Every team is special at the “First Four”.

Year2 does about as clear a job of contrasting the difference in approach to the college basketball postseason and the college football postseason as I’ve ever read:

… This [ed. note: the "First Four"] is a very NCAA-ian way of doing things, and it clearly illustrates the difference between college football and the sports where the NCAA is directly involved with the post season. Because the majority of schools in Division I basketball are not perennial powers, the NCAA must take as egalitarian a posture as it can. Forcing eight conference champions (no matter how middling the conferences) to the 16-seed line is too unfair to the body as a whole. Therefore we get this “First Four” garbage. Meanwhile, the BCS gets to largely ignore the irrelevant-to-the-post-season Sun Belt Conference for the 13th straight year.

This issue cuts right to the heart of what you think the purpose of the tournament is. Clearly it’s not just for determining a champion, or else it would be smaller than 64 teams and the Patriot League wouldn’t have a guaranteed spot. I get that you have to throw a bone to the smaller conferences when they have an equal say in how things work.

Now you may think brackets are the way to go in football, and that’s fine, but that’s not really the point here.  What’s important to consider is that once you go down the expanded tourney trail – particularly one maintained by the NCAA – what you wind up with is a very different animal than what you started with.  To insist otherwise, whether out of pure stubbornness or some belief that you can’t compare the two sports (my favorite convenient excuse), is to ignore reality.

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11 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The NCAA

11 responses to “Every team is special at the “First Four”.

  1. Prov

    Their irrelevance is decided on the field.

  2. dawghouse23

    I think a lot people want a different animal (myself included) from the current BCS structure. But you’re right, the NCAA should not run it.

  3. NebraskaDawg

    Even if you had a 8 team CFB championship, teams 9-12 would bitch they deserved to be there, then we have 16 games then teams 17-21 claim they should be there and so on.

    • Puffdawg

      Only the farther you go, the number of teams that complain grows exponentially. If you had 16 teams, complaining wouldn’t be limited to 17-21. It be teams 17-30.

    • dawghouse23

      And we don’t have teams complaining now? There isn’t a perfect system, but an 8 team playoff of conference champions is the closest.

      • The ATH

        More teams may complain, but that doesn’t mean their complaints are valid.

        It sounds like your motivation is avoiding complaints. Taking that to its logical conclusion, I guess we should stop attempting to crown a champ it all. Why even attempt to “settle it on the field” between two teams? Doing so just leads to complaints…

        The real issue is that the number 3 or 4 team (think undefeated Auburn* or 13-1 Georgia) has a much more valid reason to be angry than the number 17 team (which likely has 3-4 losses). As it stands now, one bad bounce, blown call, or poor fortune to be ranked too low in PRESEASON rankings can kill BCS title hopes.

        I really don’t get the constant irrational defense of this system. It frequently taints what is otherwise one of my favorite blogs. Two major flaws in your thinking Senator.

        1) Basketball and football are different. This is not a “convenient excuse.” It is not physically possible to play 6 football games in the span of two weeks. Thus, there will never be a 64-team field for any college football tournament. Even 16 teams would mean three additional weeks of play (four rounds total), pushing well into February.

        2) Similarly, you point at basketball and make this slippery slope argument (which as an attorney, I know you recognize as a logical fallacy) that starting at four teams will somehow continuously expand ad infinitum until Kennesaw State and Life College are in the 128-team BCS tourney. I know it’s all abt the Benjamins, but no matter how many teams they start w/ in a tourney (probably a +1) it never, ever gets bigger than 16 – maybe a tad bigger than ideal (I’d like to make it 8), but I’d take it in a heartbeat over the current system.

        *I know you like to point at Auburn’s admittedly weak OOC schedule as justification that the system works, but it’s not like Oklahoma played any world beaters OOC that year either – and I doubt you’d dispute that an SEC schedule is a pinch tougher than the gamut that was the big 12…

        Come on Senator, you’re better than this. Or even if you’re not, we get it – you’re playing stubborn/contrarian on this one. You’ve made your point, repeatedly.

        • 1) Basketball and football are different. This is not a “convenient excuse.” It is not physically possible to play 6 football games in the span of two weeks. Thus, there will never be a 64-team field for any college football tournament. Even 16 teams would mean three additional weeks of play (four rounds total), pushing well into February.

          I wouldn’t expect a 64-team football tournament. The D-1 basketball universe is roughly three times the size of football’s. That would translate into a football playoff of around 24 schools. Coincidentally, the 1-AA tournament field currently stands at twenty and is anticipated to expand to twenty-four in the next few years. That division seems to be handling the scheduling just fine.

          My reference to a convenient excuse is over the number of people who use the “every other sport has a playoff, why doesn’t college football?” argument until you get to this. Then, suddenly, we can’t compare the two. You can call that a logical fallacy, I suppose. I prefer calling it bullshit.

          Your Life College point is a total straw man. I’ve never argued that a playoff of more than eight teams will lead to a postseason comprised of every team in D-1. What I have said is that if history teaches us one thing about sports and the postseason, it’s that playoffs inexorably expand. Discount my arguments all you want, the facts are still the facts. And nobody, including yourself, has provided a convincing rationale as to why college football – excuse me, D-1 college football – would be immune from that.

          Again, you think a big playoff is better than the two-team setup we’ve got now. Fine, I get it. I respect your position, even if I disagree. What I don’t understand is why those of you who disagree with my concerns about an expanded tourney dismiss them as a mere rhetorical trick.

          • dawghouse23

            Well what’s wrong with expanding? You said yourself it won’t get over 24 teams and that the FCS is doing just fine. The BCS has expanded by adding an additional BCS game. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. That’s what gets me, we already have 4 BCS games plus the title game, why not play a round in between and make it a playoff?

            • 24 is way too many, IMO. An expanded tourney lessens the impact of what makes D-1 college football unique – the regular season.

              If you’re going to leave the current conference structure intact, this playoff format works for me. I have a hard time seeing why there’s a need for anything bigger than that, if the point of a playoff is to determine the best of the best.

              • Jon Lovitz

                The “plus one” game–that’s the ticket. It’s really a 4 team playoff using existing bowls. #1 plays #4 (using the BCS formula) in the Rose and #2 plays #3 in the Sugar with the winners playing in the BCSNCG. Easy to sell as you do not have to make major changes to the existing system but you get a better basis for declaring the final winner the “Champion.”

  4. Mr. Georgia Football Returns

    The more successful teams in the conference help control this problem by over-recruiting.