Who knows? Maybe this guy is on to something.
Daily Archives: March 27, 2007
Well, it looks like Bernie Machen is laying his cards on the table a little more openly than I originally thought, based on this absurd post at TBO.com.
As University of Florida basketball players cut down the nets at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, UF president Bernie Machen let his imagination run wild. Can you picture, someone asked Machen, this scene on a football field?”Exactly,” Machen said. “I mean, c’mon. Take this, adapt it and blow it up. Think of what it would be like.”
It is a pretty tantalizing possibility, a Division I-A football tournament designed to capture the same magic as March Madness. If Machen’s fellow presidents will listen, it could happen sooner than you might think.
Just imagine it. Replace forward Corey Brewer with receiver Percy Harvin. Replace Florida’s regional final opponent (Oregon) with Michigan. Replace Florida’s national semifinal opponent (UCLA) with Texas. Replace Florida’s potential national final opponents (Georgetown and Ohio State) with Southern California and LSU. OK, maybe you can leave Ohio State…
This is the best, though:
March Madness is the most perfectly conceived sporting event since the World Cup. [Emphasis added.] It plays to our love of the underdog. It plays to our love of rare, intersectional matchups. Gamblers love it, and though the NCAA wishes they didn’t, it is more than happy to take their eyeballs on the telecast so it may demand more money from CBS, which in turn charges higher advertising rates.
From reading this, you almost get the impression that no one is really that interested in college football these days, at least not in the way that the entire world is captivated by college basketball. (Nevermind that a bunch of us were tuned in to the BCS title game. There was probably nothing else on the tube that night to watch but reruns, anyway.)
Along the same line, we get treated to all sorts of unsubstantiated assertions, like this one –
If big-time college basketball determined its champion the way college football does, fewer people would watch.
and this one –
If the NCAA braintrust is smart – and it has offered precious little proof of that to this point – it would create a 16-team football tournament, played over four weeks, that included the 11 conference champions and five at-large teams.
The first time No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee upset second-seeded Michigan in a first-round game, the nation would be hooked. CBS pays the NCAA $545 million a year to televise the men’s basketball tournament. By its second contract, a football tournament would command a $1 billion rights fee.
and, finally, this one:
A football tournament would captivate the nation in a way the guys in the hideous bowl blazers never dreamed. It wouldn’t destroy the bowls, either. The tournament couldn’t handle more than 16 teams.
There’s also the delusional part:
… Only a few dozen athletic departments – Florida is one – operate in the black. More money from the NCAA means less that gets billed to taxpayers and fewer complaints from the faculty about buying blocking sleds instead of test tubes.
Understand that none – absolutely none – of this is borne out by the current numbers. Also understand that the formula used to distribute the money will change radically once the postseason falls under the control of the NCAA. Does the author not realize that Middle Tennessee (and what about Middle Tennessee’s conference?) would expect a bigger piece of the pie under the new and improved format? Or that, just as has occurred in college basketball, more schools will gravitate towards D-1 in order to stake their claims to a piece of that pie?
I know, I know – don’t confuse him with the facts.
Especially when he’s already come up with such a nifty nickname for a D-1 playoff:
Machen understands this. That’s why he believes we’ll have a chance to enjoy March Madness and a December to Remember.
The cockles of my heart are warmed. Truly…
So – University of Florida President Bernie Machen is getting his wish:
University of Florida president Bernie Machen said Sunday that he and his fellow Southeastern Conference presidents will discuss his proposal for a college football playoff at the conference’s spring meetings in Destin in May.
Machen said the fact that other presidents are receptive to discussing a playoff is a major step forward for those who want to see a Division I-A football national champion determined in the same fashion as all of the NCAA’s other team sports.
“I could never get anybody to talk to me before,” Machen said as he celebrated the Florida basketball team’s Elite Eight win against Oregon at the Edward Jones Dome. “Now we’re talking.”
Machen, you may recall, is a staunch advocate of a D-1 playoff. He describes himself as an “incrementalist” when it comes to instituting a playoff, which, when you get down to it, is just a way to avoid describing the format he’d like to see implemented in its final version.
SEC commish Mike Slive, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be able to say even that much about a D-1 football playoff, although he does seem to be willing at least to consider a discussion about some sort of “plus one” championship format. I just don’t have the impression that that’s where Machen wants things to wind up.
So how far down the road does this discussion in Destin go? Probably not very far to start with:
“I don’t even necessarily anticipate any decision in Destin,” Slive said. “[The presidents] know that the whole issue down the road is not that far away. We want to be thinking about it with adequate time to make sure that we evaluate everything that’s important.”
Sounds like committee time, doesn’t it? What comes out of that is anyone’s guess – remember the aphorism “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” – but the key is likely to be who decides who gets to be a part of the decision making process.
It’s not likely to be pretty, in any event. The idea that someone like Michael Adams may be involved in the evolution of college football’s postseason isn’t the most comforting thought I’ve had recently. And don’t forget that whatever differences these guys may have about a playoff, they’re all going to be in agreement about making sure that whatever course of action is recommended protects their turf.