Daily Archives: August 20, 2007

Chicken Little and the egg: impact of the new kickoff rule

The new kickoff rule has certainly generated its share of panic, alarm and bad physics.

For a look at the real world experience from ’05 and ’06 of kickoffs from the 30, see this post. Just remember, as the author notes, it’s from a fairly small statistical sample.

The data from the past two seasons does not point to big effect on the game from this new rule. However, I’m not willing to rule it out because of the small sample sizes. I do wonder about the impact of the new rule becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many coaches are so concerned about the rule that they will implement changes in strategy and personnel on return teams starting with the first game, before the real effects are determined. These coaching decisions alone could be enough to affect the kickoffs and returns. Perhaps the coaches will take a wait-and-see approach.

(h/t The Wizard of Odds)


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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

The million dollar date

I only hope for that price, they serve wine with the meal.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

Your Monday Steeleoid

After Mississippi State opens against LSU, it gets an OOC game, then it goes to Auburn for the Tigers’ SEC opener. It looks like MSU will be sick and tired of Tigers when that game is over:

Auburn has won their SEC opener 14 years in a row. The Tigers have won 6 in a row vs. Miss. St. including back-to-back shutouts.

Mississippi St. has lost 7 consecutive SEC road openers avg. loss by 33 points.

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Filed under Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football

Go your own way.

This meme going around that college football can say “screw it” to the Pac-10, Big Ten and the Rose Bowl if they don’t want to go along with the brave new world of college playoffs because sooner or later outraged fans and lost opportunities will make them see reason and force them to go along – cited by Bernie Machen and Tony Barnhart, among others – just doesn’t strike me as being as credible a threat as its proponents believe it to be.

First of all, this concept of the all-powerful fanbase that can bring the decision makers to their knees about playoffs strikes me as overblown. I don’t know anyone who’s passionate about college football that likes D-1 schools playing powderpuff games against 1-AA opponents, but I don’t see those games going the way of the dodo any time soon, do you? (Not to mention the fact that most polls show college football fans favor a playoff, yet that support doesn’t seem to have translated into any pressure to date to change the BCS mode into a full blown playoff set up.)

But let’s skip over that point for the sake of argument. Exactly what is it that people think the Pac-10, Big Ten and the Rose Bowl will be missing if they don’t elect to join the playoff setup in the first place?

To get my point here, take a look at the top five teams (in order) in the last regular season polls over the previous five seasons:

  • 2002 – Miami, Ohio State, Iowa, Georgia and Southern Cal.
  • 2003 – Oklahoma, Southern Cal, LSU, Michigan and Georgia.
  • 2004 – Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Auburn, California and Texas. (Michigan was the highest rated Big Ten team at #12.)
  • 2005 – Southern Cal, Texas, Penn State, Ohio State and Oregon.
  • 2006 – Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, LSU and Wisconsin. (Southern Cal was the highest rated Pac-10 team at #7).

Notice a pattern there? In the absence of the BCS, the Rose Bowl would have hosted a #1 or a #2 ranked team every year. The worst matchup it would have had during that time would have been a #1 versus a #12 in 2004 – the year that USC was clearly the most dominant team in college football. Are we really supposed to think these games would have generated enough fan displeasure to force the conferences’ hands? Or that the conferences themselves would be unhappy about the outcome? I’m not seeing it.

And don’t forget the BCS, or whatever they’d have called it, comes off much weaker, because, after all, it never gets a #1 versus #2 matchup during that period. That’s some improvement. And that’s hardly conducive to more money being paid out over time – one of Bernie’s big selling points.

As long as USC, Ohio State and Michigan are likely top five teams at season’s end, the Pac-10, Big Ten and the Rose Bowl are looking at a fairly idle threat from their perspective. Anyone care to guess when they can quit yawning?

Brushing them off won’t work. It’s a strategy doomed to failure. Worse, it’s likely to create bad blood between the conference commissioners. (We’ve all seen how well Jim Delany responds to adverse situations.)

Standard caveat: this isn’t a post about why playoffs are bad. But insisting on a playoff structure built upon unsupported assumptions seems foolish at best. A strategy of “take it or leave it” has led to any number of unfortunate consequences in other leagues, in other sports. I’d truly hate to see college football make that same mistake.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs