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BCS stands up to Congress

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I have always been a proponent of a playoff system in major college football. It is the best way to determine a national champion, with the least amount of controversy. Of course, the powers that be don't want that to happen for financial reasons, making the scenario a moot point for the foreseeable future.

The side of this I find most interesting however, is the length to which the U.S. government is getting involved in the BCS and the current system.

Forgive me, but aren't we as a nation dealing with war on two fronts (Afghanistan and Iraq), a struggling economy, health care reform and a major environmental mess off the Gulf Coast?

There is too much other work to be done on Capitol Hill, to be bothered with a way to determine who is dubbed champion in the FBS.

Of course, that is the exact sentiment that the BCS big-wigs are counting on from the public.

BCS Executive Director
Bill Hancock.
Senators Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are the ring leaders on this issue, questioning the Bowl Championship Series, how it is run, and how the television money is doled out. Specifically, how much of the pie goes to non-BCS conferences.

In early March, the senators drafted a letter to BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock, with their specific concerns regarding the BCS system.

Hancock responded recently with his own, five-page letter.

"While I appreciate your interest, I believe that decisions about college football should be made by university presidents, athletics directors, coaches and conference commissioners rather than by members of Congress."

While the letter goes on to gloss over revenue distribution, automatic qualification, the BCS structure, the organization and administration of the BCS and the computer rankings, Hancock failed to directly answer any of the questions posed by Hatch and Baucus and the lengthy response represented little more than rhetoric. It's clear that Hancock doesn't believe he owes anyone an explanation of how the BCS is run, much less Congress.

Less than satisfied with the response, Senator Hatch wasted no time to fire back at Hancock recently.

"Today, the BCS simply confirmed what most fans of college football have known for some time - that the BCS system is biased, secretive and harmful to schools and competitors. Our letter gave them an opportunity to reply with openness and transparency about how the BCS system actually works. In response, we got an arrogant rebuke and a series of incomplete and evasive answers to simple questions."

Hatch continued to express his dismay with the BCS.

"I agree that university presidents and conference commissioners should be able to make the proper decisions regarding college football. The problem is that the small number of privileged schools that participate in the closed system have been unwilling to provide students, athletes and fans with what they deserve - a fair, unbiased system like the kind they have in literally every other NCAA sport. No one wants to see Congress get involved here, including me. But if this response is any indication, there may not be any other option."

While I can appreciate Hancock's position and the fact that he clearly believes Congress has no right to interfere with the BCS and how it is run, is he waking up a sleeping giant?

It is obviously no coincidence that Hatch is a senator from Utah, and his interest in this appeases his voter base, considering the University of Utah is a central figure with the success the non-BCS school has enjoyed in the recent past.

Hancock has given Congress what it asked for, but did so in a manner that could bring more Congressional hearings down the line.

Thumbing your nose at the establishment rarely works out, and only time will tell if Hancock and the BCS will come out of this stronger for it.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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