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Officials from four bowls, five conferences and Notre Dame met Monday to discuss their new alliance and review potential postseason scenarios as complicated as the NFL's wildcard playoff system.

"We've probably done a good job of making this sound a little more complex than it needs to," said Chuck Johnson, president of the Fiesta Bowl. "A lot of the things that are going to evolve are not going to be a significant change from what's happened in the past."The alliance, formed in July, also includes the Orange, Cotton and Sugar bowls, as well as the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Eight, Southeastern and Southwest conferences. Officials are optimistic that the Pac-10 and Western Athletic Conference will participate by making their runner-up available to the alliance.

The arrangement takes effect next season. Proponents say it will simplify the process of determining bowl matchups, delay that process until the end of the regular season and increase the likelihood that the two top-ranked teams will meet each Jan. 1.

A framework is in place for determining postseason lineups in the four bowls, but some details remain to be worked out. One question is whether the guidelines will enhance the drama of the regular season or merely confuse fans.

"I guess it's like trying to learn how to ride a bicycle," said Harper Davidson, president of the Orange Bowl Committee. "It can be very complex at first, but once you get going, it's not that complex."

Under the agreement, the Big Eight will continue to send its champion to the Orange Bowl. The SWC-Cotton Bowl and SEC-Sugar Bowl affiliations will also continue.

After the Big Eight, SWC and SEC champions are determined, the other slots for the four bowl games will be filled by a five-team pool, which will include Notre Dame, the champions of the Big East and ACC, and two other highly ranked at-large teams. The at-large teams could be independents or conference members.

"We have indications that the Pac-10 and the WAC are interested in being involved in this," said Mickey Holmes, executive director of the Sugar Bowl.

The highest-ranked team in the pool will be invited to the bowl that offers the highest-ranked opponent. For example, if Texas is No. 1 and bound for the Cotton Bowl, the highest-ranked team in the pool will be invited to play in Dallas on Jan. 1.