May 01, 2009

Congress Takes On the BCS: The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection held a hearing today to discuss the Bowl Championship Series and whether it's a fair system, both in terms of money awarded to schools and in selecting a national champion in college football. The testimony of the four witnesses can be read online. Subcommittee member Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is not a fan of the current system. "You should either change your name to BES for Bowl Exhibition System or just drop the C and call it the BS system, because it is not about determining the championship on the field," he told BCS coordinator John Swofford.

posted by rcade to football at 08:34 PM - 16 comments

I saw a clip...I think Joe Barton was the only member present. One would think he'd have something better to do than cry because he believes his schools got screwed!

posted by jjzucal at 10:39 PM on May 01, 2009

Because there is no other pressing business for congress to be attending to right now.......

posted by txsoccermom at 11:16 PM on May 01, 2009


I agree that this may not be the most pressing issue at the moment, but there are few things that are the cash cow that college football is. If we ever wanted congress to be proactive about economic matters, then sports isn't a bad place to start.

If the gov't doesn't intervene until something is a crisis, everyone blames them for their inactivity; if they are proactive, then some gripe about misplaced priorities. Maybe some people just want to gripe (don't know if this is you txsoccermom, just a more general observation here).

I'm well-aware that many of these politicians are seeking face time, but their motive is less important to me in this instance than the (hopeful) result that the system is fixed (or at least switched to a superior format). If mere gamesmanship and political gain is the means, then i think in this instance the ends justify them.

posted by brainofdtrain at 11:35 PM on May 01, 2009

Barton's alma mater is a BCS school, Texas A&M.

The testimony of Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson is worth a read. I knew the system was rigged to make the BCS schools richer and everybody else poorer, but I had no idea how far it went.

I don't know if Congress is the right place to correct it, but it's ridiculous that 51 schools start the college football season with no chance for a national championship and almost no chance to better themselves through a BCS bowl trip and a better season-ending payday. Even when a conference like the Mountain West has more ranked teams than a BCS conference, they get less bowl bids and are rewarded less.

posted by rcade at 11:52 PM on May 01, 2009


Agreed. It is not like TCU & Utah are flukes; they have each been very competitive nationally for several years, and BYU has a good tradition to draw on to solidify it's place as a perennial contender. Those three alone can compete with the top three of most any other conference, and i highly doubt that the teams at the bottom of the MW are that much more inept than say Iowa State.

To me it seems pretty straightforward; if we want genuine competition (both athletically and economically), everyone has to be provided equal opportunity to succeed. Not necessarily equal everything (you can't make kids like the topography of Utah more than Florida), but equal opportunity. There is no way the BCS provides that.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:39 AM on May 02, 2009

I guess my take is a little more skeptical of the involvement of Congress. By just reading the first article it seems clear that A: Swofford/Fox don't want politics involved. ("Those who don't like the current system will say that's the way of the world, but we don't believe that government should have any role in promoting a demise of the bowl games.")

And B: The proponents for seem only to want politicians involved if the BCS committee doesn't make some manner of change. ("I think there is better than a 50 percent chance that if we don't see some action in the next two months on a voluntary switch to a playoff system that you will see this bill move,")

To me it seems that Bleymaier and Thompson are in great shape here. Right now, they have Congress ready to attempt to pass a bill, which could provide change and restrict both Fox and Swofford's involvement in that change. Or Swofford and Fox could be a part of the change by restructuring the BCS, with more of a say in the result. If it were up to me, and thank god it isn't, I would rather have a say in the end result, than to leave it up to a third party.

posted by BoKnows at 02:32 AM on May 02, 2009

An idea: let's go back to polls only -- we had fewer complaints back then!

posted by jjzucal at 11:06 AM on May 02, 2009

Sure. Because Congress has absolutely nothing else that is pressing at this time. To hell with unemployment, extensive spending and firing CEOs. This is the BCS, dammit! *Far* more important than anything else!

posted by CountSpatula at 11:43 AM on May 02, 2009


If you were being screwed out of millions, you would appreciate congress' intervention. So would anyone. I think what i wrote earlier is germane to your concern:

If the gov't doesn't intervene until something is a crisis, everyone blames them for their inactivity; if they are proactive, then some gripe about misplaced priorities. Maybe some people just want to gripe (don't know if this is you txsoccermom, just a more general observation here).

So to flip the question around, when is the appropriate time for congress to act?

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:11 PM on May 02, 2009

Congress can do more than one thing at a time. Since college football plays a role in funding public universities, I don't see how it is out of bounds for Congress to hold a hearing on this.

posted by rcade at 01:39 PM on May 02, 2009

Yeah, i don't understand the vitriol at Congress for stuff like this. Maybe it is based out of nostalga for the good old days when it was just a game. This is big money involved. If sports, even college sports, has become a business then this of course the gov't should get involved.

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:42 PM on May 02, 2009

Brain: It's appropriate for Congress to act when it's a Constitutionally required time. Not in the case of people losing millions on collegiate football placements. If there's a problem, what *should* be happening is those who invest putting their money where their gripes are. This is so incredibly not a place that Congress should be putting their noses. College football and the bowl system are a business, not an academic requirement. As such, the government should keep their fingers out of the pot.

posted by CountSpatula at 06:45 PM on May 02, 2009

While I normally am against Congress sticking its nose into business where it does not belong (steroids and economic stimulus, for example), it does seem like there might be an antitrust problem with the BCS system.

posted by graymatters at 07:23 PM on May 02, 2009

College football and the bowl system are a business, not an academic requirement. As such, the government should keep their fingers out of the pot.

I'm guessing you don't follow the news very closely, the government is getting involved in all sorts of business deals lately. Compared to what they're doing in the banking/automotive/health care fields, the BCS is a slam dunk.

As to Congress only acting when it's a "Constitutionally required time", it would be nice if that's the only time they acted, but that's a pipe dream, not reality.

Lastly, keep in mind that Rep. Barton is a Republican, given the current circumstances, this is probably the best use of his time! Can't get anywhere fighting the Democrats on anything else.

posted by dviking at 09:22 PM on May 02, 2009


The problem though is that many who invest their $$$ can't do anything about it (see Utah, Boise State); the system is inherently rigged. That is when a gov't should get involved. College football is a business that is unfairly nudging out competition, which the cometition can't do anything about. To me this is the definition of when the gov't should be involved.

So again when is the appropriate time for congress to get involved? I am pretty sure the consitution is not for or against 21st century college bowl scheming, but we do have other laws that are likely being violated, to the detriment of other competitors losing out on millions of dollars. How can the gov't not get involved? Just because it is sports?

Also, how are gov't officials sticking their hands in the pot by doing this? And even if they were, could it really be any less than the BCS conferences who are getting extra dough hand over fist? At this point i have seen no evidence to lead me to think that this will get worse by politicans getting involved. Most people (this may or may not be you count) are using this excuse of the gov't wasting time to merely cover their anger at how the system that their BCS conference team unfairly benefits from could be taken from them.

posted by brainofdtrain at 09:43 PM on May 02, 2009

It always seems sad to me that our highly esteemed and responsible congress has to (or feels it has to) deal with something as mundane as sports. However, unfortunately, there are steroids and the BCS. No genius is required to know that the present system is about a D-. Preseason rankings have always been unfair, this system or another. As of now there are too, too, too many bowl teams. A .500 team going to a bowl for the almighty buck is crap. Excluding "Weak Conferences"from bowls is crap. Remember when the WAC was ignored even though BYU and AF were kicking butt. Now it's taken almost forever to recognize Boise St. and Fresno St. I, for one, love sitting in front of my TV on New Years Day and watching football all day long. Would I give this up for a true NCAA playoff? You betcha! I know it would break from tradition but if the "bowls" would participate in a playoff system through December I think they would soon make their almighty buck. I hope I'm not boring you but I was really peeved a few years ago. USC was #1 and obviously in the title game. OK was # 2 and got beat by Texas in the Big 12 playoff. OK went to the championship game anyway and got creamed. By the BCS own rules that year #5 BYU should have played USC but they did not recognize them because they came from a minor conference. SO! your rules. Even so, due to various committments of other teams, USC's next opponent, by their own rules, should have been #11 PSU. I don't care if BYU &/or PSU would have got beat by 100. That was not the point. I'll shut up now.

posted by wconst4444globalnet at 01:41 AM on May 03, 2009

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.