Apparently Neil Abercrombie of Hawai’i and his co-sponsors Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Mike Simpson of Idaho, and Jim Matheson of Utah are going to be reintroducing their bill in Congress that declares the BCS an illegal restriction of trade. If you notice a pattern there, three of them represent the states of the three BCS busters and the fourth represents Georgia, who was unhappy about not making the title game last season.
Such a pattern combined with the fact that this is Congress we’re talking about here should set off an alarm in your head. That is your “pandering and grandstanding” alarm, and there is a good reason why it is going off. Part of it is that they are piggybacking off of President-Elect Obama’s recent pro-playoff arguments, and part is that they are trying to look good for their constituencies.
I covered this bill’s original appearance back in April, and the likelihood of success for their particular arguments is not high. The very presence of Utah, Boise State, and Hawai’i in the BCS show that the system is not restricting non-BCS conference schools from getting a piece of a pie. Since all BCS games have the same payout, from a strictly monetary point of view the BCS isn’t locking the non-BCS schools out. They have access to the kitty now.
If you want to say the BCS locks non-BCS teams out of getting a championship, then you’re getting warmer. However, once you bring up the “C” word, you open a Pandora’s box of semantics and technicalities. That avenue I covered in April as well.
The biggest problem in the whole deal is Rep. Abercrombie. He appears to have no understanding whatsoever of the BCS process, yet he is running ahead full steam with this while saying nonsensical things. A quote I grabbed from him in April from the Yahoo! Sports article on the topic (which has since expired from their servers) goes as such: “Who elected these NCAA people? Who are they to decide who competes for the championship?”
If the man doesn’t know what the NCAA is, then he probably shouldn’t be sticking his nose into its business. Besides, the NCAA does not choose the teams who play in the national title game, the BCS formula does. On top of that, the NCAA is not even a signer of the BCS contracts. The eleven I-A conference commissioners, the A.D. of Notre Dame, and the BCS bowl committees make up the parties to those agreements, leaving the NCAA itself out of it.
But wait, there’s more. This quote is from the CBSSports.com article I linked to above, which he also said back in April: “It’s a racket. They’ve got a little cartel. It’s La Cosa Nostra … and slavery.”
I hope for their sake that Rep. Abercrombie’s co-sponsors know a little more about the process than he does. It still doesn’t answer the question of why they allowed him to speak on the topic though.
If this bill makes it beyond the emotional press conference stage, it will be discussed in January at the earliest when the new Congress convenes. I would love to see a college football playoff as much as anyone, perhaps even more, but now is not the time. Congress has a lot bigger fish to fry than whether Boise State is unfairly being kept out of the national title game. A foundering auto industry, the continued cleanup of the disastrous derivatives mess in the world of finance, and foreign policy are all more pressing and worthy issues.
These guys are going to try, but I honestly don’t think they’ll get anywhere with the bill. We know that they will have a sympathetic ear in the White House, but hopefully the folks spearheading this effort will at least educate themselves on college football before they bring it up for discussion. A spectacular crash and burn would probably hurt the playoff cause more than it would help it.