Book Review: 'Death to the BCS'
It’s all the Bowl Championship Series’ fault.
That’s what Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan’s scathing argument amounts to in their jointly-authored book, “Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series.”
Wetzel and his colleagues at Yahoo! Sports have poured over every available financial and legal document tied to the country’s leading athletic departments, executive bowl committees, college conferences and even the personal financial history of prominent conference commissioners and athletic directors to figure out numerically what so many college football fans have known intuitively for years: the BCS is hopelessly flawed.
In just 192 pages of prose that screams “We write sports for a living,” Wetzel and his peers have mounted an attack on the BCS that will make the power six conference commissioners — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC — cringe and enrage college football fans across the country.
Wetzel et al do everything but knock down the door of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, drag him out of his office to the nearest public restroom, find an empty stall and give him the swirly of his life for his shenanigans as a conference commissioner.
After building a conscientious case, the authors tagged Delany as the main obstacle blocking a playoff system.
“For Delany, money is power, only in a bizzaro way: The less money available to all, the more power stays with Big Ten. By blocking a real postseason — and getting other leagues to foolishly oblige — the Big Ten has assured itself the biggest haul from a smaller treasure. It also means that it can pillage the Big 12, Big East and ACC almost at will if it chooses to expand — which is why Nebraska quickly jumped and Missouri all but begged for an invitation that didn’t arrive.”
On the other hand, the executive director of the BCS, Bill Hancock, supplied much of the ammo used to gun him down. Hancock is cited repeatedly throughout “Death to the BCS” for making the kind of asinine comments that I thought only Tony Hayward was capable.
“Soon after he was hired, Hancock made a round of media appearances. Somewhere along the way he must have lost his cue cards. When he joined the host of Atlanta’s Mayhem AM radio show in November 2009, Hancock was asked if even he, the official head of the BCS, liked the BCS.
‘You know,’ Hancock said, ‘I like the plus-one, personally. That’s a four-team playoff.’”
Beyond the vitriolic tone of three ultimate college football fans scorned — the authors frequently refer to the BCS committee as “the Cartel” — “Death to the BCS” is a rational and realistic proposal for a fluid and affluent playoff system. Among other incentives, a playoff system could be worth $880 million annually — or four times the amount the BCS pulls annually — according to the authors.
Also inside the book’s 18 chapters, a corrupt bowl system is outlined in which 31 smaller bowl games are hopelessly dependent on the dominant four BCS bowl games to cover their bottom line. The authors claim schools rarely make money by attending a bowl game. In fact, schools usually lose money — a great deal of money — by having to eat unsold tickets that bowl executives make them responsible for selling and having to supply most of the food and lodge for support groups like the university marching band, cheerleaders and mascot.
“The majority of bowl games leave schools in the red, requiring conferences to pool bowl payouts and take revenue generated by the BCS games to cover the losses from lower-tier ones… Bowl games don’t pay for transportation. Or lodging. Or most of the teams’ meals.”
“Death to the BCS” illustrates to the reader — in the bluntest fashion possible — that college football is corrupted by a few athletic directors and conference commissioners who rob the game of true sportsmanship, gamesmanship and 141 years of tradition and pageantry to pocket previously untold millions of dollars.