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Cohen & Barton: It’s Time for Playoffs in College Football

The real irony is the BCS actually makes the regular season largely irrelevant. And in the most unfortunate twist of irony, the BCS also destroys the relevance of 34 of the 35 bowl games because only one game has any effect on the national championship. The Fiesta Bowl between Oklahoma State University and Stanford University was about as exciting a football game as you could ask for, but it was just a glorified exhibition with no effect on the national championship. While it was far less exciting, the sad truth was that Oklahoma Stateís opening game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette actually had a larger effect on the national championship than the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose bowls combined.

Not only would a playoff system restore the significance of the regular season and postseason but a playoff would generate much higher TV ratings and hundreds of millions more in revenue. Analyses from sports economists all show that a 16-team playoff would net $750 million in profits a year, a massive $600 million more than the current BCS systems generates. Meaning our nationís colleges, which are slashing financial aid and faculty, are missing out on a $600 million payday.

Whatís even more despicable is that, according to published reports, currently American taxpayers and student fees are footing a bill of more than $800 million a year for athletic programs that lose money. Poor college students and average American citizens across the country are using their hard-earned money to subsidize athletic programs that lose money because the BCS is more interested in maintaining the status quo than creating a more equitable and lucrative system. Thatís simply un-American.

Itís time for a playoff system. Itís time to restore the relevance of the regular season and postseason. And itís time to stop the BCS from taking money out of your pockets. Letís make it happen.

Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) are founders of the Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus, which was created in December.

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