Zemek Blog: The BCS Kangaroo Court... And You

Staff Columnist
Posted May 7, 2008

Let it be known that on April 30, 2008, the power brokers of college football needlessly increased their carbon footprint, enjoyed good food and drink, laughed amongst themselves, and enjoyed some Florida sunshine, all to spend virtually two seconds shooting down a plus-one proposal. Dear reader, there is a response to this sort of activity. It's this forgotten thing called protest.

No, it's not the 1960s, and no, you don't need to take to the streets, but yes, the arrogance of the conference commissioners--particularly ACC honcho John Swofford, who haughtily pronounced the BCS to be in an "unprecedented state of health"--has to be met with a real statement from college football's loyal fan base.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have to find your inner Howard Beale from the classic 1976 movie Network: You ought to be mad as hell, and you shouldn't take this anymore.

When Swofford proclaimed the patient to be healthy, he was right in a certain, narrow sense. The BCS, after all, is indeed filling the coffers of the conferences with loads of cash. The bowls are lucrative. TV eats them up. Profits are being made in the current setup. So yes, in that sense, the BCS is healthier than ever.

But you know, and I know, dear fans, that in the truest sense, this system is rotten to the core 99 percent of the time. Except for those very rare seasons when two and ONLY TWO unbeaten power conference teams (not Hawaii) are left standing at the end of the season, the BCS falls flat on its face and makes college football the laughingstock of big-time American sports. The sport with the greatest regular season, hands down, turns into the one sport that can't crown a clear champion. Again, you know this. It doesn't need to be repeated anymore, because you're aware of the drill.

What does need to be emphasized, though, is that the conference commissioners wasted lots of jet fuel and other precious natural resources to gather in a sunny Sun Belt climate and immediately dismiss the very thought of a plus-one. It wasn't that they shot down the proposal (no one was expecting they'd adopt it); it was the arrogance and immediacy with which they vetoed the plan. These good ol' boys didn't even bother to give the appearance of studiousness or curiosity. They had their minds made up, and openly trumpeted their fat wallets and big balance sheets.

Don't you understand, football fans of America? These people don't care one thin dime about you, or about having a championship decided on the field. On April 30, they looked down on you. They're exercising and flaunting their power, while you, the common folk, are expected to continue to travel to bowl games and snatch up hotel rooms and parahphernalia for your school's football team. The conference commissioners and other power players in college football think that the system will run itself, and that their immense influence is safe and secure. They clearly think they're untouchable, and that there's nothing anyone--especially you--can do about it.

They're wrong.

You know that rebate check you're about to get from the government? Use it to pay your bills, or--if you're affluent--give it to a charitable outlet at a time when America, along with the rest of the world, is dealing with a global food crisis and high costs for basic needs. Don't spend your rebate on college football, especially not a postseason game. Here's a novel thought: when your team's bowl game comes around, enjoy it on television. You can easily take bathroom breaks, chat with your pals, and cook your own food. Not a bad way to spend a midwinter afternooon or night.

Let the half-full or (hopefully) empty stadium show the BCS executives that the emperor has no clothes. Let the national embarrassment of a Rose Bowl (or Sugar/Orange/Fiesta) with 30,000 empty seats convey the message that the BCS lords--Swofford, Tranghese, Delany, Hansen and Beebe (with Mike Slive being the one reasonably courageous guy among them)--are out of touch with America, just like any other standard-issue politician. If you boycott your team's bowl game, and get your friends to do the same, you'll send the one message the BCS boys will listen to: the silence of cash registers. Then they might change their tune.

Remember, you don't have to do this for the rest of your life. You only need to do it one time, one year, one DAY in late December or early January. Sacrifice one postseason football game (not the regular season, of course; just the postseason) to make a larger statement. In a time when the American economy is not exactly humming, take care of more urgent needs. This is the time to take this kind of action. John Swofford doesn't believe such an action is even remotely possible--he surely can't conceive of the very notion that people would boycott bowl games and not fork over money for the BCS pageant. If he did think such action was possible, he wouldn't have said that the BCS was in an "unprecedented state of health."

If you want to put this patient called the BCS on life support, you know what to do. But as any great football coach would ask you late in the fourth quarter of a big game, "Do you have the guts to step up and make a big play?"

It's the equivalent of 4th and goal at the 1, college football fans. Do you really want your sport to become healthy... and for the BCS to die when the next TV negotiations are hammered out in 2014? It's up to you. After all, the BCS kangaroo court isn't ever going to serve your interests unless or until you take a stand.