The BCS, Motherhood, and Apple Pie

Playoff PACContributor INovember 13, 2009

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 07:  Running back Matthew Tucker #29 of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs carries the ball as he stiffarms corner back Leon McFadden #20 of the San Diego State Aztecs on November 7, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.   TCU won 55-12.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Immediately following Playoff PAC’s launch, the BCS announced that it will soon hire a full-time spokesperson. Apparently, the BCS believes it is unpopular because it "hasn't really done a good job over the years of defending itself," according to new Big East Commissioner John Marinatto.[1] That absurdity is a different discussion for a different time. The point is that before this new spokesperson jumps aboard, BCS Administrator Bill Hancock appears to be stuck handling interviews for the organization.

Mr. Hancock lacks the polish and ability to “spin” that the new hire is certain to possess. That is a good thing for those of us on the outside of the BCS bubble, Mr. Hancock’s recent remarks offer insight into perhaps the biggest BCS mystery of all: why BCS officials refuse to change their scheme even when they know 85 percent of college football fans disapprove of the status quo.[2] The truth isn’t pretty. Two of Hancock’s statements from a Houston Chronicle article, in particular, show just how out-of-touch and tone-deaf the BCS is.[3]

Statement 1: "Politicians have discussed [the BCS] many times," Hancock said. "I guess in the real world, we wish everybody loved it. They don’t. Some people don’t like apple pie and motherhood."

This is a novel comparison. Playoff PAC has heard the words “mother” and “BCS” in the same sentence before, but never a comparison involving motherhood. Mr. Hancock is, of course, not directly comparing the BCS to apple pie and motherhood. His point could be fairly restated as “Hey, you can’t please everybody.” Such a statement would be apt if Mr. Hancock was the front man for an overwhelmingly popular institution. 

Were Mr. Hancock, the spokesperson for apple pie or motherhood, he could rightly survey the population and conclude that his few detractors could never be swayed by the inherent goodness of his wares, he could justifiably say that the reason there’s not unanimous approval is the people, not the product.

Wake up, Mr. Hancock. You are not the administrator of puppies and rainbows. You’re the administrator of the BCS and the BCS is not well-regarded. It’s not that you aren’t pleasing everybody, it’s that you’re satisfying nobody. Only 15 percent of fans approve of your organization. To steal words from Senator John McCain, “When you get down that low, you’re down to paid staffers and blood relatives.” 

You simply can’t chalk-up BCS opposition to a portion of the public’s preferences. It’s not the people. It’s the product. Eight-five percent of college football fans can’t be wrong. 

Statement 2: "It’s sort of the car-race fan theory," Hancock said. "Some people go to a car race to see a crash. I think some people would like to see the BCS crash because they think it’s fun."

This statement is comical. Mr. Hancock is saying that BCS opponents dislike his organization simply for the entertainment value of watching things burn. Is he saying that Congressman Joe Barton is sponsoring legislation to disband the BCS simply for sport? Is he implying that Senator Orrin Hatch holds hearings and requests anti-trust investigations because he enjoys a good “car crash”? BCS opponents’ concerns shouldn’t be trivialized. This isn’t about BCS opponents entertaining themselves. 
Playoff PAC and others want college football reform because there are off-the-field consequences when the BCS distributes bowl proceeds in an anti-competitive manner, there are off-the-field consequences when the BCS hands out championship and bowl invitations in a way that’s often divorced from merit, and there are off-the-field consequences when a cultural icon like college football is cheapened by backroom deals and legacy entitlements; that’s what this is about.
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[1] Associated Press, BCS Officials Might Hire Full-Time Advocate, Oct. 20, 2009.

[3] Steve Campbell, Fight Gets Political on College Football Playoff, Houston Chronicle, Nov. 10, 2009.