College football playoffs bill passes subcommittee

A bill that encourages major college football to create a playoff system to replace the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) passed a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

The bill passed the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee by voice vote on Wednesday morning after a markup session. It is now up to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to bring it before the full committee.

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The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), told The Hill on Tuesday that Waxman has told him in private conversations that he is “generally supportive” of the bill. Barton previously has said that President Barack Obama assured him he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

The College Football Playoff Act of 2009 would ban promoting, marketing or advertising a "national championship game" unless the game is part of a single-elimination playoff tournament like the National Football League playoffs. The bill threatens to hold college football's governing body in violation of Federal Trade Commission truth-in-advertising provisions.

Under the BCS, two teams are selected based on human and computer rankings to play in the national championship game after the regular season.

The bill would apply to National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the top rung of college football. Lowers levels of the sport already have playoff tournaments.

The markup is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Several lawmakers, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Barton, argue that the BCS is unfair to smaller schools because it often selects teams from large conferences to play in the national championship game.

Hatch's home-state Utah Utes had an undefeated season in 2008 but were not selected to play in the championship. The Utes play in the small Mountain West Conference. Barton represents a district near Fort Worth, where Texas Christian University, which has the nation's third-ranked team, is located.

TCU, which also plays in the Mountain West Conference, was undefeated this season but was not selected to play for the national championship.

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