This brings new meaning to the expression “game ball”.
(h/t The Wishbone)
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.
There’s an interesting quote from Matthew Stafford in yesterday’s Athens Banner-Herald. In discussing the ups and downs of all the new players on the offensive line, he said
“I know they’re going to make mistakes just like I am trying to learn this new offense,” he said. “We’ll gel, get together and it will be a lot better.”
By “new offense”, is he simply referring to those teammates who’ve never played in Athens before, or does he mean that Coach Bobo is making some substantive changes in the offensive scheme from what Mark Richt ran previously?
So where did T. Boone Pickens get the idea to insure some elderly Oklahoma State boosters for the benefit of the football program?
… After learning that some churches were generating revenue from life insurance policies that had been purchased for aging members, Pickens floated the concept to Holder, a fellow alumnus who served for decades as golf coach before being named athletics director in 2005.
Don’t worry – it’s a carefully considered program.
… Oklahoma State’s donors were selected because their age, gender and health “best matched the university’s needs,” said John Lee, chairman of Dallas-based Management Compensation Group, which is managing the insurance program. To put it less delicately, the donors selected are expected to die in a timely manner to generate the $250-million payout.
… Only two of the prospective donors hung up when Larry Reece, Oklahoma State’s executive director of major gifts and development, broached the subject.
Only two. Well done, my man!
No word yet on whether Oklahoma State is looking at a new Cowboys mascot…
Pickens has prided himself on being a trend setter. This project is no different.
… Mark Mallady, executive vice president of Collegiate Financial Services, a Williamsburg, Va.-based firm, agrees that other college athletic department fundraisers soon will be working the phones.
“Their thinking is that ‘we’ve got donors giving us millions of dollars each year,’ ” he said. “But what happens when the donors die? Is there a plan or a policy to replace what they’ve been giving?”
Pickens concurred: “You will see other [similar] deals in the near future” at other nonprofit organizations.
Does this give anyone at the school the creeps? Let’s just say Mr. Reece is very clear-eyed about his mission:
“I’m not going to say that the response has been all positive,” Reece said. “But we believe that athletics is the front porch of the university. That’s how you advertise nationally. Right, wrong or indifferent, you don’t see the science bowl on ABC. You see the Cotton Bowl and the Final Four.”
If this is what goes on on the front porch at OSU, I’d hate to see what they’re cooking up in the basement…
(h/t The Wizard of Odds)
So how were the Florida Gators able to win the MNC this year?
It depends on who you ask, I suppose. Jim Delany, Big 10 commish, would point to lax academic standards in recruiting certain types of players as the key. Other Big 10 supporters found that Florida had a scheduling advantage over the Buckeyes.
But the Gator coaches tell a different story. According to head coach Urban Meyer,
“I think the fastest team wins nine out of 10 times if the fundamentals are equal and everything else. That’s how we recruit and why we do what we do.”
And co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison actually took the novel approach of preparing his kids for their opponent (something his Ohio State counterpart could stand a few pointers on):
In his presentation, Mattison noted the predictability of the Ohio State offense. For instance, of the 90 sets he scouted in which the Buckeyes had two backs and a tight end, they ran 80 times.
The week of the game, Mattison’s wife, Ann, asked their son Bryan – who will be a senior defensive end and captain at Iowa this fall, and had sat in on Florida’s film sessions – whether the Gators were outmatched.
The answer, according to Greg Mattison: “No, I think they’re going to kick the crap out of them, because dad’s defense was calling out plays before they’d run them.”
(h/t SEC Blog – The FanHouse)
This doesn’t strike me as a good development:
… Saturday was meant for college football — or so it seemed. Those days are being challenged by move to play college games on weekday nights.
We’ve seen a number of games played on Thursday nights in recent years. A few schools are even playing on Friday nights. Now, the move is to Tuesday, something only typically seen during the bowl season.
And, in my opinion, it’s a bad idea.
Central Michigan and Western Michigan are scheduled to play their annual game in 2007 on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Kalamazoo. A Tuesday night? Yes, that’s right.
What used to be a great Saturday afternoon of football between CMU and WMU is now going to be a great Tuesday night of college football. That doesn’t even sound right, does it?
One guess as to the moving force:
… The game is going to be played on Tuesday night because — drum roll, please — it’s going to be aired on ESPN2. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. TV dictates what happens in college football (the big money-maker for athletics’ programs), and for schools like WMU and CMU, they’re doing this for the paycheck and college football’s most overused term “exposure.”
From an otherwise bland interview in today’s Post and Courier (Charleston) comes this:
What side of the BCS/playoff debate are you on?
”If you want to name a true national champion, you have to have a playoff. But is that in the best interest of college football?
I’m not so sure.”
What’s right with the current system?
”It still gets an awful lot of teams involved. Even though there’s a lot of bowl games, it gets a lot of teams and players involved.
We have the best regular season of any sport in the world because any game can literally cost you a national championship. The regular season game between Southern Cal and Notre Dame a couple of years ago – that was exciting and it meant a lot. But if there’s a playoff system, at the end of the game, the players walk off the field thinking all right, we’ll see you again down the road. It would diminish the importance of each game.”
SI.com‘s Tom Verducci, in discussing the current state of baseball in the context of winning championships, writes that
2. The postseason is a crapshoot.
Yes, Billy Beane was right. But he’s even more right about it as the years go on. Again, this goes back to a larger pool of quality teams. To borrow from the NCAA, as the talent gap shrinks between the No. 1 seed and the No. 4 seed the more likely the possibility of an “upset.”
Here’s how much things have changed: In all postseason series from 1995 (the start of the wild-card era) through 1999, the team that won the greater number of regular-season games came out on top 52.5 percent of the time (21-19).
But from 2000 to ’06, the team with more regular-season victories won only 36.2 percent of postseason series (17-30). [Emphasis added.]
3. The best team doesn’t win.
Greatness need not be a requisite for a world title. Chew on this: Of the past seven world champions, only one finished in first place with more than 92 regular-season wins [Emphasis added.] — the 2005 White Sox (and they didn’t even make the playoffs the next season). Of the other six world champions, three were second-place teams and the other three posted 83, 87 and 92 regular-season wins.
Think about that for a minute. The regular baseball season is a 162 game marathon, with teams scheduled to play numerous times against their divisional and league rivals. If any regular season is set up to produce a good picture of who the superior teams are, that’s it.
Nevertheless, regular season mediocrity is rewarded in baseball’s postseason on a recurring basis. Indeed, it happens frequently enough to be characterized as the rule rather than the exception. And baseball doesn’t use a single elimination format in its playoffs.
If that’s what happens with professional baseball, imagine what an enlarged playoff structure, combined with a single elimination requirement (March Madness, in other words), would do for D-1 football – “any given Saturday”, and all that.
“The postseason is a crapshoot.” I know some people (OK, lots of people) think that’s a worthy goal and love the excitement of the underdog pulling the upset, but is that worth the price of diminishing the significance of the best regular season on the planet?
There has to be more to what makes someone passionate about following a sport than filling out a bracket sheet.
(h/t Braves & Birds – The Atlanta Sports Blog)