When Kyle asked me a couple weeks ago if I'd be interested in posting while he was on vacation with the family, I honestly didn't know what I could bring the table. Thankfully Orrin Hatch and his crusade against America have provided me with the perfect conversation fodder. I post every now and then over at my site, but nothing as insightful like the fine folks here at Dawg Sports. As such, I realized I needed to step up my game. In doing so, I decided to talk about something that everyone that cares about college football has an opinion about while making my title a nice play on words from some recent articles here. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post, but once I started typing the words just started flowing and this is something that I feel strongly about. I hope you enjoy reading it and dissecting as much it as I did writing it.
Let me preface this piece by saying this is not a "pro-BCS/anti-playoff post", but rather my insight into why I think Orrin Hatch is misguided in his attempts to label the BCS as anti-trust. The playoff or no playoff debate is a topic for another day. Senator Blutarsky has covered this very well, but things are starting to heat up based on Hatch's article in the recently released Sports Illustrated as well as the fact that his anti-trust committee is having hearings on the BCS this week. I will break down Senator Hatch's points and point out what is right and what is wrong about each.
Hatch's first argument about why the anti-trust hearings are necessary is because of the unfairness that the smaller conferences (i.e. WAC/MWC) face when being considered for the national championship. Teams like Utah, Boise State, and Hawaii have gone undefeated in recent years, yet they were never considered national title contenders because of the perceived weakness of their respective conferences. Hatch summarizes his point with the following quote:
"It seems every year an obviously deserving team is left out of the BCS due to its arcane and, to put it bluntly, biased nature," Hatch wrote.
This is one point that I agree with Mr. Hatch. I even went on record last season and outright stated that there were four teams that deserve a slice of the proverbial national championship pie. I don't care that Florida held the trophy at the end of the day; Utah certainly deserved some sort of recognition for what they were, a championship football team.
Mr. Hatch's second point about the inequities of the BCS and how it may impact competition in the marketplace is due to the way revenue is handed out. He makes the point that poor teams (i.e. Baylor/Vanderbilt/Stanford) from the BCS conferences still get to share in the BCS money no matter what they do summed up by this quote from his SI piece:
"Every team from a preferred conference automatically receives a share from an enormous pot of revenue generated by the BCS, even if they fail to win a single game," Hatch wrote. "On the other hand, teams from the less favored conferences are guaranteed to receive a much smaller share, no matter how many games they win."
This too is another point of the Senator's with which I agree. Teams like Vanderbilt and Kentucky have for years reaped the benefits of a system that they will likely never participate.
Hatch follows that previous quote with this doozy:
If "those with the power to reform the system" don't do so voluntarily, Hatch writes, then "legislation may be required to ensure that all colleges and universities receive an equal opportunity."
What I gather from this is that if the BCS conferences won't share all that ill-gotten BCS money with the poor little Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences, then by golly Congress is gonna show them.
It's at this point where Hatch loses me and why I think he will ultimately fail at his anti-trust pursuits. If Hatch is successful at his anti-trust pursuits against the BCS, we've lost a lot more than just a system for determining a national champion for the highest level of college football. This would be a loss for America. We are essentially throwing out 200+ years of free-market capitalism for socialism when there's an unfair system in place.
Let me qualify what I mean when I say "a loss for America". What Hatch either doesn't realize or fails to acknowledge publicly is the economic reality that is the current BCS setup. The reason teams from the SEC, Pac-10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Televen, and Notre Dame deserve the money and the teams from the MWC and WAC don't is very self-evident. Once the MWC and WAC teams can consistently sell out 80,000+ seats at every member school every Saturday, sell millions of dollars worth of merchandise, and have TV execs foaming at the mouth to offer ridiculous sums of money just to broadcast their games, then maybe the MWC and WAC do deserve a share of that money.
I had this conversation with a friend the other day and I think I came up with a great analogy for why the notion that the MWC/WAC deserve an equal share of revenue as do the BCS teams and Notre Dame is just asinine. Let's assume that I open a hamburger shack (MWC/WAC) with a couple of my friends. We make what is essentially a great hamburger that our customers love and swear that it's better than McDonald's (BCS Conferences & Notre Dame). One day I and my other co-owners get fed up when after months of trying we can't get the same licensing deal with Coca-Cola (BCS) that McDonald's does even though we only have one location, only about 20 regular customers, and our annual sales are less than a fraction of one percent of McDonald's annual sales. Luckily one of our regular customers is the chairman of the Senate Anti-Trust Committee. So we appeal to our customer in the hopes that we will get the same deal as McDonald's.
Sounds absolutely ridiculous, doesn't it? When you think about it, this scenario is essentially the deal that Hatch is trying to arrange for the smaller guys. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you're the MWC. You can have one decent team and put out an overall sub-par product, yet still reap the same benefits that conferences with multiple great teams and an overall great product do. This is why I think that Hatch will ultimately fail because sharing the wealth equally with those that have not earned it violates every principle of free-market capitalism that I can think of. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I believe in America and I think America will win this fight over the likes of Orrin Hatch and Joe Barton.
Let me know what you guys think. I've added a poll to see where you think this fight is headed. Comments, as always, are very welcomed.