Unplugged Under 40: The Battle to Change the BCS

CBS News' Kaylee Hartung and Arden Farhi profile Washington lawyer Matt Sanderson, who's brining together members of Congress to change the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

The first round of official college football rankings were released this week, and the old controversy surrounding how those rankings are determined was ignited once again. But this time, Washington is getting involved.

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings determine who plays for the national title in January. Some say the way these rankings are determined is unfair - including members of Congress. So this week's "Unplugged Under 40" caught up with a young Washington lawyer who's trying to rally members of Congress to change the system.

Matt Sanderson and five fellow football fans launched PlayoffPAC this week. This political action committee wants to do away with the BCS and institute a playoff system. Division I-A college football is the only NCAA sport without one.

Their slogan is "beat the BCS save college football." And Sanderson said reform is necessary "for the good of the entire sport – all schools, fans, corporate sponsors, all people involved. Playoff PAC feels "that the BCS is anti-competitive and arbitrary."

The BCS uses a combination of polls and computer formulas to determine who plays for the national title – a system they contend is the fairest way to determine which teams are the strongest, even if their method is highly unpopular. According to a Gallup Poll, 85 percent of college football fans disapprove of the BCS.

Critics like Sanderson say the champion should be determined on the field, and a playoff system is the way to do it.

PlayoffPAC doesn't have an explicit plan for a college football postseason quite yet. But there is one high-profile sports fan in Washington who does. President Obama has said he's in favor of an eight-team playoff system, three rounds to determine a national champion. "I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this," he told 60 Minutes in November.

Sanderson said the road to BCS reform runs through Washington. "BCS officials have proven themselves completely unwilling to respond to the public and the only voice that they've listened to in the past and the only voice they'll listen to in the future is people speaking through their elected representatives."

With two wars, a health care bill in the balance and a sagging economy, Congress is already working overtime. But just yesterday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, another Utah fan, sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the Department of Justice look into the legality and fairness of the BCS.

President of Citizens Against Government Waste, Tom Schatz, says the politics of college football shouldn't be played on Capitol Hill. "This is the Last thing congress should be spending a second on at this point in time."

Matt Sanderson has met little political resistance to his effort, but he doesn't expect reform overnight. He acknowledged that "America certainly has weightier issues to tackle," but continued to say that "with everything else on Congress' plate we think that we should expect our leaders to walk and chew gum at the same time."

Watch the video above. And click here for today's full show which also includes Politico's Mike Allen and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, an independent candidate in Afghanistan's presidential elections in August.

Congressmen Join Fight to Kill College Football's BCS

Senator Pushes College Playoff Reforms

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.
  • Kaylee Hartung

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