UPDATE: CNN has now tweaked its story. Just a bit.
The NCAA is not required to answer the questions posed by Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, the Justice Department said. The information she is seeking would be used to help determine whether an antitrust investigation should be opened. [Emphasis added.]
That is a bird of quite a different feather. Most trusted name in news, indeed.
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Now that the whole "killing bin Laden" thing is taken care of, the U.S. Department of Justice is turning its attention toward more important things. And by more important things, we mean ...
In a letter to the NCAA on Wednesday, the Justice Department said it has opened an antitrust inquiry into the current Bowl Championship Series system, which excludes some athletic conferences from the formula for choosing schools to play in major bowl games.
Because everyone -- especially small-government politicians like Sen. Orrin Hatch -- knows that the thing that the college football postseason really needs is more government involvement. And, while I don't currently have time to read the letter, and thus don't know whether it's the Justice Department's mistake or CNN's, the above statement is provably false; the system does not exclude a single conference "from the formula for choosing schools to play in major bowl games." It makes some conferences pass a higher threshold than others, but that's a fairly significant difference.
In her letter, Varney asked Emmert to explain why college football does not have a playoff when so many other college sports do
And while that might be a good point for fans of college football engaged in the debate, can I ask whether that is any of the Justice Department's business? Put another way: Why is it now the government's job to decide which college postseason system is best, instead of leaving that to the NCAA and the individual college sports? Why not ask basketball, for example, why it has a 68-team tournament instead of a showdown between the top two teams?
Oh, and one other thing: The NCAA doesn't control the BCS. You would think that that would be the kind of thing that the Department of Justice would check on before it starts sending out letters threatening anti-trust actions.
You would also think that the one thing that college football fans on both sides of the playoff debate would be able to agree that the government is not the ideal institution to fix this issue. Perhaps the pro-playoff folks have lost enough perspective to jettison that argument, but a man can hope.
After all, don't you want the person charged with fixing the BCS to at least send the mail to the right person?