December 2nd, 2008
12:55 PM ET
4 months ago

Congressman requests Obama DOJ investigation of the BCS

Alabama currently tops the BCS rankings.
Alabama currently tops the BCS rankings.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – It may not top the list of Obama administration priorities, but Hawaii Democratic Congressman Neil Abercrombie is urging the president-elect to take on one more controversial issue - creating a new playoff system for college football.

Obama himself has already waded into the debate. In a 60 Minutes interview on CBS last month, he said he would push for a championship playoff system - adding three weeks to the current college football schedule - to replace the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS). "I'm gonna throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do," Obama said.

Critics of the current BCS model argue that it gives a competitive and financial advantage to schools in the six BCS conferences and excludes schools with equally good or better football records in the other five non- BCS college football conferences. BCS-sponsored bowl games at the end of the season generate hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for the schools who are selected to play in them.

Seizing on Obama's public support of a new system, Abercrombie wrote a letter to the president-elect last month urging him to have the Department of Justice investigate the issue. “With the prestige of the Presidency and vigorous pursuit by the Department of Justice in support of fairness and equity, we are certain the BCS will be persuaded to resolve the issues to the benefit of the nation’s colleges and their fans.”

New BCS rankings released on Sunday reignited the controversy among college football fans when the University of Oklahoma edged out the University of Texas for a chance to play in the championship game, despite having an identical 11-1 record this season. Abercrombie released a statement on Tuesday, arguing that the current situation "very clearly constitutes a restraint of trade."

"Replacing the Bowl Championship Series with a process that allows the NCAA Division I football National Championship to be decided on the field is a matter of sportsmanship and a matter of equity," Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie, along with Republican Reps. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia and Mike Simpson of Idaho, and Democrat Jim Matheson of Utah, introduced a non-binding resolution in April directing DOJ to investigate the BCS system and take appropriate step if it found illegal action.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. brian

    Everyone getting their underwear in a bunch realize that this was said tongue in cheek and he wasn't really serious about it right?

    Cmon CNN. Provide some context.

    December 2, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Real Change

    For all of you who say we have more important issues...I agree, BUT, first of all it's not going to be the top agenda item, second of all, I'm relative confident that Obama can walk and chew gum at the same time. So just relax.

    For all of you who say this isn't the role of government...you're wrong! This is exactly the role of good government; that being to serve the interest of the citizens. There are maybe 100 rich guys who benefit from the system as it is. On the other hand there are litterally millions (all of the athletes, all of the fans etc. etc.) who want the system changed. The politicians work for the people and they are the only ones with enough muscle to make this happen.

    IT'S ABOUT TIME!

    December 2, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Stephen, OH

    Seriously, this better be a joke. If it's not, Congressman Abercrombie needs to be removed from office.

    December 2, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. TEXAS LONGHORNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Robert the man!

    Please if you can beat UT then HOW COME YOU DIDNT????? oh i know why we put the killing on that little girl SAMSON!!!!!!!!! just like Oklahoma state had his legs in the air! OU all you have to show is that you beat the brakes off of Texas Tech, which means........................... NOTHING!! if you wanted to beat on someone how come you didnt do it to TEXAS???????? Cause you couldnt!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. Brennan, Seattle WA

    This should not be what we pay our elected officials to do. Sports have nothing to do with governance. President Elect Obama made a statement, he was not taking a political stance and this Abercrombie guy is an idiot for trying to push the issue.

    December 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Ben

    Well for all that voted for Obama, congratulations you've gotten what you asked for. Change. NOT!!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Steve

    This is ridiculous. A President has NO RIGHT delving into the world of college sports just because poeple are unhappy with the current system. When is too much government interference too much. This just shows that Obama and the Democrats wants a dictatorship not a Free Democracy.

    December 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Steve

    This is ridiculous. A President has NO RIGHT delving into the world of college sports just because poeple are unhappy with the current system. When is too much government interference too much. This just shows that Obama and the Democrats want a dictatorship not a Free Democracy.

    December 2, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Darin from WA

    Not exactly imperative to our national security, but about frickin' time someone in government said something about this. Especially with teams like Boise State ranked higher than Ohio State, but won't get a BCS berth because they aren't allowed. That's not equity, that's greed. It's all about the money, not who plays better football.

    December 2, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Dr. K

    For the "gee don't we have more pressing issues" crowd, what part of "restraint of trade is against the law" do you not understand? If the BCS were Microsoft we'd already have been through hearings and the financial hammer would already have dropped.

    Just because there are more pressing issues facing the country doesn't mean that something like this can't be dealt with by the DOJ or appropriate federal agency. It's not like you don't enforce the law because you have an energy crisis or because you're at war. If you follow that logic, the government (or the nation) wouldn't ever do more than one or two things at a time because for all other issues, there's always a more pressing issue.

    This is long overdue, and it might as well be dealt with now as later. Not like we'll care more about enforcing our anti-trust laws once India and Pakistan start behaving themselves.

    December 2, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. John

    Apparently, nothing gets peoples' panties in a really big knot than taking things less seriously. Take hand very slowly away from panic button, two steps back, and smother head onto pillow. Sleep very gently, and the world will slowly crumble without you even feeling one thing.

    December 2, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Jeez

    What a buch of crap. WHO CARES!!!

    And to "Texas Longhorns"....try not to have a stroke.

    December 2, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. paul (staunch Moderate)

    The LAST thing the federal government need worry about is which college teams will or will not be going to Bowl games.

    If we need to worry about anything related to colleges it would be the quality of the education students receive. And by the looks of many of the posts on these CNN blogs the quality is dismal. So many mis-spelled words; grammatical errors abound! We won't even bother to address puncuation. And I have never witnessed so many people using so many wrong words, i.e. "Waist," when they really want the word "Waste."

    Can we send the educational system back to basics and forget about the peripheral stuff?

    December 2, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. JOE BLOGGS

    Hmmm....mixed feelings on t his one. On the one hand, I agree that our nation has more important things to worry about. On the other hand, until Obama stepped into the fray, it looked like we were doomed to have this ridiculous unfair corrupt college football playoff system ad infinitum.
    If Obama can spur a discussion (without wasting too much of his own time for more important national and international concerns) that ultimately results in a fairer more balanced playoff system, then I shall certainly think it were worthwhile!

    December 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Desert Storm Vet

    Why not, government has it's grubby little hand in everything else?
    This is just another photo op for a bunch of people who can't wait to find new ways to waste tax money. When are we going to wake up and stop the tyranny – Merriam Webster: oppressive power exerted by government.

    December 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5