NCAA Football

College Football Analysis: DOJ Investigation of BCS Coming Next?

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According to the Associated Press, the Department of Justice will talk with the BCS regarding concerns it expressed to the NCAA pertaining to college football’s postseason system. Among the questions asked in the DOJ’s letter to the NCAA, “Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have NCAA-run playoffs or championships?” NCAA President Mark Emmert deflected the DOJ’s questions to the BCS.

BCS director Bill Hancock, as he often does when confronted with opposition to the system he’s paid to defend, expressed optimism about the meeting and considered it an “opportunity to make it clear that the BCS was crafted very carefully with antitrust laws in mind.” Nauseating corporate-speak aside, this oughta be good.

Hancock said that the DOJ “made it clear this was simply a request for information,” and that “our cooperation was voluntary.” In other words, ‘Nothing to see here, folks.’ 

Hancock can spin this any which way he wants, but it cannot be a good sign for the BCS. I think it’s clear that the DOJ is taking this matter much more seriously than the BCS would like, evidenced by the letter to the NCAA and now the meeting with the BCS to collect information about how the system works. What’s more, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff has said that he plans on filing a lawsuit against the BCS, calling it a monopoly in violation of antitrust laws.

Yell and scream about the government having more important things to do and having no business poking its head into the world of college football—and that’s a sentiment I once held—but the inequality wrought on the game by the BCS is more than deserving of the DOJ’s attention. Even when non-AQ schools manage to jump through the hoops and play in a BCS bowl game, the conference is not compensated the same as the AQ conferences.

It’s built into the BCS system that teams from non-AQ schools have a much more difficult road to a BCS bowl game, let alone a national title, and the ancillary benefits—direct and indirect—associated with it than teams belonging to the privileged conferences. If you’re a part of the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10, Big Ten or SEC, win your conference and you’re in. If you’re a part of the Sun Belt, WAC, MAC, Conference USA or Mountain West, win your conference and, well, you’re in if we say you’re in. What the hell?

If the postseason does not afford every single team the same opportunity to play in a major bowl game and win a national championship, then there is no discussion as to whether the system is fair. It’s not.

Personally, I hope we look back on the BCS ten years from now wondering how we ever accepted an outlandish, overtly corrupt system that spoiled top brass and plagued the championship aspirations of any team not among college football’s haves.