Playoff Proponents’ PAC Pushes Political Priorities

Hey, it’s a Friday. Fridays are for alliteration.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that politicians don’t listen to people’s concerns just based on their merits. Part of the reason is that it’s impossible to balance the individual needs of their ever-numerous constituents, and part is that there’s really no money in doing things that way, so what’s the point.

No Obama sez BCS
(Unless, of course, you’ve got some money to persuade us.)

That’s normally been the end of the line for the anti-BCS movement, because while Orrin Hatch has figured out that as a Utah representative, it’s quite politically advantageous to rage against the college football machine, there’s really nothing in it for anybody else. Well, until now, anyway; the playoff bandwagon is organizing… and they’ve taught themselves the language of the greenback.


The Playoff PAC, launched by Utahn Matt Sanderson and several other sports fans, plans to raise cash and then donate to candidates and incumbents who support busting up the BCS, a system of polls and computers that doles out bowl game spots to the winners of six major conferences and four other teams.

“There’s a lot of groups that are selling T-shirts or getting people to sign petitions online or asking people to boycott BCS sponsors like Tostitos,” says Sanderson, a Washington lawyer and former campaign finance counsel for Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid. “And we just thought at the end of the day those efforts are good but they’re not going to put in place the framework or apply the right type of pressure to bring about change.”

Change? That’s that commie talk, Sanderson; tread cautiously.

That aside, Sanderson’s onto something; funneling money to politicians who like the playoff is a hell of a way to make politicians like the playoff. We suppose that goes for anybody, not just politicians, but that’s not entirely the point.

At the same time, though, it’s not like Sanderson’s the very first person to think of throwing money at Washington in order to fix the problem. In fact, here the non-BCS conferences (ostensibly those who are pushing hardest for a playoff over the current BCS system) face another overwhelming gap in assets. To boot:

Both sides of the argument, though, are shelling out big money to Washington lobbyists. The conferences backing the BCS as well as the Football Bowl Association have spent $720,000 on lobbyists so far while the Mountain West Conference, in which the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play, has spent $200,000.

While the MWC’s per-conference spending is higher than the BCS’s - $200k to $120k - it seems pretty obvious that their bedfellows in the WAC, MAC, Sun Belt, and C-USA aren’t going to be enough to make up the difference (especially if the Big Ten and SEC got the idea that push was coming to shove).

We do see the BCS’s point that the regular season would take on lesser import with a playoff, and such importance would diminish even further the larger the playoff went. What we don’t buy about this, though, is their contention that the smaller bowls would be hurt in any way. That’s a rather specious contention.

After all, the smaller bowls - hell, every bowl that isn’t the championship - already play no role in deciding the title winner. It’s not exactly like the Sun Bowl’s begging and pleading that a playoff be instituted, nor is it the case that any of the bowls would necessarily disappear. After all, if the 10 teams currently admitted to the BCS instead were part of a 10-team playoff, the other 40-odd teams in bowls can still participate in those, right? And it’s not like the 5th best team in the ACC had a prayer of being important in the postseason, playoff or no; their postseason situation remains the same: an ultimately meaningless exhibition in the Music City Bowl. These teams should have no bearing on the playoff debate.

But we digress, mainly because money’s going to solve this argument, not facts or reason (though said facts and reason may persuade some money to flow one way or the other). At least this way, we know the debate has truly “made it” in America; isn’t that what going to Washington’s all about?