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How the System Works

October 18, 1998

In July 1996, ABC agreed to a seven-year, $525-million deal giving the network TV rights for the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose bowls beginning this season. Thus, the Bowl Championship Series was created.

A look at the way the BCS is set up:

* For the first time, four bowls are involved. The BCS title game will rotate, starting with the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, followed by the Sugar, Orange and Rose bowls.

* Automatic bids go to the champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 10 and Southeastern. There are also two at-large bids.

* The two teams playing in the series' title game will be determined by a complex point-system based on two polls (Associated Press' media, USA Today/ESPN coaches), three sets of computer ratings, strength-of-schedule and won-loss record.

* If neither the Big Ten nor Pac-10 champion finishes No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS' point-system, they will automatically play in the Rose Bowl (except in the year the Rose is designated as the title game).

* The regional host concept is back for the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls. If the SEC champ does not qualify for the title game, it automatically goes to the Sugar Bowl; the ACC or Big East champ would go to the Orange Bowl; and the Big 12 champ to the Fiesta Bowl (except when those bowls play host to the title game).

* Every other Division I-A team, from Notre Dame to the Western Athletic champion to major conference runners-up, can qualify for the at-large berths.

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