The BCS or Bowl Championship Series is a system that creates match-ups for five bowl games in college football involving ten of the highest ranked teams in the NCAA Division I-A or the Bowl division. The BCS includes the opportunity for the country’s two top teams to meet for the national championship in the BCS National Championship Game.
The system relies on a mix of ranking polls and a computer analysis system to determine team ranking that eventually narrow the entire field down to only two teams that play for the national championship in the BCS Bowl. Because of contractual obligations, the American Football Coaches Association must vote the BCS Bowl winner as the National Champion. The system was created to end disputed split national championships with the championship going to the winner of this game.
The same system picks the match ups for the other four BCS Bowls. There are conference champions that are automatically included in this group of 10 teams that are selected for the five bowls. Four other teams are selected at random by the computer systems. The 6 conferences that get automatic bids are the Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, Pacific 12 and the Southeastern Conference.
The system has been a part of the NCAA since 1998. Prior to its inception the AP’s number 1 and 2 teams met in year ending bowl games just eight times in a 56 year period. Since the inception of the BCS the number 1 team has played number 2 13 straight years and 10 times if the AP poll were used.
The most important aspect of the BCS is that it allows the regular season’s significance to be preserved. It also maintains the system of bowl games thereby helping dozens of institutions each year with large sums of money generated through the rights of these bowl games. Those bowls that participate in the BCS are the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl and the National Championship Bowl. BCS Bowl is played annually at one of the other bowl sites.
Eleven NCAA Football Subdivision conference commissioners and the athletic director of Notre Dame University manage the BCS along with representatives of the different bowls. The eleven conferences include the Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, Mid-American, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West, Southeastern, Western Athletic and the Pac-12.
All BCS issues are made by the athletic director of Notre Dame and the different conference commissioners, with an advisory group of athletic directors helping with consultation. All decisions are subject to approval of a presidential oversight committee consisting of 12 people, whose members represent all FBS programs.