Matthew Sanderson Talks to Sports Illustrated on PlayoffPAC
Roy Kramer, the founder of the Bowl Championship Series, is 88 years old, has seven great-grandchildren and lives happily retired in a lakeside home in central Tennessee. Still, he occasionally reflects on his much-maligned and now-defunct creation.
It happened again last December, when the College Football Playoff selection committee produced a championship game between two teams from the same conference, an outcome that sent Kramer chuckling. And if you don’t know why, then you’ve forgotten the uproar the BCS caused in 2011, when it pitted LSU and Alabama against each other in an all-SEC rematch to decide the national title. “People always said, ‘If you had a playoff that two teams from the same conference playing would never happen!’” Kramer laughs.
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This was a turbulent time for the BCS, bringing on what Delany refers to as “BCS fatigue.” In 2011, the Fiesta Bowl was embroiled by scandal with the revelation of a scheme of improprieties landed bowl CEO John Junker in prison for eight months. In 2009, the PlayoffPAC, a DC-based political action committee headed by attorney Matt Sanderson, began exposing BCS bowls for an assortment of lavish spending and lobbying payments. In 2010, the book Death to the BCS, written by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan, detailed more problems, and an SI poll around that time found that 90% of college football fans opposed the system.
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Matt Sanderson, the leader of the political action committee that had been a thorn in the BCS’s side for two years, celebrated the chaos. Sanderson, a Utah fan, started PlayoffPAC after the undefeated Utes were left out of the 2008 championship game and then went on to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl 31–17. His group exposed what he termed as a “favor factory” in which bowl executives wined and dined the same school administrators that they eventually invited to their games, punching a hole in the integrity of the BCS. But, he says, “I’m not delusional. The single biggest factor in the change to the playoff was LSU-Alabama.”
Mr. Sanderson is a Member of Caplin & Drysdale’s Political Law Group in Washington, D.C.
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Excerpt taken from the article "Did the LSU-Alabama Rematch Really Kill the BCS?" by Ross Dellenger for Sports Illustrated.