Friday, December 02, 2005

Congress to Investigate Bowl Championship Series

Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, announced plans to investigate the Bowl Championship Series.

There’s no doubt that this system to pick the college football national champion is deeply flawed. First of all, it isn’t even a series. The system picks the teams for the four major bowls, with the number one team playing the number two team, but it is not a true playoff series where a team has the opportunity to advance and play for the championship.

Prior to the development of this system the mythical national champion was chosen by wire service polls after the completion of the major bowls, often with controversy over who was really the best team. The current system has the top two teams, as picked by a combination of polls and computer analysis, play each other in one bowl. One flaw has been that, while who should be ranked number one was not always clear after all the bowl games were played in the past, currently who should be the top two after the regular season but before the bowls are played is no more certain. Often teams which may be just as good as the top two teams are denied any chance of playing for the national championship.

Another adverse effect of the system is to trivialize all but one bowl. Prior to the BCS teams would sometimes move ahead of a few other teams to win the national championship after the results of all the bowls were known. Now that only the teams in one bowl can win the championship the other bowls lose their significance.

While there are definitely problems with the Bowl Championship Series, I’m not sure that this is something Congress should get involved in. The Republicans are often correct in their stated (even if not consistently-practiced) arguments against government getting involved in private matters. Besides, there are far more important things for Congress to be investigating, such as the unprecedented degree of corruption among its own leadership and the White House.


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