George Will

"They keep trying to tinker with the current system," Barton says, "and to me it's like -- and I don't mean this directly -- it's like communism. You can't fix it." He would toss the BCS into the ashcan of history where, arguably, it belongs. "It is," he says, "simply a cartel, much like OPEC." It uses an "arbitrary computer system" and "complicated algorithms" to determine who gets to play in the "mythical championship game." He has a point.

January's game will be the 12th since the BCS system was created in 1998, and Alabama will be just the 12th different university represented in the decisive game. (Texas won it in 2006.) By giving the winners of six major football conferences automatic bids to one of the four most lucrative bowl games (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) plus the national championship game, the BCS virtually guarantees that the rich get richer -- and get the television exposure that attracts blue-chip recruits.

Occasionally a declasse team crashes the BCS party: Undefeated Utah was allowed into the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. Then Utah lost its coach, Urban Meyer, to Florida, a school in the Southeastern Conference, whose winner always plays in a BCS bowl.

If congressional pressure leads to, say, a four-team playoff, half a dozen other teams will call that "arbitrary" and will pressure Congress to press for an eight-team playoff. Eventually the season will end when spring practice begins.

The BCS has effectively created a two-tier bowl system -- the big four bowls plus the national championship game, with their gigantic television contracts, and the 29 much less profitable bowls -- which is unfair. It also is none of Congress' business.

Barton's bill makes the usual perfunctory nod to the Constitution, finding that college teams travel in interstate commerce, and college games "involve and affect" such commerce and therefore -- the usual non sequitur -- it is fine for Congress to meddle.

Barton's bill, which should draw a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness to the idea of limited government, demonstrates how Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce has become an end run around that idea.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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