Red Zone Menace: Congress threatens the BCS
By: Daniel Clark
During congressional hearings on college football’s Bowl Championship Series, Rep. Joe Barton (R, Texas) said the current system is “in my mind a little bit like Communism. You can’t fix it. It will not be fixable. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to try a new model.”
Barton wouldn’t know what’s like Communism if it attacked him with an ice pick. Otherwise, he’d be more concerned about the government seizing corporations, taking over banks and socializing medicine, than with whether the Florida Gators are legitimate national champions.
We can tell that the BCS is nothing like Communism from the simple fact that President Obama opposes it. Obama has suggested that the BCS be scrapped in favor of an eight-team playoff — a notion seconded by the Mountain West Conference, whose champion, Utah, was denied a chance to play for the national title. Like most of the president’s proposals, however, this one is entirely unrealistic.
An eight-team playoff would never last, for the same reason that the current two-team playoff has provoked such ire in the first place, which is that it cannot satisfy the real pigskin pinkos’ demands for “fairness.” The origin of this dilemma is that college football is not an organized league like the NFL, but a collection of 120 teams of differing talent levels, playing in conferences of varying quality, and free to schedule their own nonconference opponents. As a result, the comparative strength between any two contending teams is practically impossible to quantify.
College basketball and baseball have addressed this problem by inviting 64 teams each, leaving no doubt that any team capable of winning the championship is included. Hockey and lacrosse only invite 16 apiece, but that’s plenty, since the Title IX “gender equity” harpies have squelched those sports’ growth to the point where only about 60 schools are allowed to compete in each. By comparison, an eight-team football playoff, representing only one-fifteenth of the teams, would never suffice.
In order to be “fair” to the lesser conferences, other college sports invite the champion of every conference, however puny, into their playoffs. Division I-A football has 11 conferences, which renders the Obama plan obsolete from the get-go. In order to conform, a 2008 football playoff would have had to include East Carolina, Buffalo and Troy, while excluding at least a dozen teams more deserving than those three.
Although only two teams now play for the championship, there are five major bowl games that comprise the BCS, and already, there’s an annual controversy over who doesn’t get in. Try starting a playoff, and telling two of last year’s BCS teams (perhaps including Utah) that they don’t belong. It wouldn’t last more than one season.
Playoff advocates often site the lower divisions as proof that a major college football playoff would work, when in reality, they only illustrate its flaws. Division I-AA started a four-team playoff in 1978. Today, the four-round, 16-team bracket is about to expand to 20, with the addition of four play-in games. The Division II and III playoffs have already expanded to 24 and 32 teams, respectively.
The NCAA basketball tournament, which is held up as a model for the rest of college sports, has ludicrously added a 65th team to its field, by including a play-in game between two teams that couldn’t win the title if they were allowed to arm themselves with tasers. Nevertheless, there’s a movement afoot to add another entire round to the tournament, expanding the field to 128. However many teams are invited, there’s always another downtrodden victim that must be accommodated.
An extended Division I-A football playoff could not coexist with the bowl games, which would wither and die from dwindling corporate interest. To a true gridiron Bolshevik, this itself justifies the politicians’ plans. To them, the bowl games represent the worst excesses of filthy capitalist pigdog-ism, and must therefore be crushed.
As much as some fans say they want a playoff, what they don’t want is to lose the nightly binge of great bowl games between Christmas and New Year’s. A playoff would only occupy the weekends, leaving little on TV during that week but those dreary news retrospectives about all the famous people who died during the past year.
In other words, government involvement would mean that the consumers get an inferior product, as usual. If Rep. Barton wants to root the Reds out of college football, he can start there, with the arrogant politicians who want to impose a “new model” on a previously free enterprise.
Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.