ESPN's Rick Reilly Begs Obama to Fix BCS

As some blogs have already reported, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly implored President Obama in his Monday column to take direct action against college football's BCS system. Arguing that the BCS is run by a conglomerate of elites representing the power conferences and the bowl games, Reilly pleaded with Obama to work to install a playoff system in college football.

"What a lie this BCS era is," Reilly ranted, demonizing its supporters as "Bowlsheviks" and arguing that undefeated teams from lesser conferences get no shot to play for a national championship. "That's OK," he continued. "There's one guy who can change all this with the stroke of a pen."

This messianic figure is none other than President Obama. "He's a guy who has broken a mountain of promises in the past two years," Reilly said, sounding like a dismayed progressive. But, the president "can make it all right by making good on a promise he did make, the one to look hard into a playoff." The title of Reilly's piece: "Change We Can Believe In."

Shortly after he took office, President Obama told CBS's "60 Minutes" that he would make an effort toward instituting a playoff system in college football. Reilly also claimed that Obama personally promised him action on the matter while on the campaign trail.

"You want to win this re-election, Mr. President?" Reilly asked. "You could do worse than backing something that's already favored by 63 percent of Americans." Reilly added that Republican-leaning states featuring successful mid-major football teams (Texas, Utah, Idaho) would be wildly supportive of the measure.

Two other members of congress, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), have also threatened congressional action against the BCS. Of course, Sen. Hatch hails from Utah, whose state university fields a perennially competitive football team that is from a small conference; mid-major competitor Texas Christian University lies just outside the bounds of Rep. Barton's district.

Perhaps impatient and less-than-optimistic about the congressional reform route, Reilly implored Obama to have the Justice Department sue the BCS for violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, accusing the BCS of being "a cartel of the 11 BCS conference presidents, Notre Dame and the five big bowl games who are restraining trade and colluding to hoard the gold."

"They are not exempt from antitrust rules," Reilly insisted, though there seems to be nothing in his background suggesting he is a legal expert.

"It would work," Reilly argued. But someone has to take charge of the matter. "Just do it, Mr. President," he concluded, channeling his inner Nike.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014