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Death To The BCS: Interview With Author Dan Wetzel

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The BCS is something I thoroughly hate, because it is not a fair system in terms of providing a true national champion. A book is being written about the BCS titled: "Death to the BCS" and is written by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan. I was able to contact Dan Wetzel and had him answer a few questions about the book.

Jeremy Mauss: Have you always been anti-BCS, or was there a particular moment or scenario that inspired you to write "Death To The BCS"?

Dan Wetzel:  We've been always been pro-playoff, the system has never made any sense to me. What really inspired us to research and write the book were the ridiculous excuses given to defend the BCS. Common sense says you can stage a playoff easily. So we became tired of having our intelligence insulted and decided to find out why we are really stuck with the BCS.

We went through thousands of pages of tax documents, university contracts, television deals and talked to everyone from marketing professionals to conference commissioners to analytical mathematicians to pull the BCS apart and find out the root of the resistance. The book isn't an emotional rant covering the same tired arguments, it is a fact-based destruction of the BCS excuses.


JM: How is it that NCAA lost control over the college football post season and is now in the hands of as you call in the book 'the cartel.'

DW: It never had control of college football. The NCAA doesn't crown a champion of Division I-A football. The bowl games got in very early - pre-World War II - and have served as the postseason.

Once entrenched, they've now gone from innocent exhibition games to a 35-strong cadre of businesses that rip college sports off of hundreds of millions of dollars, hold the post season hostage and define who is and isn't a major football program. None of which they should have any jurisdiction or ability to do.

JM Did you find any legitimate reasons to how or why bowl games operate as a tax-exempt entity; even though the bowl executives, especially the BCS bowls, make well over six figure salaries?

DW: 
We don't make a claim on the legitimacy of some bowl games not-for-profit status. That's up the Internal Revenue Service and it's a complicated issue. What we focused on was debunking the propaganda that bowl games are just these little charities that run a game.

There's a difference between being a charity and being a not-for-profit. Bowl games give very little of their money to charity, many give none. The people running the games make up to $600,000, the games can turn up to $12 million in profit annually, there are lavish expense accounts and millions wasted on parties, golf outings, first class travel and so on. The Music City Bowl once even spent over $7,000 on an office miniature golf tournament.

Once you analysis the facts and follow the money you realize bowl games aren't what you've been told they are.

JM: What was the most shocking item you discovered when researching the BCS?

DW: I guess I thought some of their reasons for existence would check out, but essentially none of them did. Everything they base the BCS's existence on is wrong. The BCS isn't lucrative; it's actually a comparative financial disaster for schools. Bowl games wouldn't go out of business with a playoff. The sports regular season would soar in popularity if there was a playoff. The computers aren't mathematically sound. And so on. A lot of conventional wisdom is just wrong, the result of 14 years of unchecked propaganda.

JM: Outside of political pressure what would it take for the BCS to make a change from their system to your proposed of a 16 team playoff?

DW: I think being educated on the real issues and how the system really works is a biggest step. The status quo wants the debate to be about their red herrings. Once those are blown up by facts and documentation, then the issue becomes not why we should change it but how soon can we change it. There is no debate here.

The system needs to be held accountable to what is real, not spin, that way university presidents realize how they are being worked over and change comes about because it's what is best for 99 percent of the people in the sport. The only ones hurt by a playoff are bowl directors who would have to survive on maybe $200,000 in salary.

JM: Is it really as simple as that the cartel wants all the money for themselves with little or none going to the current non-BCS leagues regardless of what a playoff could bring in?

DW: The distribution of the money is actual a symptom of the main problem. Yes, the big six get most of the money. But you could expand the revenue pie four-fold, so those leagues would make so much more even if their share dipped a bit.

Even under our system, the big six conferences would take around 75-percent of the revenue most years. That's more than enough. I don't think the spending imbalance changes that much. The people who currently get the biggest share of the money are the bowl games, which is mind numbing. The leagues are fighting for scrapes because the BCS actually doesn't make very much money for college football.

JM: Do you think major college football will ever see any kind of playoff, and if so when?

Yes. Money rules and there is an enormous pile of it when a playoff is adopted. Schools are strapped for cash, forced to rely on student fees and tax payers to balance the books. Sports are being cut. They need money and its laying right there. The new guard of conference leadership will pursue it and not cling to this archaic system.

JM: With the BCS around for at least a few more years, who do think will be in this years BCS title game, and who wins?

DW:
Obviously that's very hard to say but I guess I'd predict Ohio State v. Oklahoma. With a lot of chaos, the system might be forced to allow Boise or TCU (or Utah) in.

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My book is in the mail and I should be getting at the end of the week, and if you are against the BCS (as I assume most readers on this site are) go buy the book.

Thanks to Dan Wetzel for answering the questions and for Beth Parker from the Penguin Group on assisting with this interview and allowing me to use the cover art.