Upon news that the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) commissioners had approved a four-team playoff to determine college football’s national champion Tuesday evening, media outlets were quick to report that the BCS was on its deathbed. “BCS is dead,” the Associated Press said. “Playoff is here, BCS is dead…,” read a headline at CBS Sports. “Ding, dong, the wicked BCS witch is almost dead,” an ESPN columnist tweeted.
Well, no. Not really.
The tradition of the BCS deciding who plays for the national championship using a faulty computer metric is (almost) dead. The worst parts of the BCS, however, are more alive than ever.
The Sugar Bowl earned $11.6 million in tax-free profits in 2007 because it and other bowls classify themselves as “charities.” It is (likely) still a part of the process.
The Fiesta Bowl is taking $6.45 million in public subsidies from the state of Arizona years after it was enveloped in scandal because it showered lavish trips on its sponsors and paid outrageous salaries to its executives. It, too, will likely remain a part of the process.
Virginia Tech, a public university, lost $420,000 playing in the 2011 Orange Bowl. Were it not for Tech’s conference payout, its losses would have exceeded $1 million. Over a three year span, schools lost an average of $331,000 playing in BCS games. The Orange Bowl? Still a part of the process.
Bowl games — charities, they insist — that gave just 1.5 percent of their revenues to actual charities in 2009 and are increasingly dishonest about how much they pay back to schools? Still a part of the process.
And by bidding out the championship game to cities that will spend millions to host it, the BCS managed to throw in another sweet deal to pad its pocketbooks even more.
Under the BCS, bowls and their executives got rich while schools lost money. Your tax dollars paid for it. This playoff, however welcome a development college football fans think it is, doesn’t change that one bit. If anything, it makes it worse.
“That’s the beauty of the new agreement. It works within the bowl system, not outside of it,” ESPN college football columnist Gene Wojciechowski wrote. “Seriously, what’s there not to like? The bowl system lives. The regular season isn’t compromised. Tradition survives.”
Welcome to college football, where the tradition of blatant corruption is a thing of “beauty.”