The BCS set 3 fair criteria:
1. Highest ranked team in the final BCS poll. They want the conferences with an automatic bid to typically supply a big name program.
2. Average BCS ranking for all of the teams in a conference. Having 1 or 2 big name programs won't cut it.
3. Average Conference Raking in the computer polls. The question is a conference level question - this is the BCS factoring in SOS which comprises the bulk of the computer poll ranking.
The BCS looks at the above criteria over a 4 year time span. Having 1 good year won't get your conference an automatic invite.
They have not specified, but I suspect that compared to a single current BCS conference, a mid major would need to perform better in the criteria:
1. At least 2 out of 4 years.
2. At least 1/2 of the measurements (3 criteria x 4 years = 12 total, half would be 6)
Even if they reach this hurdle (which I don't think they are close to yet), the BCS reserves the right to expand to 7 automatic bids or contract to 5.
The decision of 5 vs. 7 becomes a financial issue for the BCS. They could gain in net TV ratings by granting the at large automatic bid to a displaced former major and inviting another 2nd place team from the remaining 5 conferences.
The irony is meeting the criteria could make it harder for a mid major to qualify for a bowl game, not easier by adding a current major to the ranks of the non-BCS programs.
8. Forget about a Playoff
For reasons to fill many blogs, it just isn't going to happen.
If it did come, it will be of the seeded 4 team variety. There is evidence the pollsters are looking to elevate a mid major to qualify for the BCS, but stopping shy of the title game. If it impacted the title game, the mid majors might find the glass ceiling just a little bit lower in the voting polls - while the mid majors point to a couple of wins, regional voting will have pollsters promoting their local major champion into the top 4.
What isn't well publicized is that all conferences are against a playoff for financial reasons unless it expands to give an automatic bid to their mid major conference. It is a financial decision in which the mid majors pull the short straw in most scenarios.
9. Combine Their Marketing to the Bowls
Other than the BCS, bowls operate on a tie-in system. There are lots of clauses, but in general the bowls sign agreements for the selecting order from a conference.
The economic performance of the mid majors in the bowls is horrendous. Their bowl payouts lag far behind those of the majors. This is directly tied to the poor TV ratings detailed in part 1 which is typically less than half that of the majors. Breaking down the payouts for 2008:
$2,606.000 average for the majors
$ 975,000 average for the mid majors
$2,090,000 non-BCS average for the majors
$ 822,000 non-BCS average for the mid majors
It could have been worse. The mid majors made 24 bowl appearances, but they only have 17 conference tie ins.
$797,000 average for the top 9 mid major tie ins (1 from Sun, 2 from the other 4)
$769,000 average for the 17 mid major bowl tie ins
$750,000 appearance fee of the 5th lowest bowl (for comparison)
To put this into perspective:
The mid majors have only 1 tie in with the top half of the 34 bowls (ranked by bowl payout). They only have 2 bowl tie ins with a payout more than $1 Million.
A mid major typically earns more filling in for a spot vacated by a major than they can earn filling their conference top bowl tie-in.
A mid major can earn more signing to play a regular season road game against a major than the majority of their bowl appearances. If you include the additional expenses of a bowl appearance the regular season game is usually more profitable.
There is proof they should be getting better bowl invites. The Poinsettia bowl featured 2 top mid major teams and had the 15th highest TV ratings. This is well below the expected ratings of 2 similarly ranked teams from the majors, but it does show they have some drawing power on their own.
The problem for the bowls is they have no idea what they are getting from the mid majors. They could get a ranked team from a large university, or they could find themselves choosing among a handful of ratings dogs.
The answer is to combine their marketing to the bowls forming a coalition. Combining into a single entity, they can contract the top 2 selections from each of the 5 conference (after the BCS hopefully takes 1) to the most interested bowls. They can generally offer at least 3 ranked teams from this pool (typically more). Rather than contracting for the 1st and 2nd selection from a single conference, the bowls would contract for the 1st, 2nd, ..., 10th selection from any of the 1st 2 selections from each of the mid major conferences. The larger pool of teams makes the coalition more (ratings) attractive to the bowls.
Note: I gave details of this near the end of blog Please Sir, May I have Some More? The difference is that I referred to creating a series in the blog. Subsequent consideration from a comment left by Norka has me believing providing the bowls with a chance to select 1 mid major team would be more lucrative.
Once the tie ins are secured, the mid majors can work to promote these bowls.
The mid majors can also work to improve the net profitability of the bowls. A prime example is the requirement by the bowls the programs purchase motel rooms they don't used. This can be a lot of rooms (often over 100) for an extended time (often 11 days or more) with a price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In negotiating their relationship with the bowls, they can decrease the number of rooms to an amount they are likely to occupy. They may also be able to decrease costs by decreasing the length of their stay to a week.
Also refer to 12 Needed Changes for the Mid Majors - Part 1
1. Quit crying to the BCS
2. Quit griping to the NCAA
3. The Best of the Rest Invite
4. Forget the Courts Anti-Trust Suits
5. Forget about Political Intervention
6. Promote Themselves
10. Stop the Clown Proposals
11. Up the Appearance Fees
12. Imagination and Urgency
Let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading.