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Public Enemy #1: The case for John Swofford

Boise State football's Public Enemy #1 is a coordinated effort by OBNUG to decide which loathsome individual has the distinct privilege of us making fun of him (or her!) all year. Previously: Colin Kaepernick, Robb Akey. Today: John Swofford. Tomorrow: Graham Watson.

The BCS is an easy target for Public Enemy #1. It's the Establishment, it's the Man, it's everything we've come to hate about college football and love to complain about. However, it's awfully ambiguous. 

Who do we blame for this travesty? Should it be the six BCS conferences? The companies that continue to sponsor these games? I must admit I am a big fan of Tostitos, and it's just a pain to switch insurance companies. Should it be Notre Dame just because they're so smarmy? How about the Rose Bowl since its cries for tradition really just mean cries for more money? Maybe Roy Kramer, alleged creator of this system? 

Join me after the jump as I present the case for John Swofford, ACC commissioner and current BCS cooridinator. 

(On a personal note, I'd like to stretch out and say it's good to be back. This is my first post since the OBNUG comback. Come September, the Slim Pickings will be back and I'll look forward to continuing my dominant streak in the Bowl Pick'em challenge.)

John Swofford has been the commissioner of the ACC since 1997. During his tenure he has expanded the ACC to 12 teams by bringing in Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech and brought the inaugural ACC Championship game in 2005. Since this move to turn the ACC into an elite power conference, the ACC champions have been:


  • 2005 -- Florida State (8-5)
  • 2006 -- Wake Forest (11-3)
  • 2007 -- Virginia Tech (11-3)
  • 2008 -- Virginia Tech (10-4)
Despite the drop-off of former football powerhouses such as Miami and Florida State and the general mediocrity of the ACC, Mr. Swofford was named as the BCS coordinator for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. 

To be fair, per the BCS' site on how it is governed:
A conference commissioner serves as BCS coordinator.
We're still waiting for Karl Benson's term...

I'm sure Mr. Swofford intended his term to go about as smoothly as his predecessors, dealing with the inevitability of the whining of it all, trying to protect the current Big 6's best interests and trying to figure out some way to prop up Notre Dame's legacy. That all changed when Obama lobbed his now infamous bombshell on Monday Night Football. When it didn't go away, Mr. Swofford had this to say in response:
"First of all I want to congratulate newly elected President Obama and I am glad he has a passion for college football like so many other Americans," Swofford said in a statement. "For now, our constituencies -- and I know he understands constituencies -- have settled on the current BCS system, which the majority believe is the best system yet to determine a national champion while also maintaining the college football regular season as the best and most meaningful in sports."
In May, Congress dragged BCS representatives to Capitol Hill and grilled them over the system. Andy Staples of had this to say from Swofford's performance:

Meanwhile, Swofford couldn't decide whether the BCS exists for financial or competitive reasons. Asked why the six power conferences and Notre Dame each get a vote at the presidential level while the five little-brother conferences get one vote combined, Swofford replied that when the BCS was formed in 1998, the power conferences and Notre Dame provided more market value.

That's absolutely correct. Nothing wrong with that statement.

But it rang hollow when Swofford toggled to the other plank of the BCS platform, saying a playoff system would devalue the regular season and ruin the competitiveness of the game. It's either about money, or it's about competitiveness. It can't be about both.

Currently, the conference commissioners are in meetings in Colorado Springs. Among other things they are discussing is MWC commissioner Craig Thompson's proposal to change the qualifying criteria for automatic qualifying conferences. Predicatably, Mr. Swofford had this to say:
"While some conference reports indicated possible interest in a future evaluation of elements of the proposal, specifically governance structure and revenue, there was no overall support for the proposal."
We're guessing that his proposal was either to include the MWC as a qualifying conference or to steal Boise State as Karl Benson had this to say:
Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson declined to comment other than to say "the WAC supports the need for great access and greater revenue distribution." However, he repeated the earlier statement that his league does not support the MWC's proposed automatic qualifying criteria.
While it was quite obvious that John Swofford is the mastermind behind the system that is the BCS, he is the face of it. He's the one chosen to defend it no matter how absurd it has become. He continues to give us the company line about the sacredness of tradition, the fragility of the student athlete, and the importance of a regular season, but he's neglecting the one thing we all know it's about -- money.

And for that reason he's up for nomination of Public Enemy #1. He may just be a talking head and not have the power to change the BCS, but he's just an easy target. Kind of like a cross between Bud Selig and Gary Bettman.