Meet U.S. Representative Joe Barton; global warming skeptic, enthusiastic Civilization IV player, ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee — BCS hater.
Barton is introducing legislation today on Capitol Hill that would get rid of the BCS and force college football to adopt a playoff to determine the national champion.
Oh, did I mention that he's from Texas?
He's from Waco, to be exact, and if I'm not mistaken that's University of Texas country (well, OK; Baylor. But the Bears aren't going to play for the national title anytime soon, and UT is just up the freeway). So it's just a coincidence that he's crusading against the system that totally hosed the Longhorns this season. Yep.
"In some years the sport's national championship winner was left unsettled, and at least one school was left out of the many millions of dollars in revenue that accompany the title,'' Barton said in a statement released ahead of the bill's introduction. "Despite repeated efforts to improve the system, the controversy rages on.''
He said the bill — being co-sponsored by Reps. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, and Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican — "will prohibit the marketing, promotion, and advertising of a postseason game as a 'national championship' football game, unless it is the result of a playoff system. Violations of the prohibition will be treated as violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act as an unfair or deceptive act or practice.''
Categorizing the BCS as a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act is total genius or complete madness, or possibly both. Either way, I like it.
And so the BCS as we know it is doomed, of course. It's caught in a perfect storm, with rabid Texas Republicans on one side, popular President-elects on the other, and the thorniest nemesis of them all, ESPN, waiting in the wings. The Worldwide Leader signed a four-year commitment to broadcast four BCS games beginning in 2011. So if you think the current system will still be alive then, keep dreaming.
One might say that the country has other, bigger problems that would tuck the BCS onto the back shelf. But it's precisely because of the big problems that the BCS is easy prey; this is something that the public wants, and it's easy to fix. And that's the kind of low-hanging fruit politicians crave.
Update: Yes, the momentum is building.