Freeman: Pros to Congress grilling | Dodd: We need hearing like case of flu
Get ready for the Battle By The Beach in South Florida.
Maybe they'll call it the Fiesta Frolic in Arizona.
The Fight on the Floodplain is catchy for the Sugar Bowl.
|Texas Rep. Joe Barton makes some bold statements at Friday's hearing. (AP)|
Anything, for the four major bowls, but the "BCS title game." That was the "threat" delivered tersely by Texas Rep. Joe Barton at the end of the congressional BCS hearings on Friday. Barton was one of three House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection members grilling four college football officials for two hours in Washington, D.C.
It was pretty standard stuff until Barton announced he had a plane to catch and started boring in on BCS coordinator John Swofford. Barton is pushing a bill that would prohibit the BCS from referring to its national championship game as a national championship game.
Barton advocates a playoff. The BCS isn't a playoff. So Barton believes the name of the game is misleading and in violation of federal trade laws. If the bill ever passed -- fat chance, according to BCS lobbyists -- the BCS would essentially have to change some language in its literature. Nothing more. The BCS Whatever Game would go on.
It wouldn't be the first time the law had interfered with free speech. That's why you never hear "Final Four" on radio or TV commercials unless an official NCAA sponsor is involved. Same with the Super Bowl and the NFL.
We can all agree that Utah doesn't have as much access to the BCS title game as, say, Ohio State, but nothing is going to happen until at least 2014. The frustration boiled over when Barton attempted to take Swofford to the woodshed.
Barton: "If we move our bill and the president signs it ... you can't advertise the BCS as a national championship game, because it would be a violation of the federal trade act, would you still do the BCS? Or would you actually change and go to a playoff?"
Swofford: "I don't know the answer to that. It hasn't been discussed."
Barton: "I would encourage you to start discussing it. I think there is a better than a 50 percent chance, and if we don't see some action in the next two months or a voluntary switch to a playoff system, you will see this bill move."
Whoa, whoa. That was as testosterone-filled a moment as we've heard in the 11-year history of the BCS. The gloves came off and the ruler came out: Mine is bigger than yours.
The BCS must go to a playoff within two months or face the mighty wrath of The Barton? That's what the Republican congressman from the Sixth District of Texas said, but as was the case for most of Friday morning, nobody quite knew what to make of the proceedings.
First, there was an appalling lack of interest in the subject. There were as many C-SPAN cameras in the room as subcommittee members -- only three of 30 showed. Maybe the weekend was whispering in the ears of the rest of them. Maybe they had to rearrange their sock drawers. It was obvious the subject matter was not compelling to most of them.
Those that did show had a Moe, Larry and Curly air about them. Rep. Gene Green, representing the Houston area, brought a Houston Cougars helmet to the proceedings, proudly displayed for all to see. Chairman Bobby Rush (a former Black Panther, for what it's worth) mangled the names of the witnesses and conferences. Barton, the brains of the outfit, tried to crunch Swofford with his bill.
A more than 50 percent chance of what, exactly? What's this two-month thing? By my calculation, two months from now would be somewhere around the Fourth of July recess.
Change the name of the BCS title game, really? Is that all you got, Joe? Even the congressman himself reminded Swofford, "You don't have to change it. Our bill doesn't say you have to change it."
They came for some serious discussion about college football's postseason. They ended in a pillow fight.
It's clear that one reason Capitol Hill keeps harassing the BCS is the president. His cutesy side-references to an eight-team playoff are getting old. I'm not saying the issue shouldn't be discussed, but Mr. Obama seems to have created a wave for legislators to ride. Hey, if the president thinks it's cool, how can I go wrong?
B.O., though, needs to take a stand. Spit or get off the pot. Either expand on your playoff desire, Mr. President, or drop the subject. The NCAA bracket got his full attention with ESPN during March Madness. Now he has to do the same with his college football playoff bracket.
If he's going to jolly with the four-letter, why not CBSSports.com? Anyone got the number of his press secretary?
These legislators are hoping that The Prez keeps fanning the flames. That's part of what keeps these hearings, bills and rhetoric alive. I've spent the first third of this year telling why the BCS is same for the foreseeable future. Contracts have been signed. The sponsors of these bills have an appalling success rate. The House and Senate have no stomach for legislation such as this with two wars raging, a bad economy and an epidemic about to break out.
Once again, see you in 2014 when the next BCS contract expires.
If you needed a reminder of how unlikely it is that the BCS is going to change before then, Rush asked the most important question of the day. To Swofford, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, Alamo Bowl CEO Derrick Fox and Boise State AD Gene Bleymaier, Rush asked if Congress should intervene in the sport's postseason.
"The U.S. Congress represents fans and constituencies," Thompson said. "Our university presidents work with that same group of constituents."
In other words, no, keep your grimy hands off our game.
That was from a guy who favors an eight-team playoff.
So ended The Time Waster In Washington.