Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — who writes under the "Mr. College Football" tag and is as connected to college football as anyone in that part of the country — has an interesting tidbit in his blog.
Utah, Boise State to the Rose Bowl? It could happen soon: Over the course of the week I found out that there is an interesting little nugget in the new BCS contract with ESPN, which will begin after the 2010 regular season.
In past contracts if the Rose Bowl lost one of its traditional partners, the Big Ten or Pac-10 champ, to the BCS championship game, it could simply fill with another Big Ten or Pac-10 team that qualified. That’s how a 9-3 Illinois team got to Pasadena two years ago.
But in the new contract, I’m told, there is an interesting clause: The first time in the deal that the Rose loses one of its champions to the BCS title game, that opening will be automatically filled by a Coalition (non-BCS conference) team if one has qualified.
For example: Let’s say Southern Cal wins the Pac-10 and qualifies for the BCS championship game in 2010. And let’s say Utah or Boise State goes undefeated again the wins the Mountain West or WAC. That team, if it doesn’t get into the big game, would automatically go to the Rose, where no Coalition team has played before.
What’s the significance of this, you ask? It is another way that the BCS is increasing access of the five Coalition conferences to all of the games in system. Should the BCS get sued and hauled back before Congress, it is another way it can counter the claim that the Coalition schools don’t have enough access.
Barnhart is a big-conference guy, that’s why the significance to him is that the BCS is protecting its backside.
For fans of Boise State and Utah (or BYU or TCU), the significance is this: The Rose Bowl could now be a realistic possibility.
In the past few years when a non-BCS team (or Coalition team, as Barnhart puts it) qualified for a BCS game, no one expected them to end up in Pasadena. Too much tradition in the Rose Bowl for a Coalition team to play there was the common refrain.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the other bowls pushed for this. Why should the Fiesta Bowl, for instance, have to take most of the non-BCS teams?
• WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Friday morning that the new BCS television contract will mean more money for the league as well.
Currently, the non-BCS conferences split $9 million from the BCS with the first half distributed evenly and the second half distributed through a rankings formula.
If a team from one of the five leagues makes a BCS game, then the leagues get another $9 million with $6 million going to the league of the team that made it.
Benson said under the new contract those totals will jump to $14 million. Benson said the so-called "Group of Five" will likely meet this summer to review the payout formula.
• Former Skyview High two-sport standout — and Colorado quarterback — Matt Ballenger will sign a letter of intent to play basketball at the College of Idaho on Monday.
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