Orrin Hatch fancies himself quite the Renaissance Senator. Yesterday, he not only took the time to let a certain wise Latina Supreme Court nominee know that he’s nobody’s fool when it comes to the martial arts…
… he also published his latest opinion piece on how the BCS is a sham and a mockery of truth, justice and the American way. Unfortunately, he remains terribly confused about what the problems are, and, as a result, what the remedies should be.
Specifically, he seems unable to keep track of the BCS eligibility rules as they pertain to the title game, so that when he makes this point,
While BCS officials claim they have been rewarding this success with unprecedented reward and recognition, their system is specifically designed to keep such success at a minimum.
Besides reserving national championship eligibility for the teams in the six favored conferences, the BCS explicitly limits the number of outside teams that can be invited to play in the other lucrative BCS bowl games…
he’s only half correct. That’s significant because much of his argument seems to be that the rewards of the BCS should be shared out on the basis of on the field merit.
… Worse still is the fact that the BCS doesn’t even provide equal rewards for the schools they do allow into their games.
Instead, revenues from the BCS are distributed according to pre-arranged agreements, making performance on the field almost irrelevant.
By illustration, four conferences had exactly one team playing in a BCS in the 2008 post-season. Three of those conferences were guaranteed nearly $19 million to distribute among their schools. One of those conferences, the Mountain West, had to settle for slightly more than half that amount.
It was not because they were less deserving. In fact, as a conference, the teams from the Mountain West had a better overall record in inter-conference play than any of the automatic-bid conferences…
Yet even Hatch realizes how silly that argument gets if you follow it to its logical extension.
… BCS officials want more credit for these developments, acting as if the BCS were responsible for making Boise State good enough to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl or giving Utah enough talent to rout Alabama in this year’s Sugar Bowl. However, these teams earned the attention they received as a result of these victories.
While no one can argue that the Mountain West is equal to the SEC in terms of competitive football teams, it is simply a fact that, in recent years, more and more teams from non-privileged conferences have been deserving of national attention…
(As an aside, how come the folks making arguments like this always gloss over Hawai’i in 2007?)
Hatch’s argument in essence is that because Utah, Boise State, Utah, BYU, Utah, TCU and Utah have been competitive programs of late (so has Utah, by the way), the mid-major conferences are all deserving of a far larger share of the postseason pie than they’ve been receiving. Here’s a chart, via the website Econosseur, that illustrates what Hatch is vehement about changing.
As you can imagine, that’s getting a little interwebs buzz, particularly (natch) from sites and papers serving readers who are fans of mid-major programs.
The catch is that it ignores another sort of on field performance, one that Ed Gunther does a fine job of charting himself.
There’s a reason they’re called “mid-majors”, people. They don’t have the passionate fan bases that the Big 6 do; they simply don’t draw enough attention to make them attractive bowl invitees. The bowls don’t keep them out because they’re afraid of anything other than empty seats and declining TV ratings. And, unfortunately, there’s nothing in Senator Hatch’s complaints and suggestions that can make that change.