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Brad Kurtzberg

Brad Kurtzberg

Posted: December 16, 2009 11:24 AM

Congress Can Help College Football

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Some members of Congress are now threatening to force a playoff system on NCAA Football to replace the existing BCS format.

Let's face facts: a playoff is logical, necessary and would provide for plenty of exciting football. Major college football remains the only sport I know of that doesn't legitimately settle matters on the field of play with a playoff. If there's a high school sport out there that nobody has ever even heard of, rest assured there's a playoff to determine a league, county or state champion. But college football avoids a legitimate playoff. The sport allows a relatively anonymous group of "experts" to determine which two teams have a chance at the mythical national championship. In reality, there should be no "C" in "BCS".

No other sport would tolerate such a system. Imagine if after each NFL team played 16 games, a group of team owners and/or writers got together and picked one NFC team and one AFC team to play in the Super Bowl. What if the Saints and Vikings both finished with 14-2 records and didn't play each other during the regular season, but the pollsters decided New Orleans was a better team because they played in a tougher division. Sorry, Vikings fans, you have no chance of winning a championship.

In baseball, what if the Yankees and Angels had the same record after playing 162 games, won their respective divisions and split their season series? According to the BCS, pollsters are the best way to determine who plays the National League champion in the World Series. Let's face facts: having "experts" decide which team goes to the World Series is even less logical than having the winner of the All Star Game determine home field advantage in the Fall Classic.

People rightly argue that Congress has plenty of bigger issues to deal with than how the NCAA determines who the best college football team in the country is. We have ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, double digit unemployment, a health care crisis, the budget deficit and the ongoing battle against radical Islamic terrorists.

But the opponents overlook one important thing. Sometimes the threat of government intervention is the only way to get the parties to move on an issue and reach a workable solution. The biggest motivator is actually fear. Sports owners and players are afraid that the government will impose a solution on them that is unfavorable to their side in a negotiation or even one that they feel they cannot live with.

Some recent examples include baseball's owners and players finally agreeing on a stricter policy on performance enhancing drugs and the NFL taking more action on the long term problems associated with concussions and other brain injuries. Before Congress threatened to get involved, the baseball owners and players couldn't agree on what color a blue bird is. But when the government threatened to re-examine baseball's anti-trust exemption and impose a solution on the parties, they quickly joined hands and sang Kumbaya.

While the new policy on PEDs is not perfect, it was a major improvement over the original policy which provided only a minor slap on the wrist for cheating players. The changes were also implemented in between normal collective bargaining sessions so the agreement got done years before it would have without the threat of government action.

College football has several arguments against a playoff system but all of them are flawed and full of empty excuses. It's time for the champion of college football to be determined on the football field by a legitimate playoff system. If it takes the threat of Congressional intervention to make that a reality, so be it. The big winner in the long run will be college football fans. Imagine if the champion of college football was no longer mythical. Maybe, with a little "encouragement" from Congress, we can restore the "C" to "BCS".

 

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