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Hatch labels BCS system 'elitism' at its core

Orrin Hatch
Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch says it is not just greed that makes college football's Bowl Championship Series unfair and maybe a violation of antitrust laws. He says it is also biased "elitism" that he has seen since he grew up in poverty.

"I think it's elitism almost more than greed," Hatch told 1280 The Zone on Monday. He said such elitists often say, "the Mountain West schools just can't compete," which he said is "bull."

Hatch added, "I like the word elitism. I was born in poverty. In my family, I had to earn everything. We didn't even have indoor facilities in my early part of my life. I had to fight for everything I've ever had. I was a janitor going through BYU. I'm proud of that."

So, he said, "Unfortunately as we've all grown up, we've found there are elite people who think everything should be done their way and not done in a fair way. And in this particular case, it (the BCS bowl system) isn't done in a fair way."

Hatch, of course, made news last week by saying he is planning a Senate hearing into possible antitrust violations by the BCS and may introduce legislation to "fix" the system by requiring a playoff or some other system that allows all teams the possibility of playing their way to a championship.

Hatch complained that only six elite conferences — and "by elite, I'm being sarcastic," he said — are given automatic berths into lucrative BCS bowls, including the championship game.

So, he said, "Only 50 percent of the schools are the only ones with a real chance to compete for the national championship, and they are the only ones that get the lucrative payments out of the BCS bowl system."

Hatch said, "It isn't fair. You have a team like the University of Utah (which was the nation's only undefeated team) that not only went to a lesser bowl, but kicked the daylights out of one of the best teams in the country that was rated No. 1 a number of times in the year."

He complained that because of elitism, many said the University of Alabama would "push the Utes right out of the stadium. Well, they had their heads handed to them."

Hatch said he is not pushing for change to the BCS just because of the Utes. "I think the system ought to be fair."

Hatch also said he believes the last team not part of the "elite" BCS conferences to win a national football championship was Brigham Young University in 1984.

"They were really lucky to be national champions that year. Not because they didn't deserve it, but because of the way the system works" with elitists saying anyone not part of their conferences do not deserve to win because they face lesser competition, he said.

Hatch said, "Our antitrust laws are designed to keep groups from acting in agreement and coordination to reduce competition. I think that's exactly what we have going on with the BCS. And there's a lot of money at stake."

He added, "Most people who think about it know I'm right. They know it's not fair, and its violative of equal treatment. They know it's a system where the best teams do not necessarily compete for the national championship."

Hatch added that he feels elitism even hurts the Utah Jazz. "I get very resentful (about) the way the Jazz are treated because we are a small TV market. You don't see them on national TV very often, yet they are one of the premier teams in the whole doggone game."