Just a few points before today’s Congressional nonsense:
- I owe Dick Harmon an apology. I should have known that somebody outside the state of Utah could write something equally insipid and hackish about this – thank you, Spencer Tillman. You know when he comes out the gate with Gilbert and Sullivan, he’s telegraphing that his is a Serious Article. This is even better: “Angel wings turn into horns and Dante’s Inferno is their operating manual.” Oy.
- There’s a tendency in bashing the BCS to confuse greed with arrogance. Let’s be clear here: the football guys are the greedy ones; the pols are the arrogant ones.
- Speaking of the politicians, it’s good to see that there’s not much else on their plate this week.
- For all the squawking about unfairness, the sad fact is that the non-BCS conferences simply aren’t competitive with the big boys (h/t College Football Resource): “As a whole, non-BCS schools are 77-392 against BCS opponents since 2005, meaning they win just 19.6 percent of the time.” Three schools – three – from non-BCS conferences have winning records against schools from BCS conferences during that time. Competitively speaking, it’s not a level playing field, and all the whining in the world won’t change that.
I think what really drives me up the wall about what we’ve seen in the past few months is the stubborn refusal of those who want the system changed to recognize that there’s a market rationale to the flow of money in college football. The TV networks and the bowls pay the SEC and pay Notre Dame huge sums because those are the schools an enormous number of fans want to see. The Mountain West and the Sun Belt? Eh – not so much.
The barrier to entry argument that those wanting to wield the antitrust ax against the BCS will make today is overblown. What did the Big East bring to the table when the BCS was created? Two things: a University of Miami that was one of the top three TV draws in college football and a Michael Vick-led Virginia Tech that brought a rabid fan base in serious numbers to bowl games. That’s it – the rest of that conference was, historically speaking, putrid. (Today’s essay question: would the Big East be a BCS conference if the ACC had raided it before 1998?)
The Mountain West, however admirable the performance of its best schools has been in the past four years, doesn’t bring anything like that to the BCS table. But how impossible can that be to pull off if the Big East did it? Basically, the MWC schools (and Orrin Hatch) don’t believe they should have to work for it like Miami and Virginia Tech did. They simply feel entitled to a seat at the table because Utah beat Alabama. But it’s the BCS guys that are the arrogant ones.
Expect to have your intelligence insulted more than a few times today.
UPDATE: Spencer Tillman thinks he knows Tony Barnhart, but this doesn’t sound like the Tony Barnhart he’s writing about.
… But bashing the BCS is like bashing the IRS. It’s easy. The fact is that with all of its flaws, it’s better than what we used to have. I remember Georgia Tech having to play in the Citrus Bowl in 1990 to win its national championship. I remember No. 2 Penn State not getting a shot at No. 1 Nebraska in 1994. I remember No. 2 Texas not getting a shot at No. 1 Nebraska in 1983.
The system is going to change because the marketplace is going to eventually demand it, not because Congress is going to push to make its constituents happy. And that’s a fact.
Barnhart makes two good points in that piece. First, it’s only in the BCS era that schools like Utah and Boise State have gotten to play in New Year’s Day-type bowls. Second,
… over the past five seasons the BCS has pumped about $80 million into those five Coalition conferences.
That’s a lot of money that did not even exist before the advent of the BCS.