Chrysler in bankruptcy. General Motors barely hanging on. Unemployment up, and the world-wide economy is shrinking. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is making a comeback. Schools and businesses are closing over swine flu. The actions of the previous administration are being investigated whether international law was broken in authorizing torture.
But what's the issue of the day in Congress? The Bowl Championship Series.
In a rare display of bipartisanship, Texas Republican Joe Barton and Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush are co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent the BCS from naming the BCS winner as the "National Championship" until college football adopts a playoff system.
Now, let's set aside the discussions as to whether government involvement is appropriate for college football. Let's let the Olbermans and Hannitys of the world debate that.
BCS conference commissioner John Swofford testified today that if a college football playoff were enacted, the existing bowls would not be able to survive. Fine with me.
I mean, what's the value of the MagicJack Bowl? Remember the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl a few years ago?
Why do we play these games?
And if you like these bowl games, how many bowl games have you actually attended?
I've been to several bowl games over the years, and from my perspective, the farce of bowl game season hurts college football more than it helps. Low rated bowl games played on weird fields to fill ESPN's holiday programming schedule doesn't seem to be the best use of college football.
Bowl games cheat fans and benefit only TV networks and warm-weather vacation spots. Even most schools don't benefit, as the paltry rights fees teams receive for playing in the games usually don't even cover the costs of most teams.
I've traveled to several bowl games, and while they can be nice vacations, the nature of bowl games makes them expensive vacations. Trips have to be taken during the busy holiday season, and plans can't be made until mid-December, making it difficult to find reasonable deals. In 1996, I was one of the few Husker fans to attend the Orange Bowl game against Virginia Tech. To find airfare under $700 at that time, I had to fly in and out of Kansas City, and my return flight left Miami at 6 am, just hours after the game ended. Not exactly an ideal vacation in my mind.
I just don't understand why bowl games still exist in this day and age. A college football playoff system would generate far more revenue for colleges, and would be far less disruptive than the current bowl system, especially if the games were played on home fields. All the other divisions in the NCAA manage to hold playoffs; there's absolutely no reason that major college football couldn't either.
The one argument that might hold is that many bowl teams would be denied an opportunity to play on without bowl games. Nebraska wouldn't have qualified for a playoff last year, but the Gator Bowl was a positive experience for the Husker program. My response: set up an "NIT" type of consolation, and let teams who don't make the playoff play an extra game or two to pad out the schedules.
I guarantee that a Clemson/Nebraska matchup would make much more money played in South Carolina or Lincoln than it did in Jacksonville.