The University of Florida and Ohio State University met on opposite sides of the football in the 2006 national championship game, but they shared one thing. They were playing for the national title because the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was in place.

The BCS was established to determine the national champion for college football while maintaining and enhancing the bowl system that's nearly 100 years old. The BCS has quickly become a showcase for the sport, matching the best teams at the end of the season.

The BCS, which runs through the 2009 regular season and 2010 bowl season, consists of the Rose Bowl, Nokia Sugar Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Before the start of the 1998 season, those bowls joined with the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-10 and Southeastern Conferences and the University of Notre Dame to form the BCS. Conference USA also signed on to the agreement.

Until the early 1990s the selection process for major bowl matchups with affiliated conference champions was totally disorganized and in many cases resulted in a chaotic situation. Some bowls would effectively make selections after seven or eight games. The BCS has worked to develop a system that not only allows the selection process to be completed at the end of the regular season and creates better matchups.

For the first time in college football history the BCS has opened the bowl agreements more so than they have ever been, and in doing so have elevated the possibility of excitement in college football. But, at the same time, it's being done within the framework of the bowl system that has been an integral part of the tradition and success of college football. Look no further than last season's Fiesta Bowl matchup as an example of the BCS at its best.

There are two at-large positions in the BCS that are open to any Division I-A team. This allows any Division I-A school in the nation the opportunity to play in a BCS bowl game, should it qualify to play in the National Championship game or be selected by one of the bowls.

The BCS also notes the importance of traditional and regional considerations regarding team selection. Specifically, the four BCS Bowls will host the following conference champions in the years the national championship game is not played at their site.

These consideration tie-ins include the ACC or Big East champion in the FedEx Orange Bowl, the SEC champion in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 champions in the Rose Bowl and the Big 12 champion in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Should a BCS Bowl's host champion be ranked number one or two in the final BCS standings, when such bowl is not hosting the national championship game, the number one- or two-ranked team shall move to the national championship game and the Bowl shall select a replacement team from the BCS pool of eligible teams. The pool will consist of any Division I-A team that is ranked among the top 12 in the final BCS standings and has achieved at least nine wins during the regular season (excluding NCAA-exempted contests).

2007 Season
BCS National Championship Game: LSU 38, Ohio State 24
2006 Season
BCS National Championship Game: Florida 41, Ohio State 14
2005 Season
Rose Bowl: Texas 41, USC 38
2004 Season
FedEx Orange Bowl: USC 55, Oklahoma 19
2003 Season
Nokia Sugar Bowl: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
2002 Season
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT)
2001 Season
Rose Bowl: Miami 37, Nebraska 14
2000 Season
FedEx Orange Bowl: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2
1999 Season
Nokia Sugar Bowl: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29
1998 Season
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16

Following 2008 Regular Season
Jan. 1, 2009 - FedEx Bowl
Jan. 1, 2009 - Rose Bowl
Jan. 2, 2009 - Nokia Sugar Bowl
Jan. 5, 2009 - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 8, 2009 - National Championship Game (Miami)

Following 2009 Regular Season
Jan. 1, 2010 - Nokia Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1, 2010 - Rose Bowl
Jan. 4, 2010 - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 5, 2010 - FedEx Orange Bowl
Jan. 8, 2010 - National Championship Game (Pasadena)