Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…

I know that Corrine Brown’s incoherent tribute to the Florida Gators is ample evidence to demonstrate that mixing the average pol’s intelligence and college football is dangerous, but why do these people insist on continuing to show their collective asses to us?

… Miller said: “While the current BCS system was created to identify a broadly accepted national champion, its implementation has failed to determine who is, without a doubt, the best team in college football. There is no reason the NCAA should continue to disadvantage certain schools when every other major college sport’s championship is settled through a playoff.”

Barton said: “We are serious about trying to move forward and trying to encourage the NCAA to ditch the BCS and go wtih something where the champion is decided on the field and not by some complicated algorithm.”

Both representatives are still under the misguided assumption that the NCAA controls the football postseason. The NCAA, by itself, isn’t going to institute a playoff…

Folks, when you’re getting schooled by the likes of Dennis Dodd, it’s time to regroup.  Barton probably thinks 2+2=4 is a complicated algorithm (and likely grumbles about how Al Gore got a word named after him in the first place).

Not to be outdone by these giants is Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff, who’s locked and loaded, baby.

Already fighting off demands for a playoff system from President Barack Obama and leaders of the U.S. Congress, the Bowl Championship Series will soon face a more serious threat: an antitrust lawsuit from the attorney general of Utah that could dismantle its postseason championship scheme.

Mark Shurtleff, the Utah attorney general, is gathering contracts, statistics, economic data and experts, and expects to be able to file suit against the BCS in June.

I’m not an antitrust lawyer, but I keep wondering what I’m missing here.  For one thing, as the chair of the BCS Oversight Committee – a former state attorney general himself – notes, the BCS is a voluntary arrangement that all D-1 schools entered into.

For another, if this is motivated by a goal of making sure that every school has an opportunity to play for the BCS title, Shurtleff seems to miss the point that the BCS title game is the one truly democratic part of the current postseason.  It’s simply about matching #1 against #2, an algorithm that even Rep. Barton should be able to comprehend.  If Boise State and Utah finished the regular season as the two schools atop the BCS standings, they’re who would play in the title game.  So it would seem that what Shurtleff is after is a broader opportunity for more schools to have a chance to play in a tourney.  Which doesn’t sound like anything as small as a plus-one format, keep in mind.

Of course, what this is really all about is the money.  And, contrary to Shurtleff’s assertion that the bowls would still be part of the postseason structure if he prevails in his suit, the reality is that a large scale renovation of the postseason with a much more broadly based distribution of income to all D-1 schools would be the end of the bowls as we know them.

Outside of the BCS title game, the bowls aren’t, and have never been, a meritocracy, at least in the sense of matching the best available teams.  They’ve been a meritocracy in the sense of putting asses in the seats and lighting up TV screens in our family rooms.  And on that playing field, Ohio State and San Diego State aren’t equals, and will never be equals.  That’s why there’s a limit on the amount of participation the non-BCS conferences are allowed in the BCS games.  You can’t make the BCS bowls take teams that are inferior draws, slap a playoff label on them and expect it to work, because we don’t have the same level of interest.  And because of that, it’s ludicrous to expect conferences like the Big Ten and the SEC to hand over their money to conferences like the Sun Belt.

Note that while I’m saying I don’t know how Shurtleff thinks he’ll win on the merits, that doesn’t mean he won’t have a chance.  It looks like the key to that is familiar to every Alabama fan who favors litigation against the NCAA – home field advantage.

… Referring to venues that have been harmed by the BCS and others that have profited from the BCS, Roberts said that “if you sue the BCS in Salt Lake City or Boise or Honolulu, you have a sure winner. But if you sue in Columbus or Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, you may not do so well.”

‘Ya think?  Not that it’ll ever get that far.  For one thing, as the BCS administrator notes,

The leadership of the BCS, Hancock said, “would sooner go back to the way it was before the BCS started than to go to a playoff.”

Don’t forget about going the power conference route, fellas!

And that’s what I don’t really get about an antitrust suit.  It’s not like the major conferences don’t have the means of opting out and leaving the non-BCS conferences to fend for themselves again.  And what’s left for the government to do at that point?  I suppose Congress could decide to legislate a D-1 playoff – if Obama is prepared to tell GM what kind of cars to build, it’s not much of a step for Congress to design a football tourney – but, good Lord, can you imagine the political horse trading that’ll go into that?  Just think about all the good Corrine Brown could do.

Oh, as you read the article, don’t miss this profile in courage.

And when Christine Varney, Obama’s selection as the chief of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in early March for her confirmation hearing, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was ready. His first question to the nation’s top antitrust enforcer was to demand her thoughts on the BCS and Shurtleff’s lawsuit.

His first question!  With the country consumed in its worst economic meltdown in decades, a freaking college football playoff is this goofball’s highest priority for antitrust enforcement?

This is why I love America.

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10 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

10 responses to “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…

  1. NebraskaDawg

    We have the most useless group of losers for government offficials this country has ever seen period. After they have finished botching the economy and taxes, they will now screw up college football. Come on Utah, is this what you pay your atty general for?

  2. korndawg

    LMAO @ Al Gore/algorithm!

  3. The Realist

    Keep on pushing, Utah. Keep pushing that playoff until you fall off the impending cliff of super conference exclusivity. Utah & BYU might have a shot to join the Pac-10, but the rest of the Mountain West will be left for college football purgatory.

  4. ugafish

    “If Boise State and Utah finished the regular season as the two schools atop the BCS standings, they’re who would play in the title game. ”

    But the point is there is no mathmatical way either of those 2 teams,or any non-BCS team will ever finish in the top 2. Its just not possible.

  5. Slacker

    Yeah, you are missing something. At the time the BCS was created, BCS teams had a super-majority (66 teams: 65 in the BCS conferences + Notre Dame). Non-BCS schools never had (and still don’t have) a chance to pass meaningful changes in their favor.

    Also, the BCS may be independent of the NCAA, but ony in the selection of the teams. The financial distribution falls squarely on the NCAA’s shoulders, and if there’s no chance for the money to be spread equitably to all of its members – and right now there’s not – there are grounds for the suit.

    As you said, it’s all about the money.

    • The financial distribution falls squarely on the NCAA’s shoulders…

      Not in any way, shape or form. That money flows directly from the bowls to the conferences (or, in Notre Dame’s case, to the school). The NCAA never touches it.

      And as for your use of the term “equitably”, equitably in what sense? Every D-1 team deserves a taste simply because it’s playing D-1 ball? Or should the money generally go where the most interest lies? Do you really think it’s equitable for San Diego State to demand an equal seat at the table with Georgia?

      • Slacker

        That money flows directly from the bowls to the conferences (or, in Notre Dame’s case, to the school). The NCAA never touches it.

        And as for your use of the term “equitably”, equitably in what sense? Every D-1 team deserves a taste simply because it’s playing D-1 ball? Or should the money generally go where the most interest lies? Do you really think it’s equitable for San Diego State to demand an equal seat at the table with Georgia?

        Money from the games themselves, no. But the NCAA licenses the bowls, and gets the television contract revenue.

        As for San Diego St., Boise St., Utah and all of the others, under current antitrust law they should have the same opportunity to get the same money as Georgia. That doesn’t exist within the current format. If the BCS wants to split from rest of the FBS, fine. Then it will be legal.