Mountain West proposes changes to BCS format

It’s a million-dollar question: Will the Mountain West Conference get an automatic bid to a Bowl Championship Series game?

According to a USA Today article released Monday, MWC officials are seeking an automatic berth into a BCS bowl.

Attaining automatic BCS qualification is quite a lucrative endeavor.

The Big 12 Conference received approximately $22.5 million this season because of its involvement with the BCS, thanks to the University of Oklahoma’s berth in the national championship game and the University of Texas’ appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.

Under the current BCS system, each conference that doesn’t have an automatic BCS berth gets a portion of $9.5 million, said Danny Morrison, athletics director. If a team from one of these conferences appears in a BCS game, the conferences share an additional $9.5 million, of which $6 million is awarded to the conference the team belongs to, he said.

In other words, the MWC received $6 million because of Utah’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl plus a one-fifth share of the remaining $13 million, Morrison said.

After the team-by-team breakdown, the Longhorns earned approximately $1.8 million and the Frogs earned approximately $955,555.

According to the BCS media guide, if no team from a non-BCS conference were to get into a BCS game, those five conferences would share 9 percent of the BCS’ net revenue, approximately $9.5 million. That money would then be broken down with the highest-rated conference getting the bulk of that amount.

Morrison said MWC officials are attempting to adjust the current timeframe the BCS uses to decide conferences that get automatic BCS bids.

Morrison said this past season was the first year of a four-year examination period used by the BCS to determine which conferences can be eligible for automatic BCS bids.

The MWC was the seventh-rated conference after the last examination period, leaving them just shy of an automatic bid, he said.

The BCS uses three criteria to determine which conference get automatic bowl bids, according to the BCS Web site. These include “the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings each year, the final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year and the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings each year.”

One MWC official said the conference was deserving of an automatic bid.

“Right now, the Mountain West is sitting pretty,” said Javan Hedlund, football contact for the Mountain West Conference. “We have the highest-ranked (non-BCS conference) team at No. 6. We had three teams in the top 25, all in the top 16 team which makes that stronger.”

Hedlund said the BCS would look at the conference differently because it has nine teams, as opposed to the Big East’s eight and the Big 12 and SEC, which each have 12.

In the final BCS standings, released before the national championship game, Utah was ranked No. 6, TCU was No. 11 and Brigham Young University was No. 16.

According to the BCS Web site, there is a chance the MWC can get an automatic BCS bid beginning after the 2012 regular season.

“The 2008-2011 regular seasons will be evaluated under the same standards to determine if other conferences will have annual automatic qualification for the games after the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons,” according to the site. “The champions of no more than seven conferences will have annual automatic berths.”

Hedlund said the BCS’ schedule wouldn’t immediately benefit the MWC.

“Right now, if it was only a one-year review cycle, we would have automatic qualification, but unfortunately it is a four-year review window,” Hedlund said.

Hedlund said another issue about the BCS is the effect it has on recruiting for the conferences that don’t automatically qualify because of the amount of money granted to teams every year.

“If you are in a (automatically qualifying) conference, when you go to a recruit’s home you can say that if you go undefeated and win your conference you have the opportunity to play for a national title,” Hedlund said. “Our coaches say if you go undefeated and win the Mountain West, you have the opportunity to play in a BCS game.”