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Justice Department Looking Into BCS

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Just when the college sports world was preparing to go into full-on summer hibernation, big news broke late today in Washington where the U.S. Justice Department announced it is seeking information from the NCAA about college football's postseason format.

Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney has sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert asking for a voluntary supply of information. She also has some queries for the institution about the Bowl Championship Series, used in college football not only to produce a champion, but dole out millions in revenue by slotting major bowl games.

"Serious questions continue to arise suggesting that the current BCS system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in federal antitrust laws," Varney wrote in the letter to Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA in Indianapolis.

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In her letter, Varney asked Emmert to explain why college football does not have a playoff when so many other college sports do. She also asked what steps, if any, the NCAA has taken to create a playoff, and whether the NCAA has determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve interests of fans, colleges, universities, and players.

And so, after years of tough talk from the Obama Administration about looking into the BCS, it looks like the DOJ is now serious about thinking about possibly taking some action against the college sports suits. Maybe. What we do know is that not only does BCS boss Bill Hancock not think his organization is doing anything wrong, he doesn't think this issue is any of the government's beeswax.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, who was copied in on the letter, said he was confident that the BCS complies with the law.

"Goodness gracious, with all that's going on in the world right now and with national and state budgets being what they are, it seems like a waste of taxpayers' money to have the government looking into how college football games are played," he said.

Maybe it's just me, but if you're looking to avoid a government investigation, deflecting the question posed by the government and suggesting it's not really a big deal probably isn't a good start, whether it's actually a big deal or not. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see where this goes from here. Obviously, this goes considerably beyond political grandstanding and politicians holding up their thumbs and saying they want a college football playoff. This is a first step toward actually doing something.