There’s a thoughtful comment to my post about Joe Barton’s efforts to legislate a D-1 football playoff that I wanted to respond to in a little more depth than a comment of my own. Here ’tis:
I know a lot of you guys and gals would rather not have a playoff system and you’ve stated your cases intelligently, but I hope we get at least a plus one. That would basically leave the regular season intact and would not screw up the bowl system. And I’ve heard the –somebody will still feel that they got left out argument too.
These posts of mine about the political/legal efforts to amend or replace the BCS aren’t out there for the purpose of arguing against a playoff. Rather, they should serve as a reminder that in the chorus of voices for a playoff, there are many different agendas being sung. And it’s not always the same tune being warbled.
Take the plus one as an example. It’s a reasonable proposition, albeit one that doesn’t accomplish as much as its proponents allege (for every 2004 that it helps, there’s a 2005 that it hurts and a 2008 that leaves as many arguments as it settles), that I don’t think does much damage to the regular season.
I’ve got no idea whether Rep. Barton would be satisfied with it, though, mainly because his argument is so incoherent. But for the folks like Hatch and Shurtleff, the plus one does nothing. As much as they’ll give lip service about the fans, their primary goal is economic. That’s what the purpose of antitrust law is, after all – to compensate and restructure a market that’s damaged certain entities through trade restraints.
These guys aren’t thinking about you and me. They’re thinking about BYU, a school that draws like a Pac-10 institution, but doesn’t get paid like one, merely because of conference affiliation. They’re thinking about Utah, that has to fight its way to a big paycheck every three years or so and comparing its situation to a Mississippi State which gets a big check every year despite its mediocrity – again, because of conference affiliation.
In that context, a plus one actually makes things worse. It’ll generate a new revenue stream that will largely go to benefit the BCS conferences. To reuse one of my favorite expressions, what most of us see as a feature is just another bug to them.
And don’t dismiss them as being clowns because they should be focusing on what we think are more important things. We live in a world where the squeaky wheel gets greased. Pols like Hatch and Barton who can impact sizeable purse strings directed to higher education can make some fairly loud noises if they try hard enough. It’s up to us not to welcome our new college football playoff overlords without exercising a good deal of skepticism about their motives.