Somehow I knew that John Feinstein had a lot more in him about last week’s rejection of a D-1 playoff by the BCS commissioners than a mere commencement address, Plato or no Plato.
In a few breathless paragraphs he manages to place Delany, Swofford and friends in the rhetorical company of Eight Belles’ handlers, Roger Clemens, baseball’s steroids users and, for good measure, the Bush White House. All in case you aren’t exactly sure where he might be coming from on the topic.
So where is he coming from? Well, if you’re not an enthusiastic playoff proponent, buddy, he’s got news for you – his “meaning” trumps your “meaning”:
… What it boils down to, though, are the 66 BCS presidents and their mouthpiece commissioners who keep insisting the emperor’s new clothes look great, when it is clear that he is buck naked. There are even those in the media who parrot their comments and say things like, “The regular season has meaning in college football.”
Really? If you want meaning, create a 12-team playoff with four byes and home games in the first round. The teams at the top would be fighting for a week off, the next group for a home game, and the last few for a chance to make the field. There would be meaning at the end of that regular season.
The thing is, Feinstein then hedges his bets. Mere words, no matter how persuasively written, evidently won’t do the trick on their own. Action must be taken. First, Congress – yes, those wise people with whom we place so much trust and respect – is urged to act…
This is one time though when Congress should step in and say “enough.” They should threaten to take away tax breaks from BCS schools if they don’t change this system. That would get their attention.
or, if that doesn’t work, then the NCAA should flex its muscles and do the dirty job.
… Of course if the NCAA wasn’t so busy trying to take over summer basketball, it could put an end to this in a heartbeat: All it has to do is say the following: if you want your basketball team to be eligible for the NCAA tournament, you must participate — if invited — in the NCAA division I-A football tournament. The BCS schools will squirm and pontificate and threaten to break away from the NCAA but they won’t. Remember, basketball is the money-maker at far more schools than football, regardless of what you hear from the football apologists.
Feinstein starts the paragraph following this with “The great irony here is the short-sightedness of the BCS buffoons.” Actually, the great irony here is that, after accusing the BCS of being an illegal cartel, he proposes that the NCAA bring it to heel by resorting to action that would violate U. S. anti-trust law.
And as for his assumption that the BCS folks might engage in a bit of teeth gnashing and posturing and then acquiesce in the end, the Platonic scholar might want to brush up on his history. It’s not like the universities haven’t taken on the NCAA over that kind of action before – and won.
Since he opened the door with the political comparisons, I’ll take my cheap shot here and say Feinstein just needs to pitch this to the right politician. It’s a match made in heaven.