Just what we need: DOJ to look into BCS oversight

Posted on February 1, 2010

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That’s BCS as in college football Bowl Championship Series, and Obama’s Department of Justice sent a letter to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch stating its interest in pursuing the legality of the series that determines a national champion in Division I football. Hatch, a Republican, has made a stink after the Utah Utes, after posting an undefeated record, was left out of the 2009 BCS Championship Game.

The letter, written by Asst. Attorney General Ronald Weich, says, “The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football … raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties.” Candidate Obama had said in 2008 he would “throw his weight around” to get a playoff system for college football, a structure that he prefers.

Let me be clear: the system that determines a college football champion is full of holes and chock-full of problems, and I’d have no problem if there was some serious tinkering with the BCS system – provided that tinkering came from the NCAA and not the federal government. The Justice Department and the Obama administration (as well as Sen. Hatch) ought to have better things to do than kvetch about sports playoffs and start an investigation on anti-trust grounds.

At this point, the Justice Department is only looking into acting on the BCS. I can’t imagine they would begin a massive inquiry into the BCS practices at a time of high unemployment, massive deficits and threats from abroad. Yet Congress has had no compunction in the past into nosing into the sports world with hearing on baseball and Sen. Arlen Specter raising a stink about the Patriots’ Spygate scandal.

Hopefully this all will turn out to be a bunch of hot air with no action behind it. College football, the BCS, and the NCAA need to get their own acts together to please college football fans, and the federal government should have precisely zero input into the matter. We’re talking about a flawed system, not massive corruption and swindling of the public, no matter how passionate college fans may describe it.

If DOJ goes through with this, it will be a huge mistake and a gigantic PR nightmare that will provide a perfect example of runaway government intrusion. That’s why I don’t think anything concrete will come of this – they couldn’t possibly be that stupid – but it was asinine to announce they would look into it in the first place. And I suppose you never know how trigger-happy some in the Justice Department might be – I would think that cooler heads would override them in this case. But I also thought they wouldn’t try to have a civilian trial for KSM in New York City, so go figure.

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Posted in: News, Politics, Sports