GORDON WHITE: BCS Picks Fleischer to Clean Up Act
Ford came out with the ugly Edsel in 1957. Coca-Cola replaced its popular, 99-year-old drink with "New Coke" in 1985. And RJ Reynolds started making smokeless cigarettes in 1988.
Each of these very expensive production moves was a total failure that was quickly abandoned simply because the public just wasn't buying.
Ever since 1998, presidents and athletic directors at the nation's most powerful football colleges and universities have staged the Bowl Championship Series in order to come up with their version of the annual national championship team.
Unlike the CEOs and boards of directors at Ford, Coca-Cola and RJ Reynolds, these college CEOs are completely oblivious to the fact that their customers (ticket-buying and TV-watching fans) don't really like their product. So instead of discarding the BCS and moving on to a sensible playoff system, these supposedly brilliant presidents hired a spin meister to convince the fans of college football that the BCS is a worthy endeavor.
Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, has been chosen to try to sell the public on the BCS. This might be a tougher job than Fleischer had in the White House.
Bill Hancock, who was appointed executive director of the BCS last month, will team with Fleischer to try to create a favorable image of the BCS. They are facing a job akin to what Sisyphus encountered when rolling that big boulder up the mountain forever. It just won't work.
Hancock was named BCS administrator in 2005. Ironically, he served as the NCAA director of the Final Four from 1989-2004. That is the highly popular finale to the major college basketball tournament.
Thus, he moved from promoting the biggest intercollegiate sports playoff to promoting the BCS system that refuses to conduct a playoff while using polls and computers to name the two teams that play for a national title.
So far, Ari Fleischer has not been heard from. Maybe he is in some back room cogitating on how you call big small or day night. But maybe he will have a long time for pondering over the proper sales pitch mumbo jumbo because the BCS title game is under TV contract through 2014.
Texas and Alabama, the only two undefeated teams from the six major football conferences that make up the BCS cartel, will meet in that organization's version of this season's national championship game, Jan. 7, in the Rose Bowl. The winning team and its fans will be the only significant group in the nation this year to approve of the BCS title format.
In order to mollify some rather disgruntled fans from Idaho, Texas and Ohio, the BCS cartel has assigned this season's three other undefeated teams to two of the bowl games the cartel also refers to as BCS games. But they are not BCS championship games. I call these other BCS bowls the "So What Bowls," because teams deserving a shot at the national title are refused that opportunity by the oh-so-mighty BCS monopoly.
Also, in a major mistake, this BCS group paired two of the unbeatens, Texas Christian (TCU) and Boise State, in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 4. Cincinnati, the third undefeated team, will meet once-beaten Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
TCU and Boise State should have been assigned to play other teams so that each could have a chance at an unbeaten season.
But, of course, I join with many fans and other folks in the belief that the BCS should be scrapped for a playoff. If a playoff existed, Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State would have a real chance at the national title.
Is there proof that just because Texas and Alabama come from the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences each of them would beat Cincinnati, TCU or Boise State in a true playoff? No. There is no such proof, particularly after the close call Texas had against Nebraska a week ago. The Longhorns won only because officials gave them an extra second in which they kicked a winning field goal.
The other four BCS conferences are the ACC, Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10. Cincinnati comes from the Big East but is not in a class with Texas or Alabama according to the small minds of most BCS cartel members. After watching Cincinnati edge out a strong Pittsburgh team last week, I believe Cincinnati would have a good chance against Texas.
TCU is a member of the Mountain West Conference, and Boise State is in the Western Athletic Conference. Those leagues are considered less worthy by members of the six "big" BCS conferences.
Asked if there is any real move toward a playoff, Bill Hancock said, "The fact remains that the presidents, athletic directors, commissioners and coaches, the four core primary groups involved, have not expressed a desire for change. Among those constituents there is no consensus for change."
That shows how BCS people totally ignore fans as a constituency to be reckoned with.
President Barack Obama has expressed his desire for a playoff tournament, and some members of Congress agree with millions of fans who prefer a playoff to this BCS system.
Urged on by Rep. Joe Barton, the lead Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that body's subcommittee on trade and consumer protection voted last Wednesday to consider his proposal that no game should be called a "national championship" unless it is the final result of a playoff.
Bill Hancock responded by saying, "With everything going on in the country, I can't believe that Congress is wasting time and spending taxpayers' money on football."
But maybe Congress feels, as most fans do, that college presidents who prefer the BCS scheme over a playoff are trying to sell us all an Edsel.
Gordon White served 43 years as a sports reporter for The New York Times. His e-mail is email@example.com
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