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Justice Department Targets BCS

MIAMI ( - The United States Justice Department has informed the NCAA that it is conducting an antitrust inquiry of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which includes the annual Discover Orange Bowl in Miami.

The letter comes on the heels of a move by the Attorney General of Utah to file an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS. There's also been a call from college professors to open an antitrust investigation of the BCS.

Specifically, the Justice Department had specific questions over reports that the NCAA "was willing to help create a playoff format to decide a national championship for the top level of college football."

The Justice Department wanted to know answers to the following questions:

  • Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have NCAA-run playoffs or championships?
  • What steps, if any, has the NCAA taken to create a playoff among Football Bowl Subdivision programs before or during your tenure? To the extent any steps were taken, why were they not successful? What steps does the NCAA plan to take to create a playoff at this time?
  • Have you determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve the interests of fans, colleges, universities, and players? To what extent could an alternative system better serve those interests?

At state is potentially tens of millions of dollars for both schools and the BCS. The troubled system was designed to crown a national champion each year. But, it's had a major scandal surrounding the Fiesta Bowl, and it's still not nearly as good of a system as the NCAA Tournament in basketball.

While not officially conducting a full-fledged investigation, the letter is enough to excite fans of college football and put fear into the BCS officials. College fans have long sought an NCAA tournament for Division I football, just like every other NCAA division has each year.

The people standing in the way of a playoff are university presidents. They don't want to upset the apple cart of getting serious cash from television deals for regular season games. But, those deals would still pay out even if there was a playoff.

Still, university presidents and athletic directors complain about there being too many games, and it's too tough to schedule, and they worry they'd lose home games each year, and they'd be opposed to losing the lucrative trips and outings paid for by bowls and the BCS.

Currently, the BCS system limits automatic bids to the winners of the Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, ACC, Pac 10 and SEC and leaves out other conferences, including almost all schools in the Rocky Mountain region.

While a long way from a playoff, it's possibly the start of a long desired trip for fans towards a Division I college football playoff to truly decide who is the national champion.

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