Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Invisible Hand: Thanks For Nothing

With the Republicans in power in Washington, I see little chance of my pet legislation getting passed or even presented to Congress. Okay, I don't really have legislation ready - but in the deep recesses of my imagination my name is "Senator Thrill" and I have the 2002 Bowl Deregulation Act as tops on my agenda. But I'm being sternly told that the market will take care of us, which is hardly comforting. The market has given us the current system of a long series of meaningless bowl games, and I don't see the invisible hand correcting this any time soon.

We need government intervention for Division I football. The bowl system has evolved over the past century so that all the little fiefdoms (bowl committees, conferences, NCAA) are looking after their own bottom lines and are not looking out for the health of college football or for the good of all my constituents in Coach Potato Nation. The past few years the system has crept along and coughed up the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which only pits the top two ranked teams against each other. It's too little, too late.

I'm not talking a state-owned playoff system - I envision the government stepping in and deregulating the bowl games. The top sixteen teams at the end of the regular season would be forced to compete in a playoff rather than being sent to a predetermined bowl game whose outcome is essentially meaningless. (Brian Bosworth probably has a BCS teeshirt that reads "Bulls**t Communist System.") Competition is good, and not only for big-time college football. Because once the sixteen-team playoff system is in place, couch potatoes across the nation will be planted in front of the TV for four consecutive Saturdays. Sales on the following will skyrocket:

- Snack foods
- Frozen pizzas
- Domestic beer
- Deli trays
- Submarine sandwiches, hoagies, and grinders
- Pizza deliveries

Not to mention all the money changing hands in office pools. All of this spending, combined with all the fun folks are having watching playoff football would likely jumpstart the economy. Suddenly people are smiling more. The holiday season becomes even more special. Keith Jackson is the new Santa Claus. Life is merry. Utopia achieved...

Okay, I hear all you naysayers out there:

Won't the regular season will lose its meaning? No - teams will be jockeying all season long for a playoff berth. Your team lost its first, fifth, or seventh game of the season? Cheer up - as long as you don't have a pansy nonconference schedule (hello coaches Solich and Mason) that affects your strength-of-schedule component, you're still in the running.

But what about tradition? Who cares! A better tradition has been born!

What about all the cities who host bowl games? Hey Charlotte, South Carolina - if you worked up the savvy and courage to secure the Continental Tire Bowl, you can surely land an NCAA football regional.

What about the sponsors of the bowl games? Them's the breaks. Their exposure will soar if they advertise during the highly-watched playoff games. And if that's not good enough - they can go buy off a rock star or something.

Sadly, the deregulation of bowl games will not come any time soon. The current bowl system will continue until a trust-busting administration takes it upon itself to give us a playoff and make true competition the law of the land. Until then, all we can do is to plead and pray for the almighty invisible hand to correct this sorry situation.

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