BCS PR Team Bombards ESPN Playoff Article

Brian NelsonCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2009

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - JULY 14: Ari Fleischer attends the 2008 Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation Golf Classic at Trump National Golf Club on July 14, 2008 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.  (Photo by Rick Odell/Getty Images)
Rick Odell/Getty Images

First the BCS brass hired Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush's former press secretary, to "shore" up their image and improve their reputation by telling "their" side of the story.

Then there was the Twitter disaster, followed by the embarrassingly generic and content-desperate proplayoff.com, a Web site dedicated to BCS propaganda.

It's laughable.

As if that wasn't silly and desperate enough, now this:

Late Tuesday afternoon, ESPN reported that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) was readying a bill to take to the House of Representatives that directly attacked the BCS.

A terrific idea.

One that would ban the BCS from labeling a "national championship game" unless it has involved a single-elimination playoff.


Interestingly enough, within minutes of the posting, dozens of opinionated "posters" chimed in with well-articulated arguments that support the BCS, embrace the status quo, and decry government involvement while scoffing at the playoff concept.

Does that sound like your typical SEC homer trolling the ESPN college football page?

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I don't think so. Here is an interesting (and unedited) sample of these comments from these alleged die-hard college football fans:

"this is ridiculous. completely stepping over the bounds of what government is supposed to do"

"If they want to do a playoff that's one thing but refusing to let the other side even represent themselves is horrible."

"It is them (government) trying to turn everything into the play 1984 and be BIG BROTHER."

Ask yourself honestly—do these "opinions" sound like your typical college football message board? Are true fans really concerned about "the BCS side" being represented by Congress?

Will the Boise State faithful honestly drop their playoff push because it may be reminiscient of George Orwell's 1984?

Do you really think a Utah or a TCU fan would sympathize with the BCS plight of a "Big Brother" trying to control them?

How about this gem?:

"They should be looking into the inability of coach or athletic program honoring contracts."

Um...broken contracts are really a top-of-mind concern of fans.

Or this one?:

"Too much power being given to the government. Are they going to start regulating when we can use the bathroom or what football game we are allowed to attend?
They shouldn't be able to make a 'law' about college football and how it's played."

This is almost certainly a coordinated effort by the BCS to do damage control on any expected rallying it causes among fans. If so, does Fleischer really expect us to buy this? This is lawyer speak, not fan speak. If the BCS wants to really influence fans, it needs to do so with compelling arguments that matter to the fans.

Oh, that's right, they don't have a compelling argument that matters to fans.

The typical fan is much more interested in his or her team and conference and supporting their direct best interest. A true fan's posts would reflect that. Die-hard fans don't post about the ills of government intervention and unequal representation.

Take any traditional college football story, for example, and look at the posters who comment. Especially the first 10 or so, because those are generally the folks who consistently spend the most time on the site. The ones most likely to respond when a new article is published. 

Four times out of five on any ESPN college football article, the first posters are experienced, tenured posters. Not this time.

Right after this story was posted, 13 of the first 15 posters were anti-playoff, pro-BCS supporters. First of all, that sample seems overwhelmingly fishy given that probably nine out of 10 college football fans support a playoff.

Of the 13 anti-playoff posters, 11 just happened to be brand new, anonymous accounts opened just to make that post. 

Are we really supposed to buy these as your common internet lurkers who just happened upon the story?

I think the answer is obvious. Too obvious.

Ari, make a note to yourself, college football nation is not this dumb. And unfortunately they will not be easily manipulated by your self-interested lobbying.

Do you really plan to make headway by "going viral" and convincing fans with these futile arguments that have no bearing on a fan?:

"Congress will have to answer why and how they can break a legal binding agreement that was carried out before the bill passed, if at all."

Take this next post, for example—do you really expect us to believe this comes from a valid fan?:

"A football season is physically draining on the body. How can we expect to the highest level of college football throughout a playoff system when kids are getting hurt so often. Not to mention the concussion levels that are drastically increasing season by season. If the college season extends itself, then say goodbye to the NFL as we know it."

First, ask the kids themselves. Would they rather be practicing right now and for the next three weeks until their bowl game or would they rather be playing in a playoff?

Do FCS players (who have a playoff) complain of being drained? More importantly, do you realize in a 16-team playoff only eight teams of the 119 FBS programs will play more games than expected?

Trust me, those players would kill to be in a playoff right now. And so would their coaches, fans, parents, doctors, the President, and everyone else who follows college football.

That is, everyone but the people Fleischer and the BCS hired to crash the ESPN comment board. This is such a pathetic attempt.

Don't worry. After the first 20 posts or so, the real fans come in and tell the BCS plants how it is. It's funny watching non-football-fan BCS plants try and argue.

What bothers me so much about this is that it's so blatantly ignorant and yet so typical of the BCS.

The BCS is so obsessed with control and preserving its own interests that it'd rather crash our boards and our forums in an attempt to manipulate our beliefs rather than just listening.

It's insulting, arrogant and self-serving. In other words, typical BCS behavior.

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