A leading congressional critic of college football’s old Bowl Championship Series believes the new playoff system is an improvement -- but far from perfect after two big-name schools from his home state were left on the outside looking in.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said the inaugural four-team playoff that shut out Baylor and Texas Christian University never could have been broad enough to include top teams from the five “power” conferences plus high-profile independent schools.
“The system as they have it now is going to fail every year,” Barton said on the ESPN/ABC News podcast “Capital Games.” “You can’t squeeze all that sausage into the sack. There’s going to be a few teams left out. So they need to go to at least eight teams, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they went to 12 – with first-round byes – or to 16.”
You can listen to the full episode of “Capital Games” HERE.
Barton previously used his perch as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to convene hearings on the much-maligned BCS, even pushing legislation to prod the NCAA to ban it in favor of a playoff system.
Now, he said, additional oversight hearings on the new system could be in order, under the leadership of Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.
“We’ve got a lot on our plate next year, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to do a hearing or two,” Barton said.
Barton specifically cited concerns about how TCU – which has its campus near Barton’s congressional district, in Fort Worth – fell out of the playoff rankings despite closing out its regular season with a blowout victory.
“TCU was in third place the week before, won by 52, and fell from three to six,” Barton said. “Either they weren’t really the No. 3 team the week before, or something other than performance on the field determined who made that fourth slot.”
Barton also shared a novel idea for an expanded playoff system that would virtually ensure his alma matter, Texas A&M, a spot every year.
And he predicted that the University of Texas and Texas A&M will play against each other again in future years; the schools haven’t tangled since 2011, because A&M left the Big 12 to join the SEC after that season.
“Of course they should play again. It’s petty that they’re not, and the primary reason they’re not playing is that Texas doesn’t want to play Texas A&M,” Barton said. “Eventually they will play, if for no other reason that it’s a huge financial revenue source.”
While he praised the expertise and integrity of one particular selection committee member with ties to the political world – former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – Barton said he wants a broader committee, with members more directly tied to the college football world.
“In my humble opinion, I’m more qualified,” Barton said. “I’ve got no problem with her being on the committee. ... It would be a little bit better to have somebody that had actually played football, or been associated [with it]. But if you can’t have that, people like Condoleezza Rice are fine.”
Also on the podcast, two conference commissioners that do have teams in the playoff –- Jim Delany of Big 10, and the Pac 12’s Larry Scott -– said that the playoff system is unlikely to change in the near future. Both made the point that the power conferences were aware of the limitations when they signed off on the new system.
Listen to “Capital Games” HERE.
“Capital Games with Andy Katz and Rick Klein” is a part of the podcast series ESPN Perspectives, with original audio programming on issues across the sports world. The program explores the intersection of sports and politics, through interviews and analysis, and can be downloaded free via iTunes or on the ESPN Website.