Are you a fan of unintentional comedy? Then this post is for you.
About a week ago, the BCS organization established a Twitter account -- you know, since everyone's doing it! -- found at @insidethebcs. The stream's first tweet: "Welcome to the official BCS Twitter page! Follow us for updates about what's going on Inside the BCS and links to articles and commentary."
A few days later, news broke that the BCS had hired a public relations firm "to help highlight the positive aspects of the BCS." That, in and of itself, doesn't seem all that crazy, considering the BCS has a pretty significant image problem that's in need of repair. (Of course, that's working under the assumption that it's repairable. But obviously someone believes it is.)
However, hiring this guy to repair your image doesn't seem like the best first step for an organization already such an easy target. As Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel tweeted after the announcement: "I love that the BCS, the most unpopular entity in sports, hired a guy who worked under the most unpopular president in history." Oh, and Ari Fleischer also advises Bud Selig.
Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. At least he's got experience dealing with extreme ineptitude, I suppose.
In the meantime, that whole Twitter thing hasn't exactly worked out the way Fleischer's people probably imagined. Since that first tweet, the stream has featured 69 tweets, most of them dedicated to one job: Defending the BCS against the ceaseless attacks from critics.
For example, here's the third @insidethebcs tweet:
To which Yahoo! sports' Dan Wetzel replied:
Wetzel then went on to quote Pete Carrol, Steve Spurrier, Joe Paterno, and Mike Bellotti criticizing the BCS. And the fun was just beginning.
Here is a sampling from the many, many tweets bashing @insidethebcs:
- @edsbs: "Id follow you @InsidetheBCS, but allowing a small Tweeter like you into my circle would compromise the integrity of the system"
- @geemann2236: "@INSIDEtheBCS We hate you. Signed, Everyone. Thank you."
- @Bobby_BigWheel: "Every tweet to @INSIDEtheBCS is negative. It's like if Blackwater got a Twitter."
- @vikramj: "@INSIDEtheBCS where we let old sports writers and crappy algorithms decide college football."
- @trollboy18: "@INSIDEtheBCS The BCS--Where the customer doesn't matter!"
- @bsubronco: "@insidethebcs CFB where every game counts unless you're Cincy, TCU, Boise, or a mid major because there's no way in HELL you'll play 4 a NC!"
- @plehnus: "By the looks of things @BarackObama could get a 10% spike in the polls spending Thanksgiving attacking @INSIDEtheBCS Easier than healthcare."
- @JimmyDRhodes: "@INSIDEtheBCS checked out the website. If the BCS is so superior to a playoff why arent all the other sports advocating you taking them over"
- @danshanoff: "so @insidethebcs *had* earned "worst sports media move of the year"... until the launch of jaw-dropping http://playoffproblem.com REALLY?!?!"
Which is the perfect segue.
The latest tweet of @insidethebcs -- from Wednesday morning, I might add, meaning maybe they finally just got smart and gave up after 24 tweets the previous two-plus days -- announces the launch of playoffproblem.com. It's a amateurish site dedicated to exposing the numerous and imminent flaws of implementing a playoff system while espousing the virtues of the BCS.
Here's the site's introduction:
College football is more successful and more popular, more thrilling and more enjoyable than ever. Attendance, TV viewership, fan interest and revenues are at record highs. Any playoff scheme would jeopardize this great success, while threatening the wonderful and unique nature of the bowls. If you think the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is controversial, wait until you realize how much more contentious a playoff would be.
Yes, because a playoff system in college basketball really killed that sport.
Of course, the site has no obtrusive ties to the BCS -- no logos, no link to the official website -- other than to say that it "was created by the BCS group in an effort to join the conversation about the football post-season." There is no author listed for any of the material on the site, and the only way to try and contact an actual human being is through a generic form submission. In fact, all of this might lead you to think this site is a fake, designed to mock rather than defend the BCS.
Besides the fact that @insidethebcs linked to the site, a quick search of the WhoIs directory reveals that the domain name is registered to Trent Duffy, he of the Republican lobbying public relations firm HDMK, whom it appears Fleischer farmed out this work. Don't know who Duffy is? He's the "D" in HDMK, and was last seen as a deputy press secretary under George W. Bush, so there's the connection. Duffy was also one of the first two followers of @insidethebcs.
The site is propaganda at its finest, full of logical fallacies at every turn. It is a veritable storehouse of ammunition for those who want to bash on the BCS, which I guess we should all be thankful for. The most comical part to me? The site prominently links to three articles defending the BCS -- as if three articles in the face of the hundreds in favor of a playoff is somehow convincing, but I digress -- including these two:
- "If the BCS isn't completely broke, don't fix it" -- Just because the BCS is better than what we had before -- and, no matter your position, you have to agree that it surely is -- doesn't mean it's best, which is what all of us playoff advocates argue. This article says exactly the same thing, just reaching the opposite conclusion.
Note to Mr. Fleischer: Using an article that doesn't exactly heap praise on the BCS -- other than to say a playoff system still leaves you with controversy, and the president and Congress have better things to do -- and essentially argues that only things completely broken are worth improving, doesn't help your case.
- "BCS is a friend to the Mountain West" -- This is the best one of all. The essence of the argument is that the Mountain West should be happy that it's even been invited the party, citing the number of non-major conference teams invited to big-time bowls before the BCS system.
I won't dignify the article with much of a response other than to say this is like saying a plantation owner in the reconstruction period was a friend to sharecroppers. After all, they were once slaves; they should be happy for a place to live and a wage, right?
However, I suspect many of will find this part most humorous. In an effort to complete its social networking trifecta -- in addition to the Twitter account, there's also an Inside the BCS page on Facebook (for fun, check out some of the comments on the wall postings) -- playoffproblem.com has a blog. It has one entry: A reprint of a guest column by the Nebraska chancellor written for the Washington Times. (It does have a link back to the original piece, but no word on whether they received permission from the Washington Times to reprint the piece in its entirety. Hello, copyright infringement!)
That one blog entry has 43 comments. That would be 43 comments against the BCS. Not even one comment for it, which surprises no one, except for maybe those in power who continue to try and defend BCS. This, despite the site being purportedly created to "join the conversation" (never mind the fact that the site is completely one-sided).
I guess that's the silver lining in all of this. Many of us have said for years that the current BCS system is indefensible. That someone is actually trying to defend it and failing so miserably -- and publicly -- can only help the cause of instituting a playoff.
We've continued to be told that college presidents have no desire for change, and that the call for playoff comes almost exclusively from a vocal minority in the media. They cite the fact that college football is more popular than ever. If this trainwreck of a public relations campaign shows those in power just how much anti-BCS sentiment there is, proving that the main reason we continue to watch is because we love the game, then I suppose it will all have been a success.
But holy cow -- if I had known I could make a six- or seven-figure salary representing old people by making too many social media blunders to count, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be a teacher.