by Emily Wilburn

This year is the last year for the current Bowl Championship Series (“BCS”) system. After years of complaints and threats of antitrust lawsuits, the BCS is moving to a playoff system for 2014. The BCS is a polarizing institution. If you are Northern Illinois State this year, the BCS rules appear to have worked in your favor. If you are a fan of the SEC or of any other team that was “left behind,” then the BCS rules appear to produce ridiculous results. One way or the other, someone is always unhappy.

Several years ago, the Utah Attorney General threatened to sue the BCS for antitrust law violations. He claimed that the BCS worked to exclude teams not a part of the “power” conferences, i.e., conferences who receive automatic qualifying bids to bowl games, and therefore those teams from smaller and mid-level conferences never had a chance to share in the millions of dollars generated by the bowl games. The Utah Attorney General began to look into antitrust law violations after an undefeated University of Utah team was snubbed and left out of the National Championship game matchup in 2005. The BCS contends that it provides more access, rather than less, to the national stage for the smaller and mid-level conferences. The BCS’s argument was supported by the fact that it has rules that do not allow the power conferences any more than two teams in the BCS bowl games. The rules also provide that the highest ranked champion of any non-automatically qualifying conference will receive an automatic qualifying bid if they are ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS poll or ranked in the top 16 and higher than a champion of an automatic qualifying conference. This year, the SEC had six teams in the top 12, and a non-automatic qualifying team, Northern Illinois State from the Mid American Conference, was ranked higher (Number 15) than two automatic qualifying champions (Big East Champion Louisville and Big Ten Champion Wisconsin). Thus, by the BCS rules, No. 16 Northern Illinois received an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl.

Now that the BCS has announced it will move to a playoff system, the Utah Attorney General has dropped his plans to file suit. It remains to be seen how the playoff system will work, though. The plan is to have two playoff games with the two winners playing each other in the championship game. The actual locations of the playoff and championship games will rotate. There will be six marquee bowl games in all, and the non-power conferences have an automatic bid to one of the bowls. The major change is that instead of using computer programs and polls to rank the teams, the BCS will use a 15 person panel to choose the teams for the playoff games. It will be interesting to see how states and schools react to this new system, and whether any anti-trust lawsuits spring out of the new system.

Subscribe to eNewsletter Courting Peoria

Leading Lawyer

Welcome to our new website & to our legal blawg Poetic Justis! Formerly known as Peoria Legal Blawg, we have re-launched our website to better focus on our new blawg and the artwork of Mr. VanFleet’s children, which will be featured and periodically rotated as the background theme of our entire website. Please join us each month to follow our legal based blawg posts and a special poem written by Mr. VanFleet himself!

VanFleet Law Offices

The VanFleet Law Firm has a strong history in Commercial Litigation, Banking Law and General Business Law matters. Founded by Joseph VanFleet in 1998, the practice has grown and flourished over the years thanks to the talent, expertise and tenacity of the VanFleet legal team. Today, it provides counsel to a broad range of local, regional, national and international clients.

Go to top