Friday, January 14, 2011

Recent reading: Death to the BCS

I don't think there's a football fan in America who won't be persuaded by this important book by Dan Wetzel and Josh Peter. Not only does it document the inherent greed and unfairness of the Bowl Championship Series, it outlines a 16-team playoff system that would help everyone involved. However, the authors realize they are dealing with a power structure -- they rightly call it a Cartel -- that may require the  help of the government to budge. But surely it will help to document the BCS corruption and greed.

 “We basically have a system for college football that too closely resembles the old Soviet Presidium,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “You have a . . . politburo that’s decided if you aren’t one of those party members, then you’re unable to participate.”
While the big six conferences hogged 82.3 percent of the $155.2 million paid out by BCS games last year, the Mountain West Conference, Western Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA, and Sun Belt Conference scraped along with the leftovers. The Cartel and the BCS exist to consolidate control among the power conferences and position themselves to never let go. Suggesting a playoff to the Cartel is futile because it doesn’t care how big the postseason revenue pie gets or even if its slice would grow. It simply wants to ensure that no one else holds the knife.
 In 2005, the Associated Press, which runs the oldest and most respected college football poll, told the BCS it didn’t want its rankings involved in the process anymore. The AP’s reasoning was sound: Staging an athletic competition based on a vote is ridiculous. The AP poll was created as a promotional tool designed to foster arguments. It was harmless fun. The BCS was not.
 “We have playoffs in every sport in the world except college football,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “How can we be right and everybody else wrong?”
Getting college football’s leaders to wake up, step up, and bring the game up is, of course, the difficult part. Entrenched egos are never easy to sway. Fear of change is oxygen to the status quo. Perhaps only the federal government, through the powerful Justice Department’s pursuit of antitrust charges, can lessen the Cartel’s grip.
In a time of budget cuts and soaring tuition, Nebraska—and every college and university in the country, for that matter—could use the millions of dollars a playoff would send its way. And better yet, it would pour millions back into the city of Lincoln. If regular-season games are a boon, imagine the playoffs,

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