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Monday, December 12, 2010

By Danny Whitford
Publisher & Editor

BCS: Rotten from the inside out

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The movers and shakers in college football are scratching their heads right about now. They moved and shook one time too many.

The Bowl Championship Series has finally been exposed for what it has been all along: a conspiracy to hijack the game for the enrichment of self-anointed fiefdoms at the expense of the serfs.

It's a sight to behold as the repercussions unfold.

Conferences cannibalize each other. Sibling schools engage in back-stabbing. Postseason pairings are manipulated. Hypocrisy unbridled is on public view as the rot at the core of the BCS eats through to the surface.

Meanwhile, the university, conference and bowl barons that lord over the convoluted kingdom feign ignorance and try to distance themselves from the carnage.

These Gordon Gekkos of college sports rigged the system in 1998 and started wallowing in the riches while basking in the bright lights of their TV network co-conspirators and relishing in the adulation from their butt-smooching enablers in the media.

They worshiped at the altars of their bankers instead of at the feet of Pop Warner, Knute Rockne, Red Blaik and the other gridiron gods who spawned and nurtured an All-American institution.

They sold out any precept that their guardianship of the sport was about fostering the noble ideals, storied rivalries and pristine pride that dispensed the mother’s milk of college football.

They stomped on tradition, flaunted their excesses and metaphorically gave the middle finger to anti-trust investigators.

They filled their gluttonous bellies at the expense of the sport, spreading a few crumbs to their victims along the way to stifle dissension.

They abandoned principle and prudence. They rationalized the squeamish practice of hiring mercenaries instead of coaches and succumbed to the temptation of building ornate palaces instead of stadiums for the common man.

They genuflected to donors, played kissy-face with sponsors and engaged in what may be equated to prostitution with television executives.

They inflated ticket prices and extorted higher fees from students to pad their opulence.

Their unspoken motto: No matter the peasants, it’s the perpetuation of the gilded existence of the elite that counts.

These Mercedes-driving, Rolex-wearing high-rollers built a ruthless cartel through backroom alliances and imperious decisions in a blind pursuit of greenbacks.

And now cracks are appearing in the kingdom's foundations.

The behemoth they bred has to be fed. And so they feed it to keep it from gobbling them up.

All to put on a game that might be characterized in this day and time as a four-hour commercial interrupted in intervals by competition on the field.

It’s about the Benjamins, Benjamin. It's about the jack, Jack.

What they’ve wrought is anything but inspiring:

  • Avarice, hubris and politics have cost the career of a postseason overlord. (See Fiesta Bowl)

  • Tweaking the ballot box to influence the selection of BCS title game participants is waved by with a wink and a nod. (see Nick Saban)

  • Merit is sacrificed at the temple of the royal class in the awarding of BCS bowl bids. (See Sugar Bowl)

  • Aggies vs. Longhorns is dead.

  • The “Border War” is a goner.

  • The “Backyard Brawl” is fading fast.

  • Central Florida vs. San Diego State is alive.

  • Iowa State and West Virginia will battle annually for the treasured Corn-Coal Bucket.

College football as we knew it has been adulterated since 1998. Finally, the symphony of the absurd has reached a crescendo and the backlash has begun.

So far, the guilty seem reluctant to repent and redress. But anti-trust forces are breathing down their necks, Capitol Hill is posturing against them, their longtime dupes in the media are peeling away to avoid the stench they themselves helped create, and the fans have seen through the mask.

The scam is collapsing under its own weight. We're beginning to hear noises that the offenders have had a change of heart... that they never intended to eviscerate leagues... that they never intended to destroy regional rivalries... that they are considering suspending the "automatic qualifier" privilege bestowed upon the princes of the inner circle.

Is that enough? I think not.

The NCAA should stiffen its backbone and play one of the principle roles mandated to it more than a century ago by Teddy Roosevelt: enforcing fair and honorable competition.

Until now, the NCAA has pretended it has been powerless to correct the correctable. But it is not powerless — it is compromised.

Step up, NCAA, recuse those officers and oversight panel members with conflicts of interest. Shake off the shackles. Reassert your intended role as the governing body of college sports. Where there's a desire for fairness and honor, a way for enforcing fairness and honor can be found.

If the NCAA fails or refuses to restore credibility and respect to big-time college football, the BCS disgust meter has been triggered to the point that legal or legislative action is almost inevitable. Considering that either of the latter courses would be spearheaded by lawyers and/or politicians, the outcome may be almost as undesirable as the BCS itself.

Danny Whitford Archives

01/03/2012 02:39 AM

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