Is the BCS supposed to be fair?

Let me say up front that I have my own issues with the BCS. I believe it is in the best interests of college football to do away with the current format after the four-year contract between the BCS and ESPN expires after the games of January 2014.

I would like to see a seeded four-team playoff.  We would put the magic back into New Year’s Day by playing the semifinals in two of the big bowls on Jan. 1. A week later the two winners would play for the national championship. I believe this is the best way to move the sport forward without disrupting the current college football calendar and while keeping the bowl system intact.

And believe me folks, the university presidents are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the bowl system and the current college football calendar. Any changes in the post-season will have to fall within those presidential parameters. The presidents run the show. Not the media. Not the fans. Not the coaches or the players. The presidents who make up the BCS oversight committee will ultimately make this call.

Therefore, any proposed change to the system has to be rational and fact based, not emotion based. The presidents are not going to vote for an eight-team playoff because the majority of the fans and the media want it. They are not going to vote for a playoff because politicians know that bashing the BCS is like bashing the IRS: It’s easy and it plays well to the folks back home.

Now all of that is a preface to our question of the day:

Is the BCS supposed to be fair?

I’m serious.

What prompted the question was an email I received from Mr. Alan Fishel, whose law firm represents the fine people at the Mountain West Conference. In his email Mr. Fishel included a “BCS Revenue Discrimination Chart.”

I did not make that up.

Mr. Fishel’s point was that over the past four years the Mountain West and the WAC, who do not have automatic qualifier status,  have outperformed the ACC and the Big East (who do get automatic bids) when it comes to BCS TV ratings, rankings, and attendance. Here is his chart:

http://www.arentfox.com/email/fishel/BCS%20Revenue%20Discrimation%20Chart.pdf

Counselor, I will stipulate that your figures are correct and those conferences have performed better over the past four years than the Big East and ACC.

Mr. Fishel also points out that that the six equity conferences that formed the BCS back in 1998 (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10) have benefitted  substantially more from the BCS than the other five Division I-A conferences. Again, Mr. Fishel is right. In fact, I went back to 2004 when Urban Meyer’s Utah team earned a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.  Here are the total dollars paid out by the BCS, per conference, since 2004.

Big Ten——————$128.2 million

SEC———————–$123.6 million

Big 12——————–$119.1 million

Pac 10——————-$105.6 million

ACC———————-$105.6 million

Big East——————$105.6 million

Mountain West———-$42.4 million

WAC————————$31.3 million

C-USA———————-$12.6 million

MAC————————$9.7 million

Sun Belt——————–$8.2 million

Note: Notre Dame earned about $23 million in this same time period.

If you are keeping score at home, that’s about $687 million that has gone to the six equity or “privileged” conferences (as Senator Orrin Hatch likes to lovingly call them) and about $104 million to the other five “non-privileged” conferences. That’s a gap of about $583 million over six years.

Mr. Fishel goes on to say that “The revenue discrimination chart attached is meant to begin the process of shining light on what is occurring and will continue to occur, under the  BCS unless there are significant changes.”

Just out of curiosity I did a Google search on the words “BCS” and “fair” and there were tons of items, including Boise State president Robert Kustra who, not surprisingly, had looked at Mr. Fishel’s numbers and decided that the BCS was not “fair.”

I get nervous when politicians, media, and college presidents start throwing around words like “fair.” It is a moving definition. Some people think that if their neighbor drives a nicer car than them that it’s not fair. The term is too vague.

But however it is defined I must ask again: Where is it written that the BCS is SUPPOSED to be fair?

Here is the problem that I have with Mr. Fishel’s sometimes breathless argument:

No. 1: All of these numbers he cites are a matter of public record. Nobody has to shine a light on anything. It’s all out there. The six BCS equity conferences that put this deal together in 1998 and marketed it and grew it make a lot more money from this deal than the other five conferences. It was designed that way in 1998 by the television networks who were putting up the money. No news there.

No. 2: I want the five non-equity conferences to get as much money as they can out of the BCS pool. Keep pushing. Keep negotiating. Keep reminding the other conferences of your value. The Mountain West has a chance to play its way in to an automatic bid in 2012 and 2013.

But to say these conferences are the victims of “revenue discrimination” (I’ve got to write that one down for future use) is to presume they had a pre-existing claim to the BCS money pool that is somehow being denied.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany mentioned this last week and it bears repeating: Colleges and universities have institutional advantages based on geography, tradition, enrollment, endowments, etc. Institutions trade on those advantages, in some cases built over 100 years, in order to field the best athletics teams, the best law schools or to hire the best faculty. The lawyers produced at East Idaho State Teachers College may be every bit as good as those who from Harvard. But the lawyer with a sheepskin from Harvard has an advantage and that, gentle readers, ain’t gonna change.

So let’s tone down the rhetoric about “revenue discrimination” and come up with a plan that works. If the Mountain West keeps doing what it’s doing, it will become the seventh conference with an automatic bid in 2012. Then that league will get a full share of the BCS pie. The five non-automatic qualifier conferences were given a path to become an AQ.  The MWC, I believe, is going to succeed.

Last season, for the first time ever, two teams from non-AQ conferences (Boise State, TCU) went to a BCS Bowl. As a result the five conferences shared a record $24 million. Should they get more?

Yes, and they will. This year the BCS contract improves from $80 million per year (under Fox) to $125 million per year (under ESPN). So if the MWC and WAC get back to the BCS there will be more money available.

Maybe I’m wrong about all of this. Maybe the BCS should just throw all the money into one pot so that the Sun Belt and the Mid-American conferences, which have sent no teams to BCS bowls, will get the exact same share as the SEC, which has won four straight national championships and sent 10 teams to the BCS in six years. Maybe that would be the “fair” thing to do.

You tell me.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be subbing for Brandon Adams today on the “Brandon and Woolvey Show” at 11 a.m. on 790 The Zone. We’ll be taking a detailed look at the SEC, ACC, and Top 25 heading into the summer.

www.790thezone.com

255 comments Add your comment

Clarification

May 27th, 2010
12:19 pm

Totally agree Tony. It’s just another indication of the increasingly socialist mindset pervading western culture these days. Everyone has to be perfectly equal(no “discrimination”), if you’ve made too much money with your own hard work, you need to share it with others, and if you don’t, we’re going to force you. It’s garbage, but that’s the direction we’re heading and there doesn’t seem to be any turning back.

RxDawg

May 27th, 2010
12:20 pm

The BCS conferences should just split from the division and form their own division. Then the MAC, WAC, SUN, and all those other lovely conferences can do whatever they want.

That sounds “fair” to me.

Jason F.

May 27th, 2010
12:21 pm

I don’t think “fair” is necessarily the term that people should be using to describe the situation. I think “uncompetitive” is much closer to the truth. Why, for instance, do the SEC and Big Ten believe in sharing the revenue from their television contracts equally among all their members? Why do Indiana and Vandy profit from the exploits of Ohio State and Florida? Because the SEC and Big Ten each believe that sharing the wealth benefits the conference as a whole. Now why doesn’t this philosophy apply to the FBS in general? Why isn’t it good to prop up the Sun Belt and MAC for the benefit of the rest of the conferences? Don’t these weaker conferences provide a valuable service to the BCS conferences by providing fodder for the non-conference schedule?

I don’t necessarily have the answer to those questions. I do believe, however, that the BCS is an uncompetitive arrangement, and that you’ll find a lot of hypocrisy in the arguments of the BCS-conference commissioners.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
12:25 pm

Auburn04…..

Dont think at any point you saw me bragging on either of them. With that said, Grossman was a starter and led his team to a Super Bowl, something Campbell will probably never do.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:30 pm

“With that said, Grossman was a starter and led his team to a Super Bowl, something Campbell will probably never do.”

Kind of early to predict what Campbell will and will not do. There have been plenty of QB’s who were “washed up” who went and won the Super Bowl. Campbell is still alive and playing. Washington had a terrible coaching staff. When Grossman went to the Super Bowl he had a competent coaching staff with a great defense. The offense was pretty bad. If you want to talk about Grossman’s offensive stats in the Super Bowl…..oh wait, they weren’t good at all.

Anyhoo, Campbell is gonna be fine. He’s been sent to the Raiders to replace Jamarcus Russel…..

NCAA Football Rules!

May 27th, 2010
12:32 pm

Nothing will end the BCS format until a contract is offered that proves the money will keep rolling in with a new system. The Presidents of the BCS schools know this current system has enriched thier programs and will not change unless the dollars are proven to be there. If say ESPN offered more than the amounts you list above for a new system of playooff then the Presidents would be all ears. But lacking that…they will keep the current system.

Jake

May 27th, 2010
12:35 pm

New comers must get in line. College Football started a long time before some of these so-called newer colleges won a few games. The line starts in the back,, not the front. Pay your dues and get in line.

1eyedJack

May 27th, 2010
12:35 pm

I think we should all wear green jumpsuits, everybody should receive the same amount of welfare and food stamps each month, all live in the same 3 room style house, all ride bikes to work, and if anybody has better hair than Obama they should be lined up against the wall and shot.

I’m getting pretty damn sick of this social justice share the wealth crap.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
12:36 pm

Even if you completely did away with all automatic qualifying to the BCS nothing much would change. The best teams yesterday would still be pretty much the best teams tomorrow and the BCS would still be dominated by the SEC, Big 12 and Big 10. Sure a Boise State or a Utah can upset an Oklahoma or an Alabama in a one game scenario, just like Appalachian State upset Michigan a few years back. It happens. I don’t support a large scale playoff (beyond four teams) because it would diminish the greatest regular season in all of sports. However, a playoff would surely not be a good thing for the Boise States and Utahs of the world. While they may be able to upset anyone on any given Saturday, they aren’t going to beat Alabama, Ohio State and USC in consecutive weeks. Ain’t gonna happen!

BJM

May 27th, 2010
12:37 pm

New Gator Fan,
maybe you forgot those years because you weren’t a “fan” until 2006

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:40 pm

“However, a playoff would surely not be a good thing for the Boise States and Utahs of the world. While they may be able to upset anyone on any given Saturday, they aren’t going to beat Alabama, Ohio State and USC in consecutive weeks. Ain’t gonna happen!”

Utah 31

Bama 17

Scott

May 27th, 2010
12:47 pm

Interesting how these Auburn fans can remember the score of games when Alabama came up on the short end of the stick even when their beloved Tigers were not involved. When you don’t have much of a tradition of your own I guess the only way to any sort of satisfaction is through the defeats of your hated rival than through your own team’s successes.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
12:48 pm

Auburn04…

You clearly dont watch too much NFL if you think anyone going to the Raiders will be just fine. Sorry if Im not going to smoke what your having in thinking that Campbell will lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:48 pm

“Interesting how these Auburn fans can remember the score of games when Alabama came up on the short end of the stick even when their beloved Tigers were not involved. When you don’t have much of a tradition of your own I guess the only way to any sort of satisfaction is through the defeats of your hated rival than through your own team’s successes.”

Pot meet kettle.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:50 pm

“You clearly dont watch too much NFL if you think anyone going to the Raiders will be just fine. ”

The Raiders are not Detroit or Cleveland……..

“Sorry if Im not going to smoke what your having in thinking that Campbell will lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl.”

Your words ma’am, not mine. Do you always assume such stupid things?

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
12:50 pm

Scott….

Agreed. Auburn fan bashes Alabama for losing in a game that they have appeared in once in the last 20 years.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:51 pm

“Agreed. Auburn fan bashes Alabama for losing in a game that they have appeared in once in the last 20 years.”

LOL! Can you read, ma’am? I was responding to someone who said Bama would never lose to teams like Boise, Utah etc….

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
12:52 pm

Raiders are not Cleveland or Detriot? Once again, you clearly do not watch the NFL. Oakland is the same level of a franchise as Cleveland and Detroit at this point. Heck, Cleveland has at least been to the playoffs more recently than Oakland.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
12:54 pm

Auburn04..

Maybe you should learn to read. The post he wrote said they would not beat Alabama, Ohio State and USC in CONSECUTIVE WEEKS. Not that they wouldnt beat one of those at any given point

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:56 pm

“Once again, you clearly do not watch the NFL. Oakland is the same level of a franchise as Cleveland and Detroit at this point.”

Cleveland Browns 2009- 5-11

Detroit Lions 2009- 2-14

Oakland Raiders – 5 – 11

Gator Mike

May 27th, 2010
12:58 pm

Jake…
I totally agree with you.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

“The post he wrote said they would not beat Alabama, Ohio State and USC in CONSECUTIVE WEEKS. Not that they wouldnt beat one of those at any given point”

Such an asinine comment. NO TEAM in the country would beat those teams in consecutive weeks. NO TEAM in the entire country sets a schedule where their team plays THE top team in any conference.

Bama would not beat Ohio State, Texas, or USC in 3 consecutive weeks. Florida would not beat VT, Oklahoma and USC in 3 consecutive weeks.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:00 pm

Auburn04…

Was posting those records supposed to support your opinion or re-enforce mine? ha!

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:01 pm

If a 16 team playoff is setup someone is going to have to run a gauntlet like I mentioned above. My point for the simpleton from Auburn is that no team named Boise State or Utah is going to run that gauntlet.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:03 pm

Auburn04..

Are you really that dense? Nobody is saying they would schedule them in the regular season. He was talking about a PLAYOFF. Goodness, seriously, im sure they teach reading at Auburn right? In a playoff a scenario could come up with having to play Alabama, Ohio State and USC consecutively. The point of the poster was that a Boise State in a PLAYOFF (not scheduling regular season) could not win all those. As for your statement that NOBODY could. Please! Your best teams in the country, if they are the best, could and would. Then again I wouldnt expect an Auburn fan who has seen one BCS bowl game in his life to understand that.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:04 pm

“Was posting those records supposed to support your opinion or re-enforce mine? ha!”

You claimed that the Raiders were as bad as Detroit. I just debunked your lie. Yeah, they’re all pretty bad but guess what ma’am, Jason Campbell had nothing to do with that.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:05 pm

“My point for the simpleton from Auburn is that no team named Boise State or Utah is going to run that gauntlet.”

Oh goody, the name calling begins. Well ma’am, if you didn’t have the IQ of a carrot maybe you’d have understood that teams like Boise State and Utah could handle any team in the country.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:07 pm

He really is that simple.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:10 pm

“Are you really that dense?”

YAY!!!!! Alright, where do I begin… Well ma’am, if you were not busy choking on Tebows dong, maybe you’d have understood my point. But, instead you choose to play games.

“Goodness, seriously, im sure they teach reading at Auburn right? ”

I wouldn’t know, I went to Duke.

“In a playoff a scenario could come up with having to play Alabama, Ohio State and USC consecutively. The point of the poster was that a Boise State in a PLAYOFF (not scheduling regular season) could not win all those.”

Well, since you are now part of Ms. Cleo’s world of psychics, maybe you can guess the next lottery numbers so I can quit my job.

“Your best teams in the country, if they are the best, could and would. ”

If that is true then USC never lost to Texas in 05, Ohio State never lost to Florida in 06 and the New York Yankees never lost a world series.

“Then again I wouldnt expect an Auburn fan who has seen one BCS bowl game in his life to understand that.’

Actually I’ve been to 3 BCS bowl games. Again, you assume too much, ma’am.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:11 pm

“He really is that simple.”

Your special ed teacher must love you.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

“I wouldn’t know, I went to Duke. ”

Note that she says she went to Duke. I also went to the White House one time but that doesn’t make me the President of the United States.

“Actually I’ve been to 3 BCS bowl games. Again, you assume too much, ma’am.”

She says that she has been to 3 BCS bowl games. Does attending the game make her an authority on the subject? By the way, was she a spectator, selling cokes at the game, etc.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

“no team named Boise State or Utah is going to run that gauntlet.”

Please provide proof that Boise or Utah would not run the gauntlet. You sound like an Ohio State fan who says that no team in the country can match the superiority of Ohio State.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:17 pm

Auburn04….

This is you posting on here in a nutshell.

“The Raiders are not Cleveland and Detroit”

Next post from you.

“Cleveland 5-11, Oakland 5-11, Detroit 2-14″

and your last post…

“You claimed that the Raiders were as bad as Detroit. I just debunked your lie.”

Really? Do you read what you even type? Yeah sorry if I dont believe the “I graduated from Duke” line.

Beast from the East

May 27th, 2010
1:18 pm

Gump,
That carrot bit kills me everytime. LOL!
The Tebow line was a bit much.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:18 pm

“Note that she says she went to Duke. I also went to the White House one time but that doesn’t make me the President of the United States.”

Nice, instead of coming up with your own insults…..you copy mine.

Duke: class of 99, ma’am.

“She says that she has been to 3 BCS bowl games.”

Yeah, I was given tix to Auburn 04 Sugar Bowl, 05 Texas Rose Bowl and LSU Sugar Bowl 07.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:19 pm

After reading all this from Auburn fan, no wonder the schools specialty is road pavement.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:20 pm

she says she went to Duke….not graduated. There is a big difference. I’ve been to Duke before too but not as a student. Just drove through the campus after stopping for gas in Durham, NC.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:20 pm

“Really? Do you read what you even type? Yeah sorry if I dont believe the “I graduated from Duke” line.”

Detroit went 2-14. Oakland went 5-11. If you could do simple math you’d understand that Oakland won 3 more games than Detroit.

Oh, and I could care less if you don’t believe me about Duke.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

“After reading all this from Auburn fan, no wonder the schools specialty is road pavement.”

Actually, Auburn has a great Vet school. It also puts out some great Astronauts. Just saying, ma’am.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

“she says she went to Duke….not graduated. ”

Duke class of 99.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

Auburn04….

Its truely sad when you have to live in a world of lies. Graduated from Duke, went to two national championship games (none connected to the school you pretend you graduated from or who you root for). Yeah ok. Im guessing someone must of called out sick from school today and is playing on mommies computer.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:22 pm

As a graduate of Duke why have you adopted Auburn? Are you fan of Duke in basketball but Auburn in football? That speaks volumes.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:24 pm

If I was a Duke graduate I would be a supporter of their football team and wouldn’t be getting on the internet pretending to be a fan of some other school.

LOL at Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:24 pm

Auburn 04,

Do us all a favor and go roll a tree.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:25 pm

I bet he has been to a bunch of Final Fours as well.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:25 pm

“Its truely sad when you have to live in a world of lies”

LOL!!! Whatever you say, ma’am. Also, please learn how to spell simple words like TRULY. No “E” in the word.

“Graduated from Duke, went to two national championship games (none connected to the school you pretend you graduated from or who you root for).”

Oh, is there now a rule that people can’t attend a title game unless it’s a school they cheer for?

“Im guessing someone must of called out sick from school today and is playing on mommies computer.”

How did you know I was playing with your mommy?

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:26 pm

Auburn 04 has been to so many events that they call him the Forrest Gump of Auburn or should I say Duke.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:26 pm

“As a graduate of Duke why have you adopted Auburn?”

Family went there.

“Are you fan of Duke in basketball but Auburn in football?”

GO BLUE!

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:26 pm

“Do us all a favor and go roll a tree.”

Sweet, I’ll start with your trailer!

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:27 pm

“If I was a Duke graduate I would be a supporter of their football team and wouldn’t be getting on the internet pretending to be a fan of some other school.”

But you’re not, and you can’t.