It's hard to blame attorney Tom Rhodes for wanting to get away from it all.
His expertise is anti-trust law. He's one of the best in the country at it. During Final Four weekend, though, he pulled his nose out of legal briefs and put some miles between his Atlanta office and a cabin he is building in north Georgia.
"Lawyer carpentry is like doctor investing," said Rhodes, who has spent two years building his dream home. "It's pretty horrible."
|Delany feels a playoff system would lead to 'a series of months and months of meaningless games.' (Getty Images)|
Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff might have made the most progress this year. He expects to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the BCS as soon as June. Don't hold your breath, playoff lovers. Rhodes has read the reports. If -- and it's a big if -- the case ever came to trial, he says it could last as long as five years.
"At least three years and probably five years," Rhodes explained.
Five years? We're more likely to have some kind of playoff in that time span than a fully litigated court case.
If a trial started today, in five years it would end in the spring of 2014. The next BCS contract runs through the 2013 season (January 2014 bowls). There are many who expect some melting by then from the BCS commissioners on the playoff issue, although it is not assured. Last year, a modest plus-one model proposed by the SEC was shot down. Only the ACC, among the power conferences, supported the SEC.
For now, all the legal wrangling seems like a lot of bluster. Maybe that's why the BCS has been so quiet. Aside from a couple of statements by BCS coordinator John Swofford, there has been little reaction from the game's power brokers.
Maybe it's because they are confident in their own legal standing. In addition to using a powerful law firm, the BCS' presidential oversight committee has some legal clout of its own. Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer is the state's former attorney general.
"It's not like we're without legal expertise," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.
Rhodes is neutral, not affiliated with either side. He is merely intrigued about a possible legal clash.
"I do have some perspective on it," Rhodes said. "Basically what you're watching is a three-round bout with the Utah attorney general. The first round of anti-trust is press releases and political grandstanding and people with spears hopping up and down. The second round is the trial court and third round is the court of appeals.
"Whoever's left standing at the end of the third round wins. It would be unusual for the attorney general to be standing at the end of the third round."
The BCS has tweaked its system after Congress held hearings in the past. A tweak, though, is not what opponents are looking for this time. The Mountain West recently proposed an eight-team playoff and has yet to sign the new ESPN deal with the BCS.
Whether the country has any stomach for further hearings in this political climate (two wars, economy) is debatable.
"There's no downside to waving the spear and jumping up and down for your constituency," Rhodes said, "except at some point, some portion of that constituency says, 'Wait a minute, we're paying you to run a country that's about to collapse into economic ruin.'"
In an e-mail to CBSSports.com, Sen. Hatch said hearings are "more or less imminent" later this year. Hearings in 2003 led to the addition of a fifth BCS bowl to accommodate qualifiers from non-BCS conferences.
"It's a case of the better mouse trap," Rhodes said. "Division I schools figure what it takes to build a better mouse trap, to get all the conferences in and more money from ESPN or whoever, so they can get a No. 1 postseason winner.
"The guy that's not catching as many mice wants to sue somebody."
Delany has his own law degree (from North Carolina). While at the Final Four he reiterated his opinion that a four-team playoff would eventually expand to something more unwieldy. He understands that much of the country has been raised on the expanded postseasons of the NBA and baseball, but that college football remains unique.
"To be honest with you, I never ever want to be able to hope they would see a December or January football madness," Delany said. "To do to college football what we've done to college basketball, that's too big a price for me to pay -- a series of months and months of meaningless games."
Read Dennis Dodd's Q&A with Sen. Orrin Hatch in his blog, Dodds and Ends.