A brief history of legal challenges to the BCS

A brief history of legal challenges to the BCS

Published Jan. 16, 2009 10:54 p.m. ET

September 2003: The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., holds a hearing on the BCS and whether it violates antitrust laws. Neither BCS supporters nor detractors call for congressional legislation, although
Tulane University President Scott Cowen calls for more congressional hearings if talks
between BCS officials and non-BCS schools fail. Tulane went undefeated in 1998 but was
excluded from the BCS bowls because it finished 11th in the BCS standings.

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October 2003: The Senate Judiciary Committee follows with its own hearing on the BCS. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Delaware, calls the BCS "un-American" and says it looks "like a rigged deal." Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R.-Utah, notes that just because the system is unfair "doesn't make it unlawful."

March 2005: Texas state senator Jeff Wentworth introduces a bill that would prohibit all teams from Texas playing in the BCS unless a playoff system was created. The bill (which would have prevented Texas from playing in the 2006 national championship game, which it won) dies.

December 2005: Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, convenes a BCS hearing by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Barton, a Texas A&M graduate, says he does not have legislation in mind to force a change but hopes congressional hearings will spur discussion and improvements.

During the hearing, BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg tells the panel that a playoff
system could be used in major college football and the so-called "plus-one" model for
determining a national champion should be reconsidered.

Also during the hearing, Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyoming, says the BCS system discriminates against teams from the Mountain West Conference, including Wyoming.
Cubin cites Wyoming's victory over UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl as proof that polls
aren't always the best indicator of who is the better team. "Wyoming went to the Las Vegas Bowl and played UCLA and UCLA was furious they had to play Wyoming — and then we whupped em," she says.