House Subcommittee Pushes for College Football Playoff

December 10, 2009

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed legislation Wednesday that would prohibit the promotion of any post-season National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I contest “as a national championship game unless such game is the culmination of a fair and equitable playoff system.” The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, passed the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection by a voice vote. According to an Associated Press account of the vote, only Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Georgia dissented. The Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) crowns its champion following a 16-team playoff, whose title game is next week, putting it in compliance with the legislation. The Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), however, crowns its champion via the Bowl Championship Series, an arrangement among the wealthier conferences in the subdivision, whick picks two teams to play in a title game. Republican Sen. Orin Hatch brought Congressional attention to the controversy surrounding the BCS this summer, when he pushed the Justice Department to investigate it for antitrust violations at a packed Senate subcommittee hearing. To date, no action has been taken on Hatch’s request. Of the latest attempt by Congress to force college football to accept a playoff system, Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, did not mince words, saying in a statement before the House subcommittee vote, “With all the serious matters facing our country, surely Congress has more important issues than spending taxpayer money to dictate how college football is played.”

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