BCS commissioners settle on six ‘access bowls’

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Some details of a four-team playoff in college football are still to be determined, but the BCS commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee did finalize some aspects of the ‘access bowls’ that will make up the semifinal sites of the new postseason.

Here are highlights on what was decided:

  • There will be six access bowls, not seven. There were brief talks that a seventh access bowl with spot for the highest ranked team without a contractual tie-in could be added to the mix, but that’s been tossed out.  Currently, the Rose Bowl (Big Ten, Pac-12), Sugar Bowl (Big 12, SEC) and Orange Bowl (ACC, Notre Dame, Big Ten, SEC) have conference tie-ins and will be part of the rotation.
  • However, conferences without a contractual tie-in — the Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt — will have access to one of the host bowls. That access will go to the highest-ranked champion of those conferences.
  • The other five at-large teams will be chosen by a selection committee based on final regular-season rankings. That includes Division 1 Independents (Army, BYU, Navy and Notre Dame). That will fill up all 12 slots in the six access bowls.
  • A higher portion of playoff revenues will go to the conferences participating in the playoff/access bowls. A lower distribution will to conferences that aren’t represented. Additionally, 10 percent of revenue will be reserved for academic performance and schools can be penalized for not hitting a certain APR mark.

Some areas still to be determined:

  • The three other “host” bowls. It’s believed the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A will fill those spots to total six access bowls..
  • A media-rights deal, reported to be worth about $475 million a year over 12 years, per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. ESPN Will Likely end up getting those rights.
  • Who will make up the selection committee.

There’s still a long way to go since specific numbers for revenue distribution and criteria for at-large spots haven’t been determined, but the big takeaway from today is that conferences lacking contractual tie-ins to access bowls aren’t being shut out entirely. That was a big concern for conferences like the Big East, which has BCS automatic qualifier status. Given recent BCS history combined with conference reshuffling, the Big East has to feel good about its chances of getting a bid to a host bowl more often than not.