Okay, so it may not be "news" and it may or may not be good. But it felt good.
After getting an email about one school from a professor who used to teach at my old school, I checked into that school. I talked to the former Ph.D. coordinator and he had me email him so the new one could call me back. Well, after he got back from vacation, he called me yesterday, and he verified that they only accept students in even years.
I had assumed just from the emails that it wouldn't go anywhere.
But he asked me if I'd taken the GMAT. I told him I had twice, and I gave my score, same one both times. He asked "Were you not satisfied the first time?" somewhat incredulously. I explained the timing between them and that made sense to him. Then he explained, "Well, let me talk to the Dean and the Admissions Council, discuss whether or not you could take the second year first and the first year second, do them in reverse. I'm not sure we'd able to do it, we've never done it before, but we might be able to make an exception to get you in."
Something in that statement sent a thrill up my spine. He wanted to see my resume, and he wouldn't be able to let me know anything for several months, but it was still nice to feel that wanted. He wondered why I wouldn't apply to the top schools - Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton - and I gave him reasons why I might not. He must have been satisfied he had a chance to get me, because he made it clear I should expect to hear back in the fall.
So I guess I might just have an ace in the hole.