SALT LAKE CITY — Despite the threat of the feds and a full-blown scandal, the BCS is still in business and showing no signs of weakening.
It has been an eventful month for the good old boys at the BCS. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice sent a letter to the NCAA asking why there isn't a playoff system — and welcome to an old conversation, feds! — the first indication that the DOJ might investigate college football.
The NCAA yawned.
The BCS also announced that, despite the Fiesta Bowl's illegal political donations and lavish spending on parties, golf outings and strip clubs, it will not kick that bowl game out of its football country club, a gesture that means — roughly translated — "Up yours."
The Fiesta Bowl has been acting like Bob Barker or the IOC (take your pick), but the BCS isn't about to punish one of its own, unless you call a $1 million fine real punishment for an organization that lists net assets of $15 million.
Bottom line: The BCS is showing no signs of going away or creating a playoff. If all of the above couldn't force change, nothing will.
What to do?
Well, the answer is so simple you wonder why no one thought of it: It's time to form a rival championship series for college football's peasant class.
There are six conferences whose winners are granted automatic qualifiers into the BCS bowls — Big 10, Pac-12, SEC, Big East, ACC, Big 12. There are five conferences that aren't granted automatic qualifers — they're called non-AQs (non-automatic qualifiers) — the WAC, Mountain West Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt.
To qualify for a BCS bowl, a non-AQ team has to go unbeaten and untied, climb into the top 12 in the top-secret computer polls, hope the moon is lined up just right and MAYBE they'll get an invitation. This has happened only rarely. The BCS doesn't even try to disguise its elitism. This is in their rules: No more than one team from (a non-AQ conference) shall earn an automatic berth in any year.
Clearly, the BCS has created an elitist system that favors the members of six conferences, giving them the coveted bowl berths and millions of dollars, which in turn enables them to maintain elite programs and continue to dominate the game. Translation: The rich get richer.
They've created a monopoly of the game and no one has been able to stop them.
But here's the solution for the non-AQ conferences: Form their own "BCS" bowls, with a playoff.
Think about it: The peasantry of college football — the non-AQ schools that comprise 52 of Division 1's 120 schools (counting four independents) — could form their own championship playoff. Let's call it the NAQ-BCS — Non-Automatic Qualifier Bowl Championship Series.
Before you scoff, remember the American Basketball Association and the American Football League. They created a divided championship and their own audience and eventually became such a force that they had to be absorbed by the National Basketball Association and National Football League, respectively.
Why not do the same thing in college football? The creation of a rival championship series would divide the national championship the way rival polls once did. Think of the problems it would create for the BCS. Sure, the BCS could argue that they are the real owners of the championship, but there would still be doubts out there and a matter of unfinished business. That argument didn't last long for the NBA and ABA.
Only the winners of the non-AQ conferences will receive automatic qualifiers to the Non-AQ Bowl Championship Series, and the championship will be determined — and this is a novel concept — on the field as much as possible. Instead of the month-long gap between the end of the regular season and the bowl season, play will begin immediately. Each Non-AQ Conference will have an automatic berth in the Non-Automatic Qualifier BCS championship series, if you follow, plus a few at-large bids. OK, you have a lot of questions; we can work out the details later.
Just to be fair, the AQ schools will be allowed to compete in Non-AQ Bowls, as non-non automatic qualifiers, provided they meet certain criterion: Rank among the top 12 in the national polls — which will utilize secret formulas known only to the computer geeks who create them — rank in the top 16 and higher than at least one non-AQ school, and go undefeated and untied.
Oh, and one other thing: No more than one team from any AQ conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year.