Department of Justice questioning the BCS

Submitted by aawolverine on May 4th, 2011 at 5:00 PM

"In a letter this week, the Justice Department's antitrust chief, Christine Varney, asked NCAA president Mark Emmert why college football doesn't use a playoff system to determine its national champion while other NCAA sports do; what steps the NCAA has taken to create one; and whether Emmert thinks there are aspects of the BCS system that don't serve the interest of fans, schools and players."



May 5th, 2011 at 9:29 AM ^

I'm willing to wager with anyone out there that there will be a more open playoff system in the next 10 years.  The opening of this investigation is very encouraging, and to quell any worries about the government wasting its resources, there are antitrust divisions at the Department of Justice that deal solely with antitrust cases, so we're not pulling investigators away from the war on terror so they can handle the BCS issue.  In addition, any law school grad with a slight anti trust background who has read past cases involving the NCAA could make an extremely powerful argument that this is violating antitrust policies in ways significantly worse than when the courts have found violations in the past.  

The NCAA will have to make an argument that the current system benefits their product economically.  Given the success of the NCAA basketball tournament and the overwhelming public support of a playoff, it will come down to whether the NCAA could make a coherent argument that would show that these conference restrictions are necessary to help the NCAA compete economically against other forms of entertainment relative to a less restrictive playoff system.

The whole "we don't want the players playing too many games" will fall on deaf ears.  First, they do it in all other levels of NCAA football, and second, this is not an economic argument that is required.  

The truth is that the major conferences want their guaranteed $10m slot games.  The powers of the Big East and ACC.....and to some extent, the Big 12,  Big 10, and Pac 10 are worried that in some years, an 8 team playoff system will be comprised of 3 SEC teams, 2 non-majors, and 3 other schools that aren't from their conference.  The biggest BCS fans are the Big East and ACC, since this would happen to them almost every year.

After all is said and done, the major conferences in the NCAA are using their powerful positions to remain in powerful positions, and the NCAA is restricting the market of college football without an economic justification, which are both antitrust violations.


May 5th, 2011 at 10:54 AM ^

I'm with the President on this one (except for the remark about trimming back the regular season):

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I would like to see an eight-team playoff in college football.  Six of the teams would be the conference champions from the BCS conferences with two at-large bids.  If a conference champion is not in the Top 15 of the BCS standings (or whatever rating system is used), then that auto-bid is not used and a third at-large team gets into the playoff.  That conference champion would be given a berth in a major bowl.  Teams from the same conference would not play one another in the first round, so there may be an occasion for some reseeding among the eight programs to ensure this doesn't happen.

The first two rounds of the playoffs would take place at the home stadium of the higher seed.  The first four games would take place on the second weekend of December with the semi-finals during the third weekend.  The bowl games would then run from that time period through 1 January with the national championship game following the completion of the bowl games.  The national championship game can go to different sites or be permanently placed in one location like the Rose Bowl.

Using this system, the eight teams in the playoff from last year would have been paired up as follows:

#8 Virginia Tech (11-2, ACC Champion) v. #1 Auburn (13-0, SEC Champion)

#5 Wisconsin (11-1, B10 Champion) v. #4 Stanford (11-1, Pac 10 At Large)

#7 Oklahoma (11-2, B12 Champion) v. #2 Oregon (12-0, Pac 10 Champion)

#6 Ohio State (11-1, B10 At Large) v. #3 Texas Christian (12-0, MWC At Large)

Big East conference champion Connecticut is not included in the playoff because the team was no rated in the Top 15 of the BCS standings.  High ranked teams that would go to the major bowls (Rose, Orange, etc.) in lieu of the playoffs would include Arkansas (10-2, #8 in BCS Standings), Michigan State (11-1, #9), Boise State (11-1, #10) along with LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Nevada (these last four teams are in the Top 11 to 15 in the BCS Standings).   An example of the bowl matchups would be something like this:

Rose:  Michigan State v. Boise State

Sugar:  Arkansas v. Missouri

Orange:  LSU v. Oklahoma State

Fiesta:  Connecticut v. Nevada  

The regular season would be relevant to the end because (1) teams will be looking at getting seeded as high as possible to ensure home field advantage and (2) winning a conference championship title is required for all non-independents and the majority of the BCS conferences now have conference championship games (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac 10/12).

Independent teams (currently Army, BYU, Navy and ND) can get in via the available at-large bids only. 

Will Vereene

May 5th, 2011 at 11:24 AM ^

In reading the comments of most of the posters, one thin is clear: The current BCS system is not perfect. 

So I want to see something that may be better or at least different.

I remember a post from a few years back about a very insightful proposal for an 8-team playoff. In the spirit of fairness, I have been also waiting to see more proposals that may actually make it past the development stage, and even though Mark Cuban's really biased, his "independent" research firm "Radical Football" may offer a modern and somewhat popular scenario to have the best college football teams in the final.