BCS eases requirements for at-large qualifiers

Updated: April 26, 2006, 9:24 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- College football's Bowl Championship Series on Wednesday lowered the bar for at-large qualifiers.

Instead of having to finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, teams finishing in the top 14 will now be eligible for one of the lucrative postseason berths. The change reflects the addition of a fifth BCS bowl, which means there will be 10 BCS slots instead of eight next season.

"There's a lot of logic to that because of the additional two slots," BCS coordinator Mike Slive said as three days of BCS meetings ended Wednesday.

Any Division I-A team is eligible for at-large consideration. The BCS did not change its automatic qualifiers -- the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the final standings; the champions of the Big East, Big Ten, Southeastern, Pac-10, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conferences; Notre Dame if it finishes in the top eight; and a non-BCS team that finishes in the top 12, or in the top 16 if they're ahead of a BCS champion.

The 11 Division I-A commissioners, athletic directors, bowl representatives and Fox executives made no other substantive changes to the controversial system that determines major college football's national champion.

The BCS will continue to use the Harris Poll, the USA Today coaches poll and six computers for its standings.

"It allows us to say we've got the BCS standings as they were last year," Slive said.

Most of this week's meetings focused on more subtle details -- beginning with the identity of the new title game. On Monday, Slive said the game would have a name "before we leave here." But that changed after meetings Tuesday with Fox, which wants to make the announcement.

"We're willing to defer to them," Slive said.

Fox bought rights to four of the five games -- the Rose Bowl still belongs to ABC -- in a four-year, $320 million deal.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press