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Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to fix the collegiate football situation

March 27, 2009 |  5:16 am

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).

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