The problem with college football? The commies have taken over.
As least that's what U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said Friday during a Congressional subcommittee hearing examining the BCS. Three members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee turned out for the hearing, including Barton (a Texas A&M alum, by the way). He said efforts to tinker with the BCS are bound to fail and told the hearing that the BCS is like communism and can't be fixed. (Gee, if we were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, we'd be worried. After all, Goodell oversees a league that, among other non-capitalist things, has a salary cap, shares TV revenue and has a player draft that bounds players to certain teams until their "rights" are traded or abandoned.)
Anyway, Barton has introduced legislation that would prevent the NCAA from labeling a game a national championship unless it's the outcome of a playoff system. Evidently, Barton doesn't know that the NCAA doesn't run the Football Bowl Subdivision postseason, but, hey, he's a politician, so we'll cut him some slack when it comes to making laws.
Barton also probably guffawed to himself (people this self-important don't laugh; they guffaw) when he said the BCS "should just drop the 'C.' Call it the 'B.S. System.' "
Looking beyond the obvious – that this is a waste of Congress' time (as an acquaintance said, "What's next? Hearings on whether the FDA should oversee baptismal water?") – a couple of other things stand out.
First, the BCS is a voluntary group. No one has to join. That has been pointed out numerous times by University of Oregon president David Frohmayer, who is the chairman of the BCS' oversight committee and a former state attorney general. If, say, Boise State and Utah don't like the way things are handled, don't be a member. Funny in that earlier this decade, when the BCS eased up on the "entrance" requirements, you didn't hear any complaints from Boise State and Utah. Indeed, in the past five seasons, those teams have combined for three BCS appearances.
Second, during Friday's hearing, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said, "Many have said the current BCS system ensures a permanent underclass. They are right." Indeed, that is right: Compared to USC, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Penn State and the like, the Wyomings, Louisiana-Lafayettes, Eastern Michigans and New Mexico States of the world aren't equal. And the Mountain West and the Sun Belt and the Mid-American are not equal to the SEC and Pac-10 and Big Ten. That's not communism; that's reality. That's also the marketplace: For whatever reason, more people would rather watch USC-Ohio State than San Jose State-Ohio University.
And that leads into point three. The BCS is in place to match No. 1 vs. No. 2 – whoever they are. The BCS is not in place to give the team ranked fifth a chance for the national title; that would necessitate a playoff, which the vast majority of university presidents have said – repeatedly – that they're against. Indeed, it's better than even money that if university presidents were asked to vote between a playoff and a return to the "old days" – i.e., before the BCS – they would overwhelmingly vote to return to the "old days." What that would mean, of course, is that the major conferences would be just fine, while the likes of the Mountain West and Western Athletic again would be fighting over crumbs.
Still, this debate will continue. Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff has said he expects to file suit against the BCS next month.
Having fun with Mike Leach
Evidently, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has been re-energized – at least in his dealings with the media – by his new contract. Leach has been a quote machine in the past 10 or so days.
First, he took aim at the Cleveland Browns' new coaching staff after word surfaced that Browns officials didn't like former Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree's attitude when he visited with team officials before the draft. Supposedly, someone in the Browns' organization called Crabtree a "diva."
Leach's response: "Michael Crabtree has been more successful as a receiver than that guy [Eric Mangini] as a coach at this point. … My definition of a diva is someone who's loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree is the furthest thing from loud that I've seen. ... Let's see how all those non-divas do up in Cleveland this year."
Second, he took aim at the entire NFL and how the league's teams draft quarterbacks: "The truth of the matter is that the NFL drafts quarterbacks notoriously bad. That's indisputable. ... I don't have an answer for why they don't have a skill for drafting a quarterback. Well, I think the priorities are out of order. 'Accurate' and 'makes good decisions' needs to be a priority, not something they need to teach him because they don't do that very well."
Third, Leach was incredulous that Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee – who was a reserve for much of his senior season – was drafted in the fourth round by Dallas (and Tech quarterback Graham Harrell – who led the nation in passing – wasn't drafted at all): "The Dallas Cowboys like him more than his coaches at A&M did."
Fourth, after Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman talked on back-to-back days about Leach's comments on McGee, Leach let fly again, with tongue firmly planted in his cheek: "I've always known A&M had great players. The fact that they have the luxury to put a third- or fourth-round draft pick on the bench, to me, identifies what a truly great team they are. It's an honor for us at Texas Tech to have the opportunity to play them. There are numerous players on our team that will never get a look or play a down in the NFL, so you can imagine how exciting it is for me and them to go play a team the magnitude of Texas A&M and look over there on the bench and see third- and fourth-round draft picks."
Tech plays host to A&M on Oct. 24 this season.
In case you missed it …
I couldn't help but shake my head recently when the NCAA legislative committee narrowly voted down a proposal that would have allowed athletes to take up to 50 percent of their required courses via the Internet, correspondence courses, independent study courses and/or other non-traditional classes. I wasn't shaking my head because it was voted down; I was shaking my head that the idea even was brought up.
Hey, call me a cynic, but if you let athletes take up to 50 percent of their required courses in anything except the traditional manner – i.e., actually going to class – academic fraud cases will skyrocket. Not all athletes and not all schools bend the rules when it comes to academics. But why open the door to potential rampant fraud?
At the same meeting, by the way, the legislative committee ruled that beach volleyball will be an officially sanctioned NCAA sport starting with the 2010-11 academic year. But the NCAA won't call it "beach volleyball." Instead, in verbiage we can only imagine was dreamed up by the same folks who decided Division I-A and Division I-AA football would be called "Football Bowl Subdivision" and "Football Championship Subdivision," respectively, the NCAA will call it "sand volleyball."
The committee also ruled that schools could provide fruit, nuts and bagels to student-athletes at any time. Believe it or not, that actually had been an issue. Under the old rules, schools could provide only the likes of energy bars and carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks and were prohibited from providing actual food items other than meals.
The 2009 NFL draft is over, and already we're being bombarded with talk of the 2010 draft. But let's take another look back before we move on; specifically, let's look at how the top 10 recruits in 2004, '05 and '06 have shaped the past two drafts. Players from each of those signing classes went in this draft.
2004 top 10 recruits 1. RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma: He was a first-round pick in 2007.
2. WR Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State: He was a first-round pick in 2007.
3. WR Early Doucet, LSU: He was a third-round pick in 2008.
4. QB Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma/Sam Houston State: He was a fifth-round pick this year.
5. LB Keith Rivers, USC: He was a first-round pick in 2008.
6. LB Willie Williams, Miami/Louisville/Union (Ky.): He was undrafted this year.
7. DE Brandon Miller, Georgia: He was undrafted in 2008.
8. DE Derrick Harvey, Florida: He was a first-round pick in 2008.
9. DE Jeff Schweiger, USC/San Jose State: He was undrafted this year.
10. QB Xavier Lee, Florida State: He was undrafted in 2008.
2005 top 10 recruits 1. WR Derrick Williams, Penn State: He was a third-round pick this year.
2. WR Patrick Turner, USC: He was a third-round pick this year.
3. OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia: He was a first-round pick this year.
4. DT Melvin Alaeze, Maryland: He is in prison.
5. LB Rey Maualuga, USC: He was a second-round pick this year.
6. WR Fred Rouse, Florida State/UTEP: He hasn't been draft eligible and is no longer playing college football.
7. QB Mark Sanchez, USC: He was a first-round pick this year.
8. TE Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M: He was a second-round pick in 2008.
9. OT Reginald Youngblood, Miami: He went undrafted this year.
10. RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon: He was a first-round pick in 2008.
2006 top 10 recruits 1. WR Percy Harvin, Florida: He was a first-round pick this year.
2. OT Andre Smith, Alabama: He was a first-round pick this year.
3. RB Chris Wells, Ohio State: He was a first-round pick this year.
4. DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: He's heading into his junior season.
5. LB Sergio Kindle, Texas: He's heading into his senior season.
6. QB WR Matthew Stafford, Georgia: He was a first-round pick this year.
7. WR Vidal Hazelton, USC/Cincinnati: He has petitioned the NCAA for immediate eligibility at Cincinnati, where he would be a senior this season.
8. RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson: He is heading into his senior season.
9. LB Allen Bradford, USC: He is heading into his junior season and now is a running back.
10. QB Mitch Mustain, Arkansas/USC: He is heading into his junior season.
Grid bits Boston College higher-ups must have liked how athletic director Gene DeFilippo handled the coaching situation with Jeff Jagodzinski; DeFilippo received a contract extension through May 2014.
The Alabama-Auburn game will be played on the Friday after Thanksgiving in each of the next two seasons, with the game televised by CBS.
The Las Vegas Bowl has a new sponsor – and a new name. The game, which be will played Dec. 22 this season, now is known as the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. MAACO has close to 500 auto paint and body shops in the United States and Canada.
Cincinnati and Rutgers have moved their season-opening game to Labor Day afternoon. The game will be televised by ESPN as part of a doubleheader; that night, Florida State will play host to Miami.
Arkansas and Washington are installing artificial turfs at their stadiums for this season.
Ohio State will play host to just the ninth night game in Ohio Stadium history when USC visits on Sept. 12. Ohio State has lost its past two night games – to Penn State last season and to Texas in 2005.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.