- Bowl Coalition
The Bowl Coalition is a predecessor of the
Bowl Championship Seriesthat was formed through an agreement among college footballbowl games and conferences for the purpose of forcing a national championship game between the top two teams and to provide quality bowl gamematchups for the champions of its member conferences. It was established for the 1992season after co-national champions in both 1990 and 1991. The agreement was in place for the 1992, 1993, and 1994 seasons. It was supplanted by the Bowl Alliance.
The Bowl Coalition consisted of five conferences--the SEC, Big 8,
Southwest Conference, ACC and Big East--independent Notre Dame, and six bowl games--the Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Gator and Hancock.
Under the agreement, bowl bids would be extended to the five member conference champions plus five at-large teams. The at-large teams would come from a pool of the five member conferences' runner-ups, the SEC's third-place team (since the SEC started playing a championship game in the 1992 season) and Notre Dame. The Orange, Sugar, Cotton and Fiesta Bowls were "Tier 1 Bowls" under the Coalition agreement, and the Gator and Hancock were "Tier 2 Bowls." The Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls retained their long-standing agreements to invite the Big 8, SEC and SWC champs, respectively. However, the SEC, Big 8 and SWC champs would be released to play in another bowl if it was necessary to force a "title game." For example, if the Big 8 champion was ranked first and the SEC champion was ranked second, the Orange Bowl would release the Big 8 champ to play in the Sugar Bowl, or the Sugar Bowl would release the SEC champ to play in the Orange Bowl.
The top “host” team played the top “at-large” team in the host team’s affiliated bowl. Slots for the games were chosen by the "Bowl Poll," in which the points from the AP and Coaches polls were combined. If the top 2 teams were both “at-large”, then the Fiesta would have hosted the "title game." The #3 team from the SEC hosted the Gator Bowl. The
American Football Coaches Associationagreed to rank the winner of the Bowl Coalition's "title game" as the top team in the final Coaches' Poll, thus guaranteeing the winner of the game at least a share of the national championship.
The Coalition was flawed in several respects. Most significantly, it didn't include the Big Ten and Pac-10, both of whom were contractually obligated to play in the Rose Bowl. The Coalition's founders tried to get the Tournament of Roses Association to release the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions to play in a title game if one of them was ranked #1 or #2 in the Bowl Poll, but it refused to do so.
The possibility was also raised that an undefeated and untied team would not get a chance to play for the national championship, since poll rankings often differ. This actually occurred during the 1993 season. Nebraska and West Virginia both finished the season undefeated and untied. However, West Virginia was ranked third in the final Coaches' Poll behind #1 Nebraska and #2 Florida State--forcing West Virginia to settle for a berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Also, the Coalition did not include the so-called "
mid-major" I-A conferences--the WAC, Big West and Mid-American, as well as the other independents. However, it was argued that most of these schools did not have schedules strong enough to be legitimate title contenders. This argument is mitigated to some extent when BYU went undefeated (13-0), defeating Michigan in the Holiday Bowl to win the national championship in 1984, its 5th year of the previous 6 years with a top 15 finish in the AP Poll. Despite dominating the WAC, (it was conference champion for 10 years in row from 1976 to 1985) and a winning record against PAC-10, Big Ten and SWC foes during that period, the Coalition made it impossible for a mid-major team to ever win a national championship. However, BYU's impact in college football would again put pressure on the upper-tier bowl agreements in the 1996 season.
The Bowl Coalition's demise came about, in large part, as the result of two events that occurred in the 1994 season. First, the Southwest Conference, which had seen a marked decline in its quality of play over the past decade, announced it would dissolve after the
1995season. Also, Notre Dame slipped from 10–1–-1 in 1992 and 11–1 in 1993 to 6–4–1 in 1994. Notre Dame was still invited to the Fiesta Bowl in the 1994 season, losing 41–24 to Colorado in a game played on January 2, 1995. The sudden fall of Notre Dame led some involved in the Bowl Coalition to be concerned about the possibility of Notre Dame failing to win the minimum six games to be eligible for a bowl invitation.
Eventually the Bowl Coalition became the Bowl Alliance, breaking up the Conference tie-ins and tweaking a system that still did not include the Big Ten and the Pac 10. Coincidentally, the last year of the Bowl Coalition was the only year that its formula didn't work out at all. Penn State went 12–0 in 1994 and was a consensus runner-up in all major polls to Nebraska. However, as the Big Ten champion, it was contractually obligated to play in the Rose Bowl, where it defeated the Pac 10's Oregon. Meanwhile, Nebraska defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl and was crowned national champion by both major polls.
The Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences later joined the group in a move that still receives criticism from some fans of each conference from perceived injustices, such as Oregon's exclusion from the championship game in 2001 when it was ranked second in both polls, and USC's exclusion in 2003 despite being ranked first in both polls used.
The current BCS was extracted from the Super Alliance.
Bowl Coalition championship game results
*Rankings are from the
Associated Press(Writers Poll). Records and Rankings are "prior" to bowl games.
*1994 Season: No. 2 Penn State (11-0) played in and won the Rose Bowl on January 2, thus No. 3 Miami was still in the running to win the National Championship when it played on January 1.
BCS National Championship Game
url=http://www.hickoksports.com/history/collbowl.shtml|title=College Bowl Games
* [http://www.ncaasports.com/football/mens NCAA football page]
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