Could Just 1 Person Be Responsible For BCS? Yes

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:

During his appearance, Senator Orrin Hatch asked Perlman: “Is it fair to pick teams when you do not even go and see–when the criteria does not require you to even go and see a game? And let us use the Mountain West Conference as a perfect illustration.”Perlman: “I appreciate that it may seem unfair and it may, in fact, be unfair.”When Perlman said that, “in fact,” the BCS “may be unfair,” he occupied the highest position that the BCS could provide.5) NCAA championships and business strategies guru Greg Shaheen: Shaheen is the man I first exposed early this year as the NCAA’s architect of the expansion of March Madness to 96 teams.An expansion that happened for one reason and one reason only: Increased revenue to cover the brutal shortfalls that result from staging nearly 100 NCAA championship events every year. (But not including the BCS.)Shaheen, who recently got a promotion from new NCAA President Emmert, said of the reported hundreds of millions of dollars a college football playoff could add to the NCAA and its member school coffers, “If I had the authority, I’d address that.”6) Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee: As president of the school with the largest athletic budget in the country, overlord of one of the highest-profile college football programs in the nation and probably the most vocal supporter of the BCS in the past decade, one would assume Gee exerts considerable influence in BCS matters.Remember Gee recently telling the ASSOCIATED PRESS that TCU and Boise State - despite BCS-enabled spots in the national championship race - did not face a difficult enough schedule to play in the national championship game?

“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.”

With the nonexistent public support Gee received from colleagues after his statements about Boise State and TCU, who now has the more relevant opinion about the future of the BCS, Gee or Tressel?To recap, here are the people who are not responsible for the BCS:1) The NCAA President2) The Chairman of the NCAA Board of Directors3) The 2009-10 former Chairman of the BCS Governance Oversight Commitee (Top BCS Position)4) The NCAA employee most responsible for initiating and carrying out the recent expansion of the NCAA basketball tournament  - and the accompanying television rights negotiation5) BCS game broadcaster ESPN: the world’s most powerful sports television network6) The man who oversees the top BCS college football conference in America, the SEC Commissioner7) The University President presiding over the largest school athletic budget in the country and prominent BCS college football programs in the nation 8) You and me.My god. Who then does that leave?Who is still out there who benefits enough to want to do everything in his power to keep the BCS alive?THIS: Read more…

Report: Final 4 On Turner, NCAA Games On truTV

John Ourand & Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL report today:

Tru TV

ESPN has told the NCAA that it will not increase its bid to obtain the NCAA men’s basketball tournament rights, clearing the way for CBS and Turner to share the rights starting next year, according to sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

As I’ve written previously here, I fully expected CBS to outbid ESPN for the broadcast rights to March Madness, and apparently Turner has partnered with CBS to help up that bid on what will reportedly be a 14-year broadcast rights deal worth $710M annually.

From shortly after the time I first reported on Feb. 1 that the NCAA would expand to 96 teams, NCAA Senior VP/Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen has denied that a plan was in place to expand the tournament by 32 teams. He did the same in SBJ’s report: Read more…

CBS Source: 96-Team Tournament “Will Happen”

On Feb. 3, 2009, I reported that the NCAA basketball tournament field would be expanded to 96 teams, with the change likely to take effect in 2011.

March Madness Brackets Torn To Shreds

(Consolation: You already tore it up yesterday anyway)

In the past week I’ve learned from a CBS source that the NCAA has privately informed its current March Madness television partner that 96 teams “will happen.” The change will likely take effect beginning next season. 2012 at the latest.

CBS is in the eighth year of an 11-year, $6 billion contract to broadcast the tournament, but, as SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL reports, the NCAA can opt out of the deal this year if it does so before August 31.

The NCAA basketball tournament’s “unofficial czar“, senior VP of basketball and business strategies Greg Shaheen, said on March 9:

Contrary to what you’ve read on various blogs and the like, there’s nothing that’s a done deal or decided at this point in time. We’re full steam ahead with our agreement with CBS through 2013.

On the same day, CBS Sports President Sean McManus said:

Our plan is to carry the NCAA Tournament on CBS as long as we can. We’re focused right now on this year and not on next year. As far as expansion of the tournament is concerned, that’s something that Greg Shaheen would address. We really are focused on this year’s tournament. I don’t like to think about anything but this year’s tournament right now.

I think we have a history at CBS of keeping the events that we want to keep on our network. We’ve always done a good job of renewing the rights, and I would like to think that would follow through to the NCAA Tournament.

When we have an event that we like on CBS Sports, I think the track record’s pretty good about figuring out a way - whether it’s the NFL, or SEC football, or the Masters, or the PGA Championship, or U.S. Open Tennis. We’ve been pretty successful at keeping those marquee events where I think they belong, which is on CBS.

McManus didn’t sound as confident about a future arrangement between the parties as the NCAA’s Shaheen did. Though McManus didn’t want talk about tournament field expansion to overshadow his network’s 2010 coverage of March Madness. Especially considering that the expanded tournament might not involve CBS.

If the NCAA does exercise its escape clause with CBS, other networks will try to acquire the rights. (I’ve been told the NCAA has already had detailed discussions with ESPN about it.) Though my CBS source said the network is determined not to lose its flagship sports property, the measure of that determination will be counted in millions in increased rights fees.

While everyone knows money is behind 96, some may be unaware of just exactly who is driving the change. Read more…