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Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to fix the collegiate football situation

In this Jan. 4, 2008 file photo, workers pause to study their work as they paint the logo for the BCS Championship football game on the field at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The seemingly endless roster of college bowl games might finally be maxed out. With the economy flailing, a business that combines tourism, college football and corporate sponsors is not likely to expand.

Well, now that Congress has pretty much taken care of all the other problems confronting the country these days, the U.S. Senate has decided to help decide how the United States' collegiate football champion is determined.

A Judiciary Committee subcommittee involved with antitrust and competition policies will hold hearings. The move is driven by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. It's probably pure coincidence that despite going undefeated, Utah was ignored for last fall's BCS football championship game that ended up pitting against each other the pitiful people of Florida and Oklahoma, both of whom had one loss. At night's end Oklahoma had two L's.

Imagine going with those twin nothing places when the TV network could have had several hundred UtahUtah Republican Senator Orrin Hatchfans watching.

Hatch is now one of those Americans who believes a playoff system should determine the two teams playing for the fictitious national championship. In a stark bid for bipartisanship, a Democratic basketball fan named Barack Obama also is an outspoken believer in playoffs because the collegiate pigskin season doesn't consume enough time yet.

Under the current Bowl Championship Series system, the top two teams are picked by a very simple algorithm involving two polls, a half dozen computer rankings and a coin toss by two blind monks in a rural Greek monastery. Some school athletic conferences get automatic invitations to bowl games while others do not, kinda like the prom. And life.

Hatch finds this unfair. Hence, his antitrust interest and legislative intervention. Because NCAA college presidents have proven more interested in academics than adding a few more weeks of football, bands, beer sales and cheerleaders to school calendars, Hatch will introduce legislation to fix the situation. A Senate statement called it "rectify," which is a lot more congressional.

Hatch says the BCS system has "proven itself to be inadequate, not only for those of us who are fans of college football, but for anyone who believes that competition and fair play should have a role in collegiate sports."

And who better to straighten out the collegiate athletic scene than members of Congress who've never played serious football, accepted $4,700 raises this winter as a sign of shared sacrifice in these tough economic times and who now celebrate their meticulously-planned, gazillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street that's worked out so well with companies like AIG?

Hatch has long been mentioned as a candidate for the Supreme Court, but no president has agreed. In 2000 Hatch mentioned himself as presidential material, but Republican voters did not agree.

In his first run for public office, Hatch considered himself to be senatorial material. Although he was originally a Pennsylvanian, Utah voters agreed. Hatch ran against incumbent Frank Moss on a major campaign theme that Moss had been in office too long, thus losing touch with constituents.

Moss had been in office 18 years.

That was in 1976.

So Hatch has been in office now 33 years.

Editor's note: A previous version of this post included photos of NCAA cheerleaders. Although we understood this as Mr. Malcolm being humorous, we still felt that it would be better to replace them with a boring, but more suitable photo that better represented the BCS.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: In this Jan. 4, 2008 file photo (top), workers pause to study their work as they paint the logo for the BCS Championship football game on the field at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The seemingly endless roster of college bowl games might finally be maxed out. With the economy flailing, a business that combines tourism, college football and corporate sponsors is not likely to expand. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File); photo of Orrin Hatch, AP).

Comments () | Archives (13)

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Hatch should concentrate his time and efforts on more important things like the economy. Who gives him the right to regulate basketball or any other sport? Sports is good for business and here in Las Vegas the sports betting programs at our casinos generate lots of good paying jobs. His arrogance is unbelievable.

You are obviously not a college football fan. Though I could care less about a Republican or Democrat, to characterize Hatch as "out of touch" due to his interest in correcting the NCAA system of determining a football champion, would itself be "out of touch" with the vast majority of citizens who follow college football. (Though perhaps not to those who don't care about college football.)

And to paint so positive a picture of college presidents as you do betrays an unfamiliarity of the politics behind the effort to enact a college football playoff.

Above comments notwithstanding, the average male reader undoubtedly immensely enjoyed your blog post (read: pictures, excluding the one of Hatch of course).


USC, Oklahoma, Florida,...too big to fail.

WOW... doesn't orrin hatch have more important things to do then say the economy, a war in the mideast, and domestic issues??

Hatch is trying to draw attention away from the Republicant unwillingness to engage in serious reform of the financial regulatory system. What better way than to turn to a trivial athletic issue? If jock-happy Americans fall for this, then maybe we deserve what we get.
The over-emphasis on collegiate sports is part of what is leading to $100 million salaries for super-star athletes. This is a parallel to the short sighted corporate pay policies that lead corporate cronies to approve excessive pay to top executives while the workers who make the stuff get the shaft. Meanwhile, our bridges crumble and we get crumbs for a pension plan. Where are our priorities?

The author says that congress is wasting time by any getting involved. This article and its ignorant arguments was an even bigger waste. This passes for journalism? What is pertinent is that pretty much everyone wants the BCS system fixed. What is not pertinent is all of the other stuff about Hatch. What a stupid article.

Maybe I misread the article: Is Sen. Hatch planning to fix the collegiate football *cheerleading* situation?

Does this issue really deserve a congressional committee? The solutionis simple, take the top eight teams and have them play on New Years Day in the four major bowls (Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange) then a week later the winners play each other followed by another week when the championship game is played. The season is only extened by one week. And yes some people are still going to complain that their team should have made the cut, just like people complain about which teams didn't make the March Madness cut of 64 teams.

Senator Hatch should have better things to do- if he doesn't maybe his constituents need to find someone who will take care of their business, instead of looking for photo ops and obviously free athletic tickets.

It's time to get all of the professional politicians out of office, including the Democrats. The time for term limits has long past.

The author talks about college presidents being more interested in academics than adding more football. This is patently false, the presidents aren't remotely interested in academics, they're interested in MONEY and how much they can get for themselves. There are reasons why we have anti-trust laws in this country, monopolies are grossly unfair. College football is big business, and the playing field should be level for all those involved. The AT&T monopoly was busted the same way.

Spite the fact that I am a die-hard So Cal fan, I still find it absolutely stupid that college football still does not have a playoff system when every other major sport know to man does. Somehow, somewhere, the powers-that-be want to insult our intelligence by trying to convince us that it is absolutely impossible and impractical to have one. The fact is, anyone that has a brain in their head already knows that this is just a line of crap - No college degree needed for that one!!

Under the traditional playoff system, there's always the chance of having a cinderella team win the whole thing. That to me is exciting. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening under the BCS system. Consider this - What if there wasn't a playoff system in baseball, football, and Hockey? We would have never had the privilege of seeing the Kirk Gibson homerun, the Buffalo Bills in the Superbowl, or a west coast team in the Stanley Cup Finals for that matter - And win it! Oh yes, and lets not forget - The Boston Red Sox's year of redemption.

In my opinion, It's time to slap these college boys around and correct what never was fixed in the first place by
applying "the board of reasoning to the seat of THEIR learning". The beauty behind it all is, it won't cost anyone a thing, no college education required! - Just the cost of the paddle! The fact is, they've insulted our intelligence and we've been naive enough not to do anything about it. This brand of hypocrisy has got to go! BYE-BYE BCS!!



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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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