“Just like with any other sport…”

Stewart Mandel manages to articulate something about an extended college football playoff that’s spot on:

… Reasonable minds may disagree as to whether a playoff would devalue the regular season, but the reality is, a playoff would completely alter fans’ standards for success. Just like with any other sport, any season in which your team doesn’t qualify for the playoffs would be deemed a failure. Which means, even with a 16-team playoff, roughly 85 percent of the country will be disappointed every season. And if you happen to be a fan of a team that perennially misses the playoff — which, within some BCS conferences, might be eight out of 12 teams — it stands to reason that your interest in the sport would wane.

Conference commissioners must look out for the welfare of all their teams, not just the elite ones. They know they’ll never have it better than they do with the current system, which creates (mostly) meaningful postseason opportunities — and thus, maintains seasonlong interest — for the vast majority of their teams. Playoff or no playoff, Texas will be fine. Texas Tech will not. In fact, in a true March Madness-style playoff, in which every conference gets a berth, it’s not inconceivable that Boise State, much like Memphis or Gonzaga in basketball, would become a more lucrative property to television networks than two-thirds of the current BCS-conference members.

Actually, that is how I would define “devaluing the regular season”.

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24 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

24 responses to ““Just like with any other sport…”

  1. Rusdawg

    Me too. I read that yesterday and was kind of dumbfounded that Mandel doesn’t realize that this is why the “majority of the fans” actually don’t like the idea of a playoff.

    I love the NFL as well as college ball, but I can tell you right now, the NFL season becomes useless to me as soon as the Falcons don’t make the playoffs.

    With UGA, even in an 8-5 season last year I wanted every win, because, well, it might show improvement for the bowl and for next season.

    In the NFL when your team doesn’t make the playoffs you actually hope for losses for a better draft spot. In college you might hope for the coach to rest star players when you know you aren’t making the playoffs to save them for the next season. Boring.

  2. kdsdawg

    Yes, I am sure we would want the coaches to be sitting A.J Green and Ealey and King out of the Tech game to save them for next year.

    Yes I know that Green likely bolts next year, but you get the picture of how crazy that idea is.

    Playoffs are coming. Get over it and get ready to embrace it.

    • Rusdawg

      Ok, yeah my comment is a little off. But I honestly have to think some players are not going to be giving it their all in a late season game if their team has no shot at any sort of playoff.

      Would you agree with that?

    • To steal a line from Hootie Johnson – Just because something bad happens “at the point of a bayonet”, we should just embrace it? It’s probably a bad example, but I wonder what all those people that have protested against the health care bill would think about that sentiment? Just because something may be inevitable doesn’t mean I’m going to embrace it once it actually happens if I don’t agree with the premises that caused said action to occur.

    • gernblanski

      No way the playoff happens anytime soon. There is too much $$ and control at stake for the BCS conferences. Unless they want to dismantle the NCAA, the BCS conferences have no incentive to agreeing to a playoff because they would cede control of the postseason to the NCAA.

  3. Macallanlover

    Pretty slick attempt to shift the argument on devaluing the regular season from “no argument at all” to a “degree issue”. Since a 6-8 team playoff would actually enhance the regular season now some are saying it is better to keep a pseudo 2 team playoff from spreading to 6-8 because it would dramatically increase the pool of “elite” teams? Come on, there are already about 10-12 programs that are considered “elite” (with a program or two exchanging places every 5 years or so).

    Nothing would change with a limited playoff, we aren’t going to start giving trophies to everyone to keep from hurting their fragiles egos are we? So it brings us back to the inevitability of playoff expansion doesn’t it? I am on the antis’ side on that, I don’t ever want a 32+ team playoff in CFB, and don’t think we can go to 16 for logistical reasons, so 8 or fewer is where I remain. And those programs who would whine about being on the outside looking in with a playoff, already are anyway. Suck it up. I don’t think there are many who want NBA/NFL type playoffs in CFB.

    • I don’t think there are many who want NBA/NFL type playoffs in CFB.

      Most of the D-1 playoff proposals I see bandied about involve sixteen teams.

      • Macallanlover

        There are certainly some who do, probably just to mimic the D1AA format. I don’t think it would ever be practical without “sawing off” part of the regular season, which is unacceptable to me, and I think it ignores the differences between programs which draw 10K fans at home games and travel 75 and those who have tens of thousands willing to follow their team in big games. While I wouldn’t equate 16 teams out of 120 to what the NBA and NFL do, it is unnecessary to go beyond 8, imo. There is a fine line between being too inclusive to being too exclusive. The main objective is to insure all legit factions have a chance at representation and that can be done without major disruption to the traditions of CFB (bowls, length of schedule, travel issues, etc.) Diminishing return beyond having eight teams that just doesn’t justify the problems, once you start down the inclusion road there is no end until all 120 are involved.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          I once was for a 16 team playoff. However, reading the cogent arguments advanced on this blog convinced me that the “Plus-One” game (a de facto 4 team playoff) would protect the integrity of the BCSNC (the actual best team in the nation would likely be one of the top 4 in the polls) while at the same time not devaluing the regular season. Keep the existing bowls and use two of the top ones (rotating among Sugar, Fiesta, Rose and Orange–two each year) as play-ins to the BCSNC title game.

  4. hassan

    We can tweak/enhance (whatever you want to call it) to make the system we have a little better, but a playoff is not needed. Especially if we are talking about 8 to 16 teams. I can’t see the BCS or the polls being so far off that the 16th team in the nation is good enough to win it all. You can argue that #2 in the country should really be #1 etc… But the system we have now arguably puts the teams about where they need to be. We can tweak it and make it a little better imho, but I don’t buy the position that it’s anybody’s game and there is going to be some cinderella run.

  5. dawghouse23

    Yeah, LA-Laf. and Idaho State make for great regular season games. How many times do we see our starters pulled at halftime or midway through the third because the game is no longer competitive. Teams schedule these games because they don’t want to take a chance of losing because one loss knocks you out of the NCG. Using conference champions as playoff teams is the best way to go. A team can schedule tougher non-conference games because they only have to worry about winning the conference. Scheduling stronger non-conference opponents would also increase revenue by way of ticket sales and contributions.

    I don’t see how not making the cut for a playoff is any different than not getting invited to a BCS bowl. I think most people agree that the bowls can still remain for the teams that don’t make the playoffs. The only bowls that really matter anyway are the BCS bowls. I didn’t feel any better about the season because UGA got an invitation to Shreevport.

    BTW, plenty of people have admitted that a playoff system would generate way more money than the current system.

    • If you could please explain to me the economics of how a playoff system automatically

      would generate way more money than the current system

      , then I owe you a Coke, good sir.

      • dawghouse23

        Let’s say we have just an eight team playoff. UGA makes the playoff. That means in order for UGA to win the NCG they would have to play three games. They would basically get BCS money from all three of the those games. That’s a lot more than just playing in one BCS game. That means more money for the school and more money for the conference. It’s that simple.

        Not only does the school and conference get more money but so does the NCAA. Each playoff game venue could have a different sponsor. That’s seven major sponsors instead of five. Plus tickets sales from two more games. And a larger TV deal. And that’s just with an eight team playoff.

        Now I don’t claim to be an economist or even understand how it all works. But it seems to me what I stated seems pretty obvious. But again, what may seem obvious to me is not necessarily fact. Feel free to teach. Or send me that Coke (I actually prefer Sprite if it’s an option).

        • Two things to start with:

          (1) You don’t know how the money would be divvied up. You mention the NCAA. If you turn the tourney over to it, you’ll be dividing the postseason moneys 120 ways. I guarantee you if that’s the case, Georgia stands to lose money over what it takes in now.
          (2) You don’t know how an expanded postseason affects regular season TV money. Before you downplay that, take a look sometime at how college basketball revenue is generated. It’s totally opposite from college football.

          • dawghouse23

            1) Okay, well let the BSC continue to manage the playoff system. They can basically keep the same payment structure as they currently have.

            2) I don’t see how it would effect regular season TV contracts at all. I don’t see how you can compare basketball to football. The audience is so much bigger for football (at least in the south). Are less people going to watch the regular season because there is a playoff at the end of the season? I doubt it. TV contracts are based on how many homes the program reaches, and I don’t think that would change.

    • Puffdawg

      Let’s explore how big time college football scheduling works. Big time schools do not schedule one-and-dones because they are scared to lose. They schedule those games because they are huge money makers. Smaller teams don’t require a return trip, which would cost big schools a home game. I don’t care if we had playoffs, round robins or coin flips, the smaller schools are ALWAYS going to show up on the schedule because they make the big schools so much money.

      Let me spell it out in simple numbers, in UGA’s case.

      Scenario 1 – In 2007 and 2009 we traded home and home with Ok St. During that time we grossed $4M for 2007 home game and $0 for 2009 away game.

      Scenario 2 – In 2007, we played Western Carolina and in 2009, Tenn Tech. For those two games we grossed about $8M in gate receipts paid those two schools probably about $500k total.

      Which scenario was more profitable for the University?

      My point is that scheduling wouldn’t drastically change if we had playoffs versus the current set up. The small school games generate too much money for the big guys. And don’t forget how the SEC tiebreaker works. If I recall correctly, UGA won a tiebreaker (03?) based on their BCS ranking. If the conf (or division) champ hinged on a tiebreaker decided by subjective rankings, what would affect your ranking more: a loss to OK St, or a win against La Laf? Obviously the loss. If there was credence to schools being scared, conf champ only playoffs wouldn’t change that fear.

      Not to mention all confs are not created equal, which is another topic for another day.

      Oh, and AuditDawg, FTW. Please explain the projected guaranteed increased income. Maybe put it in Dan Beebe terms for us. I might further ask, who would it guarantee more money for? Us, or San Diego State?

      • Puffdawg

        P.S. I’d add that I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with the scheduling practices I laid out above. I love the idea of adding a ninth conference game. Maybe the school presidents could enforce something along those lines like they do with the 12 game schedule. However, that would further widen the gap between the BCS schools’ resumes and, say Boise St, IMO.

      • dawghouse23

        Good points about scheduling, but do those numbers include contributions and TV? I could be wrong but I don’t think tickets sales generate as much money as contributions and TV contracts combined. I would think that if you are playing better teams more people are going to want to watch. That means more tickets will be in demand and the price for contributions will go up. Better games means more TV time, which leads to better TV deals.

        I could be wrong and it wouldn’t increase the demand for season tickets, but I know I would rather spend my money on better games. There may be a point where the amount of people willing to pay max dollar for season tickets doesn’t make up the difference. I don’t really know what that point would be.

        • Puffdawg

          You are asking questions that require more reasearch than I’m willing to do, but I would speculate that-

          (a) The quality of the home game slate (which you suppose drive contribution level) does not drive demand for tickets as much as speculation on a good season does. Look at the rise in minimum contribution from 07-08 (roughly from $2k to $10k). Why? Because people wanted to see a good team. Also, we are always going to have 6-7 home games every year. The quality will vary from year to year, but if I recall we didn’t play “west of the Mississippi for 60 years” (which is a ridiculous barometer) and the contributions steadily rose for years and years. Fans don’t contribute based on the quality of the home slate. Sanfrod Stadium is going to sell out. It’s just a matter of do you want 6 home games of 7 homes games.

          (b) As for TV, our CBS and ESPN contracts are conference contracts that are split evenly. UF is the most notorious of the schedulers. Do you think CBS and ESPN pay less because UF schedules crappy teams? I think not. If the contract were for a single school (like ND), I think that argument might have teeth.

          All this is to say I don’t think a playoff would affect scheduling as much as people like to think.

          • dawghouse23

            I also didn’t mean to imply that UGA or any team is afraid to schedule tougher opponents and I don’t blame them for scheduling lesser opponents. I recall a BYU coach (I think) a couple of years ago openly admit to scheduling weaker opponents because it would help them get more wins and give them a better chance of an undefeated season. In the case of BYU they would need to have a strong OOC to schedule get to a NCG or even a BCS bowl so his comments were a little puzzling. But being in the SEC we don’t have to. Our conference is strong enough. So it’s not that we are afraid it’s just that it’s not necessary and so why take the risk. I would hope that if a playoff were in effect where OOC scheduling didn’t affect your chances of reaching a playoff than more teams would be willing to play bigger games because it’s good for the fans. But that may be wishful thinking on my part.

            • Puffdawg

              Well I certainly agree I’d love to see us play big time schools every week, as long as all the other schools do the same. But you can’t control what other schools do. I don’t see a playoff changing that at all, let alone for the better. In a perfect world I’d like to see an 11 game conference schedule for the power conferences with one OOC game (for traditional OOC rivalries). I think that’d further seperate the cream of the crop. And I’d even go along with dropping the fifth BCS game, going back to the old BCS tie-ins, and then playing a Plus One. I think that’d settle 99% of all debates. It is unfair sometimes (like 2005), but I think it’d be well defined enough to avoid expansion. That is, of course, until we went to a Plus 3. ;)

  6. Vinings Dog

    Say it aint so, Damon. Please, no DUI after all the UGAA’s lecturing to players.

  7. The only playoff system I would like (& It Is long Overdue) Is a top 4 teams (A Plus 1) playoff. I believe that alone would determine a true NC every year. No reason except it is my personal preference & I think it is doable.