiberg of the potential for pre-Christmas advertising.
"It really was not presented as a model or option," Weiberg said.
He added that because of the Rose Bowl negotiations the commissioners must move fairly quickly. The ABC/Rose Bowl negotiations are ongoing.
Later this year ABC has an exclusive negotiating window with the BCS. Current BCS chairman Mike Tranghese has said he expects some kind of announcement on the future of the BCS in June.
"If there wasn't that urgency," Weiberg said, "we'd have a pace that was more deliberate."