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Commentary: BCS system is all about preserving monopoly of power conferences

By Bryan Burwell

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Published: Thursday, Dec. 10 2009 8:15 a.m. MST

ST. LOUIS — The nervous defenders of the Bowl Championship Series' bogus "national championship" think they have gotten it right this time. No muss, no fuss, no uncomfortably awkward idiocy like last year when the wrong team (Oklahoma) ended up in the title game.

Alabama vs. Texas.

The perfect game.

They are, of course, so completely delusional.

The BCS apologists are smiling because according to their elaborate computer programs and high-priced spin doctors, the Alabama-Texas "championship" game is the matchup "we" all wanted. Bill Hancock, the newly appointed executive director of the BCS, said the "charge of the BCS is to match (Nos.) 1 and 2 in the bowl system. . . . Based on the season's play, we're confident we've matched 1 and 2."

It wasn't just Hancock who was spinning this nonsense. There were any number of BCS conference commissioners out there Sunday and Monday spouting the same company line, which of course was complete and utter nonsense. I don't believe for one moment that anyone in the BCS should be patting himself on the back when all they have really done once again is provide us with a superficial solution to the annual problem of determining the best team in the land.

While I'm fairly confident that No. 1-ranked Alabama is the best team in the country, why not let a playoff format decide it, not a convoluted computer program? And while we're on the subject, who's to say Texas really is the second-best team in the country? That ugly struggle against a 9-4 Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game didn't inspire much confidence now, did it?

Why shouldn't 12-0 TCU, the third-ranked team in both polls, get a chance to prove its worth in the title picture, or 13-0 Boise State? I don't want to hear anyone say that they know for sure that Texas is the second-best team in the country. Why? Because the Longhorns didn't beat a single team that finished in the Top 20 until the Big 12 championship game.

So what makes them any better or more deserving than a Boise team that took out Pac-10 champ Oregon, the No. 7 team in the land? When you beat the champion of a conference that is widely regarded this year as the second-best football conference in the country, shouldn't that account for something more substantial than a consolation prize in the Fiesta Bowl?

Or why not TCU at No.2, which only went on the road and beat two ACC schools (Virginia and Clemson), which is a lot more impressive than anything Texas did?

Better yet, why not unbeaten Big East champion Cincinnati, whose resume strongest of all, going on the road to beat No. 20 Oregon State and No. 16 Pitt and knocking off No. 17 West Virginia at home?

So tell me again, why are we so sure that the BCS got it right this time? The BCS never gets it right, because it continues to try to settle the national championship of college football's highest level without the benefit of a legitimate playoff system.

So until Congress can break up this power-conference cartel, I will not accept it as the national title game and neither should anyone else.

The BCS is and always will be about the business of preserving a monopoly of the power football conferences, which have little if any interest in sharing the wealth with everyone else. A true playoff system would certainly provide an opportunity for an enormous payoff for everyone, just like the NCAA basketball playoffs. But that would mean sharing all that cash on a more equitable basis with the entire upper tier of Division I football schools.

Here's what you need to know about what is really at stake and why the BCS ought to be broken up by our federal government. Just take a quick glance at the annual payouts of the 34 existing bowl games. The five BCS bowl games pay out $17 million a game ($85 million total), while the 29 other bowl games divide a total payout of less than half that ($41.8 million).

I'll let the BCS' own calculations damn the entire process. According to the BCS website (bcsfootball.org), here's how the BCS financial pie will be cut up this year:

The six BCS conferences (automatic qualifiers) will each get $17.8 million, while any BCS conference that has a second team in the BCS bowls will receive an additional $4.5 million. Of the expected $133.9 million in total revenue that should be generated by the BCS games, $115.8 million will go to the automatic qualifier conferences.

A total of $19.8 million will be split among the five non-BCS conferences, with any league that has a team in the BCS bowl games getting an 18-percent share and the other conferences getting 9 percent.

The rest of the money is divided in smaller portions to Notre Dame ($4.5 million), Army and Navy ($100,000 each) and the football championship subdivision conferences ($1.8 million total).

Even with two non-BCS schools crashing the party this year, that will have no effect on how the money is disbursed. But since the Big Ten and SEC have two schools in BCS bowl games, those conferences gain an added $9 million total.

So please, don't tell me they got the game right, unless of course you're talking about the real "game," which is this real-life game of Monopoly.

In that case, the BCS gets it right every time.

(c) 2009, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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