Orrin Hatch, on the BCS: "This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent"
The senior senator from Utah is still pissed that his undefeated University of Utah Utes football team was not awarded the national championship this year by the National Collegiate Association of America's Bowl Championship Series system. I have heard that there are plenty of non-Mormons out there who share Hatch's unhappiness with the BCS. Unlike the singin' senator, however, they don't have access to massive, pointless power. Here's Hatch writing at ESPN.com:
[M]any of the schools from the BCS's privileged conferences enjoy a number of legitimate advantages, including enormous budgets, attractive locations, winning traditions, and market attractiveness.
BCS officials have claimed that the inequities of their system are the natural result of these pre-existing factors. If the only problem were that SEC schools typically have better teams than schools from the Mountain West, it would difficult for anyone who believes in the free market to complain.
The problem with the BCS is that it creates disadvantages that are systemic. At the most basic level, it is an agreement among schools and conferences that are supposed to be competitors to reduce competition among themselves and, even worse, to limit the competition they receive from the outside.
This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent. That being the case, the ultimate consequence of the BCS's refusal to acknowledge the outcries of football fans throughout the country may end up being intervention by the courts or the Justice Department.
This, of course, would be regrettable. But, up to now, the architects of the BCS seem to have purposefully eliminated any more desirable options.
This, of course, would be regrettable, and not just in a sadness-more-than-anger way.
I neither follow college football nor really understand those adults who do, but if one was really intent to misuse antitrust law on the billion-dollar industry, wouldn't the discussion begin with the fact that the NCAA cartel prohibits its primary bread-winners from being paid?
Hat tip to reader Jim Murphy, who adds: "At the same time, I like the idea of Congress spending their days in pissing matches over college sports…"