THE SOLONS of the Bowl Championship Series last week unveiled its
latest format, which, though new, is not improved. Say hello to
the double-hosting model, whose biggest selling point is that it
doesn't kick in for another two years.

Faced with the unpleasant prospect of losing lawsuits to Division
I football's peasantry, whose conferences have grown tired of
missing out on fat BCS bowl paydays, the BCS commissioners added
a fifth game (and two more at-large berths) to their postseason
format. After a halfhearted search for another host city
(Orlando, in particular, was allowed to get its hopes up), the
commissioners opted for the double-hosting model, a.k.a. the
piggyback model. The latter usage is the more accurate, calling
to mind as it does a picture of the commissioners with their
noses in a trough.

In this format each of the four BCS bowls--Fiesta, Orange, Rose
and Sugar--will host two games once every four years. The first
will be its regular game; the second, the national title game.
The piggyback model, said one committee member, "is the least
disruptive to current relationships between individual
conferences and the individual bowls." (We can all thank God for
that. We wouldn't want any current relationships disrupted.) To
the average fan the problem with the BCS is simple: In years when
there are three one-loss teams--last season, for instance--it
fails to deliver a clear-cut national champion. The solution most
frequently put forward is to treat two of the BCS games each year
like semifinals, then play one more to determine a champion. But
well-intentioned university presidents have long frowned on this
so-called plus-one approach, decrying a lengthened season even as
they ignore the fact that football teams in Division II and III
have been playing their way through playoff brackets for decades,
and the Earth continues to spin on its axis. In short, the new
system only adds to the confusion. The only people pleased about
this arrangement are the owners of those stridently colored bowl
blazers, who will reap a quadrennial windfall from this game,
which is, as yet, unnamed. For all the clarity it brings to the
picture, let's call it the Mud Bowl.

--Austin Murphy

COLOR PHOTO: CHRIS O'MEARA/AP (LSU) NO. 1? LSU might not have celebrated in January with a plus-onemodel. COLOR PHOTO: MATT YORK/AP (FANS)