Mike Slive vs. Mark Shurtleff

Mark Shurtleff says he’s inching ever closer to filing his antitrust suit against the BCS, although in claiming that “the snub of Boise State in this season’s bowl games gives additional fodder to the impending lawsuit”, he appears to be deaf to the irony of Boise State becoming one of the haves soon.

Anyway, the part of this that bears watching is on the proving damages and remedy end.

… Hancock said before the BCS, teams from outside those top conferences have cracked into one of the elite bowl games only five times in 54 years.

Since the BCS was created, seven teams have played in those games in eight years.

“Think about that,” he said. “Five times in 54 years versus seven times in eight years.”

That argument may pose the biggest challenge to any lawsuit that Shurtleff ends up filing, according to Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School.

“Before there was a BCS, there was no playoff system, so it’s not clear there would be one after,” he said. “That helps it in court, because they can argue that, on balance, it promotes competition because it provides a system that didn’t exist before.”

The court may be reluctant to determine there is a legal right to a college football playoff and decide that it is unwilling or unable to undo any harm done by the system.

Particularly if Mike Slive’s “meaningful discussion” about the BCS leads his peers to adopt a plus-one playoff format.  (Although the Devil and Delany are in the details.)

Even Shurtleff seems to sense that something may be in the wind that could slow him down.

… The time frame for the litigation could change, Shurtleff said, if the BCS makes “major” changes to its selection criteria when its board meets later this month.

There’s no way they’re moving that fast.  But it’ll be a dynamic worth watching play out.  My bet is that if the BCS folks do eventually agree to move to a plus-one, that, in addition to the conference realignment that’s resulted in the cream of the mid-majors being scooped up by the Big 6, will result in Shurtleff declaring victory and moving on.  That’s the boring result.  Things will be much more interesting if Jim Delany has his way.

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