Editorial by John Ziegler

Why Congress Should Fix The BCS

12/10/2009

To the disbelief of many observers, a House subcommittee has just approved legislation which would effectively force college football to switch to a playoff system to determine its national champion. As you might expect, the bill got through over the objections of some lawmakers who said Congress has more important things to do than worry about how a football-shaped crystal trophy is handed out.
 
As a libertarian who despises most government intervention and who believes that the foundations of our nation are quickly coming apart at the seams, you might think that I would be appalled at such a silly development. In a way, you would be right, but not because Congress is getting involved. Rather, it’s their solution to the problem which is all wrong.  
 
You see I have become so cynical about government that I literally expect to get absolutely nothing in exchange for paying my taxes. I figure if we don’t get attacked and the roads are fairly safe, that’s about the best I can hope for in return. So if the Congress can make my life a little more enjoyable by fixing one of the dumbest dilemmas in all of sports, I am more than willing to listen.
 
The BCS conundrum is one of the most frustrating issues because the solution is so incredibly obvious and yet, no matter how close the powers that be get to accidentally finding it, they somehow still manage to only make things worse.
 
This year, for the first time ever, there are going to essentially be two Rose Bowls. One will be called the Rose Bowl and the other, played in the same Rose Bowl stadium later the same week, will be called the National Championship game. For an agnostic like me, this is about as sacrilegious as it gets (especially now that Tiger Woods has fallen from grace).
 
Without getting into the complexities of why this insane situation was allowed to transpire (hint: the root cause is money), let me provide the incredibly simple solution that, in the end, would satisfy Congress and make everyone involved a boat load of cash.
 
Currently, at the end of the regular season a computer system chooses the two best teams (the computer is actually pretty good at that) and they play for the National Championship in the same stadium (on a rotating basis) as one of the four “BCS” bowls which share revenue and therefore have by far the biggest payouts. This year the system is particularly controversial because there are five teams who are unbeaten and so three of them will play in meaningless bowls with no chance to win the title.
 
Many people wrongly think that an eight or even sixteen team playoff would be a far better way to choose a champion, but what no one seems to understand is how logistically impossible four straight weeks of previously unplanned travel would be during exams and the holidays on college programs which routinely bring 30,000 people to bowl games.
 
Instead, Congress should force college football (since it appears they aren’t capable of doing it themselves) to go to the so called “Plus One” system which would use the current five BCS bowls as a defacto semi-final (only better). Under this plan here is how things would shake out this year with all the bowl games being played with staggered starting times, on New Year’s Day, as God clearly intended.
 
Rose Bowl: Ohio State (Big Ten) vs. Oregon (Pac-10)
Sugar Bowl: Alabama (SEC) vs. TCU (At-Large)
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati (Big East) vs. Boise State (At-Large)
Fiesta Bowl: Iowa (At Large) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC)
Cotton Bowl (replacing the title game): Texas (Big 12) vs. Florida (At Large)
 
Then, on January 2nd, the computer does its magic picking the two best teams and THEN you play the National Championship two or three weeks later on Martin Luther King Day (a Monday night that would not conflict with the NFL playoffs).
 
How great would THAT be???!! Three of the five bowl games would have huge implications for who would get to play in the title game and two of them would be battles of unbeatens. In total, this design would create four meaningful January games, preserve the bowl system, and give us an even more credible championship game.
 
Now, if in this year’s fantasy scenario Texas were to beat Florida it would of course mean that we would still end up with three unbeaten teams, all with a claim on the title game. Yes, that would suck (though the conversation would be fun), but that would be two fewer unbeatens than we currently have being snubbed by the present BCS madness.
 
The most mystifying part of why this “Plus One” system has not already been adopted is that is that it would make EVERYONE a ton of money. The television ratings would be exponentially greater for the games that might matter (not to mention some of the conference title games would take on greater meaning as well) and a full game would be added, for “free,” to the entire BCS package. And yes, in the end, more tax revenue would be created and so that is yet another reason why I am perfectly happy for Congress to “waste” its time trying to fix the BCS.
 
After all, even Congress can’t screw it up any worse than it already is and every minute they spend on this is a moment they lose trying to do real harm.

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