Congress has more pressing issues than BCS mess to address

Regular readers of this space are certainly aware that I am unapologetically and unabashedly one of the biggest BCS bashers there is.


I love college football -- love it, love it, love it.

I hate the BCS -- hate it, hate it, hate it.

It is unfair, un-American and undeniably the single worst method for deciding a so-called champion this side of a penalty-kick shootout in soccer. The conference-and-bowl cartel that annually defends it against a playoff are nothing but selfish idiots. Their reign of stupidity can't end soon enough.

That said, this next statement might seem a bit odd. Our elected officials in Washington need to back off their escalating campaign to rid the nation of the BCS and force a Division I-A college football playoff. Now is simply not the time for such frivolous legislative pursuits.

Once our troops have returned from harm's way and our 401(k)s stop melting and our homes stop depreciating and our jobs stop disappearing and our health care stops gouging and our off-shore gulags have been shuttered and our addiction to oil has been addressed and our depletion of the planet's resources have been curbed, maybe then our lawmakers can address the BCS.

I'm all for pressure being applied by the power brokers, but we have more important things to address at this time. The BCS has a valid broadcast contract through 2014, so crushing it can wait until we get the country and economy back on its feet.

"I'm not sure this is what the public wants Congress to be spending their time on," Dick Gephardt, the former Democratic House Majority Leader from Missouri, told USA Today this week.

Lawmakers going after the BCS is nothing new. In 2003, members of the House Judiciary Committee criticized the system during a hearing with college football officials. Last year three congressmen, including Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., introduced a resolution rejecting the oft-criticized bowl system as an illegal restriction on trade benefitting mostly the largest universities. Last April, the House of Representatives formally condemned the BCS in a resolution as "an illegal restraint of trade that violates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act" and urged the Justice Department's Antitrust Division to investigate.

So it comes as no surprise that several Texas congressman -- whose one-loss Longhorns were among the most aggrieved parties in this year's postseason beauty pageant -- have reintroduced a bill that would force college football to adopt a playoff.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is pushing the College Football Playoff Act of 2008, which would "prohibit, as an unfair and deceptive act or practice, the promotion, marketing, and advertising of any post-season NCAA Division I football game as a national championship game unless such game is the culmination of a fair and equitable playoff system."

If ratified, the prohibition would take effect after Jan. 31, 2011.

That momentum has been picked up by Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., the new chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that so famously went after baseball's drug abusers in recent years. Towns told USA Today Wednesday that he will convene a hearing and invite those connected to college football in hopes of doing away with the BCS.

This is obviously a bipartisan issue that conservatives and liberals can agree on. The BCS satisfies no one.

President-elect Obama has said repeatedly that he believes college football needs to remedy its silly postseason.

"We need a playoff," he reiterated recently after Florida won the BCS title with a 24-14 victory over Oklahoma, citing the cases for Utah, Texas and Southern Cal.

It's a refrain he has repeated consistently when asked about it since winning the election.

"I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this," Obama said in response to a question on 60 Minutes . "So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."

But throwing your influence around in the media and behind closed doors is different from bringing the subject up for debate on the floors of Congress. There's no time for that kind of silliness when the country is in crisis.

There is no doubt that Congress can ultimately be a tremendous ally for those of us who wish the best for college football. The raw spotlight of Congressional hearings on steroid use in sports have effectively crushed Mark McGwire's Hall of Fame campaign, triggered potential perjury charges against Roger Clemens and forced baseball to start trying to clean up the mess it let build up for so long.

But instead of spending critical legislative time taking on the BCS, let the threats of intervention fester and see how BCS officials react. The tide is slowly turning. Many coaches and university presidents are fed up with the biased system. Georgia coach Mark Richt said last month that being forced to choose among comparable teams in the coaches poll has gradually turned him into a solid playoff proponent.

No doubt the BCS eventually will make an easy target for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. But the time to kill it isn't right now. Fix everything else first.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or



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