Automatic bids to college bowl games

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The teams that participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision earn the right to compete in a series of post-season games called bowl games. For all 35 bowl games in the 2011-12 NCAA college football bowl season, bowl games are contractually obligated to offer bids to specific conferences, a situation known as a "tie-in". The top five bowl games in the nation select their teams as part of a coalition known as the Bowl Championship Series. The remaining 30 bowl games have individual contracts with the conferences to offer preferential bids to teams from those conferences. As long as teams are bowl eligible, they may be selected by these bowls to meet these contracts.

BCS games[edit]

The Bowl Championship Series consists of five games, the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl, as well as the BCS Championship Game. A composite system of computer rankings and human polls is used to rank the teams in the Division I–Football Bowl Subdivision. At the end of the season, the top two ranked teams meet in the championship game; the remaining eight slots are filled by the champions of six conferences (the Big Ten Conference, Pacific-12 Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, Big 12 Conference, and American Athletic Conference) and up to four "at-large" selections who finished the season ranked in the top 14 in the BCS rankings. The highest-ranked champion of a non-AQ conference will also receive an automatic berth if ranked in the top 12 or ranked in the top 16 and higher than at least one AQ conference champion. The at-large selections can be granted to any FBS team, even those that aren't members of the six AQ conferences, though no conference may have more than two teams in a BCS bowl in any given year.

Even in the five BCS bowls, consideration is given to historic associations between the conferences and the bowl games themselves. Tie-ins still apply, unless a team obligated to a certain bowl game is selected for the BCS Championship Game. In that case, their slot is filled by an at-large school. Any bowl that loses a contracted team to the Championship Game gets first pick of the eligible at-large schools. In the instance that the Pac-12 or Big Ten champion receives a bid to the BCS National Championship, the Rose Bowl is filled by either the second place team of the conference with the team that opted out, or if a "non Big-6"(a school not part of the major conferences) is ranked higher in the BCS standings they receive the bid over the second place team. This occurred in 2010 when Oregon played in the BCS Championship Game, and TCU (Mountain West Conference) filled Oregon's place in the Rose Bowl, not the Pac-12 second place, Stanford.

BCS GamesFirst GameConferenceConference
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio1902Pac-12Big Ten
Discover Orange Bowl1935ACCAt-Large
Allstate Sugar Bowl1935SECAt-Large
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl1971Big 12At-Large
BCS Championship Game2007BCS #1BCS #2

2013 Non-BCS bowl games[edit]

The 30 bowls that are not part of the BCS have contractual ties to specific conferences. For the 2011-12 bowl season, all 30 bowls have at least two tie-ins, meaning that there are no at-large spots open in these bowls, assuming that all conferences produce enough bowl eligible teams. Many bowls also have contingency contracts to offer spots to other specific conferences should their first choice not be eligible. If any slot cannot be filled by a contracted conference at all, then the spot becomes open, and the bowl can offer the slot to any eligible team.

To be eligible, a team must not have a losing record in the FBS. If a school plays 12 games, they must have at least six wins to qualify. If a school plays 13 games, they must then have at least seven wins to qualify. A rule change for 2010 allows bowls to tender a bid to any team with a 6-6 record before teams with more than six wins.[citation needed] Previously, a bowl with an at-large bid to fill was required to select the remaining team with the best record over a 6-6 team that would have been more financially attractive in terms of bringing more fans to the respective bowl. The contracts specify that the bowl receives a certain choice of teams, and this choice is typically not predicated on end-of-season rankings. For example, beginning this year, the Alamo Bowl has the third choice of Big 12 schools. That means they may choose any eligible Big 12 team after the first two bowls (in this case the BCS and the Cotton Bowl Classic) have chosen their teams from the conference. However, some conferences have special selection parameters written into their contracts with specific bowls — for example, the Capital One Bowl is contractually obligated to select the winningest Big Ten and SEC teams that do not make a BCS game, or a team within one win of the winningest in its conference, and the MAC's bowl contracts require that both division champions, if eligible, receive bids to one of its three contracted bowls.

Bowl GameFirst GameConference/TeamConference/TeamAlternate
Hyundai Sun Bowl1935Pac-12 #4ACC #4
AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic1937Big 12 #2SEC #3
Gator Bowl1946SEC #6Big Ten #5
AutoZone Liberty Bowl1959C-USA #1SEC #8American #7
Capital One Bowl1947Big Ten #2SEC #2
Chick-fil-A Bowl1968ACC #2SEC #5
Advocare V100 Bowl1976ACC #7SEC #10
National University Holiday Bowl1978Big 12 #5Pac-12 #3
Outback Bowl1986Big Ten #3SEC #4
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl1989Big 12 #4Big Ten #4
Russell Athletic Bowl1990ACC #3American #2
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl1992MWC #1Pac-12 #5
Valero Alamo Bowl1993Big 12 #3Pac-12 #2
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl1997MWC #6MAC #3
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl1997Big Ten #8MAC #2
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl1998ACC #6SEC #7 Bowl1999Sun Belt #2MAC #1
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas2000Big 12 #6Big Ten #6
New Mexico Bowl2001MWC #4Pac-12 #7
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl2001C-USA #7Sun Belt #1
Belk Bowl2002ACC #5American #3
Fight Hunger Bowl2002Pac-12 #6BYUACC, MAC
Sheraton Hawaiʻi Bowl2002C-USA #2MWC #5
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl2003C-USA #3Navy
SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl2005MWC #2ArmyMAC
BBVA Compass Bowl2006American #5SEC #9
Military Bowl2008ACC #8C-USA #6MAC #4
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl2008American #6C-USA #5
New Era Pinstripe Bowl2010American #4Big 12 #7Notre Dame
Heart of Dallas Bowl2010Big Ten #7C-USA #4

2013 Order of selection[edit]

Teams must be bowl-eligible to be selected for a bowl game. Should a conference not have enough eligible teams to meet their obligations, the bowls at the end of the selection process are free to choose a replacement team from among any remaining bowl-eligible teams that are not already committed to a bowl game. If a conference provides an "at-large" selection to the BCS, the remaining bowls still select in the same order. Should a conference like the Pac-12 receive an "at-large" bid from the BCS, their remaining bowl tie-ins would be affected. The Alamo Bowl would then have the third (and not second) selection from the Pac-12, and all remaining bowls would be shifted accordingly. This increases the likelihood that the conference will not be able to provide enough teams to meet its tie-in obligations.

American Athletic Conference[edit]


Atlantic Coast Conference[edit]


Big 12 Conference[edit]


Big Ten Conference[edit]


Conference USA[edit]


Mid-American Conference[edit]


Mountain West Conference[edit]


Pacific-12 Conference[edit]


Southeastern Conference[edit]


Sun Belt Conference[edit]


Division I FBS Independents[edit]

Of the independent Football Bowl Subdivision teams, there are contractual agreements to play in certain bowl games should they become bowl eligible. All of these teams remain eligible for selection as a replacement team when the conferences do not have enough eligible teams to meet their obligations.

For 2013, the contractual obligations:

Notre Dame also qualifies for a BCS Bowl if they finish in the top 8 in the BCS standings.


  1. ^ "ACC Announces 2013 Football Bowl Schedule". Boston College Athletics. 2013-5-06. Retrieved 2013-7-01. 
  2. ^ "Big 12 Announces Bowl Agreements". Big 12. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  3. ^ "St. Petersburg Bowl FAQ's". The Official Site of the St. Petersburg Bowl. Archived from the original on 15 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-12.