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Congress to Investigate College Bowl Championship Series

Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, has called a hearing to investigate the way college football crowns its champion.

Congress to look into ‘deeply flawed’ BCS system (AP)

Calling the Bowl Championship Series “deeply flawed,” the chairman of a congressional committee has called a hearing on the controversial system used to determine college football’s national champion.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, charged with regulating America’s sports industry, announced Friday it will conduct a hearing on the BCS next week, after this season’s bowl matchups are determined.

“College football is not just an exhilarating sport, but a billion-dollar business that Congress cannot ignore,” said committee Chairman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican. Barton’s panel is separate from the House Government Reform panel that tackled steroids in baseball.

The committee announcement called the hearing, scheduled for next Wednesday, a “comprehensive review” of the BCS and postseason college football.

“Too often college football ends in sniping and controversy, rather than winners and losers,” Barton said. “The current system of determining who’s No. 1 appears deeply flawed.”

Barton said he does not have legislation in mind to force a change, but said he hopes congressional hearings will spur discussion and improvements. It won’t be the first time Congress has looked at the BCS. In 2003, the Senate probed whether the system was unfairly tilted against smaller schools.

I yield to few in my disdain over the BCS structure and my desire to see a playoff. My interest in this matter pales, however, in my disgust with Congress in constantly grandstanding on issues involving sports and the popular culture where they have no business involving the power of the federal government.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. The Knucklehead of the Day award

    Today’s winner is Republican congressman Joe Barton.

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  2. Chris Nicks says:

    I’m so glad that all of the black-outs in California have been solved and the lack of gas refineries in America has been taken care of that Congress, with it’s what 30-something percent approval rating, has the time to “investigate” college football, and pro football, and baseball, and anything else with a greater approval rating than them.

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  3. DaveD says:

    Yep, ranks right up there with Arlen Specter’s public concerns about the Terrell Owens affair. Your tax dollars at work.

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  4. Ben There says:

    It is flawed and has no value. Cancel it!

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  5. Matthew Rinehardt says:

    NCAA 1-A needs a true playoff system, one I would like to see in my lifetime. If the NCAA won’t do it, maybe Congress will.

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  6. Big Mike says:

    I guess you think Congress can solve everything. You must be a liberal Democrat.

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  7. Saturday Links

    From around the spehre today: – Outside the Beltway: Congress to investigate the BCS As much as I hate the BCS, what business does Congress have in the matter? Looks like Congress is taking to investigating things that have more…

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  8. Steven Plunk says:

    With over a hundred team in division 1 why not just have a Rose Bowl champion, an Orange Bowl champion and so forth. The idea that we must have single champion is wrong, it may be the american way but still wrong.

    Isn’t there more than enough glory to go around?

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  9. Maggie says:

    I think it’s time for them all to review their duties according to the Constitution….HOW ABOUT SAFETY AND BORDERS, you long-in-the-tooth dinosaurs.

    Nix the Congressional investigations and return the pay raise you gave yourselves “in the dead of night” which BTW is also unconstitutional!

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  10. McGehee says:

    I think the fallacy in this whole issue is the apparent conviction on the part of some that there needs to be a national champion in college football.

    Yeah, I guess it must be in the Declaration of Independence somewhere: life, liberty, and nationwide bragging rights.

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  11. GUYK says:

    “College football is not just an exhilarating sport, but a BILLION-dollar business that Congress cannot ignore,” …

    Its that billion dollars that lights up a congressman’s eyes and you can bet he and others are trying to figure how to tap into it

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  12. Matthew Rinehardt says:

    There “needs” to be a I-A Championship playoff because the BCS isn’t working. I would have loved to have seen how far Utah and their unusual offense could have gone last year, but no, big money and the bowl system won’t allow it. Take the top 8 teams as determined by the AP and Coaches polls (throw the computers out!) and let them play, seeding to start with and after the first round. The bowl structure can be used in some fashion to host the lead-in games and the championship game. Teams that aren’t in the top 8 can still play in the lessor bowls.

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  13. I think we should hook generators up to Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan’s graves. At the rate they’re spinning right about now, we could probably eliminate our dependency on oil imports.

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  14. Matthew Rinehardt says:

    US car manufacturers wouldn’t put seat belts in all models until forced to do so by the Government. Sometimes Government intervention is necessary, and useful. When I-A football is the only NCAA sport where there is no official championship playoff method, and the public has wanted one for some time, something is wrong. How can anyone view March Madness and not realize the National benefit a I-A playoff would generate? The NCAA has yet bowl money rule over the public good. It’s time something is done about it. And, I think a playoff would actually generate more money! I can only guess the money involved is expected to shift unfavorably by the current controlling powers. Can anyone explain why we don’t already have a I-A playoff?

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  15. Elephonkey says:

    Congress and College Football: Match Made in Hell

    I have yet to find anyone who is in favor of the decision by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) to use his Congressional committee to investigate NCAA football and, more specifically, the Bowl Championship Series. For those of you who…

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