Dick Harmon: 5 unsung Utahns played a critical role in the death of the BCS
Sanderson’s group sent 13 legal complaints to the IRS and gathered embarrassing information of questionable bowl practices through 213 public records requests. Playoff PAC brought to light questions about interest-free loans, high salaries, lobbying payments, and perks that included golf outings, trips to strip clubs and even a $33,000 price tag for a birthday party for the executive director of the Fiesta Bowl.
Sanderson and Wetzel helped the public understand that these major bowls were hammering universities with contracts to guarantee ticket sales — used or unused — and pocketing huge profits from public institutions, a river of money.
Today, the BCS era is done.
Many questions remain. Will a four-game playoff give us the best four teams? Will the selection committee care more about competition than regional and conference politics? Will we now disperse with labeling teams BCS and non-BCS when there is no BCS?
“I’d glad it is now a four-game playoff, and in time, I think it will expand,” said Sanderson. “It’s a matter of economics and common sense.”
Another result of Sanderson’s work is that the NCAA is now controlling the oversight of bowl budgets, something that was formerly done by athletic directors and conference commissioners who received expensive perks to “watch” expenditures.
As a result of Playoff PAC, the Fiesta Bowl suffered a $5 million loss in the wake of one of its legal complaints, according to court documents.
Personally, I think the new system will give more opportunities to the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten to get into that playoff. The SEC will always be the nation’s toughest conference. It is also the most penalized by the NCAA for infractions, including providing prohibited benefits to lure recruits.
“The ornery BCS expired loudly, perfectly, kicking and screaming into the chilly darkness,” wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke. “The loony BCS took its last breath Monday by taking away the breath of a Rose Bowl filled with chants, chops, dancing and grief.”
After 13-1 Michigan State won the Rose Bowl, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press wrote: “The Big Ten isn’t exactly mourning the death of the BCS. If anything, it’s providing Michigan State champagne to spray over the grave.”
And thanks goes to Sanderson, a guy who speaks Mandarin Chinese but made it very clear to the world about the BCS in simple English.
Well done, Mr. Sanderson and the team of other Playoff PAC native Utahns: They stood up when few others would.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.
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