The Super Bowl as Rorschach blot

I wasn’t going to post anything about the Giants’ win last night because, frankly, I agree with SMQ’s point that it’s their appearance in the game that’s the flaw in the system. Whether they won or not really doesn’t change that.

But human nature being what it is, you might want to look at some varied points of view on the Giants’ win – from the rabid playoff partisans at Coaches Hot Seat Blog to the anti-playoff Kyle King at DawgSports to Groo at DawgsOnline.

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UPDATE: Another thought here. But the comments in response to his post are of more interest to me. They are a distillation of my point regarding the impact of playoffs on a meaningful regular season.

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14 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The Blogosphere

14 responses to “The Super Bowl as Rorschach blot

  1. jason

    How would a eight team playoff system which only allowed 6 conference champions and two at large teams diminish the regular season? The reason the regular season is so entertaining is the competition to win the conference. That fact would not change. The point of football is to be good when it matters, show up for the big games and you are forever tagged as a great team. The same would be said for a team which played well in the playoffs. To say that it’s not right for a team which lost two games in the regular season to have the oppurtunity to play an undefeated team for the championship must be ignoring the fact that teams play diferent schedules in diferent conferences and sometimes based on sos, two losses is more impressive than going undefeated. Go Dawgs!

  2. kckd

    As far as the people I watched the game with, the only ones upset about the Giants being there and winning were Patriot fans.

    It was one of the best Super Bowls I’ve ever watched and enjoyed every minute of it. And despite their record, the Giants matched up with the Pats better than anyone in the NFC. None of the other teams had a defense that could slow New England down.

    But this really is an apples and oranges thing that doesn’t compare to college football. The NFL lets 12 teams in. Even if college football allowed that many in you would only see at most a three loss team. A six or five loss team would never, ever make it.

  3. kckd

    jason

    this is where the senator does a dance see. He’ll say on one hand that it doesn’t diminish the regular season, but it’s the fear of it becoming bigger (greed for more money) that is why it should stay right where it is.

    Then on the other hand, he’ll argue tooth and nail there is no more money to be had from a playoff and the BCS conferences only want their bowl money and will never let the NCAA take control of a playoff system.

    I tend to agree with him on the latter point, which would mean that the BCS conferences could structure a playoff knowing full well if it got too outlandish the NCAA would come in and take control. (Something they would not want, so they’d keep it modest)

    The thing is, Bluto argues both sides and they don’t really mesh together very well.

  4. But this really is an apples and oranges thing that doesn’t compare to college football. The NFL lets 12 teams in. Even if college football allowed that many in you would only see at most a three loss team. A six or five loss team would never, ever make it.

    Nice. Only the NFL is letting three eighths of the field make it to the post season. A similarly sized D-1 playoff pool would be in excess of 40 teams.

  5. I tend to agree with him on the latter point, which would mean that the BCS conferences could structure a playoff knowing full well if it got too outlandish the NCAA would come in and take control.

    I’m curious – exactly how would the NCAA accomplish that?

  6. How would a eight team playoff system which only allowed 6 conference champions and two at large teams diminish the regular season?

    Without knowing the details for qualifying, I couldn’t say. What I can say is that any format of eight or more teams with wild card or at large participants is ripe for expansion. The bigger the playoff field, the less important the regular season, except as a delivery system.

    The point of football is to be good when it matters, show up for the big games and you are forever tagged as a great team.

    In principle, I agree. The issue here is what “when it matters” means.

  7. … but it’s the fear of it becoming bigger (greed for more money) that is why it should stay right where it is.

    I assume the greed you speak of is the schools wanting more money for the tourney. But that’s not the only motor that would drive expansion. Most coaches want as big a tourney as possible, just for a little job security. A lot of people would cast expansion as a fairness issue. Some people simply crave brackets.

    One point you never respond to, kckd: over time, every organized American sport on the pro and college level has expanded an organized postseason. Every one. Why would D-1 football be any different?

  8. hoodawg

    Can’t this kind of argument be used to deconstruct every win between somewhat-evenly-matched teams, though? If a 7-1 team plays a 4-4 team and loses, does that make the 4-4 team “better” than the 7-1 team? In one sense, yes — that day, they played better than the 7-1 team and beat them straight up. In another way, no — the 7-1 team has outplayed more teams than the 4-4 team has, but it happened not to outplay the 4-4 team that day.

    This difference is the essence of the playoff vs. regular season debate. Would you rather put your store of value in beating the most people most of the time, or in beating the best one by one? I’m in favor of the playoff approach because it provides a mix of both — you get into the playoffs by winning a lot, and you win the playoffs by winning against the best. The non-playoff approach really only measures the first, and it attempts to approximate the second by way of subjective and objective metrics.

    Me, I’d rather just play the games. That way, when the Giants beat the Patriots, you can’t look me in the eye and tell me the Patriots were better. Between the lines, they weren’t, and that’s what matters.

  9. jason

    i completely agree that the playoff should be limited to eight teams with the qualifier being the six conference champions of the 6 “major” conferences and the at large being up for discussion whether it be the conference champion from a “small” conference or a non champion bcs school (possibly a one-loss sec team). anything over that would diminish the regular season

  10. jason

    A 4-4 team in college football would never make the playoffs. The worst record a team could posibbly have would be 2 losses

  11. This difference is the essence of the playoff vs. regular season debate. Would you rather put your store of value in beating the most people most of the time, or in beating the best one by one?

    Doesn’t that depend on what your criteria for “the best” are? And isn’t that the essence of the debate? It is for me.

  12. hoodawg

    Jason, the 4-4 example wasn’t intended to be a playoff example — it was to show that all games between two teams of dissimilar records where the underdog wins the game have the same dichotomy. You’re left wondering if the 4-4 team is better than the 7-1 team, despite the scoreboard, given their disparate records.

    A playoff system acknowledges that the 4-4 team can beat the 7-1 team on a given Saturday, so you shouldn’t let that one loss cost that team the championship (which, in most years, it would). Rather, if the now 7-2 team wins out and is 10-2, it has a shot to play 11-1 and 12-0 teams for the title. If the 10-2 team wins in the playoffs, that doesn’t invalidate the regular season — it VALIDATES it by acknowledging that stuff happens but great teams can be better than their records. Playoffs also acknowledge that things like schedule strength matrices and conference rankings can never precisely capture the real balance of power between the teams, so better to put a handful, rather than a couple, of teams into the mix.

    So, Senator, you’re right — “the best” is an infinitely debatable term when you can’t play a round robin (and with 119 teams, you never will). But since we’re all trying to answer the question, isn’t it better to let the teams play a competitive regular season, cull the field, then let the cream that rose to the top of the regular season play something as close to a round robin as we can get?

  13. kckd

    How old are you Senator? After you’re gone are you gonna really care what they do?

    They’ve moved at a snail’s pace at making any kind of changes through the years. I don’t see why this would be any different.

  14. kckd, I’m 51 – and no, I doubt I’ll care much about anything after I’m gone.

    I think you are about to be surprised about the time frame on moving to a plus one format, though.