NEW ORLEANS – The Bowl Championship Series has chosen dates for its five bowl games in an effort to avoid conflicts that could arise because of the NFL lockout, with flexibility to move the title game.
While the BCS title game in New Orleans remains scheduled for Jan. 9. a Monday night, it could be moved either up to Jan. 7 or back to Jan. 10.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock said the mostly midweek dates were chosen in case the lockout causes the NFL schedule to be pushed back.
"We made a careful decision to choose dates that will ensure a primetime showcase for our student-athletes while also being mindful of the potential for change in the NFL's schedule," he said. "At this point in time, we want to create certainty in a somewhat uncertain environment."
Hancock said the Rose Bowl, which is not played in an NFL stadium, will be played on Jan. 2. The Sugar Bowl will be played on Jan. 3, which is a Tuesday, then the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 and the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 5.
The NFL lockout was already looming when the BCS began planning for the coming season, so the organization listed two possible dates for the Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2 or 3), Orange Bowl (Jan. 3 or 4), and Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 4 or 5). With no solution to the NFL's labor strife in sight, the BCS decided it would be safest to go with the later dates for those three games.
If the NFL remains on schedule, its season will end on Jan. 1, with no Monday night game on the final weekend of the season.
However, if labor negotiations drag on to the point where the NFL season must be pushed back by a week, the dates that the BCS has set would still work because the Rose Bowl is not affected by the NFL schedule.
Additionally, the Rose Bowl would be played on a Monday afternoon, so it would not be in direct competition for viewers with the NFL should the league's Dec. 26 Monday night game — Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints — be pushed back a week. The Sugar Bowl would then be played the next night.
Meanwhile, the Jan. 9 date for the BCS title game would not be affected unless the Falcons-Saints game were to be pushed back by two weeks. In that case, the BCS would have to decide whether to play its title game either a couple days earlier than planned or one day later.
"We've exercised what control we have over the process by choosing the Jan. 3 date for our Sugar Bowl event," Sugar Bowl chief executive officer Paul Hoolahan said. "At this point, we plan to play the BCS Championship on the originally designated date of Jan. 9 unless and until we hear otherwise from the BCS due to the NFL labor situation."