The once dormant and controversial Congressional topic has made its resurgence back onto the House floor and back into the media mainstream, thanks in part to the recent BCS selections.
On Wednesday, December 10, a House subcommittee approved legislation that would essentially coerce college football to switch to a playoff system. Whether or not this is the appropriate timing for such a piece of legislation to be discussed and sought into becoming law is something, in itself, the heart of the controversy.
The American economy is still reeling from the effects of a recession, the national debt is continuously increasing (there are even talks of increasing the federal debt ceiling up to $1.8 trillion before New Year’s), and the unemployment rate is still hovering around 10%. Obviously, there are far more pressing matters currently that need to be resolved in this country than reforming the BCS. But according to Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL), who is a co-sponsor of the bill, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.” Well, I hope so considering the vast amount of issues that are present that have yet to see resolutions, including also the healthcare debate and the Afghanistan war.
I am not saying the current BCS system is perfect or even adequate. Like most fans of college football, I think the current system is in serious need for reform, as the subjectivity and corruption has become too overwhelming. However, don’t get too excited or upset, depending on your point of view, as the process of transforming this bill into a law is not going to come without significant difficulty.
College football has become an enormous business, accumulating vast amounts of money ever year. The convincing of 120 Division I-A presidents and numerous conference commissioners that a playoff system is the best route to determine the national champion is something that may never happen on its own. As the smokescreen of greed continues to blind presidents, coaches, and officials alike, taking the initiative to clearing the smoke eventually was going to come to rest on the shoulders of Congress.
Considering Congress’ continuous attempt to increasingly mandate more of our society, this doesn’t seem all that surprising. Should Congress have the authority and the right to dictate how postseason affairs of college football be conducted? Well, consider this: Back in 2005, Congress decided to investigate the allegations of excessive use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball and of the player’s union’s opposition to administer serious testing for these drugs. There is, without a doubt, evidence that Congress did change the sport of professional baseball for the better. Now, college football is next in the lineup.
What people tend to forget, more often than not, is that representatives in Congress follow the requests and desires of their constituents in their various districts. Representatives such as Joe Barton of Texas, probably have pushed for this investigative probe into the BCS probably because the people he represents in his district have expressed their frustrations and concerns (part of the Joe Barton’s district encompasses the Ft. Worth area, where TCU is located) about it. The same can be probably said about Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
I will say this on the behalf of the BCS: ever since it’s inaugural debut during the 1998-1999 season, there has been a growing popularity in college football, as ever year, roughly around the beginning of December, there is no shortage of debate or controversy surrounding the schematics of the BCS. A Harris Interactive Poll, conducted in January of this year, shows that college football ranks third as the most popular sport in America, falling behind professional football and baseball.
Who is more deserving? Who played who? Why is this team going to a BCS bowl and this one isn’t? All are common and routine questions that are essentially asked every year, which spark ongoing intense and passionate debates.
Don’t expect to see any significant changes in the BCS in the next couple of years. This process will be a slow and arduous verbal fist-fight between university presidents and commissioners in one corner and Congress and the fans in the other. Would I like to see the BCS changed? Yes, because I believe it will be more beneficial to the sport and to all the schools that have to succumb to the system. For example, this year, I still don’t see the logic of only having two undefeated teams play for the national championship when there are a total of five teams that are undefeated. Should the presidents of these universities care? Of course not; heck they are still receiving a fat check for making it to a BCS bowl. But, hey, it’s the money that got us here in the first place.
Here is a link to the College Football Playoff Act of 2009 that was introduced in the House.