Roy Kramer paused after talking for nearly 10 minutes, explaining each part of the new four-cornered plan the Bowl Championship Series will use to determine the two teams in college football's national title game.
"If I haven't lost all of you in the process, I'll take questions," Kramer, chairman of the BCS and commissioner of the SEC, said Tuesday at the start of a lengthy conference call.The Bowl Championship Series, formerly the bowl alliance, decided to use polls, three sets of computer ratings, strength-of-schedule and won-lost records in an attempt to "rate and identify the teams best qualified to play in a national title game."
The system awards points in each of the four categories and the teams with the lowest point totals will play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.
In the past, the BCS relied mostly on the Associated Press media poll and the USA Today-ESPN coaches poll to determine its top teams.
But the new formula will now include computer rankings published by The New York Times and Seattle Times and ratings compiled by Jeff Sagarin and a complicated strength-of-schedule analysis.
"We're moving into the age of computer analysis in all aspects of life, so this is a sound objective system we've put together," Kramer said.
Asked if the plan was too complicated for the average football fan, Kramer said: "It's no more so than a football writer trying to figure out who to put No. 9 and No. 4."
The champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern conferences all receive automatic bids to one of the four BCS games - the Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar. The new system also will determine which two at-large teams will be included, which is where Notre Dame and leagues such as the WAC and Conference USA come in.
The BCS ratings will include either 10 or 12 teams and won't be announced until mid-November because "that's when strength of schedule statistics become realistic." There will be no final standings after the title game.
"As far as we're concerned, the winner of the game is our national champion," Kramer said.
The AP releases its final poll after the bowl games, as do the coaches.
Last year, the new system would have worked perfectly, but only if the Rose Bowl had been part of the equation. Michigan and Nebraska would have finished with the lowest point totals in the BCS standings and would have met in the title game. Instead, there were split national champions when both finished with perfect records.
Kramer said that Brigham Young, which finished the 1996 season 13-1, would not have qualified for the BCS because it did not rank in the top six of the standings, due mainly to a strength-of-schedule that ranked 76th in the nation. BYU ended up in the less lucrative Cotton Bowl.