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MORNING BRIEFING

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer hired to defend BCS

He has defended war in Iraq and the prison at Guantanamo Bay but may be in for a much bigger fight after being hired to highlight the positive aspects of the beleaguered college football bowl system.

November 24, 2009|By Mark Medina
  • Ari Fleischer and his public relations firm have worked with pro leagues, but helping improve the image of the BCS might be his firm's biggest challenge.
Ari Fleischer and his public relations firm have worked with pro leagues,… (John L. Russell / Associated…)

When your job was to present controversial policies such as the Iraq war, the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and No Child Left Behind in the most positive light, it's probably not asking too much for former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer to defend the Bowl Championship Series.

Ari Fleischer Sports Communications, a sports public relations firm that works with NFL and Major League Baseball teams, was hired Saturday by new BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock to "highlight the positive aspects of the BCS."

Fleischer may have trouble declaring mission accomplished, because this college football issue doesn't just fall on party lines.

Even if they disagree on many national issues, Democrats and Republicans alike at least share similar views on the BCS.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) chaired a hearing last spring to protest a system that entails six of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences having guaranteed spots in the five BCS games.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) sponsored a bill deeming the national championship game invalid if it's not determined by a playoff, comparing the current system to communism.

Then again, Fleischer is used to standing against a wave of opposition.

Tweeted Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel: "I love that the BCS, the most unpopular entity in sports, hired a guy who worked under the most unpopular president in history."

Trivia question

After USC, which Pacific 10 Conference school has the second-most appearances in the Rose Bowl?

Mailing it in

The Wigan soccer team of the English Premier League treats its fans as if they were ordering a QVC product.

Going to a game comes with a money-back guarantee.

In Wigan's 9-1 loss to Tottenham on Sunday, the teams matched the league record for most goals scored in a game, and Wigan is one of only two teams in the Premier League ever to give up nine goals in a league match.


FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Wigan had lost to Nottingham.

The performance led players to give full-ticket refunds to the fans who made the 350-mile round trip to North London.

"As a group of professionals, we were embarrassed by the way we performed," Wigan defender Mario Melchiot told reporters. "We feel it was below our standards and this is something we feel we owe to the fans."

Oddsmakers

As far as Las Vegas oddsmakers are concerned, Charlie Weis' dismissal from Notre Dame isn't a matter of if but when.

But who will replace him?

Sportsodds.com pegged Cincinnati Coach Brian Kelly and Florida Coach Urban Meyer as the favorites, each with odds of 3 to 2. Stanford's Jim Harbaugh came in third place with 3-1 odds.

Trivia answer

Washington, which has won in eight of 24 appearances. USC has won 24 in 33 appearances.

And finally

Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp on the Lions' 38-37 victory over the Cleveland Browns, led by injured quarterback Matthew Stafford: "For a change, the Lions were on the happy side of the craziness."

mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesmedina

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