Monday, August 17, 2009

Congress Can't 'Fix' the BCS

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made a lot of noise earlier this year about reforming the BCS. He even wrote an op-ed in Sports Illustrated. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) went as far as introducing a bill to ban the use of "national championship" by the BCS. Even President Barack Obama (D-World) has promised (or threatened) to "throw his weight around a little bit."

But don't hold your breath. The BCS isn't going anywhere and it's not going to change much.

And that's a good thing in this sense: You do not want the United States government messing with college football.

For those of you who skipped your high school civic classes or didn't care much for polisci in college, here's a quick primer: The U.S. is a federal republic, its government is represented by people from all 50 states, each with its own disparate interest. These representatives don't work for you or me or the United States as a whole, per se. They work for their state, their district and their constituents.

But most of all, they work for themselves to make sure that they get re-elected.

That's why there's all the grandstanding about the BCS when the timing is convenient. When there's nothing going on, it's a cheap way to get some media attention. And since the BCS is about as popular as the Third Reich, it's easy to kick around the BCS and score brownie points.

You do notice, though, that none of these politicians, from Obama on down, offered anything remotely resembling a "solution" to the BCS problem, right?

That's because they don't have one. And they don't know college football well enough to even come up with one.

You do also notice that the people who complain the loudest about the BCS tend to be representing the latest aggrieved party in the BCS saga. Yes, Hatch is all hot because Utah got screwed last year. Barton is pissed because similarly Texas got shut out of the BCS title game (but he went to A&M, so go figure).

In 2007, the loudest critic of the BCS was University of Gerogia president Michael Adams. He was sore because the Bulldogs didn't get their shot at the crystal ball. Guess what? This last offseason you didn't hear a peep from Dr. Adams, presumably because UGA still got its fat BCS check even though its team, ranked No. 1 in the preseason, more or less went in the tank.

So here's a prediction: You won't hear too much from Sen. Hatch next spring - unless BYU becomes the next BCS victim.

When it comes to the BCS, the best you can hope for is that it'll do the right thing not because of government regulation, but because of the market forces. We still live in a nation with an economy that's fueled by capitalistic endeavors (for now, anyway). And make no mistake, college football and the BCS are big business. So at the end, money talks.

Money talked in the 1990s, as Bowl Coalition morphed into Bowl Alliance and then the BCS. It's not a perfect system, but it's at least marginally better than the old bowl regime. The best two championship games of the BCS Era (2002 and 2005) wouldn't have happened without the BCS. There will come a time - maybe in the next 5-10 years - that there will be so much money on the table for the BCS to adopt some sort of a Plus-One or pseudo-playoff system. You can count on that.

What you can't count on is government efficiency, that's why you want it to stay the hell away from college football. The U.S. government is pretty stretched. It's now running the car industry and many of the big banks. Soon, it'll own healthcare, then energy, and before you know it, you and me, too.

Besides, at a time where there is a real fear of inflation, with runaway budget deficits, continuing high unemployment and negative growth in GDP, not to mention nuclear threats from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, why is anybody in government even talking about college football?

That's why we want our congressmen and senators to butt out. To mind their own business. To take care of business. In the case of the BCS, we don't need their help to "fix" it.


Jams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jams said...

I find it so frustrating that everyone who cries about the BCS, politician or otherwise, invariably lacks a realistic plan for any replacement. Clearly people trumpeting anything involving mandated conference re-alignment or schedule reform are living in a dream land, but even people who think their plan is realistic necessarily forget about things like travel costs and logistics, time constraints, tv and bowl contracts, and just plain economics. As many people have pointed out (the good Doctor most prominently), the entire arc of college football for the past 20 or so years has been toward some sort of playoff.
Anything that develops naturally will be far better for the sport, and more true to its spirit and tradition.

"(D-World)", lol

The Guru said...

I'm glad somebody picked up on that little aside. :)