The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a five-game college football showcase. It is designed to ensure that the top two teams in the country meet in the national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.
It has been undeniably successful in achieving those goals. Thanks to the BCS, the top two teams have played each other 15 times in 15 years by BCS measurements and 12 times in the last 15 according to the AP poll -- including the last nine years in a row. Additionally, it has provided more access to the major bowls for all NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences, more television exposure and more postseason revenue than ever before.
The five bowl games are the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, Allstate Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game that is played at one of the bowl sites.
The BCS is not an entity. Instead, it is an event managed by the NCAA FBS conferences and the University of Notre Dame. The conferences are the American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-12, Southeastern and Sun Belt.
Representing their constituents, the conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletics director make decisions regarding all BCS matters, in consultation with an athletics directors advisory group and subject to the approval of a presidential oversight committee -- also known as the Board of Managers -- whose members represent all 125 FBS programs. All 10 conferences are represented on the Board of Managers and the AD Advisory Group. For more information about governance, click here.
The BCS games are operated by community-based organizations in each of the host cities. In addition, there are 27 other postseason bowls, which are managed independently by entities in 25 cities around the nation. All bowl games provide meaningful season-ending opportunities to student-athletes and surrounding groups such as band members and cheerleaders, fans, alumni and the schools themselves.
The 10 BCS conferences have a contract with ESPN to televise the games through the 2013-14 season.
Each conference whose team qualifies automatically for the BCS receives approximately $22 million in net revenue. A second team qualifying brings an additional $6 million to its conference. Notre Dame receives approximately $1.6 million. Army and Navy receive $100,000 each, and each of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision conferences receives $250,000.
Each conference had an opportunity to earn annual automatic qualification through a four-year evaluation covering the regular seasons of 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences met the threshold and earned automatic qualification through the 2013-14 season.
Additionally, institutions can qualify in any given season by meeting certain thresholds.
This robust system of post-season bowl games offers rewards for teams and places a great premium on the regular season. Football weekends are an important ingredient in the overall college experience -- going well beyond simply what occurs in the athletics department. For many institutions, a significant amount of the revenue that supports all athletic programs is generated by regular-season football. Regular-season football weekends also permit universities, alumni and other supporters of higher education to build and maintain close and lasting relationships. A thriving bowl structure helps ensure that the regular season remains strong and vibrant.