The BCS commissioners are expected to recommend the annual rotation of national semifinal games be limited to six bowls when college football's new playoff format begins after the 2014 season, sources told ESPN.
On Monday morning, the commissioners meet in Denver and then hope later in the day to forward recommendations to the Presidential Oversight Committee concerning several aspects of the new playoff, including "access bowls" and revenue distribution, the sources said.
In September, The Associated Press reported the commissioners discussed the possibility of adding a seventh access bowl. However, ESPN reported last month a seventh access bowl was unlikely.
This week sources told ESPN the seventh access bowl is, for all intents and purposes, "dead."
"In reality it's dead," a source said. "(Big East commissioner) Mike Aresco and (Pac-12 commissioner) Larry Scott will press it all the way to get an audience with the presidents, but I don't think it will change the outcome."
The possibility of a seventh access bowl was to provide another contract bowl for the Pac-12 and Big 12 and guarantee a spot for the highest rated champion from the smaller conferences (the Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt).
However, the smaller conferences -- or "Group of Five" as they're being called -- can still get access within the six bowls.
"Six bowls is 'cleaner,' " a source said. "Each bowl would host four semifinals over the 12-year contract. A seventh bowl would be an appendage. It devalues the entire system and would cause major headaches."
Among the obstacles involved by adding a seventh access bowl, sources told ESPN last month, include the bowl's lesser worth compared to the other access bowls, difficulty of selling tickets for an annual bowl featuring the "Group of Five" and finding a bowl that wants to host the game that also meets the stadium capacity requirements to host the national semifinals.
"The seventh bowl is dead, it's not happening," another source said. "The objective is to get access for the 'Group of Five,' which can be easily accomplished in six bowls."
It's yet to be determined if the Group of Five's highest-rated champion or highest-rated team would be guaranteed an access bowl bid or if that team would have to meet a minimum ranking requirement -- such as finishing in the top 15 or top 25.
The contract bowls that have been created are the Rose (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten, worth $80 million); Sugar (Big 12 vs. SEC, worth $80 million) and Orange (ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame, worth $60 million). Those games will also be in the rotation to host the national semifinals.
The SEC and Big Ten share a second contract bowl with Notre Dame, increasing the number of their conference teams with guaranteed access to the major bowls and in turn more revenue for those leagues. The other power conferences -- the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC -- only have one contract bowl and the "Group of Five" has none.
That has caused "tension" from both sides regarding the seventh bowl, a source said.
College football's new four-team playoff begins after the 2014 regular season, but the only thing that has been determined is the date of the first championship (Jan. 12, 2015) and that there will be three "contract bowls."
The commissioners still must hammer out several details including:
• Determine how the revenue will be divided among the conferences without automatic qualifying (AQ) and non-AQ conferences in the new revenue distribution model. "That's the biggest front burner issue," a source said;
• Determine what the other three access bowls will be (sources told ESPN they will be the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., Cotton in Arlington, Texas, and Chick-fil-A in Atlanta), and the semifinal rotation among the access bowls;
• Decide how many and who will make up the selection committee that will comprise the rankings to pick the top four teams that qualify for the semifinals as well as the remaining at-large teams in the access bowls. What format will the committee use to rank or select the teams;
• Determine where the national championship games will be held;
• Decide a new name for the playoff since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) will end with the old format.
Not all of those decisions will be finalized in Denver on Monday -- they also require approval by the Presidential Oversight Committee -- but the commissioners realize the urgency ahead with college football's playoff less than 26 months away.