While we’re faced with the current distraction of watching some of our fellow citizens losing their minds at those health care town hall meetings (I’m partial to the folks who are obvious Medicare recipients getting red-faced about socialized medicine, but I digress), it’s easy to forget the political theater from earlier this year that captured our hearts and minds.
Rep. Joe Barton had a plane to catch, but he wanted to give college football officials a warning before leaving the highly publicized hearing.
Peering down from the podium, the Republican said in his Texas twang that unless the officials took action toward a playoff system in two months, Congress would likely move on his legislation aimed at forcing their hand.
How’s that coming along, Joe?
More than three months have passed, and Barton’s bill hasn’t moved. Such is the way with college football and Congress.
Oh. But Barton’s not giving up that easily, my friends.
Barton insisted in a telephone interview that there’s a good chance his bill will pass the House this year.
“The key is finding a place on the agenda” in a year crowded with high-profile issues, he said. “We’ll keep plugging away.”
It’s not just that Congress’ plate is filled right now with a few matters. It’s also that guys like Barton and Hatch aren’t the only ones with skin in the game, politically speaking.
It seems unlikely Congress will take the initiative. To figure out why, just look at a map of the United States.
The current college bowl system features a championship game between the two top teams in the BCS standings, based on two polls and six computer rankings. After the title game, eight other schools fill in the remaining slots for Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose bowls.
Under the BCS, six conferences get automatic bids – the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC, in states from Massachusetts to Florida to California to Washington to Illinois. Those conference receive far more money than the conferences that don’t get automatic bids.
“There are just too many senators and congressmen who represent districts where major BCS schools have a very dominant influence,” said Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and an expert on sports law.
“So you’re not going to get any senators from Louisiana or Alabama or Florida or Georgia or Tennessee or Ohio – those are all states with major state universities that are major BCS powerhouses.”
Leave it to that paragon of the principled stance, Chuck Schumer, to say that he’s in favor of a playoff – if:
“the one caveat is I have [a New York school] Syracuse, which benefits from the funding situation because the Big East gets in. You’d have to preserve that.”
Maybe they should consider having some town hall meetings on this.