NCAA Football

College Football Analysis: Breaking Down Utah AG’s Lawsuit vs. BCS

| by Alex Groberman

Most of us don’t much like the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), that goes without saying. Most of us, however, are more than content to sit back and stew in the misery that it causes for college football fans, teams and schools because, for all intents and purposes, we don’t care that much. It makes for a good talking point and fun argument, but at the end of the day, college football is college football. 

In fact, one could even make the case for it being more fun to simply argue about the value of the BCS and all the great reasons to get rid of it, than to actually, you know, get rid of it. But that’s neither here nor there.

Mark Shurtleff, Utah’s attorney general, is taking a stand against the so-called unfairness of the BCS. Speaking with USA Today, Shurtleff told the paper that he intends to file suit against the BCS for what he perceives to be antitrust rule violations. Describing the system an “illegal monopoly,” he seems to believe that given the right motivation, other states will stand up with him and the rest of Utah, link arms, and go to war against the dark powers that be behind the BCS.

Shurtleff and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, by the way, have been two very outspoken leaders in the anti-BCS crusade ever since Utah was left out of the National Championship game after their 2008 undefeated campaign. Hatch, in fact, has even participated in congressional hearings where the BCS’s potential antitrust violations have been the subject of discussions.

Apparently, Shurtleff intends to pursue the actions in federal court in a few months, after he trumps up the support he seems sure that he will be able to get from the other states.

In that same USA Today report, he was quoted as saying:

"This isn't about bragging rights. It isn't some kind of frivolous deal. There are serious antitrust violations that are harming taxpayer-funded institutions to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And the right thing to do, regardless of whether teams in your state benefit, is to go after the antitrust violations ... all the way from the Sherman Act through price fixing."

The BCS, because of the way that it is organized, inevitably leaves at least 40 states fuming at the end of every college football season. Between only six conferences getting automatic bids every year, and the fact that teams not part of those conferences don’t get a shot at the National Championship game despite undefeated seasons, the system has earned itself a lot of criticism over the years. Rightfully so, mind you.

Plus, there is the financial disparity involved between the conferences that get the automatic bids and the conferences that don’t. Last year, the latter bunch got $24.7 million for their troubles while the former group pulled in a whopping $145 million.

All in all, there is no denying that the current system is a mess. There is absolutely no justification, really, for schools going undefeated only to eventually be denied a shot at the sport’s biggest prize. And that's to say nothing of the recent corruption scandals related to Bowl games, along with the increasing quality of play at the non-big conference schools -- both of which have dramatically changed the college football landscape.

With that in mind, though, the BCS, for a lot of younger fans at least, has become something of a mainstay. The seasonal debate regarding the validity of the current system and the arguments about which teams deserve to play in the National Championship game have become almost as much of a part of the whole process as determining who the last teams to get into the March Madness tournament is for the hoops fans.

Weigh in on the issue below. Do you think the BCS is really that bad? Or do you prefer to revel in the fan misery and controversy it causes on a yearly basis so much that you actually want to keep it around?