Dennis Dodd’s interview with Orrin Hatch regarding the Senator’s crusade against the BCS is worth a read. It’s a commendable effort. Dodd does a good job of asking questions and getting out of the way to let Hatch describe what he’s after.
When you get done reading it, you will again realize that Hatch’s primary goal isn’t open competition, it’s redistribution of income – pretty funny, considering the state of political debate in Washington these days. Here’s a sampler of what he had to say to Dodd:
… The bigger problem is the money and the principles of fair play being taught to our young people by those who they look to for leadership. Teams from the conferences that receive automatic bids share an enormous pot of money generated by the BCS, even if they lose every game and finish at the bottom of the standings. At the same time, nearly half the teams in college football share a much smaller pot, even if they are fortunate enough to play their way into a BCS game. This creates an inherent disadvantage, not just on the field, but with regard to recruiting, facilities, and funding for other athletic programs. Given the amount of money involved here, which is unprecedented in the history of collegiate sports, I think these inequities warrant the attention of Congress.
… As far as the current agreement is concerned, it is my understanding that the current BCS agreement expires next year and that there is a proposal on the table to extend it through 2014. The deal is not yet in place and a number of the conferences, particularly the Mountain West, have expressed serious concerns about the proposed extension. Frankly, I think this proposal is the reason for Congress to get involved right now. The current system has been condemned by virtually everyone, yet the interested parties see nothing wrong with continuing the status quo for the foreseeable future. I think that’s just outrageous.
… But, in general, I think the funds should be allocated in a way that is based on the teams’ performance on the field. Right now, the money may as well be handed out at the beginning of the season because, in the end, we all know which schools and conferences will be getting the money. That, more than anything, is the problem with the BCS.
Look, like it or not, what Hatch is proposing would radically restructure the sport of college football. The fact is that right now, the money flows where the interest is. As a general rule of thumb, the BCS conferences are better draws and generate better TV ratings than do the non-BCS conferences and that’s why they get the lion’s share of the money. Hatch would do away with that. He’s got a different model in mind.
Dodd: I have found that many of the Congressmen and Senators don’t know the basics of this system — re: the NCAA has virtually nothing to do with the postseason. Do you understand that this a system that all the conferences have agreed to until 2014?
Hatch: The NCAA is clearly not involved in the college football postseason, and that may be part of the problem. [Emphasis added.] As it stands right now, the decisions regarding the postseason and the road to the national championship are decided, in large part, by the elitist conferences involved in the BCS, working with television networks and corporate sponsors to generate massive amounts of revenue.
That’s got March Madness written all over it. And don’t think the NCAA wouldn’t be happy to step in if asked.
Not that I think the power conferences would ever let things get that far. But for those of you who continue to insist that it’ s not realistic to contemplate a D-1 playoff with more than a four-school or eight-school format, you might want to reconsider your vision of reality.
UPDATE: While you ponder what Hatch is up to, throw this into the mix.