- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 11, 2005

Congress should blitz the BCS

I am a conservative and normally opposed to any federal government intervention, but where college football and the Bowl Championship Series are concerned, I am hoping Congress can influence Division 1-A college football to do the right thing, just as it influenced Major League Baseball to do the right thing in regard to the steroids issue (“Congress, BCS officials have a talk,” Sports, Thursday). Maybe I am no longer a voice in the wilderness struggling to be heard, as others are at least attempting to do something to make things right.

We’ve all heard the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Everyone knew the truth — that the emperor was wearing no clothes — but no one dared say it. Well, this is so very true of the BCS system. I can’t understand how an entire nation of avid college football fans can be so conditioned to accept anything less than a Division 1-A college football playoff system.

Every argument against such a system is fatally flawed. In a sense, we do have a playoff system, but it is a system in which one loss in the regular season disqualifies a school from a chance to compete for a national championship. That is a lot of pressure to place on nonprofessional college players each and every week.

Remember the scene at the “Big House” when Penn State lost on the final play of the game against the University of Michigan: how dejected and demoralized the players were, and that was after one loss. This is wrong — and obviously so. Thanks to Penn State’s quarterback, Michael Robinson — he picked them all up.



There is no other league anywhere in the world predicated on such stupidity, yet we accept it. The arguments against a real playoff system are laughable. You might hear the proponents of tradition say you can’t ask nonprofessional athletes to play all those extra games, yet Division 1-AA and lower divisions have league championship games and bona fide playoff systems.

How fair is it to have a system in which, in a sense, one is equating all divisions as equal, and one loss in, say, the Big Ten Conference is equal to a loss in the Big East Conference? Penn State lost one game in the Big Ten on the last play of the game and had to hope that one of the weak teams in the Big 12 Conference would upset Texas or a team in the defenseless Pacific-10 Conference would be able to defeat the University of Southern California? Is this a fair system?

If Penn State were in the Big 12 Conference, it would be undefeated, too, and so would a lot of teams in the Big Ten. Is it a fair system in which Georgia’s starting quarterback got injured, was unable to play during the regular season, and the team lost two games — yet, when he returned, the team won the Southeastern Conference championship.

Isn’t it ironic that no teams from the three toughest conferences — the Big Ten, SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference — are playing for the national championship? That is because it is hard to survive those conferences with one loss. One and you’re done is an obvious flaw in the BCS system.

I will close with these words from one of the biggest supporters of a playoff system in college football, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno: “The BCS is a joke!” I wholeheartedly agree.

JOHN B. BLOOM

Elrama, Pa.

When it comes to the military, size does

After years of failing to secure a decisive victory in Iraq, it is hard to believe the Pentagon’s contention that our military has the capacity to fight and win two wars nearly simultaneously (“Pentagon sticks with 2-war plan,” Page 1, Friday). It seems highly questionable that our small and overstretched military could defeat much more formidable forces such as North Korea, China or even Iran if war suddenly broke out.

Nevertheless, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wants to further reduce the size of our military under the guise of transformation, even though his strategy to invade Iraq with a small strike force was a major mistake.

Instead of initially using overwhelming force to quickly pacify Iraq and secure its borders, we are tepidly fighting a protracted war with too few troops. This strategy has emboldened Syria and Iran to aid the insurgency with impunity and needlessly caused the war to drag on (which is causing increased American casualties). Hopefully, Iraq may still become a stable democracy, but the so-called insurgency should never have been allowed to flourish.

Now, instead of learning from our mistakes in Iraq by increasing our armed forces, the White House is going to continue the flawed smaller-is-better transformation doctrine. Transforming our military to a smaller force in order somehow to make it stronger is liberal doublespeak (for the purpose of saving money) and defies common sense. In the military, size does matter — the bigger the better (along with smaller quick-strike units).

Instead of continuing to downsize and weaken our already shrunken military, President Bush should honor his campaign promise that “help is on the way” by calling for substantial increases in manpower, planes, ships, submarines and myriad advanced weapons, including nuclear weapons. Otherwise, we will continue to diminish our superpower status and very well could lose the global war on terror.

The White House should cut back on wasteful domestic spending and foreign aid to pay for this military buildup.

MIKE MARK

Warrington, Pa.

Economic literacy

According to R. Emmett Tyrrell, the economy is booming and the only reason people are pessimistic about it is that too many Democrats in the media are feeding us negative news (“Economic illiteracy,” Commentary, Friday). Perhaps my point of view is skewed by not having a six-figure income, but from where I stand, the economy isn’t very rosy. Incomes have been frozen for the past two years. The Fed says inflation is dead, but I beg to differ. Energy costs and food costs are double what they were two years ago, and for someone who spends half his income on food and energy, inflation is sky-high.

The stock market is on the way up, but that is meaningless when you are trying to make ends meet today. President Bush cut taxes, but for whom? My federal taxes are down, but my state and local taxes are way up to make up for the lost federal aid. Housing prices are sky-high. Unless I’ve sold my house two or three times in the past three years, this only means higher property taxes. I don’t need the media to make me feel pessimistic. I only have to look at my bills.

KENNETH CUSICK

Bayside, N.Y.

No wonder those states are blue

A popular bumper sticker in my Pittsburgh neighborhood back in the early 1970s was, “If you’re out of work and hungry, eat an environmentalist.”

Fast-forwarding to the present, we have, “Many residents of Washington, the Northeast and Midwest are worried about what promises to be a record-breaking heating season, with costs nearly 40 percent higher than last year” (“Heating bills likely to send ‘shock waves,’” Page 1, Wednesday).

What do all three of these regions have in common? Each comprises liberal “blue states” where the residents have adamantly opposed any effort to alleviate energy shortages.

Billions and billions of barrels of oil to be had in Alaska and along our coasts? They say we can’t drill for it. Develop the 2 trillion barrels of oil available in domestic shale deposits? They won’t allow it. Build more refineries? They won’t hear of it. Windmills? Not in my back yard.

Don’t even mention clean nuclear energy.

No wonder they’re blue. Maybe a cold winter with power blackouts, gas shortages and crippling heating bills is just what they need to get them to reconsider.

ROGER JOHNSON

Kensington

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