Daily Archives: April 22, 2011

This is what you get when football fans argue about antitrust law.

I don’t know if you had the chance to catch it, but there was a pretty lively Twitter discussion yesterday inspired by Mark Shurtleff’s long-standing threat/promise to bring an antitrust case against the BCS.  (Bill Connelly laid out some of the early give-and-take here.)

There were a variety of comments that I found interesting.  See what you think about some of them.

To start with, there were a number of observations about damages.  I’m not sure how you go about quantifying how much consumers have been financially damaged by college football’s postseason, if by consumers you mean fans.  Those who thought Shurtleff’s position might have some legs tended to focus on how mid-major programs were damaged by having their access to the BCS restricted.  Here’s something Stewart Mandel tweeted in response to that:

Then, there’s the barrier to entry argument – that the BCS is structured such that it prevents mid-majors, or any other group of schools from going out and creating their own postseason with its own revenue stream.  To which LA Times’ Chris Dufresne responded,

He also suggests the real barrier to entry.

(Neither Dufresne nor Mandel are big BCS proponents, by the way.)

That last comment of Dufresne’s echoes the Delany rebuttal to the MWC commissioner that expanding the D-1 playoff dilutes the value of the brand which Delany’s conference has built over more than a century.

The discussion moved on to what a post-lawsuit world might look like if the power conferences felt they had to respond to the Shurtleff lawsuit by remaking the postseason into something non-BCS.  Both Dan Wetzel and Andy Staples dismissed the possibility that the schools would return to the old free-for-all system with no title game because there wouldn’t be enough money in it to satisfy the schools.  As Wetzel put it in response to a question of mine,

I’m not sure I completely buy that, for two reasons.  First of all, who’s to say what a new bowl market might look like if it weren’t tied to a formal arrangement between the major bowls?  What might a Jerry Jones try to spend to bring the Cotton Bowl back to a first-rank position?  Second, what’s the alternative?  If it’s a playoff that’s controlled by whatever association the power conferences rearrange themselves into, I agree that’s got the possibility of generating more revenue for the schools.  But if the alternative is an NCAA-run postseason where the revenues are shared throughout D-1 in its entirety, forget about it.  The pie isn’t big enough.

Before you pooh-pooh me about that, keep in mind this is something I’ve posted about before more than once.  Quite a bit more, in fact.  The bottom line is that football generates a lot more money for colleges than basketball, March Madness or no March Madness.  Take a look at the breakdown of the 2008-9 moneys for the SEC, for example:

… the $132.5 million was derived from $52 million from football television, $25.4 million from bowls, $14.3 million from the SEC Football Championship, $13.6 million from basketball television, $4.1 million from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and $23.1 million from NCAA Championships.

The football regular season generated roughly four times as much as the basketball regular season did.  And that’s under the old SEC contract.  Beyond that, the SECCG almost doubled the money from the basketball tournament and the conference took in more from the bowls than it did from March Madness.  There’s nothing there that suggests spreading the wealth though the auspices of the NCAA is going to benefit any SEC school financially.

The last time I looked at this subject, I only found two Big Six schools which generated more money from their basketball programs than from their football programs, Louisville and Duke.

So I can see the old system being more attractive to the power conferences than Wetzel does.  What I don’t argue with is Andy Staples’ position that a return to the old system would hurt the mid-majors in the pocketbook hard.  He takes it further, though, and argues that the ACC and Big East would also take hits.

… I could keep going, but you’ve probably already picked up on the trend. First, you’ve probably noticed I’ve barely mentioned any conferences from outside the Big Six. In a reversion to the old system, those conferences would be harmed. But they would be rolling the dice for reasons that will become obvious in a few paragraphs. You’ve also probably noticed that I barely mentioned the ACC and didn’t mention the Big East at all. In an open market, at best, the ACC champ is equal to the No. 3 team in the SEC as a purely economic choice for a bowl game. The Big East champ falls far below that.

So while the ACC and Big East enjoyed equal footing in the BCS, they would occupy their own caste in a reversion to the old system. They wouldn’t be the Mountain West or Conference USA, but they wouldn’t be the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12, either. Call it bowl purgatory. The real difference would be the money. Even if it the system equaled what the BCS brings in now, the lion’s share would be split among four conferences instead of six.

From that he concludes in such a brave new world, the ACC and Big East would find more in common with the MAC and the Sun Belt than with the SEC.

… Essentially, that would add 20 schools to the have-nots list. The 2011 season will begin with 66 haves and 54 have-nots in the FBS. Under the system outlined above, have-nots would outnumber haves 74-46 and would win any vote that didn’t involve the top revenue-generating schools breaking free from the NCAA.

Ehhhh… maybe, maybe not.  One thing he glosses over with his argument is the regular season money.  The ACC in particular landed a very nice TV deal last year.  Would an NCAA-sponsored extended playoff muck with that money?  That’s the $64,000 question.

And I just find this scenario that Staples spins laughable.

… So if the newest have-nots decided they could make more money with a playoff, they might band together with their former serfs and call NCAA headquarters. The following conversation might take place.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto: President Mark Emmert, please.

Emmert: John, how are things?

Marinatto: I’m not going to lie, Mark. It’s not nearly as much fun at the kids’ table.

Emmert: How can we help?

Marinatto: Well, my league rakes in a ton from that basketball tourney you run. Any chance we could do something like that in football?

Emmert: Well, John, I’ve always said we know an awful lot about running championship tournaments.

Yes, Mark Emmert bests Mike Slive and Jim Delany in a battle of wills convincing conference commissioners to do something.  That’s gonna happen.

Ultimately, that’s what I find most unconvincing about all this “it’s so easy” playoff speculation:  it’s predicated on the stupidity and passivity of people who have proven themselves to be anything but stupid and passive.  Read Delany’s explanation of how he came to the decision that the Big Ten would begin playing hockey as a conference with six members, and this in particular:

“So, I would say whether you’re dealing with hockey or college football or formations of conferences, the change is natural. A: We thoroughly discussed it with our presidents, ADs and coaches; B: We reached out to the two hockey conferences in our region of the country. We have offered to collaborate and we will play them a lot, but I think once you have, in our conference, six members to play a sport, serious discussions occur about how to do that.”

That is not the mindset of a man who takes no for an answer.  Or leaves things to chance.

As much as they may be rivals, you can be sure that the Delanys and Slives of the college football world will have thoroughly gamed things out before proceeding, if circumstances dictate such.  If Staples is right about his 74-46 split, I find it far more likely that they pick off a few stragglers from the ACC, the Big East and the mid-majors and politely tell those left out and the NCAA to go to hell.

To paraphrase Staples’ last thought, happy lawyering, Mark Shurtleff.

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7 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Recruiting, the Saban Way

Here’s an interesting Jamie Newberg article about how the method Saban follows for recruiting is influencing others in the coaching ranks.  Tucked in there is this innocuous sounding paragraph:

… Belichick, Bill Parcells and other player pro directors all influenced Saban and his recruiting approach. It’s a five-phase process that first begins with identifying needs of your current personnel based on attrition two to three years down the line out of a five-year player cycle.

Ah, identifying that ol’ debbil attrition.  Sounds a lot more passive than ruthless, doesn’t it?

“I don’t have time for that shit” happens, I guess.

12 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting

Georgia, Boom’s not that into you.

Will Muschamp takes a page out of Paul Johnson’s playbook.

… When asked about the Oct. 29 game against Georgia, his alma mater, Muschamp was to the point.

“I know we need to win. They’re all big,” he said. “… I’m not going to treat any game any different than any other one. I think when you do that you start to have fluctuation how you play and how you approach.”

Somewhere, Steve Spurrier is shaking his head.  We’ll see if Muschamp and the Gator fan base feel the same way next spring if Georgia pulls off the surprise in Jacksonville this year.

38 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

The heat is on.

Two things about this hard-hitting blog series which amuse me: first, the sense of vindication (“Last season, I put Richt on the Hot Seat and Georgia fans let me hear it. However, the Bulldogs struggled…”) and second, the company Mark Richt finds himself there (“So far we’ve highlighted Washington State’s Paul Wulff, New Mexico’s Mike Locksley and UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel.”)

On the first point, good on him to anticipate last season’s decline, although I’d be more impressed if the Sentinel had managed to call the Green suspension in advance.

As for Murschel’s Gang of Four, well, let’s look at them with some perspective, shall we?  Here are the records of the four men at their current schools:

  • Mark Richt, 96-34
  • Paul Wolff, 5-32
  • Mike Locksley, 2-22
  • Rich Neuheisel, 15-22

One of those records is not like the others.  Neuheisel is the only coach on the list besides Richt who’s led his current program to a winning season.  Put it this way – Richt had more wins in his worst season than Wolff and Locksley have in their careers as D-1 head coaches.  Or put another way, if either Washington State or New Mexico matched Georgia’s disastrous 2010 win total this season, that would probably be sufficient cause to pull Wolff or Locksley off the hot seat.

None of which is to deny that Richt isn’t facing some significant pressure this season.  It’s just good to keep in mind sometimes that expectations can be a bitch.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

The best defense…

Watch how neatly Jim Delany flips the premise of the questioner completely on its back here:

Q: If the NCAA’s ruling on Jim Tressel doesn’t meet your expectations, would you consider additional sanctions as a conference, as SEC commissioner Mike Slive did after Bruce Pearl violated NCAA rules, then lied about it to investigators?

JD: “We haven’t really acted in what would I describe as an enforcement way. I know the SEC took action against Bruce Pearl, but that was very unique for them and unique to them.

“We get involved in education. We get involved in guiding our schools along a path of compliance. We also provide advice to our schools. But if you followed the Big Ten or the Big 12 or the ACC, you wouldn’t see these conferences acting in an enforcement way. It’s simply because we don’t have the machinery for enforcement. We’re not out in the field and we’re not out processing the cases in any substantive way…”

Get that?  The SEC’s peers don’t do enforcement because, unlike the SEC, they’ve never needed to do enforcement.

This guy’s good.

10 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football

“… I’m not a bad person. I’m a Alabama fan.”

Harvey Updyke may claim that he doesn’t want a reality show, but it strikes me that these folks sure are missing a hell of an opportunity.

9 Comments

Filed under General Idiocy, Whoa, oh, Alabama