CFN Analysis - The BCS Anti-Trust Issue
Utah QB Brian Johnson
Utah QB Brian Johnson
Posted Feb 2, 2010

With Utah Senator Orrin Hatch getting his BCS anti-trust problem to the highest offices of Washington, is anything going to be done? The CFNers give their take on the politics of college football.

CFN Analysis

The BCS and the anti-trust debate

- The BCS Anti-Trust Playoff Solution 

Statement by Bill Hancock, BCS Executive Director, in Response to the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs Letter to Senator Orrin Hatch:

"This letter is nothing new and if the Justice Department thought there was a case to be made, they likely would have made it already. There is much less to this letter than meets the eye. The White House knows that with all the serious issues facing the country, the last thing they should do is increase the deficit by spending money to investigate how the college football playoffs are played. With all due respect to Senator Hatch, he is overstating this importance of the letter he received from the Office of Legislative Affairs."

Pete Fiutak

Democrat or Republican, flaming liberal or staunch conservative, Olbermann or O'Reilly, teabagger/birther or ... all Americans can agree on one simple issue: the BCS sort of sucks.

Now that the Obama administration is going to take a look into the anti-trust aspect of the BCS, the common spin will be that Washington has better things to do with its time and that this might seem frivolous when there are so many other issues on the table. Yeah, but the time and energy spent isn't really worth getting into a twist over.

Of course Obama is giving a look at the issue to try to score points, and of course Senator Orrin Hatch is looking to appeal to the Utah base and wants to answer to Jim Bob Booster who's all upset the Utes not getting a shot at winning the 2008 national title, but this is precisely what the government is there for and it's not just because of the silly way college football ends its season. If people care about an issue, frivolous or not, it's important, especially when it involves big business, the billions of dollars that football generates for the colleges and universities, and the time and interests of so many people. Yes, the way the BCS is structured really does matter in the real world because of all the things schools use the BCS money to pay for, and if some schools aren't getting an equal shot at the dough, there's a problem. But, of course, this really is more about the screwy BCS system.

Is this any crazier than Congress looking into baseball's steroid issue or the concussion problem in the NFL? How about the Supreme Court getting involved with the NFL and the American Needle Company case? And yeah, on the most basic of levels and in a world of the surreal and absurd, people want the BCS issue resolved. If you really took a hard look on the day-to-day operations of the federal government, spending a few hours to at least see if the BCS is screwing over several colleges and universities isn't that big a deal.

But Bill Hancock, the total disaster of a BCS head man, is trying to sell you on the idea that Washington has better things to do in an effort to take away the focus from his utterly inept PR campaign that continues to try to paint the current system as correct. At no time has Hancock made a reasonable argument for anything he has tried to sell. That's the most galling aspect of the issue; he's pretending we're all idiots.

Hancock and the pro-BCS types actually have some ammunition in their corner, but they're too moronic to use it and instead they run with the tired reasoning of schoolwork, the lessening of the little bowls, too many games, and other talking points that can be obliterated instantly by any fan with a working brain.

All Hancock and his ilk have to do is point out how college football gets it right when it comes to crowning a champion more than any other sport. Really, are you that upset about the idea of Alabama as the national champion this year or Florida last year or LSU the year before or Florida the year before that or Texas after that classic win over USC? 

They can point out that college football has never been healthier than it is right now and that with the addition of a fifth BCS game, the Boise States, Hawaiis, Utahs, and TCUs of the world are getting into the big money games and everyone is making out fine.

They can simply point to the strength of schedules, the importance of the regular season (which Hancock has tried to do, but in a bumbling way) or that, to make it simple, the bowls make a lot of money for everyone, and in these economic times, they don't want to mess with a cash cow. People will buy that, to a point, as long as there's a belief that the guys running things aren't total boobs who have an aversion to telling the truth even with it's in their best interest.

But no. Hancock has to continue to screw this up to the point to where Washington has to get involved only because the issue has gotten flagrantly strange. Is Congress going to hold special sessions to go over this for days on end like the health care debate? Of course not. Is there going to be some big dog-and-pony show like there was with the issue of baseball and steroids? Probably not. It'll take a few hours, and if there's a problem, Hancock will get a nice, neat little letter on his desk and then the real spin control will come.

So the bigger question becomes how to reasonably fix this so Orrin Hatch can go back to his Utah constituents and say he won and to make the problem go away.

CFN has always advocated an eight-team playoff taking the six BCS conference champions, the top ranked champion from a non-BCS league, and one wild card (the highest ranked team left on the board), but that might not fly with the anti-trust types. So instead, (The BCS Anti-Trust Playoff Solution) just take the top eight conference champions according to the rankings and have the playoff. The BCS conferences would hardly be worried about one of its teams not being in the mix, the Mountain West would almost always get a team in, and the WAC and Conference USA would battle it out for the other spot along with Notre Dame, who would get a spot if it was ranked in the top eight. That way, no one can say it's all about the BCS conferences, because it's up to the other conferences to field a team good enough to get in the top eight, and it's a fair playoff system. There would be no real room for belly-aching; if you can't win your conference title, you don't deserve to play for the national title. And to BCS league fans arguing about Boise State getting in after playing a light WAC schedule, just take care of business. If the WAC or Mountain West champion isn't deserving, then it'll lose right away in the playoffs.

Do that, and this whole mess would go away, the minor bowls would still be the minor bowls, everyone would make money, and Washington can go back to doing what Washington does best  ... (insert your own partisan joke here).
Richard Cirminiello

Please, Mr. President. Make this your top priority in 2010 and forever how long you're in the White House. I'd like for you to really dig your heels in on this one and develop tunnel vision.

I know, I know, there are far bigger fish to fry in Washington. Economic chaos, a couple of wars, and health care, to name just a few. But if you can break up the monopoly that currently exists in the BCS system, wonderful. That would be the kind of hope and change I can believe in.

As far as BCS mouthpiece Bill Hancock goes, this guy might have a tougher task than a tobacco lobbyist. I realize he has a job to do, but you'd have more luck selling a recalled crib. The product is clearly flawed, and just about everyone recognizes it. So what's with the petulant, downright arrogant reaction to criticism or a challenge? In that regard, Washington and the BCS deserve one another. Mr. Hancock is going to quickly learn that he's fighting an uphill battle, and copping an attitude only increases the elevation of that mountain. You can act like you've got a pure breed all you want, but, fella, that dog's got fleas.

Ponder this. If the administration decides to examine the legality of college football's championship system, it could be just enough of a diversion to keep this country from falling into deeper debt. Plus, who wouldn't want to see the fat cats running the Bowl Championship Series squirm? Obama vs. the BCS. Bring it on.

Matt Zemek

It's tempting to get excited about this. Real reform! Change! Hope! A new day!

No, wait a minute, it's not tempting at all.

Bill Hancock might be defending a system that has severely tarnished college football and hurt its signature January games (Orange Bowl, COUGH, COUGH, Sugar Bowl, HACK, WHEEZE) without producing clearer and fairly-arrived-at national champions, but on this matter, the Executive Director of the Bowl Championship Series has a point.

The United States Government has no business wasting its time or resources in a matter as relatively trivial as this. Barack Obama – since politics are unavoidably part of this discussion – needs to be doing a much better job as president, and that means doing his level best to take care of people whose lives are defined by unchosen suffering. Instead of worrying about college football's postseason alignment, Mr. Obama and members of Congress such as Utah Senator Orrin Hatch must spend their time and energy on mending lives that have become overwhelmed by a raft of social and economic problems unleashed by various forces originating in both Washington, D.C., and New York (among other places).

Policing the BCS? Please. Let's move on with our lives. College sports administrators and leaders have to do a better job of caring for the sports and institutions under their supervision. If fans are upset at the BCS and want change to happen, there's something simple that can be done: Don't go to BCS games, don't fill hotel rooms, don't occupy stadium seats, and don't purchase products of any kind that are associated with these phony-baloney bowl games.

When the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl can't get anything close to a full house, college football's January traditions – the ones we and our fathers shared in past decades – are clearly in a state of decay. When the Boise States of the world can't get invited to the White House to receive due recognition – in addition to being denied a split national title AND the opportunity of a plus-one appearance against Alabama on national television – it's clear that this sport's power brokers just don't care about fairness or competitive integrity. But alas, it is the college sports community that will have to police itself, and it's up to fans – especially major donors and boosters – who need to shift their disposable income away from King Football (or Big Basketball) to urgent social needs.