The Era of Stupid Government Is Permanent


You might have missed this turd landing into the Friday afternoon punchbowl:

The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.

Smarter than his senator

In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch's request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason," Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

Several lawmakers and many critics want the BCS to switch to a playoff system, rather than the ratings system it uses to determine the teams that play in the championship game.

If you don't know what the BCS is, well, that's kind of my point.

Whole thing here. And yes, amazingly, this is nothing new.

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: Obama Budget Projects Record Deficit, White House Wants Overhaul of NCLB, Cold Meds May Soon Require a Prescription

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I don’t get why everyone hates the BCS. It’s not perfect, but it makes every game count. Not like that socialist March Madness where everyone gets a shot. It’s already at 65 teams and people want to expand it. Why even play a regular season?

    Oh and people who want the government involved in this stuff should be tarred and feathered.

    1. BS on every game counting. After all the Ole Miss victory over Florida eliminated the Gators in 2008, right?

      Well, you know, its understandable that UF still won the title with no undefeated teams floating around. Oh wait….

      I agree on the whole government involvement thing, but anyone who falls for the whole “regular season is a playoff” bullshit is a grade Z moron. (thats 25 steps worse than the grade A variety)

      Many top teams refuse to schedule OOC games due to the current system. With a playoff, we will have better in season games, just like we do in basketball. I personally favor 11 conference winners + 5 at large in a 16 team playoff – that seems to be near minimal acceptable.

      Now, if you really want “the regular season to be a playoff”, you would have zero at large bids and only take the 11 conference winners (plus an optional 12 if the best independent team is, say, in the top 25 overall). Best 5(4) teams get byes, little conferences beat each other up in first round, get to round of 8. I dont see the SEC going for that though.

      1. What the 16 team above proposal would have looked like, and why it would have made the regular season MORE important (final BCS rankings used to seed/determine at-large – LSU/Penn St flipped to avoid LSU-UF intraconference rematch in 1st round):

        16 Troy @ 1 Alabama
        9 Ga Tech @ 8 Ohio St
        13 LSU @ 4 TCU
        12 Penn St @ 5 Florida
        15 E Carolina @ 2 Texas
        10 Iowa @ 7 Oregon
        14 C Michigan @ 3 Cincinnati
        11 Va Tech @ 6 Boise St

        The Bama/Florida SEC championship game was just for seeding, so that lessens its importance, although home field matters and UF would only have 1 home game while Bama would have 2 or 3 (final will be neutral site like at other levels, depends if the semis are neutral or not, I would do semis neutral site on Jan 1, but that isnt how other divisions work).

        The Big12 championship game mattered to Texas and Nebraska was playing for a BCS bowl, with a playoff, Texas is only playing for seeding (which is important) but Nebraska is suddenly playing for a spot in the tourney. Which makes that game vitally important to Penn St, who needed Nebraska to lose to get the last at-large spot.

        The GT-Clemson ACCCG was winner take all, instead of being for an OB spot, it was for a spot in the tourney, loser is out. Ditto that Cincy-Pitt game (although Cincy might have got an at-large). All of the late season games for Iowa, Penn St, LSU and VT were vitally important, they were out of it as far as BCS championships, but still in it if a playoff existed. Not to mention the games of the teams that didnt get in because they didnt win.

        The GT-UGA game didnt matter much this year. GT had already clinched the division in the ACC and with the loss to Miami was out of the BCS race. But, that loss made the ACCCG winner take all, with a win over UGA, GT would have had a spot even with a loss to the Tigers. Also, a win in that game would have meant a first round home field game.

        The regular season games would be HUGELY important with a playoff – now many of them dont matter at all.

        It costs a bit of value to a few games, and greatly increases the important of dozens of games. And, with a tweak to the rankings to encourage strong OOC opponents, you can prevent teams from scheduling 4 sisters of the poor to get an at-large bid.

        1. I’d go with an 8 team playoff. All undefeated teams automatically qualify. The remaining spots determined by the BCS rankings and we go all the way back to the formula for the first BCS season (1998). They never would have needed to tweak it every year if there were a playoff.

          No automatic bids for any conference champion. the only guarantee is for undefeated teams. Everyone has a chance and no one can bitch. You want in? Run the table.

          Seedings determined by BCS rank, no preference for undefeated or conference champs. (Who wouldn’t love an 8th seed undefeated Boise State vs a top seed undefeated UF? Ratings monster.) Straight up 1v8 format. First game of playoff held the week immediately after the conference title games at the home stadiums of the top 4 seeds. Then, semi-finals at big bowl sites somewhere between Xmas and New Year’s with the Final a week later give or take a day or two for TV scheduling also at a neutral field.

          If the NCAA still wants to have 30 some odd other bowls, they can go right ahead and have them. They will still retain their relevance which is zero already.

          1. I disagree only because I think being a champion (winning your conference) should mean something. OOC games are basically just “friendlies”, to steal a soccer term. 🙂 Im okay with an 11 team playoff, as I mentioned, but figure if you have the extra round, might as well invite 5 more teams.

            1. If a 3 or 4 loss team can win their conference and get into a limited team playoff, I see that as problematic for the legitimacy I was hoping would come to the football tournament. A 3 or 4 loss team could potentially win the championship and no one would take any of it seriously when you could be excluding a ton of 1 or 2 loss teams and in the history of college football no one with that many losses has ever even been in the discussion for the title.

              1. That team would be crushed in the 1st round, like Troy would have by Alabama this year.

                Even if it was a major conference team that backed in, last FSU when they beat VT in the ACCCG a few years back, wouldnt got on a run as a 7-5 team. Not win 4 in a row, anyway. And if they can, that says more about the “undefeated” teams than it does the 4 loss team.

                1. I apologize for the lack of coherence in that last post. If only the squirrel would install a preview button.

                2. If they’re gonna get crushed, why bother? And it still holds true the tournament would lose legitimacy we’re aiming for if they did end up running the table and winning it all. Besides, I don’t think you’ll ever see a 16 team playoff. There are enough people as it is that don’t want more than 4. 8 at least lets in all the undefeateds and some one loss at larges. Conference champions can still go to their worthless New Year’s day bowls if they’re so important.

                  1. Boise State went undefeated. They would have had an automatic berth under your earlier suggestion. They would have had their asses handed to them by about half the SEC this year. That’s what robc was talking about in his incoherent post. BSU may have been undefeated, but with a SoS of 98, it’s pretty easy to win em all.

                    1. Gotta take a nap. Starting to see double.

                  2. Boise State went undefeated. They would have had an automatic berth under your earlier suggestion. They would have had their asses handed to them by about half the SEC this year. That’s what robc was talking about in his incoherent post. BSU may have been undefeated, but with a SoS of 98, it’s pretty easy to win em all.

                    1. Boise State would have gotten in under robc’s scenario as well since they won their conference. I’d much rather pare it down to 8 and let the undefeated school try on the glass slipper than let a 3 loss BCS school get a shot just because they won a conference championship game. There’s nothing particularly special about winning a conference championship game in college football.

                    2. There’s nothing particularly special about winning a conference championship game in college football.

                      Actually there is, as that is the highest level trophy available, as there is no national championship. Hence the referrals to MNCs. (and no, the BCS is no more legit than the pre-BCS “awards”).

                      I preferred the old days when bowls were a reward over the current system.

                    3. Conference Championship games are relatively new. They don’t carry much tradition.

                      IMO, the bowls suck, and I love college football. But, to each his own. I hope my suggestion is closer to the eventual result than yours, but at least yours wouldn’t exclude any undefeated teams.

                    4. I was referring to conference championships in general, whether there is a game or not.

          2. No automatic bids for any conference champion. the only guarantee is for undefeated teams. Everyone has a chance and no one can bitch. You want in? Run the table.

            You want in? Schedule patsies.

            1. As Kansas State can attest, destroying directional schools does not make you a stronger program. The football gods punish you with the Alamo Bowl.

              1. It didnt work for K St, but Alabama did a good job with both Fla Intl and Chattanooga this year.

                However, that is too hard for them, so next year they are playing Ga State, who will be playing there first year of football.

                Thats right, the defending champs are going to crush some poor team who has never played football before. At least they are waiting until late in the year when they are injured and beat up instead of getting to them fresh.

      2. Its the SEC. It’s almost always the toughest conference and nearly impossible to get through undefeated. The SEC champion should always get to play in the championship.

        /fanatic hackery

    2. The regular season is great and the post season is meaningless to all, but one game, possibly two games at most. That makes sense, make the post season a ton less meaningful than the regular season.

    3. BCS, hell. Why stop there? How much of the world is actually represented in the World Series? That’s sports fraud on a global scale! It’s sports imperialism! Why won’t Congress act?

  2. Football is a bore. I vote for the tar and feather competition.

  3. It’s about time government Did Something to Solve This Problem. Clearly, they’ve already solved every other problem they’ve ever been tasked with, and now they’re just fine tuning Utopia’s knobs and levers.

    1. I dont understand this argument. Wouldnt you rather have them wasting time on college football instead of health care?

      1. When they came for the BCS I did nothing…

      2. It’s all the same. They think we need their Help and Guidance to solve all our problems. If you accept this kind of nonsense, you don’t have a leg to stand on when denying the other garbage. It’s all just symptoms of the same nanny state disease. Death Panelist said it shorter.

        1. I dont accept this kind of nonsense either. But since I know it wont go anywhere, I like to see them wasting time on it.

          1. I can appreciate that you’re a college football fanatic, but this whole playoff issue needs to be worked out internally. It’s just sickening to see the government sticking its damn nose in here. Orrin Hatch in particular has had a hard-on for this bullshit intervention for YEARS. We don’t need yet another instance of the government wielding its utterly arbitrary anti-trust club.

            1. I do agree with you. If I thought they would actually get anywhere it would bother me.

              1. I invision Congress using the threat of witholding federal funds to get schools to force the BCS to restructure the postseason. It works every time.

      3. That’s a very, very good point.

      4. I’d rather they take long vacations with their families when they aren’t repealing legislation.

  4. I will gladly pay $200 a ticket to watch congressmen be tarred and feathered. We gotta do something with those college football stadiums during the off season.

    I must admit to being a little torn on this issue. On the down side, it’s horrendous that the gov’t thinks this is any of their business, regardless on the merits of the respective arguments. On the plus side, if this keeps them occupied for any length of time, it stops them from focusing their attention on areas where they could do worse damage.

  5. I had rather the government focus on this then what they have been doing.

    1. Totally agree. I wish Washington D.C. would devote all its energies to solving the college football crisis. Maybe spend a year or two on it.

  6. If Obama would limit his stupidity to things like the BCS, we could still have unemployment under 7%. We should be encouraging this behavior, not mocking it (at least for this president).

    1. Ii’m with you. This is exactly what government should be doing. In fact, if Obama could spend the next three years working on this and steroids in sports, I’d be pleased as punch.

  7. Curses, JohnD, you beat me by seconds!

  8. It seems we’ve all given up on colleges actually educating anyone. How did college football really get to the point where anyone gave a rats ass?

    1. I blame Harvard. Although it really is Princeton’s and Rutger’s fault.

      1. What does Rutger Hauer have to do with college football??

    2. As so often, The Onion does it best:

      “It’s been clear for a while that Florida State’s mission is to provide the young men and women enrolled here with a world-class football program, and this is the best way to cut the fat and really focus on making us No. 1 every year,” Hart said. “While it’s certainly possible for an academic subsidiary to bring a certain amount of prestige to an athletic program, the national polls have made it that our non-athletic operations have become a major distraction.”

      1. also, look at this:……htmlstory

        When you have almost 70 college football head coaches making over $1 million a year (moer than 20 making $2 million+), the vast majority of them at state universities being paid out of the public purse, things have got totally out of hand. Essentially, you have state universities running, for all intents and purposes, multimillion professional sports franchises. It’s ridiculous.

        1. should have been “multimillion dollar professional sports franchises”

      2. Things are funniest when they’re true. When I went there, it was football first, drinking a close second. The Marching Chiefs were more important than the top rated music school because of the football team.

    3. Gate reciepts, alumni pride, gate reciepts, gate reciepts. Pretty sure broadcast revenue, endorsements, branding and other revenue streams followed.

      The true test of giving a shit is how big a check you will write.

      1. OK, but as a libertarian, you don’t have some problem with a state institution set up for one purpose (education) engaging in a multimillion dollar business related only very tangentially to that purpose?

        Also, I saw an economic analysis last year (see if I can find it) that said that most college football programs (except for a very few extremely successful ones) are net money losers for schools (eevn taking all the alumni stuff into account). It has a lot to do with prestige and jobs.

        I don’t think this is something we should support.

        1. OK, but as a libertarian, you don’t have some problem with a state institution set up for one purpose (education) engaging in a multimillion dollar business related only very tangentially to that purpose?

          I have major problems with that. Might as well start with the core problem: government funded schools exist.

        2. It would be one thing if it were done to support these places. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the money brought in from tuitions were being used to support the football program rather that the other way around.

          1. I believe that, in most cases, it is the tuition supporting the football/basketball programs, rather than the other way round — if only I could find that analysis.

        3. Okay, first off, I went to a football factory (Texas). The football and men’s basketball programs at Texas fund the entire athletic department. The athletic department is self sustaining except for new capital projects. Most schools don’t work that way. The average a few years back was that football programs lost 4 million a year.

          Having said that, my boss graduated from a university that dropped it’s football program back in the 60s. After they dropped the football program, incoming enrollment suffered a substantial hit. I realize its only one data point, but the 4 million it costs to run the program may be cheap compared to losing a quarter of your incoming freshman class. I dunno.

          1. I realize its only one data point, but the 4 million it costs to run the program may be cheap compared to losing a quarter of your incoming freshman class. I dunno.

            But for a state school, their goal should presumably be to offer the best education possible at the lowest cost to taxpayers. I don’t see why they need to invest millions in sporting teams to compete with other colleges. Let students go elsewhere.

            I feel that the state schools have been captured by vested sporting interests, and are screwing the taxpayers.

            1. Here we go: the source is the NCAA itself!
              Between 2004 and 2006, the median football program earned $8.3 million in revenue, and cost $8.3 million. So for most schools, a football program is a net drain of money.

              1. sorry, should be $8.3 million revenue, and $8.5 million of expenses.

            2. But the taxpayers apparently want the football, so how are they getting screwed?

              1. But the taxpayers apparently want the football

                Really? How do you know that? Was there a ballot initiative? Why should regulatory capture not work here like it does in every other part of government? Not all government spending reflects popular will.

                1. How do I know people want college football? Are you kidding me? 28.5 million people watched the TX/AL game.

                  As an aside, I tend to think the state schools should be either taken off the public dole or drastically restructured. But if we’re talking about 200K in the budget of a university, we’re fiddling at the margins.

                  1. the question is not whether or not “people want college football.” The question is whether they want the state owning professional (for all intents and purposes) sporting franchises.

  9. I see that Mr Hatch is still upset that his Utes and Bring’em Young’s keep missing their opportunity to make the big game because..I mean come on..they’re in the Mountain West division.

  10. And yes, amazingly, this is nothing new.

    And yet I am not amazed.

  11. I would love to see something like what robc has proposed. It would give teams like the Utes and the Broncos a chance to prove themselves against the big boys. I would have loved to see Boise State play Florida a few weeks ago to find out just what they are made of. The BCS is horribly screwy, IMO, but I don’t know that Congress needs to stick their thumb in that pie. If their are anti-trust issues they should be addressed through legal channels. Not by Congress because some high powered senator feels vicariously slighted and sees a chance to get some more votes come election time.

    1. Plus my idea has the potential of a Miami @ Wisconsin game in mid-December. A must watch game. Miami struggles any time in the game kicks off below 60F, maybe they can do better after the thermostat raps around.

      1. Last I heard, the BSU vs VT game was being rescheduled to be played Sept. 6 in D.C. Bronco fans are a bit concerned about the heat and humidity being a huge factor.

    2. Wow. I just got a call. Apparently, because of some new rules, you can spell “their” more than one way. Maybe wiki will help me learn.

      1. Its BS. All homonyms are interchangeable on the internet.

        pin/pen (yes they are)

        *Ky hick accent required

        1. Is the Alabama cracker drawl acceptable?

          1. Not sure. Bama cracka is a subset of the southern accent family, while Ky hick is a subset of mid-atlantic.

            Bama was influenced way more by black english than Ky. Of course, that was the high end southern not the crackers. But I think it filtered down.

            1. ‘Bama has a cracker accent? I thought it was Chicago/Kenyan.

        2. You left off the asterisk after ‘pin/pen’.

          1. That was intentional. The others bother me when I catch myself doing it. Pin/pen is pronounced the same way and anyone distinguishing them is wrong.

            1. I like the New Yawker reverse-equivalent: “marry/merry/Mary”.

            2. Pin and pen are not pronounced the same way everywhere. In my experience they’re only very close in the South.

                1. Not just with good clearance, but velocity and distance were admirable as well;)

                  1. I can’t believe I just did that.

  12. No one should go undefeated and not have at least a chance at the championship, like Utah, Boise State, TCU, Cincinnati, and Auburn have all experienced in recent years as well as many others over the life of the NCAA’s moronic bowl system.

    That said, if these government turds get their mitts on it, they’ll fuck it up, guaranteed.

    1. I agree with you, however, if Obama names me football czar, I promise not to fuck it up.

      As part of my idea, I give the bowls an option, they can stay around in December/January is the football NIT or they can move to Labor Day Weekend as a Thurs-Monday footballpalooza to kick off the season. The Peach Bowl is already experimenting with that with the ASC game every year in the GA Dome. Long weekend encourages travel. Good weather allows expansion of bowls to Yankee sites (I would travel to NYC/Boston/Seattle/Chicago to watch a football game and spend a long weekend). Record doesnt matter as everyone is 0-0 so Notre Dame could be unfairly invited to a big game every year and no one would care. Etc, etc.

  13. The Era of Stupid Government Is Permanent

    Was somebody under the illusion that it wasn’t?

  14. I love the idea that they are trying to do this with anti-trust laws. If there football were managed by a free market no one would ever invite BYU or Utah to a bowl. Tiny TV market. Fans that don’t drink. Look at the ratings for the Fiesta bowl last year (two non BCS, but also non Utah teams). Dismal.

    The only way a playoff happens is using the monopoly power of the NCAA.

    1. Fiesta Bowl had surprisingly good ratings.

    2. I’m curious as to why there’s a BYU fan in the pic. Yes, Hatch is a alum, but BYU hasn’t sniffed a BCS berth… Odd.

      1. Not just any fan, my ma-in-law. (at least I think it is. Hard to tell without the beard)

  15. Point 1: every minute the Congress spends on this irrelevancy is a minute they’re not proposing a cat food stamp program.

    Point 2: Any college football championship game that doesn’t include the Iowa Hawkeyes is a fraud. Ricky Stanzi Americanzi! Fuck Yeah!

    1. Real americans dont get hurt against northwestern.

      1. You clearly don’t understand the principles of StanziBall.

        1. Fumble 3 times and throw 5 pick-sixes in the first 55 minutes.

        2. ???

        3. Profit 36-35!

        3.1. Love it or leave it, commie!

        1. You left out:

          4. Have a top notch defense to bail your ass out.

          I was at the coldest OB ever, I understand Stanziball far too well.

          1. Seriously, tho, the best way to determine a playoff (non-governmentally) is through a objective point system, e.g.,:

            1 point for every home win
            2 points for every away win
            1 point for every Div I-A win by the teams you defeat

            You could play around with the point values, but it would be simple and obviate the need for subjective polls. The simple point system I described would have resulted in pairing at least the last 3 BCS championship games.

            1. I would end subjectivity by getting rid of human voters and expanding to about 12 computer systems (and get rid of the piece of crap Billingsley system while at it). Having coaches vote is just a horrible conflict of interest.

              1. I don’t have any problem with the computer polls; in fact I did a blog post on how to mathematically replicate Sagarin here


                The problem is that the average fan distrusts them, and thinks of them as opaque statistical gobbledegook. The advantage of a point system like I described is that an average fan could easily calculate / verify a team’s season points. And it mathematically is a close approximation to Sagarin, et al..

                1. Fuck the average fan.

                2. For my school, the “average” fan has an engineering degree, so may be slightly more likely to understand computer systems/statistics.

  16. I just think all the players should get trophies, even if their team doesn’t win, because it’s all about the sportsmanship.

    1. I’m sponsoring just such a bill, named after my granddaughter.

    2. How about 9th and 10th place trophies for teams? Can call them “The Folker’s”

  17. Also, Congress needs to address college football’s endemic discrimination against women and 5’4″ Asian graduate students with 3.9 GPAs.

    1. I think it is high time for a football league for female Asian players that are 5’4″ and less than 121 pounds. Uniforms optional. To be broadcast in 3D HD.

      1. Already working on that. Was going to do it all virtual, but real Asians are so much cheaper.

  18. There really isn’t anything President Obama doesn’t think is any of his business, is there?

    I’d really like to hear him say it if there is. I am so weary of hearing that we’re a bunch of ideologues and we don’t think the government should do anything…

    Maybe someone should ask Obama point blank, “Mr. President, is there anything you wouldn’t get involved just because it isn’t any of your business?”

  19. They should have a play off system and Obama can give the BCS a couple billion dollars of stimulus money to create, Oh at least thousands or even 1.5 or 2 million jobs depending who you are asking, Gibbs, Axelrod or Jarrett ?

  20. Better they muck around with something irrelevant like the BCS than health care.

  21. This could be a good thing. FTC action would concern advertising only, so they could get around that simply by referring to “the big game” instead of a championship, etc. Once that’s done or even contemplated, fedgov will have to turn to the anti-trust investig’n, and that can hardly help but looking into the entire NCAA as a combination in restraint of trade. Considering the high proportion of state institutions making it up, is that a bad thing? Consider also that the NCAA was formed in response to gov’t pressure against football.

  22. Yeah, when I consider how these same schools are indoctrination camps for big government socialism I really have a hard time losing sleep over the fact that big government is screwing with their cash cows.

    1. Close, but not quite. These schools — as all universities — have become addicted to federal cash in the form of student grants and loans, and research funding.

      The idea that they are bastions of private enterprise is laughable. You take federal money, you get federal interference.

      1. Well, the death knell was when the feds said “if we give your students money, you have to obey our rules”. There’s very few schools that had the stones to tell the fed to piss off after that.

  23. All antitrust laws are horseshit.

  24. When will the Senate get around to investigating (and imposing confiscatory taxes on) the salaries of college football coaches? It’s an outrage, I tells ya!

  25. One more reason to hate college sports.

  26. Anything that breaks the NCAA is good with me. Fuck those guys who make billions of dollars on the backs of unpaid athletes and act all aghast when it turns out that there is a market for players and the players are smart enough to ask for something other than a worthless physiology degree in return.

  27. we all need a transparent and positive government….

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.