Today’s BCS roundup

I thought I’d separate these three items out from the buffet and give them separate treatment:

  • I’ve written about Andy Schwarz’ position on antitrust and the BCS before.  He’s returned to the subject with this post in which he suggests that the NCAA won’t put up a barrier any more to parties wanting to compete against the bowls in the postseason.  I’ve got a few quibbles with what he writes.  First off, I’m not sure the NCAA abandons the field, so to speak, as it could always come up with some regulations to limit the entry of others.  Second, it’s not something that a third-party entrepreneur would sell to individual schools, but to the conferences, and I’m don’t know that the power conferences would be interested.  Third, this become moot if D-1 splits as I expect it will in the coming years.  That being said, I can see the mid-major conferences being interested in something like this.  It would garner more attention and probably more money than seeing the top mids in less than top bowls.  (Not to mention that it would probably lay the seeds for what they’d do in the wake of a D-1 breakup.)
  • I think Barrett Sallee gets this exactly backwards.  If/when D-1 splits and we get a set of superconferences composed of 64 schools, I don’t see how that necessarily results in a four-team playoff.  If anything, four two-division conferences almost beg for an eight-team set-up with the conference championship games comprising the quarterfinals.  Maybe I’m missing something here.
  • Good to see that Dennis Dodd is getting on the 4 vs. 5 controversy bandwagon early on.  Five years from now, that’ll be the excuse to expand.
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27 Comments

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27 responses to “Today’s BCS roundup

  1. Dodd has the 2007 Georgia team way too low at 12th out of 14. That team would have beaten any of the four teams ranked above it had they played, including the ones that jumped them the final weekend. I suppose I missed the premise if that makes sense to anyone else.

  2. Bulldawg165

    The only thing that really irks me about the playoff debate is when people act like there will be inevitable expansion due to the fact that there will always be debate about the top ranked team that’s left out (5th place team in a 4 team playoff, or 9th, 17th, etc.). However, if you’re in any of those positions you’ve A) Most likely made your own bed by losing at least once, and 2) Don’t really have a legitimate ground to claim you’re the best team in the land, which is technically what a tournament is supposed to prove (although it doesn’t always happen that way).

    A 3rd ranked team has a better claim that they’re the best in the land than a 5th ranked team, although not by much (which is why I too think it will eventually expand to 8 teams). However, once you get into 9th ranked teams, 17th, 33rd, etc, does anyone actually believe that ANY of those teams in the past 20 years were the best in the land? How many times has a 3rd place team gotten left out when they were undefeated and thus did all they could do with their current schedule? Now how many times for a 5th, 9th, etc team?

    • Macallanlover

      It is irksome, but using that impossible to prove premise as a reason to oppose a playoff is safe haven for opponents. You can cite all the examples you want, but nothing says you have to expand. With the lousy system we have now, which is clearly inadequate in addressing the objective, there has been no expansion beyond the two teams in the title game for almost 15 years. If we had better representation, there would be no reason to expand.

      Another argument that is a fave of opponents of change is the subjective ” devalues the regular season” line. No one can ever win that discussion either because if last year’s rematch still didn’t devalue the meaning of regular season games to them, nothing ever will. I contend that having a legit title to play for during the regular season is the best enhancement possible. But everyone has a right to feel strongly about their preferences, and there is much passion on this subject.

    • Connor

      The BCS is currently a unique playoff. It only features two teams. The debate over “Who are the two best teams in the country” and “What teams should be included in the playoff field” are aligned. That will not be true once the field expands to four teams. Then you will have two debates, just as you do in every other sport with a playoff. For example, was a 9-7 Giants team outscored over the course of the season but winners of the Superbowl the best team in the NFL? Did the same Giants, winners of their division, deserve a playoff spot? Two debates. And the first, were they the best, is completely irrevelant once you have an expanded playoff. They won the Superbowl. That’s the only goal of every NFL team.
      My point is that assuming the looming college football playoffs will not expand because no 5th or 9th or 17th ranked team is worthy of being considered “The best in the land” is not very farsighted. That’s only a component of the debate now because there are only two spots. In the future the question will be, “Do they deserve a spot in the playoffs.” That is a MUCH lower bar for any team to hurdle.

      • Bulldawg165

        How is it possible for the two debates to be aligned with 2 teams but not with 4 or 8 teams? The 4 (or 8) best teams in the land should be included in the playoff. The only debate is who the 4 or 8 best teams are, just like the only debate now is who the best 2 teams are. I haven’t heard anybody debating whether or not the Giants should have been included in the playoff over a team that got left out. Nobody cares because they know the rules beforehand and it’s pretty unlikely that the best team that wasn’t in the NFL playoffs would have won the Superbowl had they been included.

        • Connor

          The point is that no one debates whether or not a playoff team has a chance to win the title. It’s irrelevant. Practical inability to win the ultimate championship does not preclude inclusion into playoffs. Look no further than the automatic bids in the NCAA basketball tournament. Dozens of teams with no real shot get in every year. That is considered a feature, not a bug. The mantra of every college basketball team is “make the tournament.” It’s a goal unto itself.
          My point is that once you expand the postseason the goal becomes to get into the postseason. When they go to expand college football’s again the reason won’t be “The number 5 team in the country might be the best team in the country”, it’ll be “the number 5 team might be the number 4 team, we can’t tell.” And then it’ll be that the number 9 and 10 team might be the number 8 team. With each stage of expansion the odds of including a championship team go down, but the argument for expanding it further goes up. Combine that with the incentive media content providers will give any league to stage more games that “count”, and playoff creep is as assured as Moore’s law.

          • mp

            IMO, I think the issue isn’t that the #5 vs #4 or #9 vs #8 creates the need for expanded playoffs, rather that it provides an easy justification for the cash grab. If the dollars don’t make sense, they’re happy to let people argue.

            How much do the ESPN talking heads really care about the last at-large teams once the selection Sunday is done? It’s an argument to fill time; they recognize that team doesn’t have a chance in the tourney, really. If the money didn’t make sense to go to 68 teams, we’d still be at 65.

      • Macallanlover

        Connor, the reality is that neither a playoff system, nor the regular season is capable of defining who is the best team in CFB. A playoff will give you a champion that has earned it on the field within a set of rules agreed upon in advance. Once that is over, just as with the Giants discussion, fans and experts will argue why someone was really the better team.

        Truth is, the “on any given day” aspect, weather, injuries, eligibility, referees’ calls, etc., will always leave some justification for several teams to lay claim to being the best. A revision to a playoff will never change that, and the regular season has never done so either.

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          They are BOTH arbitrary systems. One has the benefit of looking like other systems which have been demonstrated to be proven money winners – and which have been proven to require periodic expansion in order to keep people interested.

          I’m not against playoffs, but the validity argument is completely circular: “It’s more valid because I say so, and I say so because it’s more valid.”

          Every CFB champion earns it on the field. You can say “more on the field, given more games in a playoff,” but no one lost a final game and got crowned champion.

          The only sport I’ve grown closer to over the years is CFB. All the others are, well, just like all the others. The more CFB looks like the NFL, the less reason to watch.

          • Connor

            What he said. “A champion that has earned it on the field within a set of rules agreed upon in advance” is just as much the definition of the BCS as it is the NFL playoffs or the World Cup.

            • Macallanlover

              True, but less than 2 % of the teams from a field of 120, almost all of which do not closely interact begs for more inclusiveness. I don’t want a third of the teams in a playoff, but 6% with those teams representing larger blocks (conferences) as their champions gives me a decent feel when someone says they are the national champs. Doesn’t mean they are the best, but they have earned the title of NC. 2 teams cannot get that much credibility.

              • Always Someone Else's Fault

                Yes they can. They do it every year.

                “More credibility” seems a heck of an intangible to base this much change within the post-season. Both the “need” for it and the notion that an 8 team format somehow satisfies this “need” is all pure speculation.

                Making a team like Texas in 2005 play extra games so that the sport can have a champion in 2011 on the assumption that X-percent of fans will find the results X-percent more credible, based on yet another assumption that this X-percent enhanced credibility will make the Y-percent more… what, exactly?

                If CFB becomes just another sport waiting for its post-season to start, it’s done. I’m more worried about the credibility of the sport than I am its champion. Those are not the same thing. Related in some years, but ultimately separate.

                I don’t watch NFL games anymore for a simple reason – it’s become a boring, predictable product. So has the NBA and MLB. At some point, you realize that you’re watching the same thing over and over and over again….

                CFB is different every year. You see that as a credibility gap. I see it as the main attraction. I might not LIKE the teams selected to play for it all, but I was glued to the Oklahoma-OSU game wondering how many points they were going to ring up and whether it would be enough to put them over the top. In the new system, I won’t be watching. Won’t matter.

                The B1G and P12 want an 8 team conference champion format for a reason, and it has nothing to do with the State of the Game.

                • Macallanlover

                  You and I aren’t as far apart as you think. I love CFB every bit as much as you, and I can live without a playoff just fine….but I don’t want anyone crowned without earning it. I can’t tell you how many Big 10 teams, PAC 10 teams, and Notre Dame teams were “awarded” titles they would not have earned if not protected by the bowl alliances and weak conference schedules. Yeah, maybe some SEC teams were overrated too (Florida 1996, TN 1998, etc.). While the BCS has improved that situation somewhat, it hasn’t gone as far as necessary to have (almost) total credibility. In my mind that would take 8 teams (probably 6 most any year but I don’t want byes included.)

  3. MGW

    If only Kentucky could have made a kick against Tennessee in 2007.

    • Macallanlover

      Or Vandy, or SC, both of whom had unlikely losses in the closing seconds. We were certainly responsible for our own mistakes that year, but those three finishes/wins for TN were all long shots.

      LSU had too many injuries to beat us in Atlanta that year but got their players back in time for the BCS game. I still wouldn’t have proclaimed a NC for us had we been selected and won because I don’t recognize any CFB D1 national championship claim, but it would have gotten our fan base off CMR, and it would have prevented ESPN from successfully taking control of the polls.

  4. Joe Camel

    Senator, didn’t you recently have a post praising the BCS? Do you realize that the BCS was the start of the playoff implementation? It was/is a 2 team playoff.

    How can you defend the BCS but then criticize a “playoff”? They are one in the same.

    • I think what I said yesterday was that the BCS, though not without flaws, did accomplish some good things.

      You are correct that the BCS is a two-team playoff. I’ve never had a problem with a playoff per se. What I do worry about is playoff expansion.

      Not all playoffs are created equal.

      • Joe Camel

        Gotcha. I agree.

        In the current college football world, I think a playoff somewhere in the range of 4-8 teams is ideal.

  5. Cojones

    Mac has gone straight to the heart of the matter as to subjective and unproven statements driving the numbers game. Pome de Rue to all of the “devalues regular season” and “the next team left out” after a number is reached.

    I have consistently blogged that an 8 team playoff that results from bowl selection winners can take “the next team” off the table because they would have been included in the bowl games. Winners qualify as representative of the best teams in the college picture by achieving their way into the playoff. You get the bowl games along with the enhanced importance that winners will go for the NC. It would promote more bowl attendance to watch your team get into the mix. Losers have no argument.

    Selecting 4 teams instead of 2 is bullshit for the masses. You don’t get rid of the choosing controversy until more teams are in it. Let’um play for it. Currently, the SEC would benefit most if the team numbers were expanded. Inching our way toward a solution is rife for discontent to be slung by malcontents. Why is the logic of 8 bowl champions not the best (and eventual) way the NC will be chosen?

    • Cojones

      I’m aware that the BCS is proposing an end date for college football playoffs. I think they should make room for the possibility of 8 teams playing 3 consecutive weekends in any “end game” time scenarios.

      • Macallanlover

        I can’t agree with the “3 consecutive weekends” provision. Logistically, two weeks is an absolute minimum for fans to be able to enjoy/participate for a relatively special part of a team’s history. It isn’t as significant with 1-AA where they only have a few hundred folks needing to make flight and hotel arrangements. I would say a minimum of 8K traveling fans for round one at a host team stadium, 20-30K for the next round at a bowl site, and the same at a championship venue.

        I also think having two weeks to prepare for a playoff game is needed to ensure maximum quality. Coaching staffs currently spend days/weeks preparing for all teams on the annual schedule, they certainly need a few days of reviewing video to face a top quality opponent in a key game.

        • Cojones

          There is much more to my reply that is not going to be repeated. The objections to weekly games that are raised raised are easily overcome by NFL playoff records. I’ve mentioned home and home for the last two games or preset sites that are centered and neutral and everybody would attend. Coaching staffs are not going to wait until a winner is announced at each level before preparing for teams. They will already have a practice scheme worked out for both teams, either of which could be our opponent.

          In these tough games only attrition from injury will cause changes in O and D schemes each week.

          By the way, the question of playoffs has already been settled . Everyone might as well throw into the thought process to see it accomplished. And I concur that 8 teams is an inevitable and most logical number to placate the amount of objections.

  6. Ready Fire Aim

    They already play for it. The best anyone can do over the history of the BCS is argue that in some years, 1 deserving team got left out. USC. Auburn. Oklahoma State last year. It happens, but we can stop arguing that that the system was a total farce. It was imperfect. The next system wil be imperfect. But it wil be “new,” and we always assume in this country that means it must be better – unilt we realize it isn’t, and then we will have to have “new” again. Brilliant.

    Basketball is a different sport – one guy can turn an average starting 5 into a Sweet Sixteen contender. But watching a team like UNC see its championship hopes go down the tubes because they have to play freaking Creighton is a joke. I wanted to see Kentucky play the best teams, but I would argue they avoided that this year on the way to their “won it on the court” championship.

    An 8 team tournament is a bad idea. It basically means a championship team plays a minimum of 16 games and perhaps 17. It waters down the sport considerably and goes that much further towards making the post-season a critical-injury crap shoot.

  7. Cosmic Dawg

    I can’t believe I’m about to do this – like adding a spoons player to the Redcoat band…

    > Reduce the regular season to 9 games + conference championships…so 10 games for some.

    > Use the average of AP + computer rankings for the top twenty playoff spots.

    > Any conference winners from major conferences who are not already on the list get an automatic bid.

    > Let the coaches cast ballots for any remaining spots, up to 32.

    > The first round of 32 teams and second round of 16 teams is played at the home field of the highest seeds, making the regular season relevant and bringing back some revenue for those schools to make up for a shorter season.

    > Bowl games are represented at rounds 8 / 4 / 2 = 14 bowl games. Structure the rounds to best represent tradition (ie there will always be an SEC team in round three with 8 teams, so put the Sugar Bowl there).

    > The first (32) and second (16) round of playoffs includes a partial revenue share that is distributed among all major conference teams to somewhat compensate for lost revenue due to the slightly shorter season.

    You guys should have told me you were having a problem, I would have handled this sooner…;)

    • Cojones

      Since schedules are set some 3-5 yrs ahead, keep the present scheduling and pair teams from the top 8 with the next 8 ranked in the bowl games. Winners of the top 8 bowls will be in the playoffs.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        Hey, I like that! Lots more football, don’t know if they’d go for it, though…

        • Cojones

          I like posting an idea over and over because the fallacies we never see in our ideas can best be addressed by more knowledgeable minds. No one has taken a shot at it and I thought an upwelling of posts would shoot it down. Never happened.