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BCS Changed Policy Without Knowing History

In the early 1970's John McKay and his USC Trojan football team traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on Paul " Bear" Bryant and the Crimson Tide. It was a regular season game but its impact would be felt nationally and help change the face of college football in the SEC and the South. At the time Alabama had no black players on its roster.

USC had plenty on its team including running back, Sam "Bam" Cunningham. Big Sam had a super game rushing for over 160 yards and scoring 4 touchdowns. Southern Cal romped the Tide 42-21. After the game, Alabama coach Bryant brought Cunningham over to his team's locker rooms and had him stand in front of the players. He said, "Here's a football player." This helped to initiate the recruitment of the African American football players to the SEC and Alabama.

The performance prompted one Southern Conference Athletic Director to say, "Sam Cunningham did more for integration in sixty minutes, than Martin Luther King did." Players from the South would go to colleges thousands of miles away like; UCLA, Oregon, USC and Oklahoma. The talent pool was banned from their own backyard.

What does this have to do with the BCS (Bowl Championship Series you may ask? The Organization wasn't even thought of in the "70's. The BCS is roughly 10 years old.

The Rose Bowl is a BCS game. For the 2010 games in the Rose bowl we saw Oregon vs. Ohio State and Texas vs. Alabama (the National Championship game). Most of the local Black Media were denied credentials to both of these games. For several years the PAC-10 Conference and Assistant Commissioner Jim Muldoon handled all the media requests and the Black Media were included as there are many local African American students playing for PAC-10 teams. A couple of years ago the Rose bowl organization took over and the local Black Media still received credentials to cover the games.

In 2009-10, something big happened; nearly all of the Black Media were shutout. When Gina Chapin, Director of Media, was questioned about the BCS credentials, she sent a written statement saying, "It was a BCS change in policies. They are BCS policies."

This new policy affected Gary Montgomery of "The Black Voice News" in San Bernadino. Montgomery has covered many events including the NBA, Grammys and even the Beijing Olympics. How is it that he can get credentials for Beijing but not for the Rose Bowl game which was in his own back yard? What's wrong with this picture? The Brown family has published the Black Voice News for nearly 40 years and are some of the classiest publishers around with thousands of readers.

Photographer Hayward Galbreath was one of the few media allowed in the courtroom of the O.J. Simpson trial.

Steve Finley has been covering the Rose Bowl for over 30 years. As a young man he worked for Ron Guild, a legendary writer for The Wave Newspaper in Los Angeles, doesn't miss too much when it comes to local athletics.

These were not the only ones affected. Others include Dennis Freeman at the California Crusader and Pasadena's own, The Pasadena Journal. Now shouldn't they have had an automatic credential? You can walk from their office to the Rose Bowl.

Brad Pye Jr. is a walking institution working for the L.A. Watts Times and had to struggle to get his credential for the two games. Collectively the Southern California Black Print media can reach about 25 million when you include print and internet.

Alabama came to town to play Texas for the National Title and had its first Heisman Trophy winner (who happens to be black) and you (BCS) shutout most of L.A.s Black print media. The BCS has taken us back in time for some unknown reason.

At half time of the 2010 Rose Bowl's Oregon vs. Ohio State game, I went to the media work room expecting to see an abundance of photographers. The room was set up to hold around 0100 media and yet there were only about 40 work stations in use. You can't say that there was an overflow of media and not enough work stations.
Sam "Bam" Cunningham did a lot to help change the world of college football. The BCS has come up with a "change in policy" that has tried to nullify the program that was started all those years ago. One can only hope that the BCS will rethink their lack of ability in giving credentials and give it back to the PAC-10 Conference or get a handle on how to give out credentials. Ms. Chapin finished with this statement, "I apologize but the BCS has stepped in and they were not going to grant even one credential. I fought for the one I got."


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