Imagine talk of quartiles, power ratings and strength-of-schedule formulas dominating the Peach State's air waves, bar rooms and chat rooms this fall.
Don't laugh. With realistic dreams of 10-win seasons and conference titles back at Georgia and Georgia Tech, such high-tech talk could become a second language before you can utter the term maximum adjusted deviation.
So, in preparation for such apocalyptic moments, here's a primer on the latest changes to the Bowl Championship Series -- a controversial, if not convoluted, formula developed in 1998 to stage a legitimate national title game:
The BCS standings include four factors: a combined ranking in the Associated Press media poll and USA TodayESPN coaches poll; computer surveys; strength of schedule; and won-lost record.
This season, the BCS again will use the computer ratings of Jeff Sagarin, The New York Times and the Seattle Times, with the addition of Richard Billingsley, Dunkel Index, Kenneth Massey, David Rothman and Matthews-Scripps Howard.
BCS Chairman Roy Kramer junked maximum adjusted deviation, a complicated formula used in the event of any unusual differences in the computer rankings. Instead, a school's lowest ranking from the eight computer services will be thrown out, which should eliminate the possibility of a team being hurt by an unusual difference in one of the polls.
The new system doesn't utilize a future situation similar to that of the 1998 Kansas State team, which was relegated to a minor bowl even though it lost just one game and was ranked No. 3 in the final BCS standings.
"We still feel the bowls, after you get past the 1-2 game, need to have some regional flexibility," Kramer said. "You can't take two West Coast teams and play in Miami. You've got to have regional ties."
Kramer also toughened the standards for conferences by requiring the leagues' champions to average a top-12 finish over a four-year period to retain an automatic berth. It begins this year, so no conference could lose its berth until 2003, at the earliest.
Understand? Didn't think so. Here's a cheat sheet with the necessary details.
WHAT'S NEW: Teams must have nine wins -- a change from eight last year -- during the regular season and a No. 12 ranking or better in the BCS poll to be eligible for an at-large spot.
"Last year, we were holding up a lot of teams with eight wins that we didn't need to hold," Kramer said.
WHAT'S NOT: Automatic bowl bids still go to the ACC, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10 champs.
WHEN: "So that all the factors will have a time to be sorted out," Kramer said, the first poll will not bereleased until Oct. 23, the seventh week of the season. That week, Georgia plays host to Kentucky, Florida State travels to Clemson, while South Carolina plays host to Vanderbilt. Georgia Tech is off.
WHERE: The Nokia Sugar Bowl plays host to this season's national championship game in New Orleans on Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. The other BCS bowls are the Rose (5 p.m. Jan. 1), Orange (8 p.m. Jan. 1), and Fiesta (8 p.m. Jan. 2)
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