SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — The Bowl Championship Series released its formula for determining how conferences, such as the Mountain West, can earn an automatic bid to the big-money bowls.
The BCS disclosed Thursday it has three ways to measure conference strength. They are: the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings, the final regular-season computer rankings of all the teams in a conference, and the number of teams in the top 25 in the final BCS standings.
These rankings are compiled over a four-year period, and the conferences are measured against each other.
Six conferences — the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-10 — have automatic bids that are contractually bound through the 2013 season.
Another conference could earn an automatic bid if it hits certain targets in all three categories.
For the first two categories, the goal for leagues such as the MWC or the Western Athletic Conference is to be ranked among the six best conferences in the country.
A points system is used in the third category that takes into account how each team in a conference is ranked at the end of the season. Using those points, each conference is given a grade, and for a conference to earn an automatic bid to the BCS its grade needs to be about 50 percent.
“By putting out the data we’re hoping we can uncomplicate it,” BCS executive director Bill Hancock said.
The BCS is in the middle of a four-year evaluation period. Hancock said the MWC is making a push to earn automatic bid status for the 2012 and ’13 seasons. Automatic bids for the next four-year cycle of the BCS, which will start in 2014, have not been determined
Utah and TCU both earned BCS bids the past two seasons.
“The Mountain West has had two great years,” Hancock said. “They have a chance.”
Hancock stressed that the rankings can change dramatically from year to year because conferences are being judged against each other.
Brooks most improved
Houston — Houston Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks has been named the league’s most improved player.
The 6-foot Brooks set career highs in points (19.6 per game), assists (5.3) and rebounds (2.6). His scoring average went up 8.4 points from 2008-09, the highest increase of any qualifying player.
The Rockets finished 42-40, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Brooks started all 82 games while the roster went through several changes during the season, caused by injuries or trades.
Brooks earned 403 of a possible 615 points, including 62 first-place votes, from a panel of 123 sports writers and broadcasters. Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, George Hill of San Antonio and Marc Gasol of Memphis all tied for second with 101 total points.
Celtics’ Wallace fined
New York — Boston Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace was fined $35,000 by the NBA on Thursday for publicly criticizing game officials. Wallace was fined for comments made to the media Monday, a day before the Celtics beat the Miami Heat, 106-77, to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series. Game 3 is tonight in Miami.
Iowa State hires aide
Ames, Iowa — Iowa State says it has hired former Iowa Energy coach Nick Nurse as associate head coach.
Nurse spent the past three seasons at the head coach of the Energy, who play in the NBA’s D-League. Nurse is a native of Carroll, Iowa, and he and Cyclones coach Greg McDermott were teammates at Northern Iowa in the late 80s.
K.C. farmhand suspended
New York — Kansas City Royals pitcher Adam Bostick has been suspended for 50 games following a second positive test for a drug of abuse under baseball’s minor-league program. The 27-year-old left-hander, in his ninth minor-league season without making it up to the majors, is with the Triple-A Omaha Royals but has not appeared in a game this year. He spent the previous three seasons in the New York Mets organization.
Bohn best at Zurich
Avondale, La. — Jason Bohn took advantage of calm morning conditions Thursday in the Zurich Classic, shooting a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Jason Dufner, John Senden, Jeff Overton, Greg Owen and 2006 champion Chris Couch.
Bohn had eight birdies and one bogey — when he tried to reach the par-5 18th green in two stokes and ended up in the water — at TPC Louisiana.
Five players — former British Open champion David Duval, Charles Howell III, Kevin Sutherland, 2002 winner K.J. Choi and Troy Merritt — opened with 68s.
Fraser leads Ballantine’s
Jeju Island, South Korea — Marcus Fraser of Australia shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the fog-disrupted Ballantine’s Championship.
MLS set to add Montreal
New York — Major League Soccer hopes to announce another expansion soon, this time to Montreal. Commissioner Don Garber says the league also would like to return to the southeast, either to Atlanta or South Florida.
“We’re confident that we’ll be able to announce a 19th team shortly, and our hope is that 19th team will be in Montreal,” he said Thursday during a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors.