I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.

Dan Wetzel hates the BCS.  I mean, hates the BCS.  He’s been pushing a 16-team playoff in his book about hating the BCS and he’s unveiled the field that would exist under his version of a D-1 postseason.

Me – I kinda said bugger that after I saw 6-6 Florida International was granted a shot at winning a national title, but Dan explains how that’s a feature:

… While no one would argue that the Sun Belt champ is one of the top 16 teams in the country, its presence is paramount to maintaining the integrity and relevancy of the regular season. Teams that put together exceptional season deserve to be rewarded. If you just take the top eight or 16 teams and match them up on a neutral field then there is no advantage to being No. 1 rather than No. 16.

The way to reward the best teams is two-fold. First is providing home-field advantage to the higher-seeded team until the title game (more on this later).

The second is by giving an easier first-round opponent – in this case No. 1 seed Auburn would play No. 16 Florida International. Earning a top two or three seed most years would present a school a de facto bye into the second round.  FIU isn’t in the tournament to win the title – they won’t – but to make the regular season matter more. [Emphasis added.]

I have an idea.  Why don’t we let the #1 team in the country play Akron (currently #209 in Sagarin’s rankings, the lowest rated team in D-1) in the first round of a tourney?  That would really make the regular season matter, wouldn’t it?

FIU started out the season playing four BCS-conference schools.  It lost to all four, including a horrid Rutgers team which it faced at home.  I have news for Wetzel – any playoff format that has room for a team which boasts as its best win a 17-point victory over Troy is making a joke out of the regular season.  Setting up a 12-team format that gives Auburn an actual bye makes more friggin’ sense than that.

Back to the drawing board, son.

And while I’m on the subject of stupid pundit vocabulary tricks and the BCS, I can’t let this pearl of wisdom from Pete Fiutak slide by:

No, the BCS didn’t “work.” To be more accurate, the BCS wasn’t necessary. For it to “work,” it would’ve actually had to do something useful.

My sister thinks Auburn is the shade of Nice ‘n Easy she used five tries ago in a yet another failed attempt to look 25, and even she could’ve figured out that the two unbeaten BCS teams should play for the national title. You don’t need a cockamamie BCS system, some bizarre computer formulas (which, by the way, had a few major inconsistencies), and a bunch of money-grubbing bowl executives to figure out that there’s no real argument against the Ducks vs. the Tigers in the BCS Championship.

No, the BCS “works” when there are several worthy teams to choose from and two have to be plucked from the lot…

Twenty years ago, Oregon would have played in the Rose Bowl.  Auburn would have appeared in the Sugar Bowl.  And Fiutak would be bitching about how the system failed miserably in producing a national title game.  Maybe I’m missing something here, but to me, this year’s title game would fall under the definition of “works”.

I get that the BCS has its flaws.  Is it too much to ask of its critics that they not insult our intelligence when they complain about it?

**********************************************************************

UPDATE: Michael Elkon schools Wetzel on what “relevancy of the regular season” means.

… Right now, the regular season matters because one loss is often fatal (ask the three Big Ten co-champions about that) and two losses are almost invariably fatal.  If you replace the existing system with a 16-team playoff, then teams are no longer playing for survival every week.  Instead, they are playing for homefield advantage, which anyone with skin in the game will tell you is worth about a field goal, and the right to play marginally easier opponents as the playoffs progress…

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95 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

95 responses to “I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.

  1. Sefdawg

    Yes. It is obviously too much to ask.

  2. TennesseeDawg

    Looks nice until the dreaded “at large” bids. Every year it would be the same arguments as who would receive the “at large” bids. It be the same BS just expanded larger. Where do teams 17- whatever go? Bowl games in lesser cities? No doubt there is at least 50 teams that could destroy FIU right now.

  3. Ryno Redhawk

    I’m a Miami of Ohio Grad and I’m damn proud of our Conference title this year. But there is no way we are more deserving than Boise State, who obviously didn’t make the cut.

  4. Hogbody Spradlin

    I admire the thinking of people who can make any set of data fit their predetermined conclusions.

  5. Bryant Denny

    He lost me at FIU.

    A 16-team field won’t work, just like any size smaller won’t work. It has to be big enough for enough credible at large bids, plus big enough to so that the money conferences don’t take a cut.

    On the other hand, if a 16-team field was the deal, I could see petitioning the CUSA or Sun Belt for membership. :)

    • gastr1

      “…big enough to so that the money conferences don’t take a cut.”

      Ding ding ding ding ding!
      That’s it right there, why a playoff will NEVER happen. NEVER.

  6. gastr1

    Top three should have a bye. Other than that it looks great.
    Go Danny Boy, light that fire!

    • Puffdawg

      Totally looks great, until Auburn loses to Arkansas in the second round. But at least they are settling it on the field, right? Oh wait. For a real life example of why this is BS, check out this FCS matchup this weekend…

      http://www.georgiasoutherneagles.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=90301&SPID=10890&ATCLID=205042918&DB_OEM_ID=18700

      So Wofford went on the road during the regular season and beat GSU, yet now they’ve got to beat them again when the Eagles seem to be peaking at just the right time? Totally legitimate and rational.

      And that devastating loss Ohio State had to Wisconsin? Nevermind about that. At home week one, on the for road weeks two and three for both teams. EXACTLY the same path, except for the fact that Ohio State – who LOST to Wisky – gets a mid major second round, while Wisky has to play the PAC10 champ. Totally seems fair.

      • Hackerdog

        You can look at the Giants (14-6) beating the Patriots (18-1) to win the Super Bowl. Sure, the Patriots beat the Giants on the road a few weeks earlier, but that game didn’t count. The wild-card Giants were clearly the better team.

  7. Normaltown Mike

    Why don’t we add a play in game for the 15 and 16?

    Surely Starr’s Mill deserves the chance to be in the big bracket.

  8. Otto

    That would completely ruin the best regular season in sports and majority of the debate during the offseason which makes CFB special.

    Big OOC games would also fruther disappear under the 16 team playoff system.

    Please no more changes to the current system.

  9. Will Trane

    Not much of a playoff, but it is as good as any. Better yet is the “hits” this site receives. Well deserved.

  10. Sanford222View

    I am sure Boise St., Nebraska, Oklahoma St., and Missouri would love this system.

  11. Joja Girl

    Wetzel’s failure to include Boise State or Utah is inconceivable…also, it merits legislative action.

  12. hodgie

    Oh, speaking of devaluing the regular season, how bout the great games UGA is lining up? Wonder why they are doing that? I’m not saying the cupcakes will disappear completely with playoffs but you will see less reluctancy (is that a word) to schedule a decent OOC game.

    • Hackerdog

      You have that exactly backwards. Right now, having the top 2 teams play for the national championship rewards quality scheduling. TCU won all its games, but its schedule doesn’t match Oregon’s or Auburn’s, so they’re out. But TCU would obviously be in a playoff. If 16 teams made the playoffs, then strength of schedule would cease to matter entirely.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Why? You’d still need to pad your resume to get an at-large bid. Unless you think some kind of RPI will be developed that would allow a 9-3 team to get in over a 10-2 team, which seems unlikely. Also, and I want to stress this, scheduling cupcakes has nothing to do with the devaluation of the regular season argument.

  13. Puffdawg

    Please explain to me how AT LARGE, 2 LOSS LSU and Arkansas have any incentive whatsoever to drop McNeese St and Tenn Tech, respectively, and add USC and Texas?

  14. Rusdawg

    Actually his exclusion of Boise State may have come from a computer snafu (see Barnhart’s column today….and I hate citing Barnhart).

    So it looks like LSU would be invited to his playoff only to be told “Oops! My Bad!”

  15. Monday Night Frotteur

    Expanded playoffs haven’t harmed the meaning of the regular season in the NFL if you judge meaning by any objective metric (TV ratings, attendance, etc.). More importantly, for the vast majority of college football history the meaning of the regular season was intrinsic. Championships had (and maybe still have) no bearing on the meaning of the regular season.

  16. Irwin Fletcher

    The issue I think Danny addresses rather well is that you have every team in the country with a shot to win a national title at the start of the year. Every team controls its own destiny. You win your conference, then you get a shot in the playoffs. You win the playoffs, then you win the championship.

    That’s how it should be…at least here in America…you have the opportunity to control your own destiny by winning. And if you lose, you can’t blame computers, TV contracts, AP voters, Coach voters, or any of the rest.

    This reluctance of harming the regular season is just bull crap. It is a fake argument…you’ve set up a system to give false importance to regular season games and rather than admitting that protecting the false importance is your goal, you take false positions on the definition of champion in order to protect your idyllic fantasy. Let’s set up a system that has no set formula for winning so that we can maintain the integrity of the ‘regular season’? Where are we? Russia?

    Look at Division 3, Division 1-A, Division 2….they have been naming champions for years using a playoff. They take conference champions and then at large teams. It works. No one can say they were unfairly excluded. “Waaaah….we didn’t get an at large b/c we are Nevada. Waaahh.” Tough. You could have won your conference.

    Do regular season games get devalued? No. The path to the national championship is essentially the same. Win your conference first. Does it open up the possibility for say a UGA to play a Michigan or other high profile non-conference games? Maybe. #1- those are going to always depend on the payout. #2-A loss would hurt each team’s chance to get an at-large, BUT doesn’t hurt the chance to win the conference. #3-Maybe non-conference schedule starts to factor for at-large berths since instead of trying to fill a stadium with travelling fans, we are trying to fill a stadium with the most deserving at large team.

    Anyway, my point is that anything less that inviting every conference champion makes a joke of the regular season. If the sun belt isn’t deserving of a place at the table, you don’t imagine the table doesn’t exist or come up with some conceptual scheme to keep the away from the table. You ask them to leave. By not inviting the Sun Belt champion, you would make a joke of any system which should start from a simple premise…every team controls their own destiny and there is an objective process (not won based upon style but based upon one simple question, “Did they win the games they had to win in order to get the automatic berth allotted to them at the beginning of the season?).

    • Biggus Rickus

      You heard it here first. If you don’t want a playoff you’re living in a false reality and you’re probably a communist.

      • Irwin Fletcher

        Not if you don’t want a playoff…but if you think you are naming a champion without having any rules that define what the team must do on the field to win a championship, then yeah…you are living in fantasy that gives championships to the team that people think ‘deserve it’ the most.

        Or you are watching ice skating, diving, etc….all sports dominated by communist or former communist countries probably b/c they are so used to having their outcomes decided by a small group of officials.

        • Biggus Rickus

          There are a set of criteria. You just don’t like them. I consider the BCS outcome no more or less objectively true than the outcome of a playoff that allows in all conference champions regardless of the strength of those conferences. More importantly, I don’t want teams who lose three games, possibly one to a team they would meet in the playoffs, to get a chance at the title. I’m fairly certain that my point of view has nothing to do with totalitarianism.

          • Irwin Fletcher

            Wait…are there set criteria?

            Oh…you must be talking about the criteria that are based in the majority on polls. Opinion polls.

            So you’re best argument is that criteria that exist which are based upon the opinions of two sets of voters are objective criteria?

            Here’s a good example…does a team have to win its conference to be the BCS #1 team? Answer: Depends on how the voters feel that season. Nice.

            Does Xiian Chu Ling have to make the national gymnastics team because she scored the highest in the internal competition? Depends on whether her father served admirably in the army.

            I guess I see your point…There ARE criteria!

        • Puffdawg

          “…without having any rules that define what the team must do on the field to win a championship…you are living in fantasy that gives championships to the team that people think ‘deserve it’ the most.”

          Please enlighten us as to the objective criteria met by the 2010 Georgia Southern Eagles, who have an opportunity to win the I-AA national championship you so fervently support.

          • gastr1

            Irwin rhetoric is clearly hyperbole, but I agree with his point, that never have so many fans of such an aggressive, win-each-game-at-all-costs kind of sport been such anti-competitive wusses when it comes to this regular-season-is-really-a-playoff nonsense. Then they whine when McGarity schedules creampuffs.

            • Puffdawg

              His rhetoric is not hyperbole. It is completely and utterly flawed jibberish bullshit. It doesn’t make sense, as evidenced by my inquiry that cannot be answered. Becuase we don’t have an extended college football playoff we are communist Russia? Huh? Which is about what all pro playoff arguments amount to. There is no continuity among the playoff crowd, which is what scares the hell out of the anti playoff crowd. Even playoff supporters like Macallanlover (the most reasonable playoff advocate I’ve seen) acknowledge that their own ideal situation is either unobtainable or unsustainable. Playoffs will eventually ruin college football as we know it. Why does I-AA have a 20 team playoff. Do they NEED 20 teams? What was wrong with 16? Playoff supporters are so concerned with making sure #3 (and then #4, and then #5, and then #6) gets a fair shot that they don’t realize 15 or 20 years from now we’ll have a 32 team monstrosity which will lead to a paradign shift of trying to win your conference and beat your rivals to just trying to make the playoffs. And then once it gets big enough, the coaches want to expand the hell out of it because they’ve got something extra to throw on the resume. What’s more impressive: making the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl, or making “The Playoffs” (cue angelic music and confetti)? 8-4 Georgia Southern is in the 3rd round of the playoffs and came in third in their own conference. You think they don’t consider this a successful season?

              And now I am a wuss because I like the emphasis and uniqueness of the regular season in I-A? Because I look forward to winning the SEC and playing in the Sugar Bowl and could care less about a national title because I know there will never be a fail safe way to determine the best team for a given year, given the vast number of teams and regionalized aspect of college football? I am a wuss for that? Seriously? What does that even mean? Am I supposed to be convinced by your reasoning and logic there?

              And for the record, I have never whined about McGarity scheduling creampuffs. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to explain why the creampuff games exist and to explain that they’ll NEVER go away whether you have the Bowl Alliance, the BCS, or a 128 team playoff. CREAM PUFF GAMES ARE NEVER GOING AWAY.

              • Irwin Fletcher

                No hyperbole. You are right. I think you are a communist.

                Having said that…. There are two separate positions. #1- you have a playoff system because you are interested in naming a champion absent of any subjective criteria. #2- you keep the current system because you like being entertained by it enough that you don’t care about naming a real champion and can take having mythical national champions.

                It isn’t that you are a wuss. It’s just that you care more about the product than an objective measure on determining a champion.

          • Irwin Fletcher

            Here is a rule. If you don’t lose, you win.

            That’s it. Pretty well established, too.

            Just enlighten me on the last time there were two undefeated teams in I-AA, D-2, or D-3.

            • In 1-AA, there were multiple undefeated teams in 1991, 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2001.

            • Puffdawg

              You did not answer the specific question. I fail to see the point of continuing this discussion until you can give me a straight answer.

              I’ll ask again. Please explain the objective criteria the 2010 Georgia Southern Eagles – with 7 regular season wins and 4 regular season losses (.636) – met to be eligible for a playoff to crown the best I-AA team in 2010.

              • Irwin Fletcher

                I don’t think you read my other comments and I certainly didn’t ever see a spot where you asked me to explain the objectiveness of the 2010 GA Southern Eagles, etc. , but here you go.

                A decent summary of the rules for making the FCS tournament are here:

                http://www.printereagle.younce.net/playoffs/inside.html

                GA Southern is eligible to win the championship because they received an at-large berth to the playoffs. If they win all of the games in the playoff, they win the championship.

                I assume your point is ‘how can it be objective if they receive a subjective at large berth’? Again, I think I’ve answered that, but here goes. IMO- to have a completely objective system, you must remove at large berths. However, I don’t think at large teams completely remove the objectivity of the process. In the FCS playoffs, there are 8 teams that received berths because they won their conference. Nothing out of their control got them into the playoffs or kept them out of the playoffs…they were able to win to be able to win. Every team at the beginning of the season (eligible for AQ) controlled its own destiny. That is what I mean by objective. If you win, you win.

                I hope that wasn’t more flawed jibberish(sic). I am really trying, I promise.

                • Hackerdog

                  Even winning your conference isn’t as objective as you suggest. Sure, Auburn won its conference this year by being undefeated. So did Oregon and TCU. So there is no argument about that. But how about the Big10? Did Michigan State, Ohio State, or Wisconsin “objectively” win the conference? Most conference champions in most years need some help winning. Do you think that relying on a team you beat to knock off a team that beat you so that you’re the team getting the championship is more “objective” than relying on polls?

                  Arguing that a 4 loss UConn team deserves as much of a chance at the national championship as undefeated Auburn or Oregon is nonsense. Arguing that people who disagree with your position are communist is nonsense on stilts.

    • Yakov Smirnoff

      In Soviet Russia, football plays you. ;)

    • If the sun belt isn’t deserving of a place at the table, you don’t imagine the table doesn’t exist or come up with some conceptual scheme to keep the away from the table. You ask them to leave.

      Totally agree. In my perfect world, D-1 would shrink down to a level of 64-80 schools, tighten up the weaker conferences and set up an eight-team conference champ-only format for its postseason.

      The rest of your argument boils down to “my preferences are better than yours, so there”, though.

      • Irwin Fletcher

        I’ll just hit all three responses with this one reply:

        1- Consider me enlightened. You correctly point out that 1-AA has had undefeated teams in each of the years you list. I should have made a caveat of teams that are not from conferences that abstain from the tournament or from conferences that are not AQs. Frankly, I have more familiarity with D-3 that I-AA and assumed that all teams qualified/played in the I-AA tournament if they won their conference.

        2- I think we agree on this point: if we went to a tournament, the best scenario is a smaller pool of D-1 schools vs. letting in the Sun Belt. My point in my original post is that if the Sun Belt is D-1, they shouldn’t be excluded from the tournament.

        3- As far as ‘at large entries’ and ‘your preferences vs. my preferences’…the fact is that with a playoff that rewards conference champions with an automatic berth, you have a system that allows any team to control its own destiny on the field. Would at large bids be subjective? Assuming the rules of most proposed systems, yes. However, the real question then becomes does the subjective selection of other teams taint the playoff system to the extent where there isn’t an objective manner of winning the national championship? The answer to that question is a resounding, no. Even with at large bids, you have a system that says, ‘if you win, you win.’ Teams subjectively excluded from the at large process can’t gripe that they didn’t have an opportunity to play for the national championship because of circumstances beyond their control. They lost to their conference champion. Their only gripe would be they were denied a second chance to play for the national championship because of circumstances outside of their control. A legitimate gripe, but not one that destroys the integrity of objectiveness of the system.

        I’ll add in a caveat. Obviously, the rules of the game, the tiebreakers, etc. are going to have an element of subjectivity. Why do we have 100 yard fields? If there is a three way tie, how do you determine the tiebreak? Points scored/against? What if C-A-T really spelled Dog?

        Its an interesting exercise do determine absolute truth (or to attempt to show that absolute truth doesn’t exist), but the fact remains that once the ball is kicked off, every team knows what it must do to win the national championship in that system and every team has absolute control of their own destiny.

        4- Final note. You can remove the at large element altogether. You’d probably have to destroy the current conference alignment, which makes it unlikely it would ever happen BUT….Divide D-1 into 8 divisions of 10 or 8 or whatever. Each division plays a round robin against the other teams. Top two teams in each division go to a 16 team tournament. Or you do what you talked about and create a system of 8 conf. champs going to a playoff. I think a 16 team playoff would be more entertaining, but at the end of the day, either would accomplish the goal. (I like the round robin idea better since every team would have to play the same team, but realistically, I doubt that would ever happen since it would undoubtedly destroy some traditional rivalry games.)

        • You’re preaching to the choir on your last point.

          My biggest problem with a larger tournament which includes a significant subjective element is that it will inevitably expand over time. More subjectivity in postseason qualification is a bad thing.

        • Puffdawg

          “Their only gripe would be they were denied a second chance to play for the national championship because of circumstances outside of their control. A legitimate gripe, but not one that destroys the integrity of objectiveness of the system.”

          The flip side of this is when Arkansas beats Auburn in the Wetzel playoff system. Auburn did what it had to do to meet the objective requirements, and Arkansas did not. But now you are going to force Auburn to beat Arkansas AGAIN. What is fair about that? How could you possibly claim Arkansas is “better” than Auburn in that scenario? You can’t. At worst they are equals based on the head to head record (1-1), but looking at resumes (wins and losses), Auburn is probably the more impressive (better?) team, yet guess who is moving on towards the championship? Not Auburn, because of this playoff system that has been created for the sole purpose of being fair in determining a national champ which allowed Arkansas a second chance to beat a team which has ALREADY proven it was better. Again, for a real life example, look at Georgia Southern and Wofford this weekend in I-AA. Why should GSU even GET the opportunity to beat Wofford after their regular season matchup?

          • Irwin Fletcher

            Who is better and who is the champion are two different things.

            I don’t care who is better because honestly, that means I have to listen to who everyone else says is better.

            I just care who wins when they have to win.

            Having to play Arkansas twice is just as subjective as having to play Oklahoma or Oregon or whoever in the bracket. What isn’t subjective is the criteria for the teams who make the playoffs to win the championship…win each game.

            I think I covered this, but 100% objectivity is a tough row to hoe. There are always going to be things out of your control…who do you play, what are the weather conditions, etc. etc. To achieve true objectivity/level playing field, every team would play every other team in a neutral indoor site.

            However, even in your scenario, Auburn didn’t have its chance to win the championship decided for it. In your scenario, Auburn had every chance to win the championship. It had to win the game. Even if Auburn had a gripe about who they played, they don’t have a gripe about whether they didn’t have a chance to win the championship.

            • Hackerdog

              Irwin,

              As the Senator has pointed out, your entire argument boils down to your subjectivity (at-large bids to a tournament) should trump current subjectivity (which 2 teams to include in the championship game).

              There is absolutely no sound logic in the position that a 2-team playoff (the current BCS system) is stupid, unfair, and communist, but a X-team playoff (8, 12, 16, 24, whatever) solves all the problems and is completely fair and “objective”.

  17. Otto

    Playoffs have killed College Basketball.

    • Puffdawg

      You can’t compare football to basketball. Oh wait, Dan Wetzel just did.

    • Monday Night Frotteur

      Early entry almost killed college basketball; the tournament is the only thing that saves it from obscurity.

      • mdr

        True enough. I am a playoff advocate myself, but I will say that the college bball regular season is virtually meaningless at this point. Hell, with conference tournament winners gaining automatic bids, the regular season is completely meaningless in college basketball. Win the conference tourney and you have a shot at the whole ball of wax, regardless of your season record.

        So, the trick would be to not let the tournament continuously expand as it has in bball. How to stop the inevitable expansion is where the true problem lies.

        • Monday Night Frotteur

          “Not meaningful” toward the national championship doesn’t mean “not meaningful.” College basketball’s regular season has ample meaning for players coaches, and fans. What it doesn’t have is well-known players having 3 or 4 years worth of moments (aka Ewing, Sampson, Worthy, Duncan, Thompson, Robinson, etc.) like it did in its heyday.

    • gastr1

      Playoffs? Playoffs?!!! You’re talking about playoffs???

    • MinnesotaDawg

      “Playoffs have killed College Basketball.”

      You’re kidding, right? When did it die? In 1939, when a playoff was created? In the early 80s when they expanded to 64 teams? Hmm, I don’t think so.

      The one and dones littering the college basketball scene have certainly hurt college basketball. But the NCAA tourney??? I’m confident in saying, “No way.”

      • The more accurate statement would be that expanded playoffs have reduced college basketball’s regular season to a shadow of its former self.

        To be fair, a lot of folks don’t have much of a problem with that.

        • MinnesotaDawg

          Really? A shadow of its former self? What former self? The most significant expansion occurred between 1979 through 1985 (from 40 to 64 teams). Is there really a large contingent of former college basketball fans pining for the regular seasons of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s?

          Even, if I accept your statement as true, what evidence is there to suggest that the regular season is meaningful enough for fans of the game (at least enough to make the fun of the tourney well worth any diminishment in regular season glories)? Large regular season crowds, huge TV money, and rabid fans throughout the country over the last three decades suggest that college basketball has done better than alright. And I’m positive that fans gain greater satisfaction that a true champion is crowned after a three week tournament rather than if the top 2 RPI teams met for one game at the end of a regular season (after a five week hiatus to boot).

          • Large regular season crowds, huge TV money, and rabid fans throughout the country over the last three decades suggest that college basketball has done better than alright.

            What universe is that occurring in? As far as I know, there are only two D-1 schools (Duke and Louisville) which generate more money off their basketball program than their football program.

            And that huge (less than 7,000) crowd at Tech last night certainly lends more credence to your argument.

            It’s not the rabid fan who fuels most of the interest in college basketball these days. It’s the casual fan who shows up to fill out his/her brackets come tourney time.

            • MinnesotaDawg

              I’m sorry I didn’t realize we were comparing basketball revenue to football revenue. Where did that come from? When did college basketball EVER earn more revenue than college football? We were comparing pre and post playoff “expansion” college basketball–but I guess you want to shift the argument.

              If you want to use the GT v. UGA game as a measuring stick, what kind of interest (and crowds) was that game drawing in the 40s – 70s, when the regular season wasn’t a “shadow” of its former self? A lot more? I somehow doubt it.

              What universe have all those things I mentioned happened in the last 30 years? Look around the country outside of the state of Georgia. UGa, of course, has never been a basketball hotbed, but you shouldn’t lump the rest of the country in with the lack of basketball fever in Athens. There are plenty of people in the U.S. (try the Northeast U.S.) who don’t give a shit about college football now either.

              • I’m sorry. I thought referring to “huge TV money” meant you were discussing revenue.

                • MinnesotaDawg

                  Good grief…I’m sorry, when you referred to college basketball, I thought you were talking about college basketball not college football.

                  Is your point that because college football is a bigger money generator than college basketball (and always has been) that only college football has the right to use “huge” to describe its revenue streams and that college basketball must use some other lesser-sounding adjective. Or perhaps you think that the money that college basketball makes is chicken-feed compared with the revenue generated in the old days before playoffs destroyed the regular season. Or perhaps you’re just being contrarian or argumentative because you realize that the idea that the NCAA tourney has destroyed college basketball, hurt its popularity (measured by such things as TV audiences and revenue), or alienated college basketball fans is absurd.

                  • Puffdawg

                    MinnesotaDawg, answer me this question: who gives a SHIT who wins the SEC regular season basketball title or the SEC tournament title. Honestly, who gives a shit?

                    • Puffdawg

                      I should have phrased that differently: is it a bigger accomplishment to have made the Sweet Sixteen or to have won the SEC basketball title (reg season or tourney)?

                    • MinnesotaDawg

                      Your post below is a better argument, because I would still care if we happened to win the SEC regular season and tourney.

                      Listen, I understand your position–you don’t want the what is now a great regular college football season diminished by some postseason tournament. And taken too far (like with the NBA or NHL), it most likely would be. That’s why I’d be in favor of a limited tourney (see my proposal below) and against any tourney larger than 12. Under my proposal, being a conference champion is the most important and most valuable (given a bye) criteria for making the playoff. With only 4 at large spots, you’d also have to have a pretty kick-ass regular season to make the cut. Given that Georgia would likely only have made such a playoff 3 times out of the last 25 years, one can see that getting into the mix would require a pretty special regular season.

                    • Puffdawg

                      Fair enough on most of your points, except:

                      – agree to disagree that to give 12 teams the opportunity to win the NC. Why do you need that many?
                      – expansion would happen. It is not a question of when, but if. In any playoff that has ever existed – ESPECIALLY those run by the NCAA, who would be running your proposal – expansion has been inevitable. Thus, I’d rather stick with something I like now in lieu of something I know I won’t like eventually.

                  • I’ve never said that the tourney destroyed college basketball… just that it changed it into something very different. It may have become less involving for me, but I recognize that it’s been very successful in its remaking.

                    My point about “huge” is that it’s relative. College football is a vastly bigger revenue generator for the big conference schools than basketball is, despite the shiny tourney. The networks pay mucho bucks for the regular season TV rights because they haven’t been devalued by an outsized postseason – and that’s reflected in the makeup of the cash flow.

                    • MinnesotaDawg

                      Ok, that’s a reasonable argument. As I responded to PuffDawg, I understand the potential for devaluing the regular season through an “outsized” post-season. However, I think that the 10 team post-season playoff scenario I outline in another post would preserve the integrity of the regular season and the importance of conference championships. In my mind, that system would be more fun for fans than the current BCS model and would provide a no less deserving champion at the end.

                      I guess you would argue that any playoff would necessarily lead to expansion of such playoff and eventual deterioration of the regular season. That’s another reasonable position, and if a larger playoff is developed or expansion is later proposed, I would probably be against it (because of the devalued season argument). But I see that as a different argument–one in which the regular season preservationists like you and many on this board have a valid complaint.

                      By the way, you have a terrific site. I really respect your opinions and analysis.

                    • Thanks for the blog praise, brother.

                      There are a couple of postseason formats that I like. I think an eight-team, conference champ only set up based on a more compact 80-school D-1 would be great. And I think it would be difficult to expand (albeit not impossible). Unfortunately, it’s not realistic.

                      I also like BCS Guru’s plus-one idea, again in part because it wouldn’t encourage further expansion any more than what we’ve got now.

        • Irwin Fletcher

          I think it has more to do with the number of games and the number of teams in the regular season. 1 of 10 has more importance than 1 of 30. Call me crazy, but if the college basketball season started on January 1, I think each game in the regular season games might have ‘more importance.’

          That isn’t to completely disregard the point. Each game in the regular season in college basketball loses significance because of a combination of (1) there are so many teams that qualify for the tournament and (2) there are so many games to be played in the regular season.

  18. Ausdawg85

    A rational…and unrealistic solution that rarely gets mentioned…is D-1 football needs to reduce to 96 teams, aligned in 8 conferences with two divisions. Yeah, yeah…it’s the NFL, but then you could go with a 12 team playoff, generating 4 at-large bids to go with the 8 conference champions. That’s really a pool of up to 20 teams if the at-large bids don’t go to conference championship losers (i.e. USCe).

    8 games that matter in regular season (5 division rivals plus 2 from other division plus one out of conference “rival”) and 3 games to schedule as you please to influence at-large bids. Reducing D-1 is a good thing, as is reducing schedule to 11 games for the “student atheletes” other than those playing in post-season playoffs and minor bowls.

    Will never happen. Option 2 is to go with American Idol concept and just let the fans vote at ESPN.com to go with College Gameday crew “judges”. We’re closer to that reality I’m afraid already.

  19. dudetheplayer

    Move to the 16 team superconferences, and then we can talk about a playoff featuring conference winners. Until then, keep the system as is (with possibly a +1 thrown in there).

    That hypothetical playoff by Wetzel is garbage.

    • Jon Lovitz

      The plus-one game. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • Ausdawg85

      Just curious as how folks would predict how the +1 would work this year. Easy if TCU wins, but if Wisconsin wins the Rose, all other favorites win their BCS bowl game, who is in the +1 to face Oregon/Auburn winner? Or do you throw out the current BCS Championship game, which bumps Auburn to the Sugar Bowl (?) and Oregon in the Rose vs …who (?). Tie-in to Big Whatever means Wisconsin still in Rose, so where does TCU go?

  20. Otto

    http://blogs.ajc.com/barnhart-college-football/2009/04/23/would-a-four-team-playoff-solve-bcs-problems/

    From the Tony Barnhart article a 4 team playoff would not solve the problem and may further introduce new problems.

    An 8 team playoff would likely be 6 BCS conf champs and 2 at alrge bids which would destroy OOC game more than any other scenario.

    IMO a 6 team playoff. The top 2 get the 1st round off. The bottom 4 play each other. OOC games become more imprtant as team will want to be in the top 2. The magic of the regular season is detroyed the least as teams can move in and out of the top 6 fluidly and again being in the top 2 would be very important.

  21. MinnesotaDawg

    Perhaps I’m being thick, but can someone explain to me how an 8-12 team playoff “destroys” the regular season? Yes, I understand that it might make an undefeated season slightly less important compared with the current system, but I could argue that it would actually make more regular season games meaningful in the national title hunt, as more one (or even two) loss teams would have legit hopes of winning a nat’l title (by being winning their conference or gaining 2-6 at large spots).

    My bigger issue is this: From the perspective of an individual fan or team, would such a playoff system substantially diminish your likelihood of watching/going to/having an interest in a Georgia football game? For me, and a huge percentage of fans, I would guess that it wouldn’t. Why? Well, our annual interest in fairly meaningless games (in terms of Nat’l Championship) is a testament to the importance of rivalries, bragging rights, and individual contests outside of the “Who’s #1 debate. Would we stop caring about the game in Jacksonville? No. Would we stop seeing sell-outs for conference games? I don’t think so. Would we stop seeing sell-outs for even lousy non-conference games? Not any more likely than under our current ticketing system might allow.

    If playoff admission is limited to regular season conference winners and a handful of at-large teams, I fail to see how such a playoff “destroys” the regular season in any meaningful way. In my opinion, it’s just an obstructionist argument.

    • Hackerdog

      You have things backwards. Including more one and two loss teams in the championship hunt doesn’t enhance the regular season, it devalues it. If you lose a game, big deal. If you lose two games, so what? You’re still in the playoffs.

      And arguing that UGA sells out games that are meaningless in the national championship picture isn’t really an argument. Every year, we pay extra attention to conference games because a single loss, early in the year to South Carolina, for example, could be the deciding factor in whether UGA can win the East, win the SEC, and get a chance at a national championship.

      If we can lose two games and still get in the playoffs, then that’s what will matter to most fans. You’ve instantly changed the goals of the team, players, and fans from win the division, win the conference, and hopefully a championship, to simply, get in the playoffs.

      Look at the regular season for college basketball if you’re still having trouble envisioning what a playoff can do to the regular season.

      • MinnesotaDawg

        I disagree with you. If you have a playoff system that rewards the six major conference champions with an automatic invite to the playoff, then there is still significant motivation in winning that championship (thus, all the games that go towards winning a conference are as meaningful as ever). Notwithstanding the fact that winning a conference championship has value in and of itself (I don’t think our 2002 and 2005 Dawgs would argue this point).

        In addition, if you include 2-6 at large teams, based on their REGULAR SEASON performances and criteria–the regular season remains incredibly meaningful.

        The college basketball argument doesn’t get me very far. When did people stop caring about the regular season of college basketball–in the 70s, when they expanded the field to 48 teams? In the early 80s when they ended up expanding to 64? Has the NCAA tourney diminished the value of the sport among most basketball fans (based on attendence, TV numbers, revenue, fan interest in the sport) in any material way? Not that I can see–although amongst some purists who long for the 1940s through 1960s perhaps (although they still had a playoff then, too). I do think that the one and done players of the last decade have reduced the interest (at least my interest) in the college game.

    • Puffdawg

      First of all, thanks for the civil inquiry.

      To answer your question, I need to point out that the common fear is the likelihood of EXTENDED playoffs. You use 8-12 teams in your example, but inevitably that will wind up being 16, then 20, then 32. It WILL happen. It is just a matter of time. And when that happens-

      (a) teams/fans are able to rationalize losses because the window to make the playoffs is still there. Yes, the WLOCP would still always sell out. But ask yourself this, when a 7-1 UGA knocks off 8-0 Florida to take the lead in the East, will it really be that big a deal? I mean, both are likely going to make the playoffs anyway, where they’ll inevitably meet again. Look at the brackets above with Arky and Auburn.

      (b) the playoff picture becomes cloudy where teams who probably shouldn’t be eligible for the title wind up playing above their heads for a game while the better team has an off game for the first time in 14 weeks. Is that really the fairest way? The example you see used a lot is the Pats-Giants. Were the Giants really the best team from that season?

      • MinnesotaDawg

        I understand the slippery slope argument, fear of the extended playoff, but I take the approach that you can fight that battle when it comes to that. Why should I try to stop my wife from making delicious chocolate chip oatmeal cookies now because I’m afraid that a few years from now she’ll start sneaking nasty raisins in them?

        As for (a): That game would still be a huge deal. For one, the loser would likely be out of the division race, and thus, out of the conference race. As far as I’m concerned, an SEC title is still a huge deal outside of any national championship discussions. Even though our 2002 and 2005 teams were on the outside looking in for the Nat’l Title, they are still huge highlights in Dawg football history. Relatedly, for the loser to make the playoffs (not inevitable), they would have to likely win the rest of their games and hope to make it as one of a handful of at-large teams. For most years, a “second place” SEC team would be in good shape, but not every year. Finally, although rematches could happen under a playoff scenario, they are far from inevitable. Perhaps your hypothetical would not be a do-or-die game in the National Championship picture, but it would still be a rivalry game with extremely high stakes. And I would be fine with that.

        As for (b), I understand your point, but we have this risk already–that an “undeserving” team gets in the National Championship game (by virtue of playing a relatively easy schedule) and then plays over its head in the ONE Championship game. I think that if a team gets into the playoff (no easy feat), then strings together THREE or FOUR wins over other playoff teams, it would be hard to argue that that team is necessarily undeserving.

        • When has an undeserving team ever come close to playing in the BCS title game? Carp about the format all you want, but the one clear success the BCS can claim is that it’s prevented another BYU ’84 situation.

          And you dismiss expansion concerns so easily, when they’re basically built in to proposals like Wetzel’s. Here’s the problem: if you’re going to create a format which automatically includes all conference champs, you’ve just set up a tournament in which every year there will be at least two participants which are clearly inferior to dozens of teams which don’t get an invite. (FIU is Sagarin’s #116; Miami of Ohio is #87.) You are kidding yourself if you don’t think that’s an issue that doesn’t get addressed by expanding past sixteen schools.

          And if you don’t set a bigger playoff up with an automatic berth for conference champs, you’ve just devalued the conferences and made the tourney even more reliant on rankings. Which also will wind up leading to more expansion.

          My point here is that you won’t be able to fight the battle “when it comes to that”. The war will be long over, because the structure they will have built will be inherently unstable.

          • MinnesotaDawg

            I guess we can dance around this issue forever.

            As for deserving or undeserving…well that’s a loaded, subjective term. Yes, you can say that deserving teams have won NCs in the BCS era based on the BCS criteria (basically the rankings and the computers, to a lesser degree). And I am not arguing that this isn’t a better system than the old bowl system. But I’m not satisfied that the current system is better than an on-the-field playoff (of 8-12 teams) or that each year that the BEST team will win the NC under the current setup–or even go to the NC game.

            Given the one game takes all approach to the BCS Championship as it’s currently setup–it’s hard to argue that the winner is undeserving. However, I can point to a few years where that “deserving” champion only played in the game because of final weekend upset that were far from it’s control. In 2007, if Pitt doesn’t beat WVU, then LSU doesn’t go the the championship game, and we wouldn’t be questioning whether Ohio State is a deserving champion (even though, in real life, they proved themselves not to be). In 2008, if UCLA doesn’t beat USC, then UF doesn’t go to the championship game, but we wouldn’t be questioning whether Oklahoma is an undeserving champion (even though in real life they proved themselves not to be).

            The point is that we can really only tell deserving or better based on actual football games. Everything else is speculation. So TCU doesn’t “deserve” at a shot a at the NC because the Clemson QB couldn’t hit a wide open receiver in overtime at Auburn? Could they be better than both Oregon or Auburn or both. Perhaps, but we will never know under the current system. Although, I’m sure the winner of the BCS NC game will be marked as “deserving.”

            The rest of your post goes back to problems with Wetzel’s proposal, which I also have issues with. Here’s a 5 minute, fly-by-the-pants proposal:

            A limited playoff with 6 automatic conference champion bids (with build-in criteria that prevents non-top 20 (or 15 if you like) teams from joining the mix) with 4 at large bids. The four at large teams could have a play-in weekend, with conference champions getting a bye (as a reward and to further preserve the importance of regular season success). At large bids are based on BCS ranking–preserving the importance of a strong OOC schedule and valuing strong conferences over weaker ones. After the play-in round, teams are bracketed and seeded based on BCS rank–and then the champion is determined over the next three weeks.

            As to this point:
            “And if you don’t set a bigger playoff up with an automatic berth for conference champs, you’ve just devalued the conferences and made the tourney even more reliant on rankings.”

            How are the mid-major conferences “devalued” anymore under my system than the current one? At least schools like TCU would have a CHANCE under my system. As for the rankings, such a playoff scenario could rely “more” on the rankings than our own current BCS game which is ALL about rankings.

            • MinnesotaDawg

              Sorry, the last sentence should say “could NOT rely ‘more’ on the rankings than our current BCS”

        • Puffdawg

          “For most years, a “second place” SEC team would be in good shape, but not every year.”

          Wrong. In a 16 team tournament, the top two SEC teams would ALWAYS be in and there would likely be three SEC teams every single year. Look at Wetzel’s bracket. And you could probably argue that Bama should be in that tournament over 5 of teams he listed.

          As for rematches, if the SEC didn’t have multiple teams, another conf WOULD, meaning inevitable rematches.

    • Why do you need an 8-12 team field to settle the national title? There aren’t twelve teams of national title caliber this season.

      You want to know what bugs me about a playoff? Look at Wetzel’s bracket and notice that Boise is missing – except that’s because of a math error in the BCS rankings. Fix that and now LSU is out. LSU is out and FIU is in. If that were reality, what do you think will be suggested/urged to fix that oversight? That’s the way playoffs roll.

      • MinnesotaDawg

        Personally, I think this would be a great year for a playoff. First, even though the chips fell in place for a 1 v. 2 matchup, I’m not sure that Oregon or Auburn are significantly better than a number of teams that would qualify under a system I would envision. I doubt Oregon or Auburn would be a significant favorite to beat Wisconsin, Boise State, Ohio State, TCU, etc–at least it would provide a hell of a lot more interesting college football games to watch in December. Second, in many years, the 2 top teams aren’t so readily apparent as they appear this year.

        If you want to bash playoffs by putting up Wetzel’s proposal as a strawman and pick it apart…well that’s fine. I don’t like his proposal either and wouldn’t have a FIU as part of it. Luckily Wetzel isn’t a college football czar. I won’t try to defend his system, but that doesn’t mean that a playoff in some form wouldn’t be a terrific conclusion to a wonderful sport (that currently ends in a rather anti-climatic, ho-hum exhibition season for all but one game).

        • Hackerdog

          The entire argument with playoff proponents is that you’re arguing that a 2-team playoff (the current BCS) doesn’t work. But some X-team playoff (8, 12, 24, some number that isn’t 2) would work great. But of course, thinking that things would expand beyond X is just crazy talk.

          I think that college football playoffs would be very similar to every other playoff for every other sport known to man. It would expand. And when it expands, that means the regular season doesn’t count any more. Sure, in an 8-team playoff with 6 conference champions, winning the SEC is a big deal. In a 24-team playoff, winning the SEC isn’t such a big deal anymore.

  22. SMD

    It gets worse, Blutarsky.

    The part about the BCS snafu doesn’t matter, because the at-large spots don’t go according to any predetermined method. Instead, a committee like that in college basketball would pick and seed the teams according to…well, I honestly have no idea. Wetzel never says, because he doesn’t want to get bogged down in petty little details like that.

    So why is Oklahoma seeded seventh while LSU is seeded tenth? Just ‘cuz. Why does Arkansas get to play a home game against MSU? Wetzel thinks that’s how the teams are ranked. There’s no consistent logic here. He LOVES the predictive computer rankings (not the official BCS rankings) until they say stuff like “Alabama is better than Auburn,” then he derides them as illogical. He gets on high dudgeon when a team that lost to a team is ranked higher, but Wisconsin is a five seed and MSU is a nine seed (not to mention that the only reason Wisconsin is a five seed is because they ran up the score on the weak half of the Big Ten, a phenomenon he explicitly and loudly blamed on the BCS).

    As for “Wetzel as strawman,” I don’t think it’s entirely fair that playoff opponents have to argue against the platonic tournament while playoff supporters get to argue against the very real BCS, warts and all. More importantly, for better or worse, Wetzel has thrown himself to the front of the playoff debate (every time he stubs his toe or his wife burns the toast, he has an article blaming it on the BCS). Lots of influential people have pointed to his book and said “this is the way.” It’s entirely fair to treat this system, as conceived, as the main alternative until someone equally influential can propose something that gains the same amount of traction.

  23. Otto

    Would people be watch Pitt upset West Va. a few years ago to take WV out of the National Title race? Would the country be watch the Iron Bowl this year if TCU and Boise weren’t looking to get in the title game? Would anyone in SEC land watch Nevada and Boise if Boise did not have a chance at spoiling the BCS or even having some sort of we’re unbeaten argument…

    A playoff would take away from these games and in turn money out of the pockets of the schools. Also speaking of money a playoff goes to more than 4 teams (which BTW would have excluded UGA in ’07) the ESPN who cares bowls likely go away which takes money out of the system especially the mid majors.

    The current system makes the most money, more times than not gets it right, and keeps the regular season amazing.\

    My favorite option would be no changes other than giving the teams back 10 more scholarships, the mid majors would crash the party much less often. Basketball has also shown ratings slide when the big names are not in the final games.

  24. Bryant Denny

    I think a 16-team format, as described here, would re-shape college football in several ways.

    One being that coaches that really want to win a title will migrate towards the schools in weaker conferences. The other thing is that there would probably be some conference realignment – back toward the weaker or mid-major type conferences.

    I am not necessarily for or against a playoff, but it should be done right.

    No, I don’t think it would kill the regular season. With the exception of about five programs, most teams do not have any realistic expectation of competing for a championship every year. They are happy if they win 7-8 games and spend a couple of days at a bowl game.

  25. It’s similar to my system I created last year: 2nd Annual Coleman Playoff System