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Bowl Championship Series Continues to Play to the Power Conferences

A more lingering matter for the BCS, according to Tranghese, was how to synchronize the cycles of its television contract and its evaluation period. While this season marks the first year of another evaluation period, it's also the third year of the BCS's four-year, $320 million television deal with Fox.

BCS administrator Bill Hancock said the current evaluation period for the six conferences that receive automatic BCS bids will be extended to six years so that its conclusion will coincide with the end of the BCS's next four-year television deal. Regardless of performance in this or any of the following five seasons, the conferences that currently receive automatic bids will continue to do so, at least until the cycle is complete.

The five non-BCS conferences will continue to be evaluated on a four-year term, according to Hancock. Following the 2010-11 season, if one of those five conferences meets the criteria, it will be extended an automatic BCS bid for the following two seasons. BCS guidelines stipulate that no less than five and no more than seven conferences can receive automatic bids.

Chances Are Less Than Fair

TCU Coach Gary Patterson said if two non-BCS conference teams finish higher than a runner-up from a BCS league in this year's rankings, both deserve bids.

"We all understand TV, money and all the rest of it," Patterson said, "but if we're going to say it's a fair concept and we're going to live by those rules, then I think you give both teams an opportunity to be able to do that."

Many sources contacted for this story agreed that if two non-BCS league schools are ever going to earn BCS bids in the same season, this will be the year. But that didn't necessarily make them think it was likely to occur.

"The only way that will happen is if there are no other choices," Palm said. "If they have a third major conference qualify two teams, there's no way. Absolutely none. It's just not going to happen. Those teams are not attractive to BCS bowls. They don't draw fans. They don't generate as much TV interest. Nobody's taking Boise State over Ohio State."

And because the next round of BCS conference evaluations are four years from being complete, the MWC's precarious footing will not immediately improve.

"It's longevity," Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said. "If we [had success] year after year, there would be no discussion, no subjectivity. It would be, 'You've earned it based on this criteria.' I think we're making great progress. We just have to keep doing it."

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