Mar 052009
Authors: Sean Star

It’s the gift that keeps on giving – at least for a sports writer. A source of endless dialogue, debate and discussion.

Even President Obama has given his two cents, saying that before he was elected it was the one thing he’d change about sports.

It’s the BCS. And on Wednesday, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson outlined a way to fix it, continuing his quest to bring equality to the way college football crowns its national champion.

Thompson’s proposal is concise, organized and complete with notes, an appendix and tables.

If it were an assignment for class, it’d probably get an A. Best of all, it suggests what everyone outside the Rose Bowl wants: a playoff.

Problem is, the chances of it being taken seriously are slim to none.

Thompson deserves credit, though. The guy has turned the Mountain West into the biggest, baddest little brother in the NCAA, and he’s taken his initiative to fix sports’ biggest flaw as far as Washington.

Unfortunately, as with anything else that seems illogical on the surface, the BCS mess all boils down to money. Shocking, I know.

Under the current system, the six BCS conferences are guaranteed a piece of the cash cake every year, and they’re simply reluctant to consider any system that would routinely let everyone else have a taste.

It’s hard to blame them. After all, it’s how the rest of the country works. The haves on one side and the have-nots on the other.But what about winning? Shouldn’t that solve everything? Can’t anyone become president if he or she works hard enough?

Maybe, but probably not.

When asked if prolonged success by the Mountain West will eventually help the conference’s chances at annual BCS inclusion, Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said it would, but only to a certain extent.

“… You’ve got a cartel here that has all the money, and they’re not particularly interested in spreading that wealth around. So that does make it particularly challenging no matter how good we are on the playing field,” he said.

There you have it.

Sharing is caring, unless of course you’re talking about money.

Even Kowalczyk admitted he was “cautiously optimistic” about how far Thompson’s proposal would go.

At the very least, we know BCS coordinator John Swofford received the proposal, according to a statement he made Wednesday.

“Some of these ideas or similar ones have been addressed before in BCS meetings,” said Swofford, coordinator of the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of college football’s six haves. “We will make sure that the proposal has full airing by the commissioners and presidents, and we will respond to the Mountain West at the conclusion of those discussions.”

Translation: “The Southeastern Conference tried the same thing last year, and we turned them down. We’ve already tossed your nice little proposal in the recycling bin. Those of us in charge are not about to compromise a system that guarantees us financial success regardless how our teams perform. Thanks, but no thanks.”

But why does the BCS format even matter to CSU when the Rams are at least a few years away from even considering the possibility?

Because what’s good for the Mountain West is good for CSU.

While CSU’s New Mexico Bowl victory was great for the program’s exposure and image, it wasn’t exactly a huge moneymaker, bringing in $100,000. Meanwhile, Utah’s participation in the BCS’s Sugar Bowl netted CSU $500,000, figures according to Jeff Collier, the Athletics Department business manager.

And as everyone knows, it’s hard to underestimate the impact money like that can have on a program’s success.

“If the (Mountain West) Conference’s schools have access to the money, that’s going to help all of us build our programs and make us more competitive nationally,” Kowalczyk said.

So once it tosses out Thompson’s proposal, where does the BCS go from there?

Said Kowalczyk: “At some point, whether it’s now — five years from now, 10 years from now – at some point that has to change.”

Sports columnist Sean Star can be reached at

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