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Playoff Advocate Goes Homeless Against the BCS
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For months, Kennedy said, policymakers and administrators involved with the BCS paid him no mind.
He admitted his approach has grown antagonistic and even rude, justifying such behavior as the best way to elicit a response. In a recent e-mail to University of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman, who was present at the June 7 hearing, Kennedy said Perlman's secretary kept "telling me that my proposal was received. Seems suspicious that you would have mail . . . over nearly four months and not read it."
"The Kennedy Proposal" calls for six champions from the current BCS conferences and four at-large bids to be seeded in a playoff bracket. The eight teams that are eliminated from the playoff before the national championship game are routed to the four BCS bowl games. It is a playoff for those who want it, he reasoned, while keeping intact the BCS for the teams that do not make the national championship from that 10-team playoff.
The paper touches on certain issues regarding the BCS -- the conflicts that could arise with academic schedules, the traditional relationship with the bowls and the value of the regular season -- but does not specifically address the economic concerns tied into the discussion.
However improbable it would be to change the system, Kennedy has not given up hope. In college, he said, he was living "a half-empty life." But now, he said, he has given his all for what he believes in.
"I get an opportunity to enter myself in something that's never been done before," Kennedy said. "I'm not just a playoff advocate from Cheney, Washington, who's petitioning Congress. This is about my proposal. I have an idea, and I have the drive."
Kennedy's high school football coach, Dave Carson, said: "Knowing BK, it doesn't surprise me. It seems to me a little farfetched. What's the end product? You get it changed, now you've got to get a job. But some people are that way; they get on a mission and they don't give up."
Kennedy has spent his days in Georgetown Interim Library revising the proposal -- adding footnotes and annotations, reading newspaper articles about the BCS -- and trying to contact those who might listen. Some of the people he has contacted were recently confined to one room on Capitol Hill.
After the hearing concluded, reporters swarmed Hatch, Perlman and the lawyers lobbying for either side. Kennedy tried to talk to Michael Young, president of the University of Utah. Young's Utes were left out of the BCS title game last season even though they were the only undefeated division I-A team in the country, and he railed against the BCS in the hearing.
Young said he has heard from fans who have drafted proposals, saying, "it's a sign that people are passionate about this enough to do something like this."
"I don't think these are nuts," Young said in a telephone interview. "These are not people that are putting tinfoil over their heads. These people are thoughtful, for the most part, who want to show this can be done."
Young, on his way to catch a flight, left the hearing room and chatted with a few passersby before walking into an elevator at the end of the hallway. Kennedy chased after him. Young stood in the elevator and, as the door began to close, Kennedy handed him the paper.
"I've been pitching my proposal in D.C.," Kennedy said. "I've submitted it to the BCS and haven't heard from them." Then Kennedy quickly removed his hand as the elevator door slid shut.
Kennedy's proposal has not gained much attention, and he said he would return to Washington state next month if he could gather the money to fly home. But he said the roadblocks and seeming improbability of his mission would not stop him. Next summer, Kennedy plans to return to Washington D.C., to continue to push for change on a topic that has been debated by thousands of college football fans just like him.