There’s a reason for that.

I’ve come across a new sin laid at the feet of the BCS.

Unfortunately, in the age of the BCS nonsense, a Sun Belt co-champion is not as highly regarded as a run-of-the-mill team from a so-called Major conference.

If “highly regarded” means “capable of selling more than 3,000 tickets to a mediocre bowl game”, well, yeah. Although what that has to do with the BCS escapes me.

And what’s with the “so-called Major conference” crack? The Sun Belt finished last season with a glittering 3-23 record against schools in BCS conferences. Not exactly the stuff by which legends are made.

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19 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

19 responses to “There’s a reason for that.

  1. Brian

    Later in the article he takes a shot at Tubs for scheduling a WAC team, which he refers to as “Nobody U.” Way to be consistent.

  2. Um, the Sun Belt sucks. It’s the worst conference in football.

    The most memorable things its members did? Well, UL-Monroe beat the SEC’s worst bowl team. And Troy hung around with Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia for a while (especially when the subs were in). And…that’s it.

    So yeah. The Sun Belt is the transitional place between 1-AA and 1-A. So no, a Sun Belt co-champion is NOT as highly regarded as a middling BCS conference team beacuse…now follow me here…IT PROBABLY ISN’T AS GOOD.

    I find it interesting that Hawai’i’s massive beatdown has the usual slate of mid-major loonies not actually doing a little bit of self-reflection, but rather, reaching deeper into their bag of tricks. We’ve got that Hawai’i paper whining that the Rainbows should have played Arizona State in the Sugar Bowl, and now this. Sheesh.

  3. Troy’s OOC slate:

    Arkansas (L, 46-26)
    Florida (L, 59-31)
    Oklahoma State (W, 41-23)
    Georgia (L, 44-34)
    Western Kentucky (W, 21-17…yes, that score is correct)

    So. They got stomped by two middle-of-the-SEC teams. Only lost by two scores against Georgia, but had to notch a cheapie TD in the closing seconds to get that margin. Beat a famously flaky Cowboy team that was still licking its wounds from an Athens trip. And barely beat a 1-AA punching bag. What’s up with that, anyway?

    Here’s your Sun Belt standings:
    Troy 6-1, 8-4
    Florida Atlantic 6-1, 8-5
    Louisiana-Monroe 4-3, 6-6
    Middle Tennessee 4-3, 5-7
    Arkansas State 3-4, 5-7
    Louisiana-Lafayette 3-4, 3-9
    North Texas 1-6, 2-10
    Florida International 1-6, 1-11

    Troy and FAU were OK. La-Monroe was mediocre, but with a big win. The rest of the conference was a clown car. The Trojans lost one conference game…to the champ, FAU. Next time, don’t lose to FAU.

    “Georgia got lucky, and I say that from a player’s point of view. We gave up big plays, which at the end killed us.”

    Oh brother. Big plays (plural) don’t happen all from luck. Also, take a look at Georgia’s drives…all were VERY workmanlike, all involved a lot of third-down conversions. No wacky flea flicker fumblerooski whatever here.

    Watch Knowshon’s 2nd TD, where he was shaking his head “no” at the Hawai’i secondary. Watch Marcus Howard’s Colt-destroying sack. Watch Stafford pump the Hawai’i LBs to sleep on his TD pass. You cannot possibly say “Georgia players are no different than us; the problem was they came to play and we didn’t.” 10 times out of 10, Georgia would have won that game.

  4. Yoddle

    I still believe Troy had the best football team in the state of Alabama. They are a good academic institution as well, I’ll bet they make the jump out of the Sun Belt very soon!

  5. LD

    I, for one, think Troy was a better team this year and more deserving (based upon performance) to go to a bowl game than at least a half dozen schools that did attend bowls (Memphis, Nevada, UCLA, Maryland, Indiana, Ball State, Bowling Green off the top of my head). Look at the Colley Ratings – Troy is listed ahead of 25 (!!!) teams that did go to bowls. http://www.colleyrankings.com/currank.html

    The argument is that “highly regarded” _should_ be about performance and talent, not how many tickets the program can sell or guarantee a sale. And that’s an argument I agree with. Otherwise, why play the regular season games at all? Why not just reserve spots in all the bowl games for the schools with the richest and largest alumni bases?

  6. LD

    1. The Sun Belt had more regular season nonconference wins over BCS conference opponents than the WAC or Conference USA and the same number as the MAC (which had a much worse record). Each of those conferences had multiple bowl bids. Arguably, the ire should be directed at the multiple-bid non-BCS conferences, rather than the big conferences that have 6-6 teams get bids.

    2. Troy is arguably a better team and a more deserving of a bowl bid (in terms of on-field performance) than a dozen or so teams that did get bowl bids. Off the top of my head, I know they were more deserving than Ball State, Bowling Green, Nevada, Indiana, UCLA, Memphis and probably a lot more. On their final list, Colley Ratings has Troy ranked ahead of 25 (!!!) teams that did make a bowl game.

    If the argument is that teams don’t deserve bowl games because they can’t guarantee the sale of tickets, why play the regular season games at all? Just make the bowl games reserved for the largest and wealthiest fanbases.

  7. If the argument is that teams don’t deserve bowl games because they can’t guarantee the sale of tickets, why play the regular season games at all? Just make the bowl games reserved for the largest and wealthiest fanbases.

    I’d quibble with your use of the words “deserve” and “reserved” here, LD. Obviously, if a mid-major school has a strong enough record, it’s going to be worthy of bowl consideration, regardless of how many tickets its fan base purchases.

    That being said, you and I both know that ticket sales are part of the equation for almost every bowl’s selection process. I don’t see why a lower tier bowl should be required to take a team that has the better power rating but the lesser ability to draw fans – unless, of course, the bowl has an agreement with a conference to do so.

  8. Arguably, the ire should be directed at the multiple-bid non-BCS conferences, rather than the big conferences that have 6-6 teams get bids.

    Of course, that would require the mid-major dittoheads to stop thinking like, well…

  9. NM

    My pet theory all year has been that Troy should have been in a BCS bowl, at least if they hadn’t laid an egg against FAU.

    What’s that you say? That I should quit drinking in the morning? Well think about it:

    Before the FAU game (the default SBC title game), Troy’s three losses were at Arkansas, at Florida, at Georgia. Most SEC teams would go 0-3 or at least 1-2 in that stretch! And Troy beat Ok. State.

    I respect Troy’s tough OOC scheduling. If football used RPI, they’d be in good shape. However, and here’s one of my main beefs with the BCS, bowls don’t reward schedules, they reward (for mid-majors) going undefeated.

    So let’s say Troy backed out of the Arkansas, UF, and UGA games. Let’s say they scheduled the still-respectable (for the SBC) slate of Ole Miss, Duke, and maybe a Louisiana Tech or something. I think they could go 3-0 over that span. All of a sudden, Troy is an undefeated top-20 (top-15?) team heading into their game with the Fighting Schnellenbergers, and Omar Haugabook is a national name. That Troy-Georgia game they backed out of gets played in New Orleans instead of Athens.

    Oh well, maybe next year… when they visit LSU and Ohio State.

  10. …So let’s say Troy backed out of the Arkansas, UF, and UGA games. Let’s say they scheduled the still-respectable (for the SBC) slate of Ole Miss, Duke, and maybe a Louisiana Tech or something. I think they could go 3-0 over that span.

    The problem with your theory is that there are a lot of other teams in the country to which this same reasoning could apply.

    That being said, Troy certainly played a more competitive game against Georgia than did Hawaii.

  11. LD

    I don’t see why a lesser bowl should be required to take a team that has the better power rating but the lesser ability to draw fans…

    And likewise, the team with the better power rating shouldn’t be happy about that. And it’s not surprising, or wrong for them to complain about that. Is college football’s postseason a reward for strong performances, or just an excuse to wear funny jackets, have a parade and make money for local tourism industries? When I read those comments, I think its a shot at the concept that bowls really are more than exhibitions.

    Obviously, if a mid-major school has a strong enough record, it’s going to be worthy of bowl consideration, regardless of how many tickets its fan base purchases.

    How strong is “strong enough”? Troy had a better record than any team that didn’t receive a bowl bid (and a better pre-bowl record than 23 teams that did play in bowls). With bowl tie-in contracts extending for several years, and extremely limited “at-large” slots in bowls, there isn’t much of a chance for a team like Troy to get into a bowl if they lose a single conference game.

    To me, the problem is conference tie-ins. In a year like this, there was no good reason for the MAC (down) or C-USA (down) to have multiple bids, when the Sun Belt (up, compared to previous years) just got one. There’s no doubt in my mind that Troy would’ve given Tulsa a better game in Mobile than Bowling Green, and they probably would’ve sold more tickets too.

  12. Troy would probably be on the very, very, VERY short list of mid-major teams I’d support for the MNC game if they ever went undefeated, especially with a schedule like the Trojans had this year.

    Betcha Troy would have beaten Hawai’i. No, really.

  13. Is college football’s postseason a reward for strong performances, or just an excuse to wear funny jackets, have a parade and make money for local tourism industries?

    Both, actually.

    When I read those comments, I think its a shot at the concept that bowls really are more than exhibitions.

    With the exception of the BCS title game, that all the bowls are, IMO. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    There seems to be a growing consensus that the bowls need to be more “playoff-ized”, even if only one hosts a true playoff game. That’s where a lot of the hue and cry over the Rose Bowl matchup came from: Georgia should have played USC! The fans deserve it!

    And no doubt it would have been a great matchup. But if you were running the Sugar Bowl, why would you have consented to releasing Georgia?

    With bowl tie-in contracts extending for several years, and extremely limited “at-large” slots in bowls, there isn’t much of a chance for a team like Troy to get into a bowl if they lose a single conference game.

    To me, the problem is conference tie-ins…

    I agree with you on this completely. That’s an entirely different grievance than the author’s, though.

    It seems to me that the only way to fairly address the issues you and he both raise would be to junk the bowl system and replace it with an extended, seeded tournament. Of course, from my perspective, the cure would be worse than the disease. ;)

  14. LD

    Senator, your comments are kind of messed up (hence the semi-double post by me earlier) – some are showing up and some aren’t…

    “Is college football’s postseason a reward for strong performances, or just an excuse to wear funny jackets, have a parade and make money for local tourism industries?

    Both, actually.”

    OK, but the two purposes operate in tension. Rewarding teams that perform strongly can come at a price – tourism dollars. Who should suffer when both purposes cannot be accomplished? A good team losing a slot to a worse team, or the pocketbooks of the hosts?

    When I read those comments, I think its a shot at the concept that bowls really are more than exhibitions.

    With the exception of the BCS title game, that all the bowls are, IMO. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    No, there is something wrong with that. Bowls are more than exhibitions for the teams. They’re massive amounts of publicity for schools (better recruits, more money for programs). They’re as much as 6 weeks more of practice, working in younger players. They’re among the most significant factors in how the following year’s polls will look (and can directly affect future titles).

    I’ll use the Troy example. They went 8-4 and finished co-champions of their conference. Indiana, on the other hand, went 7-5, finished 4 full games behind the champion of their conference. Because of conference tie-ins (and this does sort of get at what the commentary writer wrote, because Indiana is a perfect example of a bad BCS conference team getting in a bowl over a good team in a non-BCS conference), Indiana got to go to a bowl, while Troy sat at home. Indiana could hold a full month of practice more than Troy. Indiana could tell recruits about how they played in a bowl on Dec. 31. Indiana got (albeit not a ton, but some) attention at the time of year when college football gets the spotlight. Troy didn’t. And worst of all, the main reason why Indiana was in a bowl was an atrocious OOC schedule (while Troy played arguably the toughest in the country). These are major advantages for Indiana, and major disadvantages for Troy. (And the net result: Indiana gets annihilated in a bowl by the Oklahoma State team that Troy beat handily).

    And there is another solution other than an extended playoff. Retain the bowl system. Unify all bowls under a single umbrella organization. Form a selection committee (made up of conferences, bowl officials, sponsors, ADs) and have such decide all matchups, with the primary goal being the best teams playing one another. Conference tie-ins eliminated. No gross mismatches, no frequent repeat visitors because of tie-ins, no good teams locked out. And all that will drive more attention to the games, and make more money (in the aggregate), which would then be distributed fairly.

  15. LD

    Or in the alternative, do this: Rank the bowls by amount of payout to teams. Create a list of “bowl eligible” teams, based on whatever factors (could be akin to a BCS standings list, but double the size). Then, have the bowls pick teams, based on the order of the payout list. If the Rose pays out the most, they get the top 2 picks. If Cotton pays more than Gator, Cotton picks ahead of Gator. Then put in some rule that says no bowl can select a team no more than 5-10 slots below where their position would be. For example, the highest paying bowl gets 1 and 2. The 4th highest paying bowl, ideally, would get 7 and 8. Say they could take 7 and 8, but could actually pick anyone as low as 13 (so there’s some freedom to pick based on economic factors). If a particular bowl wants to get better matchups, it can increase its payouts to jump in line.

  16. LD – sorry about the double post. Akismet (the spam filter that WordPress uses) tends to get aggressive with replies that contain links and I didn’t catch the fact that yours was held up until a few other comments had posted.

    No, there is something wrong with that. Bowls are more than exhibitions for the teams.

    You are looking at this from the perspective of the schools. From the standpoint of the bowls, these are exhibitions.

    Of your two alternatives, the latter is a more likely possibility. I can’t imagine some of the larger bowls giving up their independence. Although it seems to me that you give ESPN a chance to assert more influence on the bowls by tossing money where it chooses (specifically, with those bowl games it owns outright).

  17. NM

    I agree that tie-ins are a problem, but I don’t think a national “bowl draft” would be ideal either once you get past the top 10-15. Let’s say we get down to a bowl on one coast and most/all of the teams in their +/-5 spot window are on the other coast. Somehow I don’t see the Las Vegas Bowl letting go of Mountain West vs. Pac-10 to end up with something like UCF/Rutgers.

  18. LD

    From the bowls’ perspectives, the games themselves might be exhibitions (I think they see them as moneymakers, more than exhibitions), but the games themselves wouldn’t exist without the schools. Schools, via conferences, enable the current bowl system. As soon as schools figure out a way to get more money out of a postseason format, be that by moving to a playoff or by completely overhauling the bowl system, the schools will make the move. And if the economics of bowls that I’ve been reading lately are true, that day might not be too far off. The bowls and host cities are making a lot of money, but the schools aren’t getting to see too much of it themselves. An overhaul of the current system is probably due. Too many schools aren’t getting a big enough slice of the pie. We in SEC country have tie ins to the most money of any conference. But other conferences aren’t bringing in SEC-type money.

    I think the Las Vegas Bowl is one of the few that would be the first to jump up in status. Vegas is a destination that has a specific draw no matter where the team is coming from. Far moreso than, say, El Paso or Mobile. And if bad matchups are the result of low payouts, well, the market determined it. You get what you pay for. The lower payout bowls necessarily should get worse matchups than higher payout bowls.