Ooh, baby – an Experts (yeah, that’s with a capital “E”) Roundtable on CFN with such luminaries as Dennis Dodd and Stewart Mandel (evidently, Tom Dienhart couldn’t escape from the Zooker’s basement in time) participating in a wide ranging discussion about college football could be a recipe for disaster, but actually doesn’t come off badly at all.
A few of the highlights and lowlights that caught my eye:
- ESPN’s Joe Schad drives me crazy when he argues for a four team playoff. Again, it’s not the proposal itself that upsets me, it’s the breezy assurance that it’ll all work out because we’re all reasonable people, even the ones who gave Nick Saban a $4 million per year contract: “I respect the value of preserving the importance of college football’s unique regular season. But this will not dilute the significance of it. Delany and others believe opening the gate with a four team postseason would inevitably lead to an 8 and then 16 team playoff. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think most reasonable people believe at the end of any given season, only four teams deserve a true shot at a national championship.”
- CFN’s Pete Fiutak’s shopping list of how to improve the BCS is good. Really good: “First, I’d make strength of schedule a huge, huge factor. That would put the pressure on the better teams to play better non-conference games. Second, I’d diminish the importance of the human polls. More on that later. Third, I’d make a rule that only conference champions can play for the national title. I can’t believe I have to fight so many people on the fact that if you’re not good enough to win your conference, technically, you shouldn’t deserve to win the national title. It’s a surprisingly tough concept to grab for our playoff-loving nation. Fourth, I’d eliminate the automatic bids. If you’re in the top ten, you’re in. And finally, to keep this in the realm of the realistic (as opposed to a full-blown playoff system that won’t happen for the foreseeable future), I’d go with the plus-one format. If you want a big playoff so badly, then cancel the regular season, come up with one big playoff, and then you have what you really want. Outside of the NFL, to a lesser extent, no other sport has a regular season that matters. College football has to preserve that, but it also needs a better way of coming up with a champion.”
- Fiutak also nails the problem with the polls: “The polls. I can’t stress this point enough; the coaches have no clue about the ins and outs of college football beyond their own conferences. How many ACC coaches can name three Oregon State Beavers? Who’s the starting quarterback for Boise State? How good is the Georgia Tech linebacking corps compared to the Texas Tech corps? The coaches are too busy to know the answers to any of these questions, yet it’s their poll, along with the Harris Poll, that’s basically deciding the national championship.During the season, forget about it. The coaches don’t have time to watch any games outside of their own. Do you really believe Bobby Bowden sits down to watch that big TCU – BYU game after his Noles play? Like Jeff Tedford spends the morning of gameday analyzing all the ACC showdowns. College football needs to set up a committee, like the one that puts together the NCAA basketball tournament pairings, to do nothing but watch, debate, and analyze the teams on a full-time basis, and then have them rank accordingly…”
- Stewart Mandel’s suggestion for the one on the field change that needs to be made doesn’t exactly rock my world. “Eliminate, or, at the very least, loosen up the excessive-celebration rule on touchdowns.”
- The entire panel makes good points about what they consider to be the most overrated aspect of college football, but the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein gets off the best one liner: “Well, after seeing Michigan and Ohio State get spanked in their bowl games, the Big Ten has to wear it.”
- Mandel, of all people (although Fiu echoes him), gets one thing very right. In talking about the most underrated aspect of college football, he’s got this to say: “The regular season. With all the time and energy spent every year debating the BCS and postseason format, I don’t think we appreciate nearly enough just how unique and dramatic those 12 or 13 weeks really are…”
- Greenstein, in answer to where the game will be in ten years, gets off the Roundtable’s second best one liner, too: “Nick Saban, who will have left Alabama to return to LSU only to go to Auburn, will make $12 million a year…”
- The low point comes with the responses to the last question, an invitation to critique the fans. They all come off as condescending, even when they’re making a fair point.