Senate to review NCAA football championship practices
Little-known fact: I was actually in the room when former Southeastern Conference Commissioner Roy Kramer unveiled, for the very first time, the plan for the Bowl Championship Series. I was working as the assistant sports editor for The Auburn Plainsman at the time during the summer of 1998, and had gone to Birmingham, AL for SEC Football Media Days.
Seated in the front row of a small auditorium, I angled my head back to look at some of the other sports reporters I knew from Birmingham, Montgomery, Atlanta and around the southeast. Generally, people don’t get into sports reporting because they’re like Rain Man when it comes to mathematics, so the looks of confusion and agony and distrust on the faces in that room as Kramer talked about formulas involving strength of schedule and opponent’s opponent’s strength of schedule told me everything I needed to know about the fledgling BCS.
I remember encountering South Carolina Gamecocks Head Coach (then with the Florida Gators) Steve Spurrier in the hallway outside the room. Now, as an Auburn guy, I don’t care so much for Spurrier, but on that day I couldn’t have agreed with him more. He was absolutely fuming that college football would continue to determine its national champion through any means possible other than on the playing field.
A few years after I was done on the Plains, my Auburn Tigers went undefeated. That season, in 2004, was absolutely phenomenal. Despite going undefeated in the SEC and despite facing a far tougher schedule than perhaps any other teams, Auburn was kept out of the national championship game because we started the season ranked at No. 17 while the University of Southern California and Oklahoma had started the season at No. 1 and No. 2, and Pete Carroll and Bob Stoops’ teams stayed there.
It was patently unfair. We were robbed and, to this day and probably in perpetuity, I contend that we would have put up a much better fight than Oklahoma and possibly could have beaten USC. Even now, as this little commentary was supposed to be only a paragraph or two long, it’s apparent that I’m still frustrated.
All that being said, Congress has no place whatsoever meddling in college football, and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch should be absolutely ashamed of himself for bringing it up, especially at a time when there is so many more important things that must be done.
Think about what happened just two days ago, when Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota grilled Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about the expanded powers he was seeking, how she repeatedly prodded him to point out, in the United States Constitution, a provision which would justify as constitutional the authority sought. This is no different. As frustrating as the whole issue may be, as much as I bleed orange and blue, I simply cannot find anything about the Bowl Championship Series in Article I, Section 8, which lays out the limited power of our federal government, nor anything which could be reasonably interpreted as to vest such authority being sought by Hatch.
America’s Right was established on January 14, 2008. One day later, as Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig testified before Congress with regard to steroids in the game, I asked similar questions in a piece entitled On Baseball and Federalism.
Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 28, wrote that the federal government may, from time to time, wield excessive power at the expense of the state governments and of the people, just as, at other times, the state governments may wield excessive power at the expense of the federal government and of the people. Either way, drought or deluge, feast or famine, the very nature of this nation and its people will right a government listing in one direction or another.
In theory, Hamilton was correct. In practice, he was WRONG! In the 220 or so years since then, Congress has constantly engaged in activities shifting power further and further away from the people and from the states and into the coffers of the federal government. An overreaching Congress, helped by an activist judiciary and the misinterpretation of essential measures like the Necessary and Proper Clause, has permitted for a power grab of epic proportions. One by one, the Fourteenth Amendment has incorporated provisions of the Bill of Rights against the states. Overzealous legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act has handcuffed the states from pursuing measures that work best for each environment, each in competition with one another to establish what works best and what does not. Time and time again, the federal power grab has overshadowed the need for a state-by-state free-market approach to government.
In his 1988 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan addressed this need when he stated that, “some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won.” He suggested that Washington exhibit “a little humility” and extolled the benefits of a federalist system of strong states and limited federal government. “There are a thousand sparks of genius in 50 states and a thousand communities around the nation,” he told the country. “It is time to nurture them and see which ones can catch fire and become guiding lights.”
It didn’t work. Since that speech, Congress has somehow managed to find, within Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution, enumerated powers which permit the establishment of a nationwide 1.6-gallon-per-flush toilet standard, allow for the regulation of sugar used by private ketchup manufacturers, set the legal limit on a driver’s blood alcohol level, and provide for the reconstruction of private homes following hurricanes and other natural disasters. Now, Congress is getting involved in the U.S. automotive industry, placing mandates and standards on American auto companies which only two vehicles, hybrid or standard, currently on the road can meet–buy yourself a hybrid Prius or Civic now, people–and, according to GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, would add approximately $6000 to the price of every new vehicle. And GM and Ford have a difficult time competing now…
So much for the Tenth Amendment. So much for state’s rights. So much for private industry and the free market. We need far less government involvement in our daily lives, in our nation’s businesses. Some people, like Fred Thompson, understand that. Others, like former Arkansas governor and current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, would still like to see us continue down the road of the “Nanny State,” adopting nationwide smoking bans, nationwide health and food standards, and so on and so forth. Forget the Democrats — they’d like to give us so-called free universal health care, which would cost us approximately 25 to 30 percent in tax hikes. They’d wipe our asses if we paid for the toilet paper.
We need less government involvement, not more. The federal government needs to get out of our sports, our vehicles, our board rooms, and our bedrooms. The federal government needs to abandon this movement toward being a [futile] panacea and revert to doing what it was designed to do — listen to the people and govern on their behalf.
I love baseball. Because I could not afford season tickets, I worked as a beer man during the Philadelphia Phillies’ first season in their new ballpark. Great exercise, great tips, and I could pretty much choose my seat anywhere in the park and watch the game from the seventh inning on.
College football, however, is part of my soul. Auburn football in particular. I was in a foul mood for more than a month back in late 2004 and early 2005, from when the bowl selections were made until well after Oklahoma got destroyed in the championship game and we stayed undefeated. Still, as much as I love football, as frustrated as I am about the BCS, I love my country exponentially more, and it makes me downright angry that a lawmaker–no less a Republican, who should have his eyes on the proverbial economic ball–not only brings up an unnecessary expansion of government power, but does so at a time when all of the energy on the political right should be spent steeling ourselves to the policies being rammed down America’s throat and preparing ourselves for the elections in 2010, 2012 and beyond.