CHICAGO -- Marshall, Tulane, TCU -- in fact, all of college football's unwashed masses -- now have a detailed road map on how to reach the sport's most hallowed bowl game.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Wednesday revealed the Rose Bowl's parameters for including eligible teams from the five so-called non-BCS conferences beginning in 2006. Those 54 schools rose up against the six major conferences as a "coalition" last summer demanding more access to, and more money from, the BCS.
They got both, but the public didn't know the particulars because negotiations between ABC and the Rose Bowl didn't begin until June 11. Speaking at the Big Ten Football Kickoff, Delany said the Rose will take a BCS-qualified coalition school no more than once during an eight-year period beginning with the 2006 postseason. The coalition schools are the members of Sun Belt, WAC, MAC, Mountain West and Conference USA.
For one of those schools to play in the Rose Bowl, the Pac-10 or Big Ten champion would have to be ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS ratings, thus moving up to the BCS title game. A coalition team would have to be ranked 12th or higher in the final BCS ratings (or higher than the lowest-ranked BCS champion).
|Non-BCS schools now have a slim chance at playing in the Rose Bowl.(Getty Images)|
Currently, a coalition school must finish in the top six of the BCS to get into a BCS bowl. That has never happened. But in four of the previous six years of the BCS, a coalition team would have qualified for a BCS bowl under the new 2006 standards: Tulane in 1998, Marshall in 1999, TCU in 2000 and Miami (Ohio) in 2003.
According to research, there is only an 11 percent chance in any year that the circumstances would align so that the Rose Bowl would take a coalition team, Delany said. It should be noted that a Pac-10 team has never played in the BCS title game. Ohio State in 2002 was the only Big Ten team to do so. That year no coalition school finished in the top 12.
The resolution of the Rose Bowl/coalition issue is key to ongoing BCS negotiations. Delany said that ABC and the Rose Bowl are "very near the end of the process" of a new deal beginning in 2006.
"When the Rose Bowl joined the BCS in 1998, we were trying to maintain as much tradition as we could," Delany said. "We had to give some of that up but give up as little as we could and still make the system work. This system that we have has broader access. We've got to accommodate that."
BCS chairman Kevin Weiberg confirmed the Rose Bowl agreement but cautioned that nothing is finalized all parties have agreed on a new BCS. After the Rose Bowl/ABC deal is completed, ABC can begin negotiations this fall on deals with the rest of the BCS as a group -- Fiesta, Orange and Sugar.
"All of this is subject to making it through the marketplace," said Weiberg who is also the Big 12 commissioner. "We've been cautious publicizing this stuff because clearly if we don't have success in negotiations (things could change)."
It has not been determined what kind of rotation qualified coalition teams will have with the other three BCS bowls. Each of the four BCS bowls will continue to play host to the title game once every four years.