I respect and like Orrin Hatch. I hate the BCS. So why does this make me grit my teeth? Andrew Malcolm captures the absurdity of Congressional intervention in college-football championships:
Well, now that Congress has pretty much taken care of all the other problems confronting the country these days, the U.S. Senate has decided to help decide how the United States’ collegiate football champion is determined.
A Judiciary committee subcommittee involved with antitrust and competition policies will hold hearings. The move is driven by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. It’s probably pure coincidence that despite going undefeated, Utah was ignored for last fall’s BCS football championship game that ended up pitting against each other the pitiful people of Florida and Oklahoma, both of whom had one loss. At night’s end Oklahoma had two L’s.
Imagine going with those twin nothing places when the TV network could have had several hundred Utahans watching.
Senator Hatch is a good guy, a genuine gentleman, and an occasional guest on my show. But this is a silly, and more to the point, illegitimate use of Congress’ time.
No one dislikes the BCS more than I do. It’s nothing more than a sop to the sportswriters who rank Division I college football teams and to the media that live off the controversy. The NCAA has playoffs in its other football divisions without causing the collapse of Western civilization or Academia. There is no reason why Division I can’t devise a playoff system that would eliminate the frustration of its fans, players, and schools.
But is that a federal issue? In fact, it’s not even a government issue. The NCAA is a private organization, and its decision on how to declare a champion its own. Only under the most liberal reading of the interstate commerce compact would Congress have any jurisdiction on this issue — and I use liberal deliberately, in all its contexts.
Even if it was a federal issue, would it be such a pressing problem in comparison to the myriad of real issues facing the country at the moment? The fate of our borders and the quality of our liberty has scant connection to the BCS. The actions of the federal government in enforcing immigration laws, its drug-war policies, counterterrorism efforts, and so on should be the focus of Senate subcommittees now, not parochial resentments over BCS bowl placements.
Given enough opportunity, I’m sure Senator Hatch will agree.