The BCS and Barack Obama ...


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I realize Barack Obama is busy, but I wish he would have called before making those comments to ESPN on ‘Monday Night Football’ about college football needing a playoff:

‘I think it is about time we had playoffs’ in college football, Obama said. ‘I’m fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff.’


Obama turned to the wrong Chris ... Berman.

I could have warned Obama about getting into the ugly underbelly of college football politics. And he thought running a campaign was nasty business ...

I’m not very strong on Mideast policy, but I know the BCS stone cold.

If only Obama subscribed to the L.A. Times, he could have learned:

  • There is not going to be a playoff. The BCS commissioners had a big meeting last spring near Fort Lauderdale where the concept of a plus-one playoff was proposed by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive. This plan would involve seeding the top four teams, falling short of Obama’s eight-team dream. But even the four-team plan was shot down by commissioners.

They announced that a playoff would not be on the negotiating table for the next BCS contract, which will extend through 2013. Maybe President Sarah Palin can take the issue up then?

  • It’s dangerous for politicians to venture into BCS territory. In 2004, a Texas state senator named Jeff Wentworth introduced a bill that would have prohibited all teams from Texas playing in the BCS unless a playoff system was created.

In 2005, with Texas in the thick of the BCS national title chase, I called Wentworth’s office to see how the bill was progressing and was told by an office spokesperson, ‘I think it died in committee.’ Texas won the BCS national title in 2005.

  • If Obama is looking to blame anyone for the BCS, he needs to look no further than his home state of Illinois, where Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has been the most powerful voice against a playoff.

The Big Ten’s offices are located in Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago. Good luck nudging Delany off his post -- he just signed a contract extension through June 2013.

  • It can’t be an injustice if everyone agrees to it. The six power conferences dodged the anti-trust issues a few years back when they opened up bowl access to all 11 major college conferences. CBS and ESPN just signed almost sinful contract deals, totaling in the billions, with the SEC and ratings continue to soar.
  • If Obama wants a playoff, he should first start a grassroots campaign that would allow Columbia, his alma mater, to participate. Obama also graduated from Harvard Law School. The Ivy League, since 1951, has banned its champion from competing in post-season play. Too bad. Division 1-AA has a neat 16-team playoff -- twice as many teams as Obama has advocated for the big boys.

In sum, respectfully, how about you stick to your poll numbers, Mr. Obama, and we’ll stick to ours?
-- Chris Dufresne