I think the bowl system was created to exclude teams but over time it was modified to include more teams. BSU, Utah, TCU all played in bowls they wouldn't have played in before. I think the BCS expands access at well. It allows 2 teams to play for a championship instead of 0. Granted the bar is still very high. But that is the case whether you are in a big conference or an independent. Its also not hard to visulize a B12, BIG, or P12 champion not making the championship.