Tag:Mountain West
Posted on: September 23, 2009 10:19 am

Flu outbreak policies of I-A conferences

[The policies of the Pac-10 and Sun Belt are listed in Wednesday's story]

ACC: A policy might be determined Oct. 7 at the fall meetings.

Big 12:
No conference-wide policy. Institutions should work with local and state health agencies.

SEC: Currently working with schools on handling outbreaks.

Big Ten: Ongoing discussions regarding contingency plans.

Conference USA: In the process of developing a policy. Could have specific language on the issue within a week.

Big East: Has taken out an “event cancellation” insurance policy that protects against several elements including swine flu.

WAC: (Regular season)

1.   In the event the visiting institution is unable to arrive at the site of a contest for any reason in order for it to be played at its regularly scheduled time, it shall notify the home director of athletics, home head coach and the Conference office as soon as possible.

2.   In the event either the visiting institution is unable to arrive at the site of a contest in order for the contest to be played and completed on the day it was scheduled or if the home institution is unable to participate for any reason:

a.   The contest shall be rescheduled only upon the mutual consent of the involved Directors of Athletics and the approval of the Commissioner.

b.  If the contest is unable to be rescheduled, it shall be declared no contest and shall not be included in the regular season standings.

Mountain West: The conference's planned approach is to address each situation on a case-by-case basis in the context of the unique circumstances of that particular outbreak. These would include, but not be limited to, the location of competition, the sport involved, the host institution’s policies/emergency management plan, state and local guidelines, etc.  After gathering all the pertinent information and consulting with all necessary constituents/agencies, we would make a determination how best to proceed.
As an example, while it did not affect competition, the United States Air Force Academy recently had an outbreak among the incoming freshman cadets and quarantined a significant number of individuals as a result.  This was done in accordance with USAFA guidelines and other pertinent jurisdictions.  Had there been institutional and/or MWC competition involved, we would have consulted with the appropriate parties at USAFA and developed a plan of action.

Note: The Mid-American Conference did not respond.

Other flu outbreaks regarding college football:
(Others are mentioned in Wednesday's story. Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

Duke: One confirmed case in August. Upwards of three dozen players had flu symptoms that lasted approximately 10 days.

Tulane: Twenty seven players had mild symptoms and returned to practice in early September.

Washington State: Sixteen players got sic shortly before the Sept. 5 home opener against Stanford (a loss).

Defensive tackle Antwane Glenn has been isolated due to flu symptoms.

Wisconsin: Several players developed symptoms the week of the Sept. 12 game against Fresno State. Whether it was because of the flu or not, several Fresno State receivers were able to get behind the Wisconsin secodary during an overtime win by the Badgers.

Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:05 am
Edited on: July 22, 2009 12:49 pm

Mountain West scraps

MWC notes as the its media days wrap up Wednesday in Henderson, Nev. ...

After TCU's Gary Patterson, new San Diego State coach Brady Hoke is easily the most outgoing head man in the league. Hoke is one of those call-me-anytime guys. We've already bonded on one subject. Hoke is familiar with the annual San Diego bacchanalian ritual known as Over The Line. For those of you familiar with Indian Ball, it's Indian Ball played on sand.

With beer and bikinis and bands and all kinds of rude stuff.

Hoke hasn't been to OTL yet but something tells me he will.

 Wyoming was picked last in the nine-team Mountain West. First-year coach Dave Christensen knew what he was getting into when he took the job. Wyoming has had one winning season this decade.

"That's where I would have voted us too," Christensen said.

  Where do Sugar Bowl-winning quarterbacks go? In the case of Utah's Brian Johnson it's the United Football League. The UFL is a new pro franchise that debuts in the fall with a handful of franchises. Johnson went undrafted in the NFL but got taken by the UFL New York franchise.

That was after turning down a job offer from Kyle Whittingham.

"I offered him a job as a full-time job coach, but he wanted to try playing," Whittingham said. "Someday I want to get him back on the staff."

  The Utes aren't going to fall off the map without Johnson. Whittingham loves the three candidates lining up to replace Johnson -- junior Corbin Louks, juco transfer Terrance Cain and early enrollee Jordan Wynn.

Louks, who threw seven passes last season, runs a 4.42. Cain came in from Blinn (Texas) College, juco home of former K-State quarterback Michael Bishop. Whittingham says Cain, "reminds me of Alex Smith."

  Utah has the longest active bowl streak having won its last eight in a row.

 Since joining the league in 2005, TCU has the best overall record, 41-11. A case can be made, though, for it being the least accomplished of the big three (including Utah and BYU). Utah has won a Sugar Bowl and has that bowl streak going. BYU has won the league twice in that span and for a time had the nation's longest winning streak. When it trailed TCU in Fort Worth last year it was the first time in two years it trailed at halftime.

 TCU was the first non-BCS school to finish ranked in the top 12 despite two losses.

  TCU was picked to win the league in a preseason media poll. Patterson already is on record as saying he prefers to come from behind. The last time his team was picked to win in the preseason it finished fifth (8-5).

  Only four schools have won conference titles in the 10-year history of the Mountain West -- Utah, TCU, BYU and Colorado State.

  The league has the best winning percentage in bowls the last five years (14-7, .667). The SEC is second (24-13, .643).

  Only five other teams in the country have won more games than Utah (22) and BYU (21) the last two seasons.

  Bronco Mendenhall on christening Jerry Jones' new mega-stadium against Oklahoma. BYU and OU will play in the first college game in the new stadium on Sept. 5.

"Our coaches and players have earned the right to be selected to for the game,"  BYU's coach said. "I viewed it like a postseason bowl game where they earned their chance because of their body of work. I was willing to trade off possibly an undefeated season ... to continue to improve us over time."

Patterson took it further. His team beat Oklahoma in 2005 and, aside from one bad first quarter, played the Sooners off their feet in 2008. The 35 points allowed in that game were the second-fewest (next to Florida) allowed against OU's offense.

"If you don't play the Oklahomas or the Texases of the world you get a false sense of where you are as a program and how high you can play," he said. "Just playing well doesn't do you any good, if you've got to win those games.

"It has to get to a point where we're recognized enough as a group. Just like Florida loses one game it doesn't make any difference. People talk about Baylor improving, SMU improving. It won't do any of us any good, it doesn't do TCU any good for those programs not to be winning." 


Posted on: July 20, 2009 1:41 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2009 1:42 pm

Media days begin in ... Vegas?

HENDERSON, Nev. -- You know that feeling you get? That feeling when it's 8:30 in the morning and all you want is a piece of fruit and a muffin for breakfast and the whole world is covered with the dingy smell of stale Camels?

If you do, then you know I'm back in Vegas. It's been a few years. In fact, the last time I set foot on The Strip it was 1991. I was staying at some place called the Westward Ho. (No, that wasn't a reference to which way the "escorts" were leaning.)

Former Royals pitching coach Guy Hansen was the subject back then. Hansen was an eccentric pitching coach/scout who has signed at least one Cy Young winner (Bret Saberhagen) but has worn out his welcome at several spots on the map. The last I heard he was pitching coach for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

The guy was entertaining. He had a surf board in his living room, 300 miles from the ocean. He would say anything which seemed to fit the town.

But enough about normal folks. That was years ago. I'm back in Plastic Town and it's not for some Hacks Gone Wild junket. It's merely for the Mountain West media days.

Late July marks the unofficial beginning of college football. The media days kick off. They are a maze of spin, interviews and coachspeak that at least gets me in the mood.

The NCAA wouldn't approve this location, but forget the NCAA. There is still some wholesome entertainment here, like Las Vegas 51s minor league baseball. Their mascot is a Jar-Jar Binks lookalike named Cosmo. I swear I had only one beer so that must be right.

Some things are still the same, though. Approximately 30 seconds after getting off the plane, I was reminded that Carrot Top is a big deal in this town. So is Rita Rudner who, according to a billboard, was recently named "Comedian Of The Year".

First, you have to know who Rita Rudner is. Clearing that hurdle, you want to know what person/outlet or PR flak named her comic of the year. What, did Yakov Smirnoff have an off year?

This is a place where -- no lie -- a new strip club was featured on the front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. Not an ad, a legitimate column ("New strip club offers smorgasbord of adult fun"), right next to a thoughtful piece on the 40th anniversary of the first man on the moon.

Mash up those two stories and you've got stripper polls on the Sea of Tranquility.

The Mountain West event is at the Green Valley Ranch resort. Nice place, except that even out here in Henderson, Vegas is still Vegas. It takes 20 minutes and a GPS to walk from my room to the casino to sift through the haze for my muffin and fruit.

I don't gamble. The point is, the casino also is where the food is. Or at least where the food is located if you don't want to stop outside into the 108-degree heat. That in itself is a tough decision -- risk getting my face melted off and walking to P.F. Chang's and trying the black lung relay through the casino to grab a sandwich at The Turf Grill.

Part of me loves it. There's nothing like a happening sports book. I stood there watching about eight million games on giant HDs. Then I realized, a triple bypass was somewhere in my future.

What is it with these places? Casinos prove that there is no substance on earth that can take cigarette stink out of furniture. This place is lined with leather and fine appointments. Eventually, though, the fragrance turns every casino, in my mind, into an I-80 truck stop.

Of course, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority isn't going to outlaw smoking. That would drive away all the poor folks with walkers and oxygen tanks.

That raises another point. The demographic here is weird. It's either the super seniors mesmerized by the dollar slots or the 20-year-old millionaires (they wish) trying to impress their girlfriends with a weekend in Vegas.

By "impress", I mean a $99 Southwest fare found on Travelocity and a Holiday Inn just off The Strip.

The moment I stepped off the plane, I was reminded of what I'd really missed. Well, missed as in regretting the fact that we'll never see a new Billy Mays commercial ...

Donnie and Marie. (Gosh, where had they gone?)

 Fifty-cent shrimp cocktails.

Criss Angel. Reminder: It's an illusion, folks. This poser is not actually touched by an angel. And besides, anyone who spells their name "Criss" and paints their fingernails deserves to have a fifty-cent shrimp cocktail thrown in their face.

Oscar Goodman. He's an attorney. He's also the mayor. He also, to put it politely, has a past.

Don't take it from me. Read this or go to Amazon.com and buy, "Of Rants and Men: Oscar Goodman's Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas."

Who wouldn't love a mayor who loves showgirls and Bombay Sapphire Gin?

That might disgust some people. They love him in Vegas where they line up at the 51s games for Oscar Goodman Bobblehead Night.

The weird thing is, these people elected ol' Oscar without guns to their temples. Who needs corruption when you've got Dean Martin as a mayor.

Oh, one other thing. Walked around the pool here at Green Valley just to, you know, check, ahem, the depth of the water. Stumbled upon this place called "The Pond." This 50-year-old father of two cracked the door on a forbidden aqua club. All I remember is a bunch of 20 somethings gathered around a pool -- their exclusive, very cool pool -- and some wildly gyrating woman in a yellow bikini.

I immediately called my priest and went to confession right there over the phone. I didn't actually do anything wrong except glimpse something that looked very, very bad and felt worse. And by worse, I mean great.

Honey, I love you and I'll be home soon.

Meanwhile, back to business. For the next couple of days we will talk about serious issues like the BCS, Congressional hearings and Utah getting screwed.

And the end, some of us will relax by the pool and order shrimp cocktail and Bombay Sapphire from Jar-Jar Binks.

Maybe Oscar will pick up the tab.



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 16, 2009 12:27 am

BCS to reject Mountain West playoff proposal

BCS commissioners aren't expected to take any action on the Mountain West playoff proposal when they meet Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The commissioners agreed last month to take the Mountain West's proposal back to their conferences for discussion. The SEC already has said it will not support the proposal, coming out of its spring meetings earlier this month in Destin, Fla.

Upset at lack of access to the national championship game, the Mountain West lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill for change in the 11-year-old BCS. Earlier this year, it proposed an eight-team playoff. The teams would be selected by a human committee.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson then made a 90-minute presentation to his peers during the BCS meetings last month in Pasadena, Calif. The only question now is how the commissioners are going to make the announcement of formally passing on the the Mountain West playoff proposal. Most likely the announcement will come from the BCS presidential oversight committee.

The Mountain West has refused to sign the new BCS television agreement with ESPN. It is more of a protest than anything else. The conference is expected to eventually sign, or risk forfeiting the BCS money it receives each year. A new $125 million-per-year deal with ESPN takes effect in 2010 and lasts through the bowls of 2014.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2009 1:36 pm

Picking the Mountain West

The Mountain West needs to focus, look closer. Capitol Hill's favorite conference spent the offseason pitching its case to Congress and challenging the BCS.  

But let's be clear. It was the coaches poll -- the prove-it-on-the-field guys -- that hit Utah with a lead pipe with its final regular-season poll.

The Utes finished No. 7. Seventh, for what turned out to be the nation's only undefeated major-college team. Utah's chances were dead before it got that Sugar Bowl bid. Great result and all that in New Orleans but let's analyze why the Utes couldn't play for it all.

There's a bias, all right. It comes from the coaches. The Harris poll also voted Utah seventh before the bowls but it almost gets a pass. The Harris voters aren't in the business, lining their pockets with bowl money, at the same time denying two major-college teams (Boise was undefeated in the regular season too) a better bowl fate.

The coaches, dear Mountain West, are the ones who have drawn the line -- and it clearly doesn't include teams from below the BCS level. Is that about to change? We'll see with the Mountain West sporting three possible BCS busters again this season (Utah, BYU, TCU). 

Only the top two teams in the BCS play in the national championship. The winner gets the coaches poll automatic No. 1 vote (or is supposed to). 

Heck, Utah was only able to make it up to No. 4 in the coaches after beating Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

The BCS might be unfair to the great unwashed non-BCS school but it is unfair mostly because the voting coaches -- by and large -- don't take those schools seriously. (Remember, Utah finished second in the Associated Press media poll. It was fifth among the computers.)

Guess who had the majority of the coaches votes last season? Thirty-seven of the 61 voting coaches came from BCS conferences (61 percent). The power conference schools make up only 55 percent of Division I-A. 

The Mountain West voters were New Mexico's Rocky Long (Utah, No. 7 before the bowls); TCU's Gary Patterson (No. 7) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (No. 5). Whittingham voted his Utes No. 1 after the Sugar Bowl.

The Mountain West has done its best to make all of this clear.  Unfortunately, it will be another five seasons, at least, before any kind of playoff can be staged.

Until then, there is a hope. Short of a playoff, we learned in January that the Mountain West could gain automatic BCS access by 2012
The noble fight goes on in 2009 with Utah expected to repeat as conference champions. Don't tell TCU and BYU, though.

Picking the Mountain West ... 

1. Utah -- Give Whittingham credit. He didn't mope around after getting shafted. He didn't skip town for a bright, shiny new job. He stuck to the task. Losing quarterback Brian Johnson, kicker/punter Louie Sakoda and defensive end Paul Kruger won't be hard with 24 redshirt freshmen returning, not including three players back from missions. Remember the name Corbin Louks at quarterback. 

2. BYU -- Along the Wasatch Range they're talking about the Cougars the way the rest of the nation is talking about Utah. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has won 32 games the past three seasons while winning two Mountain West titles. This year's team is loaded and gets the Utes at home to finish the regular season. Best sign? The last four times BYU has had a senior quarterback, it has won the league. Senior Max Hall is the Mountain West's best at his position. Defensive end Jan Jorgensen is the league's career sack leader.

3. TCU -- Coach Gary Patterson specializes in taking high school running backs and turning them into defensive terrors. Get ready, then, for All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes to cause more damage. Hughes was handed a defensive number when he got to Fort Worth and went to work. Last year he led the nation with 15 sacks. TCU's unit as a whole led the nation giving up only 47 rushing yards. If the Frogs are going to jump over Utah, they can't get bogged down offensively. Last year's 13-10 loss in Salt Lake City was a killer.

4. Air Force -- It has been a seamless transition from Fisher DeBerry to Troy Calhoun who has won 17 games in his first two seasons in Colorado Springs. The option offense continues to be the great equalizer. The Falcons should win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Beyond that, we're wondering if Air Force is the team that started 8-2 in '08 or the one that lost its last three.

5. UNLV -- Mike Sanford likely saved his job by winning five games last season. Bowl eligibility is a definite possibility this season. That's saying a lot for a program that has had one winning season in the last 14. Ryan Wolfe is the leading returning receiver in the league (88 catches, six touchdowns).

6. New Mexico -- First-time, first-year coach Mike Locksley has made his share of waves since arriving in the high desert. He injected some energy in what had become a lazy program. He used his recruiting prowess to snatch a few players from the Washington, D.C. area. Above all else, Locksley, the former Illinois OC, needs a Juice Williams-like presence at quarterback. Recruit Emmanuel Yeager left school recently to go back to D.C. That might have set the position back considering incumbent Donovan Porterie was recruited by Rocky Long to run the option. 

7. Colorado State -- Steve Fairchild took the Rams from 3-9 to 7-6 (and a bowl win) in his first season. That tied for the most wins since 2002. The defense must get better after giving up 30 points per game. A veteran offensive line could spring junior tailback John Mosure for a big year.

8. Wyoming -- Dave Christensen, his Hog and his spread offense blew into Laramie from Missouri promising  more appealing football. Christensen was the OC at Missouri for Chase Daniel and the Tigers' record-setting offense. Last season Wyoming's offense averaged less than 13 points per game. There's no one on the roster close to resembling Daniel. Let's hope that Christensen's motorcycle isn't the program's most entertaining feature.

9. San Diego State -- Still trying to figure out why Brady Hoke made this lateral move from Ball State to take this job. Sure, Ball State wouldn't bump up salaries for Hoke's assistants. Is that a reason to go to the worst program in the Mountain West? Brady, your career is at risk here. 
Posted on: May 2, 2009 3:02 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2009 3:04 pm

A tour of D.C.

Now that Friday's proceedings have moved beyong the blog stage and gone national, it's time to ranking members from the Congressional hearings:
1. Gene Bleymaier -- this lawyer and Boise State AD spoke succinctly and clearly about the subject. Clearly scored the most points with the BCS, Congress and his non-BCS brethren.
2. Joe Barton -- Clearly the brains of the Joe, Curly and Larry outfit on the dais. He gave himself away when he made an idle threat to install a playoff in two months. This from a guy who is batting .042 in his career on passed legislation.
3. Craig Thompson -- Clearly stated the MWC case without looking like a fool. It was nice how the panel was balanced -- Thompson/Bleymaier vs. Swofford/Fox.

4. John Swofford -- This poor chap had the bad luck of being in the BCS coordinator's chair when Joe Barton started blabbing. Swofford -- not Swifford or SwOWford as he was referred to -- held his own.
5. Derrick Fox -- Why was the he there? Fox took the place of Sugar Bowl exec Paul Hoolahan who no doubt would have blown the doors off everybody if he showed. That's why he stayed home.

6. Bobby Rush -- The subcommittee chairman needs lessons in elocution. He did, though, have the best question of the day when he asked the witnesses if Congress should intervene in the BCS.

7. Gene Green -- An inarticulate fanboy who looked like he was there just for his cheerleading ability. Just what the heck was that Houston Cougar helmet doing in front of him. Not professional, Mean Gene.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 29, 2009 9:43 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2009 11:06 am

Friday hearings in D.C. re: BCS

If John Swofford looks close enough, he might find Roger Clemens sweat stains.

The rage against the BCS machine reached a new level on Wednesday when the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee announced Friday hearings to "examine competitive fairness ... adversely impacted by the ... Bowl Championship Series ..."

There was more in the press release but it was superfluous language and it's been a long day.  Hearings have been threatened by Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch but this comes from a different direction. The Committee on Energy and Commerce is chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman. You might remember him as the main guy grilling Clemens a while back.

It's not clear who is going to chair the hearings on Friday. Swofford, the BCS coordinator, has been invited as a witness along with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, Paul Hoolahan, chairman of the Football Bowl Association and Gene Bleymaier, the Boise State AD.

Swofford, also the ACC commissioner and Thompson are the only two I could find Wednesday night who were committed to appearing. Hoolahan, better known as the Sugar Bowl executive director, told me he would not be there. There will probably be another FBA official there in his place.

"We're prepared for this, this isn't anything that has caught us off guard," said Hoolahan who heads one of the four BCS bowls. "There is such a level naivete on how this thing oeprates. These guys want to get a sound bite and get up on the bully pulpit. More than anything we have to wage an informational campaign. When their constituents hear that they about to shoot the goose that lays the golden egg (they won't like it)."

What do I think will happen? Not much, at least for now. This is a one day hearing and looks to be the work of Texas Rep. Joe Barton. Barton is a ranking member of the Energy and Commerce committee. Late last year he proposed a bill that would keep the BCS from calling it a "national championship game" unless it was part of a playoff.
Thompson and a group of a Mountain West officials visited senior legislative staff earlier this year. Thompson detailed an eight-team playoff proposal by his conference to replace the BCS last week in Pasadena, Calif. during the BCS meetings.

Swofford reiterated during the meetings that he feels the BCS would stand up to any legal challenges. I detailed some of Swofford's confidence earlier this month in a story about anti-trust lawyer Tom Rhodes.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 7, 2009 5:48 pm

Senator Orrin Hatch challenges the BCS

Powerful Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is progressing toward hearings examining the BCS (probably in the fall). He recently took the time to answer these e-mail questions from me.

Dennis Dodd: You've long been a critic of the BCS, when did it reach the stage, in your mind, that hearings needed to be convened?
Sen. Hatch: I’ve thought for a number of years that there were significant problems with the BCS.  We held hearings on the matter back in 2003 when I chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I said then that the system was unfair.

After that time, there were some efforts made to expand the system and make it more open.  For example, they’ve added a fifth game and made it slightly easier for teams from conferences that don’t receive automatic bids to qualify for one of the games.  But, as we saw last season, these changes haven’t been good enough.  First of all, there were only two teams to finish the regular season undefeated – Utah and Boise State – but, only one of them was invited to play in a lucrative BCS game.  And, of course, neither team had even a remote chance of qualifying for the national championship game – the BCS system makes it impossible for outside teams to do so.
The bigger problem is the money and the principles of fair play being taught to our young people by those who they look to for leadership.  Teams from the conferences that receive automatic bids share an enormous pot of money generated by the BCS, even if they lose every game and finish at the bottom of the standings.   At the same time, nearly half the teams in college football share a much smaller pot, even if they are fortunate enough to play their way into a BCS game.  This creates an inherent disadvantage, not just on the field, but with regard to recruiting, facilities, and funding for other athletic programs.  Given the amount of money involved here, which is unprecedented in the history of collegiate sports, I think these inequities warrant the attention of Congress.
Dodd: Who do you expect to call to testify? (Maybe not specific persons but NCAA, BCS officials, ADs, players?)
Hatch: That is yet to be determined.  I think we need to make sure we hear from all sides of the debate, so we get a clear picture as to how the system works, what its effects are, and how it can be improved. 

We’ll also need to include some sharp legal analysis of the antitrust issues.  These hearings, particularly in this subcommittee, aren’t just about airing grievances.  There are serious questions about the legality of the BCS system, namely, whether it constitutes a coordinated effort to eliminate competition.  The main objective of the hearing will be to find answers to those questions.

Dodd: What's the likelihood the hearings actually come about, and when?
I have a commitment from my colleague, Senator Herb Kohl, the Chairman of the Antitrust Subcommittee, to hold a hearing this year.  So, I believe that a hearing on the matter is more or less imminent.  I expect it to take place later this year.
Dodd: Are you working in concert with some of the Congressmen and Senators -- Abercrombie, Miller, Barton, etc? Does it matter that there seem to be separate battles against the BCS going on?
Hatch: The BCS system has been condemned by almost everyone who follows college football, from coaches and university officials, to sportswriters and analysts, to Members of Congress, and even the President of the United States.  So, I’m well aware that I’m not alone in my concern regarding these issues. 

Some House Members have introduced legislation on this issue and I am currently exploring similar options here in the Senate.  I’ll be willing to work with any of my colleagues to see if we can fix this system.

Dodd: Obviously, the BCS leaders have lawyers and they think their position is solid. How specifically can the BCS be attacked?
Hatch: I’m sure they have a team of lawyers ready to defend this unfair system.  That doesn’t surprise me at all.  But, I think there’s a pretty decent antitrust case to be made here.  Put simply, our antitrust laws are designed to prevent people from working in coordination to reduce competition in the marketplace.  I think that’s pretty clearly what we have going on here.  Make no mistake, college football is a commercial enterprise.  The colleges and universities market their football programs like they would a business.

In addition, there are television contracts, advertising revenue, and corporate sponsors for each of the bowl games.  So, this isn’t what we had decades ago when the bowl system first started -- two schools deciding to meet up at a neutral field and play a bowl game.  We’re talking about a national, multi-million dollar business enterprise. 
Dodd: Have you spoken to Mountain West representatives? They made the rounds through the House and Senate last month promoting their own agenda.
Hatch: I’ve been talking with the Mountain West folks about this issue.  As you know, the commissioner of the Mountain West Conference, Craig Thompson, recently unveiled an alternative proposal to the current BCS system.  I thought this was a constructive step, and I hope to see more options put on the table. 
Dodd: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is OK with the current system, or at least didn't cry out against it. The Utah administration is on record as wanting to work within the system. How do react to that?
Hatch: Coach Whittingham has expressed his disappointment with the way the Utes were treated by the BCS last year.  He even broke with convention and voted his team No. 1 in the final coaches poll, even though the BCS system more or less requires the coaches to vote for the winner of the so-called “national championship game.” 

He felt strongly enough to buck the system there.  I think Coach Whittingham would have liked the opportunity for his team to play for the national championship and, quite frankly, had that occurred, I would have liked their chances.
But, the problems with the BCS are not specific to the University of Utah, they are much broader.  The BCS system affects nearly every aspect of college football, which in turn affects schools throughout the country.  Obviously, I want to see the schools from my state treated fairly, but I think we need to make sure the system is fair to everyone. 
Dodd: I have found that many of the Congressmen and Senators don't know the basics of this system -- re: the NCAA has virtually nothing to do with the postseason. Do you understand that this a system that all the conferences have agreed to until 2014?
Hatch: The NCAA is clearly not involved in the college football postseason, and that may be part of the problem.  As it stands right now, the decisions regarding the postseason and the road to the national championship are decided, in large part, by the elitist conferences involved in the BCS, working with television networks and corporate sponsors to generate massive amounts of revenue. 
Obviously, I understand that the non-automatic bid conferences are signatories to the BCS and share some of the responsibility.  But, it’s not as though they have the power to initiate the necessary changes.  The five conferences without automatic bids collectively share one vote on the BCS board, while the six other conferences and the University of Notre Dame each have a vote.  So, it’s difficult to assign to them any culpability for the actions of the BCS cartel. 

As far as the current agreement is concerned, it is my understanding that the current BCS agreement expires next year and that there is a proposal on the table to extend it through 2014.  The deal is not yet in place and a number of the conferences, particularly the Mountain West, have expressed serious concerns about the proposed extension.  Frankly, I think this proposal is the reason for Congress to get involved right now.  The current system has been condemned by virtually everyone, yet the interested parties see nothing wrong with continuing the status quo for the foreseeable future.  I think that’s just outrageous.
Dodd: Do you have a specific playoff plan? What is it?
Hatch: I don’t have a plan of my own.  There are enough alternatives out there and, keep in mind, people have been dreaming and speculating of a national playoff system for years.  So, I am looking forward to working with a variety of individuals to create a fair system.
Dodd: How should profits from such a system be allocated?
Hatch: Again, I don’t want to be in the business of writing a new system from scratch.  I don’t think that’s the Senate’s proper role in this issue.  But, in general, I think the funds should be allocated in a way that is based on the teams’ performance on the field.  Right now, the money may as well be handed out at the beginning of the season because, in the end, we all know which schools and conferences will be getting the money.  That, more than anything, is the problem with the BCS.

Category: NCAAF
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