No Time for a GOP Fumble

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.

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Comments

  1. Gail B says:

    Jeff, no one could have stated your point any better.

    Sally, I am scared to death of HR 1388. I nearly fell out of my chair when someone sent me an email that Senator Isakson (R-GA)had positive things to say about it!

    I can tell you right now that, if the DontGo Movement in Georgia can find a conservative candidate to fill his seat, Isakson will have the time of his life to keep it when his term is up, and I think it’s up in two years.

    If someone is going to wear the Republican Hat in Georgia, it had better be sitting on a conservative head! We’ve had it with RINOs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nothing surprises me anymore and I KNOW we need to get rid of several Senators and Congressmen as soon as possible! If the things I am reading about the “GIVE Act” are true, we are all in even more trouble.

    I have seen posts from other sites with the following info on HR1388 and I am outraged with some of the provisions, especially #7. I know you are busy studying for exams so would another writer investigate this issue and shed some light?
    HR1388
    ” PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES – A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:
    (1) Attempting to influcence legislation
    (2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.
    (3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing
    (4) Impairing existing contracts or services or collective bargaining agreements.
    (5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office
    (6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.
    (7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.
    (8) Providing a direct benefit to –
    (A) a business organized for profit;
    (B) a labor organization;
    (C) a partisan political organization;
    (D) a nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and
    (E) an organization engaged in the religious activities described in paragraph (7) unless Corporation assistance is not used to support those religious activities.
    (9) Conducting a voter registration drive or using Corporation funds to conduct a voter registration drive.
    (10) Such other activities as the Corporation may prohibit.”

    Sally

  3. Bodenzee says:

    Regulating college football may be all Orin Hatch can get his mind around. Unfortunately at this time we need leaders who can and will address far more complex and important issues.

    Sen. Hatch is another embarrassment to the Republican party.

  4. Claudia says:

    Congress has absolutely NO BUSINESS injecting itself into any of the SPORTS arenas, football, baseball, basketball and skiing or whatever, it is not under thier jurisdiction, no matter how they chose to look at it. Sports are sports and that makes them subject to entertainment and OF THE PEOPLE, not to be ruled or judged or held up to Congress for any kind of approval or disapproval, as in drugs or steriods or money being spent ion gambling or any other portion or physical strengthening of the games. It is OG THE PEOPLE and waht those people chose to do with the games, or not chose to do is not under the pervue of a Congressional domain.

    If laws should be put in place, they can be private laws, such as in the Olymipics, you can’t have drugs or steroids, but the mandate is privately enforced. Same with baseball and football, those people that run the teams and control the dollars spent to recruit the team members are the ones that should enforce any sort of restrictions that they want in place, CONGRESS does not belong in the games.

    Personally, I haven’t seen any jsutification for the time when Congres started looking into Barry Bonds or any others in the past that havae been held up to hearings.

    What difference does it make to COngress anyway???? Besides they have many other more important things to do with their time and our money than to spend it on investigating some sports figure to see whether or not they broke rules and laws, why don’t they (Congress) look into whether or not Obama broke rules and laws??? We know he did, but they won’t waste their time on such a paltry law as the Constitutional passage that a person has to be a “Natural Born Citizen” to meet said written qualifications to beeligible to be President There is one big fish to fry in the pot already, and they are ignoring him. Yet hey want to make sll sports under the thumb ofo the law, how stupid they are when they batantly ignore the obvious.

  5. Gail B says:

    We’re in deep poop. The Service Act just passed the Senate. (“Ingsh,” as the verify word says.)

    Time to get out your comforting email, Jeff. Sleep is not going to come easy tonight, I fear!

    How the heck can you study?!

  6. Gail B says:

    A bit off topic, but here is the mailing address for US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, who is handling Leo Donofrio’s Writ of Quo Warranto:

    United States Attorney’s Office
    District of Columbia
    555 4th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20530

    Mr. Taylor needs to know that the American citizens are supportive of the case in the interest of justice, and upholding and defending the Constitution.

    I understand that telephone messages concerning this either do not reach him or “are not taken.” Thus, I am not listing the numbers.

  7. Let us move forward says:
  8. rdansie says:

    Sorry about the length, but I need to provide some background information.

    As someone who lives in Utah, first let me apologize for the moron (no I didn’t say mormon) who parades around as a United States Senator. He’s been an embarrassment for a long, long time. (can you say term limits?)

    I have an interesting perspective on your article for two reasons: I’m a Florida and Utah fan. College football is my favorite sport. I must visit Gatorbait.com on a daily basis.

    My father received his law degree from the University of Utah. My wife and I had season tickets for the basketball and football games. However, when our two children started playing sports, there wasn’t enough time for both, and our children came first.

    I liked the Gators even before Spurrier arrived. I started following the Gators closely when Spurrier started beating Florida State. I was very disappointed when Spurrier left. I think he got tired of the fans and their unrealistic expectations. I have two teams that I really dislike: Florida State and Miami.

    Fast Forward to today. I was able to enjoy Urban resurrect the Utah program and lead them to their first undefeated season. When he left for Florida, I thought it was a great move. As far as I was concerned, Urban had accomplished a perfect season and I believed that was the best he could hope to achieve at Utah.

    You can probably imagine that I was in Heaven after the bowl games had ended this past season. Utah had another perfect season that included a nice bowl game win over the elephants. The Gators had beaten Miami, Florida State and the vaunted Oklahoma Offense that everyone proclaimed couldn’t be stopped. Can you say SEC Defense? The Gators won their second National Championship under Urban. It was a Dream Season for me.

    Is the BCS a complete disaster? Yes. Do I think the politicians should keep their noses out of it? Yes. Do I believe the BCS should be replaced by a playoff system? Yes. Do I think Utah could win the National Championship if it was involved in a playoff. No.

    Auburn got screwed. Honest people admit it. The strength of the SEC that year supported the fact that you should have played for the National Championship. I think all of us without trunks would agree. Oh, I almost forgot: Go Gators!

    P.S. I’ve already contacted Orrin and expressed to him in the ‘kindest’ way possible, to withdraw the bill and then go visit Teddy! Permanently!

  9. tm says:

    Hey guys aren’t we all ready to send our children to the new obama youth corps?
    Do they read anything up there ?
    With exception of very few they all need to be flushed out of that great big toilet bowl we call a capitol.
    I will not allow my kids to be part of this.
    They will have to pry my kids from my dead hands – I will go to jail!
    Jeff, become a damned lawyer – gonna need you.I hope you are studying hard.

  10. SISTER MARIA says:

    So long farewell,
    auwiedersehn good by,
    Its late, I know
    But from this country we must fly
    Good bye,
    Good bye,
    Good byeeeeeee

    You can have your Obama nazi youth corp. NOT ME. USURPER, people, USURPER. Sieg heil, my ass.

    verification word: forkinda
    FORK IN D.A. till we get Obama prosecuted

  11. whats_up says:

    What I find interesting is the lack of education on HR 1388, please someone specifically tell me what your problem with it is? Has anyone actually read the bill? I have and dont find anyting that I have a problem with.

  12. suek says:

    whats_up…

    Yeah…right.

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