Blog Entry

The BCS: Legal, or Unconstitutional?

Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:03 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 5:17 pm

I may be alone here (I hope I’m not); but when Dennis Dodd pointed out, earlier in the week, that only ten major college programs, in history, have competed for the national championship in Division-1 football, I was floored! --You’re kidding me, right?!-- In an era of supposed political correctness, and equal opportunity, how can that happen without being seriously questioned by the institutions involved? When contemporary society is so fixed upon eliminating stereotypes, and creating an even playing field in all areas of life; how does this happen without some kind of a fight?

I am not a mathematician, or a scientist; but the elementary application of equations, or scientific method, should easily provide us with enough evidence for a conundrum. Something would appear to be wrong here, and the use of numbers, and common sense, would seem to be enough to easily prove that. If this were a simple lottery drawing (like the “Power-ball,“ etc.) , what would the chances be that these same 10 teams would win, that many times, without any other schools breaking-in to that mix from time-to-time? Despite the fact that there are only 346 schools with D1 football programs, I am just guessing that the odds of having only 10 of those teams ever playing for the national championship would be fairly high?  Is the BCS choosing the best-two schools each year, or the two most popular schools? 

There are, of course, many different explanations why a given program/programs can be stronger than another. Location, educational standing (at one time, anyhow?), recruiting, coaching, alumni foundations, etc., can all be reasons for the sustained successes of a program. But still, if you use other examples (such as NCAA basketball) you will still see other programs, with lesser resources, breaking into the final four, from time to time.  So, why is that not happeneing in D-1 college football? Could the explanation have something to do with a conscious/sub-conscious bias?   When you take a look at human nature, it seems to be nearly impossible to eliminate all bias, completely, whenever the human-selection element is introduced into anything.  Models for football playoffs were, long ago, introduced at the high school and smaller-college levels, with extremely positive results.  Introducing the same type of a format, at the D-1 level, would make perfect sense; because most of the bugs have already been worked-out.  Yet, there are other forces out there who would not like to see a playoff happen, and in more cases than not, these people/organizations would appear to be the ones who stand to lose something if the BCS is eliminated. 

This week it was announced that Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, is investigating the BCS for possible antitrust violations and is hoping to get the Justice Department to do so as well. In January, in a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who had asked for an antitrust review, the department said the Obama administration was considering several steps that would review the legality of the BCS. The department said it was reviewing Hatch's request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into the BCS and possible antitrust violations.  The department has yet to determine if it will get involved, or not. 

BCS executive director Bill Hancock finds it, "…hard to imagine a bigger waste of taxpayer money than to involve the government in college football;"but, lets take that with a grain of salt --after all he could likely lose his job if the current format were found to be discriminatory. Under other circumstances, I might agree with him --but not this case. This is different. There is too much money involved here to say that our government should not be involved.  Too many lives are affected by this phenomenon; so maybe there are times when we have no other choice but to get government involved?

Keep in mind here, we are talking about the Judicial Branch of government, in this case (the Supreme Court); not the Legislative Branch (Congress). The Judicial Branch of government is made up of the court system; and the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. These courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. This is not Congress, here --getting Congress involved would be of very little help; because the purpose of Congress is to make, and enact, the laws. On the other hand, when the Supreme Court hears a case, and finds something to be discriminatory against a part/parties--then it is declared to be illegal, and change is mandated.  Just as school segregation was abolished, and a woman's right to vote --the law would step-in. 

Does the current BCS set-up provide all schools with an equal opportunity for a chance at the national title?  We may soon find out --all the way from the top. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or