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Wodraska: BCS makes millions despite economy

Published February 22, 2009 9:21 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson was in Washington, D.C., this week touting the merits of his conference and discussing the possibility of making it easier for a non-BCS team to get into the BCS.

It sounds like he is making progress with legislators, as Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, voiced the seriousness of the matter in media reports and indicated his desire to see the BCS replaced with a playoff system.

"We are going to have hearings on this," he said. "We are not going to back down."

Hopefully, he and the other legislators feel as strongly about other issues, like the economy. In case they haven't noticed, college football under the BCS system is thriving, much more than the economy or other situations legislators struggle to fix. Do we really want Congress fiddling with something that isn't broken?

According to the National Football Foundation, the 2008-09 bowl season set records for viewership and fan attendance, attracting an all-time high of 1,770,654 fans. The average of 52,078 in attendance for the 34 bowls filled stadiums to 85 percent of their combined capacity.

Furthermore, 135 million households tuned in to watch the games. Ratings were up for the major networks, too, as ESPN, ABC and NBC reported increases in the 2 to 3 percent range.

Even The mtn., the MWC's fledgling network, saw an increase.

How many other businesses can boast of such growth recently?

Obviously, the harsh economic times might mean some of us went back to our college days and survived on those cheap boxes of instant noodles you can get for less than a dollar, but no way were we going to cut out our weekly dose of college football. We found ways to get to games and we found ways to watch.

Right now the best symbol of economic health might just be the hated BCS. (Makes me kind of wonder if it's so hated, why so many people are tuning in to watch it).

You can make the argument that much of the money the BCS generates goes to the power conferences and that would be true. But Utah and others have earned their pieces of the pie in the current bowl system. According to the NFF, bowls are projected to play $2.5 billion to teams and conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision in the next 10 years.

That is quite a bit of revenue the bowl games are generating. I hope Congress doesn't "fix" the situation too much.

lwodraska@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">lwodraska@sltrib.com