- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2009

Curiously enough, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has made the Bowl Championship Series one of his top political priorities.

He is pontificating on a system that satisfies few and urging the Justice Department to investigate how the BCS goes about its business.

You would think Hatch would have more pressing agendas on his Capitol Hill desk than seeking to abolish the BCS and replacing it with a playoff system.

You would think the 9.5 percent unemployment rate would command the undivided attention of Hatch. You would think the prospect of yet another stimulus prescription would have the Republican questioning whether it is a good idea to keep spending money that we do not have.

Not that politicians are incapable of dealing with several issues at once.

It is just that Hatch is seemingly making the BCS his all-consuming passion amid uncertain economic times.

And we know why that is.

The Utah football team was bypassed in the BCS championship game last season despite going undefeated in the regular season. It was bypassed because of the company it keeps in the Mountain West Conference. So Florida and Oklahoma, each showing a loss on its record, ended up in the championship game.

This is not to defend the BCS. The BCS employs two national polls and six computers to form an imperfect consensus. It is a maddening, convoluted process that becomes the object of scorn every winter.

Yet a playoff system would not necessarily resolve the carping. It merely would displace it to those contending they should have been one of the eight playoff teams - if eight teams were used in a playoff.

You would end up with a version of Selection Sunday in March, when any number of mid-major basketball programs cry foul after being omitted from the NCAA tournament.

To be fair, Hatch is not the only high-profile politician to embrace the notion of a college football playoff. President Obama expressed a similar sentiment last winter. At least the president has had the good judgment not to join Hatch in the gag-inducing spirit of bipartisanship.

The president might want to stay on top of the nuclear aspirations of Iran and the nuclear testing of North Korea. He might want to rethink his alignment with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro over Manuel Zelaya’s dictatorial grab in Honduras.

The president has an awfully full briefcase now, what with big government in the automobile and banking business and looking to save a cooling planet and implement a universal health care plan.

All those matters should be jolting Hatch out of his BCS funk.

Before America becomes the land of entitlements while kicking the tab to succeeding generations, lawmakers in the minority party just might want to consider an alternative.

That includes Hatch, who is dispensing red meat to his football-loving constituents in Utah.

Utah president Michael Young said in testimony this week, “Championships should be decided by competition, not by conspiracy.”

There is no conspiracy, only a recognition that the leading college football teams usually come from the power conferences. There are exceptions, and Utah was the exception last season. The exception exposes the flaws of an entity that can be improved only incrementally.

Unlike college basketball, in which programs have a greater number of games to step outside their conference and region, football programs are bound to their conference schedules and often two or three powder puffs.

That reality restricts the evaluating process of the top football programs.

Yet it is a reality that barely rises to the level of a concern with unemployment expected to increase and hyperinflation a prospect.

These concerns undoubtedly are on Hatch’s radar.

It is just that all his chatter about the BCS seems lacking in perspective, if not frivolous.

Here is a nation on the cusp of being remade, and one of its leading lawmakers is obsessed with the injustices of the BCS.

Odd.

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