Matt Sanderson: Even with Utah Utes in the Pac-10, the BCS still needs to go
Since the University of Utah accepted its invite to the Pac-10, U. fans, including myself, have been asking: "Does this mean I have to start liking the BCS?"
I don't know if Utah president Michael Young, a consistent and vocal opponent of college football's anti-competitive postseason, would have accepted the Pac-10's invite if that was a condition of admittance.
Indeed, Utah fans have ample reason to continue fighting the BCS. I'm not talking about altruism. I won't make any appeals to your better angels by suggesting that Utah fans charitably rescue our former Mountain West Conference brethren by helping to overthrow the status quo.
However, Utah fans should realize that the BCS remains a raw deal for the university, even after the Utes' inclusion in a "privileged" conference.
For example, the Utes still won't control their own path to the BCS national championship game after joining the Pac-10. BCS title-game berths are inexplicably determined by pundits rather than on-the-field competition. And history suggests that BCS pundits discount schools in the Utes' new conference in favor of Big Ten, Big XII and SEC teams.
In 12 years of existence, the BCS has allowed only 12 teams an opportunity to play for its championship. Only one of those teams — USC — is in the newly expanded Pac-10. But notably, and contrary to common belief, the Men of Troy haven't had unobstructed access to the BCS championship game.
Three of the past seven seasons, USC sported a record equal to or better than the SEC and Big XII teams that ultimately competed for the national title. Without explanation, the Trojans were shut out. Throw in other BCS debacles that arbitrarily excluded the Pac-10's Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks, and you start to see a pattern. Until the BCS is disbanded and matters are settled on the field, Utah will never be free of pundits' subjective prejudice.
Another BCS flaw is its revenue scheme. Although Utah will now receive an automatic share of BCS revenue, the system still costs the university money. Why? For one, the secretive BCS holds an enormous pot of school-bound money without fully disclosing how much it earns or how much it spends. The BCS appears to be diverting undisclosed sums to pay for unnecessary lobbyists and high-priced consultants like Ari Fleischer, former Bush White House Press Secretary.
More importantly, though, a playoff would bring in significantly more money. Lead BCS booster Jim Delany even admits a playoff would dwarf existing revenues. And national sportswriter Dan Wetzel's recent detailed estimate concluded that the "BCS is costing college athletics over half a billion in annual profit."
The University of Utah's budget holes could be partially filled with postseason revenue, were it not for the BCS's obstructionism.
Utah's collective struggle against the BCS was never solely about automatic qualification for a BCS bowl. The BCS's fundamental flaws are legion, and they remain.
Utah fans won't be alone in fighting the BCS. Many in the "privileged" conferences recognize the system's harms, including Georgia president Michael Adams, Florida president Bernie Machen, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Texas coach Mack Brown and legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno. And fortunately, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff have indicated that they'll continue their principled opposition to the status quo.
If we stay within their ranks and ratchet-up the pressure on the BCS, we can finally put an end to this ridiculousness once and for all.
Matt Sanderson is a native Utahn and a co-founder of PlayoffPAC.com.
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