Fear not friends - the time for discussing the BCS controversies is over! No longer do we need to wrack our brains with questions of "bowls or playoffs?" or "bowls +1?" The answers, as all great answers (and world leaders) do, come from the great state of Texas.
Back in December, Texas Rep. Joe Barton(R) set out on a most holy quest to right the one of the great wrongs in this world - namely,
that Texas got snubbed in the BCS that Rep. Barton's alma mater, Texas A&M, gets no BCS love that the little guy gets stomped on by the big guy in the crazy world of college football. Why should a few big bad conferences get all the money and attention? What about the little guy? What about the scrappy little MAC's of the world? The Sun Belt's, the CUSA's? Who will speak for them? Who will be the Lorax of college football? This... this isn't really about sport at all... it's a struggle for equality.
Well, yesterday, only six short months after this legislation was introduced, Congress finally got around to discussing it. By 'discussing', of course, we mean 'doing what congressional committees do best - rounding up people we're mad at and verbally brutalizing them til we go hoarse'. That tongue-lashing was delivered by the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - or CTCPSHECC, as it's known on the street. (It takes 22 minutes to flash their gang signs.)
Right off the bat - all business. Looking across the dais, the three members of the 30-member committee who had bothered to show up were raring to go. That's right, ten percent of subcommittee members actually made an appearance. Just look at all those occupied seats!
Clearly, this was a big deal. The opening remarks certainly set the tone. Briefly given by Rep. Bobby Rush(subcommittee chairman and the only member present not from Texas), the remarks thanked everyone for coming to "this rare... Friday... a.m. ... subcommittee hearing", certainly giving the impression that there was nowhere else Rep. Rush would rather be.
Ah, but now it was time for the drama of sports-related congressional hearings! Who got subpoenaed? Who were the big names forced to testify against their will? Actually... no one. The CTCP subcommittee doesn't subpoena people. Sadly, everyone who was there was testifying of their own free will. Damn.
But surely NOW we would hear the wonderful plan that Rep. Barton has created! Surely the secrets lain forth by his legislation will fix the BCS! Why else would he call for this hearing, a hearing virtually identical to one that this subcommittee held three years ago on the exact same topic? After referring to the BCS system as being akin to communism, after saying that "sooner or later you're gonna have to try a new model" - you have a new model for us, yes? So Rep. Barton, your answer is to...
Oh. Turns out he doesn't actually have an answer. The bill he introduced doesn't actually suggest a way to fix the BCS, contains no suggestion for a playoff of any kind. But here's what it does have:
[the] bill "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."
So this is how Rep. Barton is trying to keep Congress' nose clean: they can technically say that they're not trying to legislate the BCS, since the bill itself doesn't address the actual problem - it just finds a roundabout way to keep the BCS from doing what it's doing. Basically, it's Congress trying to nail the BCS the way the feds finally nailed Al Capone.
Rep. "Mean" Gene Green (also from where? Texas!) mainly contributed to the conversation by talking about the University of Houston, his alma mater, and mentioning the other Texas schools that his kids attended. He spends most of his 5-minute intro assuring the general public that even though Congress was not actually in session that day and they basically came in on a day off to have this hearing, the subcommittee is totally working on a ton of other stuff and this is totally not a waste of taxpayer time and money. Plus, he added that extra air of gravitas to the hearing by bringing a prop:
'Cause, you know, nothing screams "the hallowed halls of government" like a football helmet.
The subcommittee's contribution to the hearing mainly consisted of Rep. Barton venting at the BCS commissioner about how everything is about money blah blah blah, Rep. Barton asking inane questions about where BCS money actually goes, Rep. Barton talking about Texas football, etc. etc. etc. Rep. Rush had a few interesting questions about the equity of financial redistribution, but that was the closest they came to constructive input. But wait - the subcommittee also had major political pressure to bring to the fray! Hanging overhead was the serious (yet hollow) threat that Rep. Barton had been told by President Obama three separate times - three times!! - that he'd sign the bill into law if it reached his desk. Of course, Barton has chosen to ignore the fact that the chances of this waste of legislation actually making out of committee, through the House, through the Senate, and onto Obama's desk... are virtually nil. Most of Congress actually have bigger fish to fry.
I will say this: with the BCS Commissioner and Alamo Bowl CEO on one side and the MWC Commissioner and Boise State AD on the other, there were interesting testimonies and good arguments on both side of a complicated issue. Sharing the monies in a different fashion, access to the BCS for non-power conferences, the question of whether or not of there should even be power conferences - good stuff. The problem is that all this could have been discussed somewhere other than Congress - the subcommittee, again, added almost nothing constructive to the party. If you're gonna help, fine - but if you're just gonna point fingers and bitch, why waste our time?
Even the commissioner of the Mountain West Conference stated in his testimony that "criticism without a solution solves nothing." Unfortunately, that's pretty much all this hearing was.