- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

MIAMI | The BCS honored 10 Heisman Trophy winners Thursday night about a half-hour after the former stars agreed the system is broken.

Before Oklahoma and Florida took the field to determine a national champion, eight of the Heisman winners met the media and said the current system is unfair and needs to be tweaked.

“Being from the Mountain West Conference, we don’t have a chance,” former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer said.

The BCS title game between the top-ranked Gators (12-1) and No. 2 Sooners (12-1) has come under scrutiny all week with threats of lawsuits and legislation. Earlier Thursday, Republican Rep. Joe Barton proposed legislation to replace the BCS with a playoff system, a change even President-elect Barack Obama said he wants.

Several schools - including Barton’s home-state Texas Longhorns (12-1) - believe they are the rightful champions. No. 5 Southern California (12-1) and undefeated Utah (13-0) also have argued they’re the best.

“I just feel like everybody should be given an opportunity,” said Pittsburgh’s 1976 Heisman winner, Tony Dorsett. “Now I don’t know how that’s going to work out or how they’re going to do it, but they have a lot of brilliant people at these universities who should be able to figure it out.”

The BCS also has been scrutinized on another front.

On Tuesday, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced he was investigating the BCS for a possible violation of federal antitrust laws. He argued the BCS unfairly puts schools like Utah, a member of a conference without an automatic bid to the big-money bowls, at a competitive and financial disadvantage.

Postseason payday

Florida coach Urban Meyer already has raked in bonus money this postseason. He had $100,000 more on the line in the title game.

If the Gators beat Oklahoma, Meyer will get an additional $100,000. He earned $75,000 for winning the SEC championship and $150,000 for reaching the BCS title game.

He also is guaranteed another $50,000 for finishing in the top 10 of either the Associated Press college football poll or the USA Today college football coaches poll.

In all, Meyer could pick up $375,000 in postseason bonuses.

There also was bonus money on the line for Sooners coach Bob Stoops.

He would get a $250,000 bonus for an Oklahoma victory or $150,000 for a loss on top of his salary of $2.8 million and bonuses of $3 million for reaching his 10th year at Oklahoma, $80,000 for winning the Big 12 title and $30,000 for being named the conference’s coach of the year.

He’s also essentially a lock to get a $75,000 bonus for a top-10 finish in the BCS.

High school connection

The BCS title game wasn’t the first championship game at Dolphin Stadium for many Florida players.

Eight Gators played at the stadium in one of the most memorable Florida high school football games ever, a 45-42 double overtime victory for Lakeland over Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas in the 2006 state Class 5A championship game between the national powerhouses.

Returning to Dolphin Stadium was perhaps most painful for safety Major Wright and offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert, who each lost two state finals with St. Thomas Aquinas.

They said that even this week their six Gators teammates from Lakeland will never let them forget.

“Oh my God. It never ends,” Wright said. “Those guys are still on my back.”

St. Thomas Aquinas got a bit of redemption, winning its fifth state championship in December by blowing out Lakeland 56-7. The Raiders lost to Lakeland in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 title games. Lakeland has six state titles.

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