Saturday, December 5, 2009
When you have a bad product, who would be happy to lie for you?
Ari Fleischer, that's who.
When Fleischer stepped down from being Bush's press secretary, it was because he wanted to spend more time lying to his family. I had heard next to nothing from or about Fleischer in the intervening years, and I kind of hoped he had been shipped off to Monster Island. It turns out he left the political scene to become a sports spin doctor, brought in when the people who have a sports product realize the fans hate the product and hate the people selling the product.
Ari's used to being hated. I get the feeling he kind of gets off on it.
In 2008, the Green Bay Packers unloaded revered quarterback Brett Favre. The Packers hired Ari Fleischer to bad mouth Favre as a whiner and a bad influence and a washed-up bum. Right now, the washed up bum Favre is the quarterback for the rival Minnesota Vikings, who sit at 10-1 and in great shape for a first round bye in the playoffs, while the Packers are at 7-4 and fighting desperately for a wild card spot.
Objective reality says the Packers gave up on Favre a little too soon. Ari Fleischer is not one of those whining babies who ever let objective reality get in his way.
So what hated thing in sports could use Ari Fleischer's special skill set? You might guess Tiger Woods, but Woods wasn't completely hated until about a week ago. No, Ari is now the spokesman for the Bowl Championship System, known as BCS for short, the way the official champion of college football is chosen. People have been hatin' on the BCS for about twenty years now, so this is much more up Fleischer's alley than a golfer with weird sex fantasies.
(Like I should talk.)
I pay almost no attention to college football. Until I heard Fleischer's name, I wasn't even aware that this was one of those years when the BCS would be in hot water yet again, but the system makes somebody angry every year. The only thing that changes is the level of righteousness of the anger and the number of teams getting screwed.
In college football, there is a ranking system that chooses the #1 and #2 teams in the country, and those two teams play for the national championship, while the teams ranked #3 or #4 or below will play in some minor tune-up bowl game with no shot at glory. The last regular season games in college football are this weekend, and there are six undefeated teams. Two of them are playing each other, Florida and Alabama in the big match-up of the day, played in a neutral site, The GeorgiaDome. Undefeated Texas is playing 9-3 Nebraska, and it will be a massive upset if the Cornhuskers win. Two other undefeated teams are playing, and both Boise State and Cincinnati are expected to win their respective games. Undefeated Texas Christian played their final regular season game last Saturday. So there will likely be three undefeated teams who have no shot at being champions because the BCS has decided they haven't played a tough enough schedule.
In every other college sport, the NCAA championship involves a tournament of some sort. In basketball, 65 teams are invited and the process of deciding a champion plays out over three weekends in March and April known as March Madness, a huge hit for sports fans. College football, on the other hand, puts forward 33 meaningless bowl games over a three week span at the end of the season and one game whose winner will decide the national championship. In the same amount of time, there could be a three week, eight team playoff.
Usually, there aren't this many undefeated teams at the end of a season, but a playoff system could give a chance to teams who have lost a single game, like the loser of Florida-Alabama this afternoon. The fans would get better games than the Meineke Car Care Bowl or the Chik-Fil-A Bowl, ratings for meaningful playoff games would be higher and the system would be more fair.
Who could possibly argue against a more equitable and profitable system?
Ari Fleischer, that's who.