A pending deal to restrict access to the Orange Bowl is one of the key reasons conference commissioners are leaning toward adding another game to the new college football postseason system.
The original plan for the four-team playoff that will replace the Bowl Championship Series in 2014 called for the national semifinals rotating among six marquee bowls games.
Now it looks as if the rotation will consist of seven games. The conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director met in Chicago earlier this week and tweaking the original proposal to add another game was discussed.
"I think there is enough support for it to make it happen," Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said in a telephone interview Friday.
The Orange Bowl is working on an agreement that would match Notre Dame or a Big Ten or Southeastern Conference team against an Atlantic Coast Conference team during seasons the game doesn't host a national semifinal.
That deal was first reported by ESPN.com, but hasn't been finalized.
The ACC signed a 12-year agreement with the Orange Bowl this year that starts in 2014.
That would mean three of the six games — the Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl (Pac-12 and Big Ten) and the bowl that will eventually become the so-called Champions Bowl between the Big 12 and SEC — wouldn't be accessible to teams outside the five power conferences in years in which they do not host a semifinal.
Another game creates two more available spots in high-revenue games for teams from the Big East, the Sun Belt Conference, the Mountain West, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference.
"I think It's a very positive for the Sun Belt," Benson said.
Another person who took part in the meetings earlier this week told the AP that the commissioners also discussed guaranteeing a spot each year in the five big games that do not host a semifinal to the highest-ranked champion of those five conferences.
"I think that's something you'll see become a reality," the person said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.
The could be a boon for the rebuilding Big East, which will add Boise State and five others next season to create a 12-team, coast-to-coast football conference. The elimination of automatic BCS bids hurt the Big East more than any other conference, but it still looks to be in position to be the best of the rest, and by being so its champion wouldn't be left out of the biggest bowl games in that system.
A selection committee will be used to pick and seed the four playoff teams, and fill the remaining bowl spots.
The coming Orange Bowl deal isn't the only reason adding another game is being strongly considered.
Interest in being part of the new postseason system has been strong among bowl organizers and there is no shortage of qualified candidate cities. The other current BCS games, the Fiesta Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, are almost certain to remain part of the new lineup.
The Cotton Bowl held at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, along with groups from Atlanta, San Antonio and Houston have submitted requests for proposal to host the Big 12-SEC game. The Sugar Bowl in New Orleans also is in the running to host that game, and considered the front-runner along with Arlington.
Another game would also mean more television revenue. As it is the new system is expected to at least double and possibly triple the value of the current BCS, which ESPN pays $155 million per year for the right to broadcast.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap
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