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Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Aggie, proposes bill to kill BCS

President-elect Barack Obama isn't the only one who wants to change the way champions in college football are determined.

Obama, who has said he'd like to replace the controversial Bowl Championship Series with an eight-team playoff, was joined in a call for change Wednesday by Rep. Joe Barton of Arlington, a Texas Aggie.

Barton said he's introducing a bill to kill the BCS system, seen by many for years as confusing and unfair.

"College football is more than an exhilarating sport, it's a billion-dollar business," said Barton, R-Arlington. "Despite every effort to fix the problems of the BCS, college seasons still end in sniping and controversy, rather than clear winners and losers determined on the field."

The best way to stop that, he said, is to prevent marketing of a post-season game as a national championship game, unless it is the result of a newly created playoff system.

Although it doesn't lay out how that system would work, the bill does say that all Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams should initially be eligible at the start of every season. The measure is being offered by Barton, Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, and Michael McCaul, a Republican whose district stretches from Austin to Houston.

'People will argue'

"We're never going to abolish all controversy, and who'd really want to be rid of it anyway?" Barton asked. "People will argue about who should be in and out of playoffs, too, but I am confident when more of the most deserving teams can compete, a true national champion in much likelier to emerge."

Earlier this year, Obama put a voice to many fans' thoughts -- that the BCS system today needs to change. He said on 60 Minutes that he would rather see a championship played out on the field than through computer rankings.

BCS officials have defended their system, put together in 1998 by the six most powerful conferences, saying many think it's "the best system yet to determine a national champion."

Texas coaches are among those who have called for change because the current system lets just two teams from any conference compete in BCS bowl games. And in cases of ties, computer rankings have determined which teams advance.

Barton noted how Southern California was left out of the national championship game in 2003 and Auburn in 2004 as examples of why the system needs to be changed.

"This year, we again have two teams with one loss each playing for the 'championship' while two undefeated teams and four additional teams with only one loss will play in bowl games, but none can become 'champion,'" said Barton, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The BCS title game, Jan. 8 in Miami, will pit Florida, 12-1, against Oklahoma, 12-1.

Texas impact

A change in the championship system might help some Texas college football teams.

The University of Texas was shut out of the title game when the BCS rankings put Oklahoma -- which UT beat -- higher in the standings. Florida also leapfrogged over UT, leaving Texas to play Ohio State in another BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl.

Texas Tech was 11-1 -- and beat Texas -- but is not going to a BCS bowl. Instead, Texas Tech will face off against the University of Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl.

The system also shut out TCU (10-2) and Boise State (12-0) because their conferences are not part of the BCS and the big bowls must take only one non-BCS team. That team was undefeated Utah. TCU and Boise State will face off in the Poinsettia Bowl.

TCU coaches, in preparation for the bowl game, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

ANNA M. TINSLEY, 817-390-7610

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