Question: Why does the BCS exist and who runs it?
(They BCS is not a “they” or an “it”; It’s a “him”)
Answer: For the benefit of one person and his small constituency.One person is pulling the strings, along with a collection of mostly unwitting accomplices.To find that person, we have to identify who we indisputably know is not responsible for the BCS.1) NCAA President Mark Emmert: On Nov. 7, 2008, 16 months before he took office as new NCAA President, then-Univ. of Washington President Mark Emmert told the SEATTLE TIMES, “I happen to be one that thinks it’s inevitable we’ll have a [college football] playoff.”One week after watching his own organization, led by NCAA office colleague Greg Shaheen, reportedly internally initiate the expansion of the NCAA basketball tournament to 68 - and possibly 96 - teams in the future, new NCAA President Emmert said of the NCAA’s role in a future college football playoff system:
“It’s not particularly relevant what I want as an individual in this one (NCAA football playoff). The NCAA knows how to run championships, if they (BCS) want us to be involved being helpful then I stand ready to do it.“
So though the NCAA initiated the expansion of March Madness, NCAA President Emmert said his organization would have no role in initiating any changes in major college football’s postseason.2) ESPN (Disney): ESPN prints money not because of original programming, but because it has a death grip on broadcast rights to so many premium play-by-play properties - like major college football. (And the BCS.)The ability to exclusively broadcast the best and biggest games allows ESPN to charge cable operators - and viewers - by far the largest fees of any cable channel to carry its programming. Take away the games, and you take away ESPN’s leverage to charge cable operators those exorbitant fees, which are nearly the sole source of ESPN’s hefty profit margins.To lose the ability to air college football games would strike at the core of ESPN’s business model. So in order to hold onto plum college football broadcast rights, ESPN does as it’s told.The next comment an official representative of ESPN’s business side makes in public about the validity of the BCS will be the first - and last.3) SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: The strongest public proponent of a playoff, and ditching the BCS, is also the man who presides over the BCS conference with the best collection of college football teams - by far.During the decade of the ’00s, SEC teams went 48-31 in bowl games while Big Ten teams went 28-41. In BCS bowl games during that 10-year span, the Big Ten went 6-11 while the SEC went 12-3. (SEC teams were 6-0 in BCS Championship Game.)Despite the SEC’s lopsided on-field advantage over the Big Ten, from 2000-2009 the conference actually received less at-large BCS bowl invitations than the Big Ten - which is why in 2008 SEC Commissioner Slive pushed harder than any other BCS conference commissioner for a limited playoff option but was reportedly blocked by the Big Ten.And why in 2006 Slive said of his term serving as “BCS Coordinator”: “These are my two years in the penalty box.”That same year, final entry to the BCS Championship game came down to the SEC’s 12-1 Florida Gators and the Big Ten’s 11-1 Michigan Wolverines. SEC Commissioner and BCS Coordinator Slive said at the time:
“I think any team that wins our league with one loss should have the chance to play for the national championship.”
When asked what his reaction would be if Michigan won out because of BCS computers and polling, the acknowledged leading public proponent of the BCS, Slive, said at the time, “I’d be disappointed.”So the man most responsible for representing the BCS to the public in 2006 said that had Michigan been awarded the BCS title game spot over Florida, he would’ve disagreed with the conclusion of the very system he was charged to support.To recap where we are so far:The NCAA President, the world’s largest and most influential sports television network and the man who oversees the top football conference in college football, the SEC Commissioner, have no power to remove or modify the BCS. 4) Chairman of NCAA Board of Directors and former Chair of the BCS Governance Oversight Committee Harvey Perlman: As current Chairman of the NCAA’s Board of Directors, many would argue that Perlman is the most powerful man in college athletics. But the NCAA Board of Directors is the final deciding mechanism on all things NCAA except the BCS.While Chairman of the BCS Governance Oversight Committee in 2009, Perlman appeared before the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights:
“Well, I don’t know enough about the X’s and O’s of college football. I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. “So I think until a university runs through that gantlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame.”
Since Gee made his comments, have you heard any representative of the BCS come out in support of the Ohio State President?The only people who supported Gee’s contradictory stance on the BCS are the attorneys trying to use the BCS to get the NCAA’s anti-trust exemption removed.For someone long known as a leading proponent of the BCS, Gee’s criticism is rather ironic considering he sold the same BCS in 2007 to the CINCINNATI POST as inclusive to all schools:
“The rich would get richer and all the others would be excluded. Now, I happen to be at a school that’s at the top of the heap, but I recognize that this would be wrong. It would be against the university values system.“You would have to pry a national championship (tournament) from my cold, dead fingers. My view is a simple one. Any notion of a college football playoff system is absolute nonsense.”
Someone needs to get his story straight.OSU President Gee’s opinion of the college football postseason is also in direct conflict with his own coach, Jim Tressel.Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show on Nov. 12, 2010, Tressel said of his sport’s future:
“I’m sure we’re headed for change, playoffs one day I’m certain will be part of the package. Within five years we will be positioned for a playoff of sorts.”
Him. (Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany.)
How do I know?On Dec. 7, 2005, Delany appeared at a U.S. Congressional hearing titled, “Determing a Champion on the field, A comprehensive review of the BCS.” In a candid, unguarded moment, Delany showed his hand when he was asked if the BCS existed only to enrich certain conferences.
I am absolutely sure that an NFL-style football playoff would provide maybe three or four times as many dollars to the Big Ten than the present system does. In fact, a number of corporations have come forward and tried to lure us into a playoff with those kinds of dollars. There is no doubt in my mind that we are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table for the reasons that have been expressed here around this table, so there is more money out there and we have turned our back, we don’t get very much credit. We get credit for taking it, but for not turning our back on it.
That was 2005.By now, it isn’t impossible to think that a college football playoff could net NCAA schools up to a billion dollars per season.With the U.S. economy a shambles, major schools like Cal currently cutting national championship sports programs, Delany’s own Big Ten schools (most recently Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin) accessing millions in taxpayer funds to balance athletic budgets and the NCAA still seriously considering expanding March Madness to 96 teams, why on earth would Delany not promote a college football playoff?Take a look around college football right now:
- What league makes more money for its individual schools right now than any other because of its landmark television network? (Big Ten)
- What league, despite a mediocre bowl game record the past ten years, got more at-large BCS bowl game bids than any other conference? (Big Ten)
- What league offers school presidents like Ohio State’s Gordon Gee a chance to have their opinions about football actually reported as news? If there was a playoff, would anyone care about what a college president or commissioner thought? (Big Ten)
Now, what happens to the Big Ten if there’s a playoff:1) Major bowl bids/playoff spots would be based on the quality of teams, not how many fans, television eyeballs or Bucky Buckeye commercials ESPN runs. (I know, it’s a hybird.)2) The already shaky ACC, Big East and Big 12 would suddenly enjoy a huge financial windfall per school, stabilizing the conferences and likely preventing possible defections to the Big Ten and/or a massive conference re-configuration.3) Non-BCS conference teams would suddenly have an actual, realistic opportunity to make a postseason playoff field and be matched with a Big Ten team in a game that meant something.Most importantly, the Big Ten’s relevance and leverage with television networks would no longer be based on the opinions of pollsters, computer formulas and cable televison executives.In other words, the certainty of the Big Ten’s business model - which presently delivers power and prominence - goes out the window.None of this is to say that a playoff isn’t coming. It is. Delany’s double-cross-wrought expansion drama earlier this year guaranteed that. Now Delany is trying to best position the Big Ten for the inevitable postseason shift - which was one of the reasons he plucked football-heavy Nebraska from the Big 12.When BCS conference commissioners last seriously considered a playoff in 2008, everything was peachy. Or “healthy’ as Delany and his unwitting accomplices referred to it at the time. The only effective dissenter to Delany’s charade was the SEC’s Slive, and he was shot down by men who put their trust in Delany’s repeated assurance that business had never been better.Guys like Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, who promised his member schools last April at its annual conference meetings that Delany would contact him if the Big Ten planned to attempt to add a Big 12 team. (”I trust him implicitly,” Beebe said.)Two months later, Nebraska was in the Big Ten and Beebe was the last to know.
And … while we’re on the subject of unwitting accomplices, how about the timeline of Nebraska boarding Delany’s train?
On July, 1, 2009, Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman was named Chairman of the BCS Governance Oversight Committee. In other words, Perlman took over the highest public office of Delany’s beloved BCS.
11 months later, Nebraska blindsided Beebe and his Big 12 constituents by joining Delany’s Big Ten. At the same time as the Big Ten move, Perlman ascended to the highest NCAA post a university president can occupy, Chairman of the NCAA Board of Directors.
So having just served duty as designated BCS Presidential Pinata, see his embarrassing performance before Orrin Hatch and the U.S. Senate in 2009, Perlman oversaw Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten and also was named the NCAA’s Chairman of the Board.
It is interesting to note though that the NCAA initiated the expansion of March Madness without consulting Delany or any athletic personnel whatsoever. Shaheen did consult with the NCAA Board of Directors (university presidents) but that was before Perlman took over as Chairman.
What’s that tell you about what the NCAA thinks of Delany these days?
But now that Delany’s has Perlman as Chair of the NCAA Board of Directors, you can guarantee he’ll be in the loop on everything that matters.
So. Now you know the truth about the BCS.
The BCS isn’t a “they” or an “it.” It’s a “him.”