Daily Archives: May 7, 2008

A mock-free Mandel Mailbag

There’s something vaguely disappointing about a Mandel Mailbag in which I can’t find a comment or two to mock, but it happens now and then.

In today’s Mailbag, he makes two valid points about fan attitudes regarding the BCS/playoff debate. First,

What drives me absolutely bonkers, however, is that no matter how many articles (or books) have written about this subject, no matter how detailed an explanation we provide, there is still a large segment of the public that continues to make blanket assumptions about what’s best for the sport without taking the time to truly digest the issues behind this “rediculosity.”

To which he adds…

If I had any pull with the folks at Gallup (and if they weren’t so preoccupied with this whole election thing), there’s a public-opinion survey I’d love to see them undertake. A whole host of largely unscientific polls have shown there’s about a 70-30 split among sports fans between those who want to see college football go to a playoff and those who don’t. I don’t doubt that to be the case.

But what I want to know is, among that 70 percent, how many are diehard college football fans, and how many are more general sports fans who follow college football no more closely, if not less, than they do baseball, the NFL or the NBA? My entirely unfounded theory is that it would be much closer to 50-50 among the diehards because they’re more apt to recognize exactly what I described above.

Mandel isn’t arguing against a four team playoff here – quite the contrary, he states that he favors it – nor demeaning its proponents. What he’s complaining about is how easily those folks are willing to dismiss the motives behind an opposing viewpoint. And while he quickly acknowledges that some of the reasons don’t hold much water, he notes one serious argument that shouldn’t be easily dismissed.

… Quite simply, college football’s leaders universally believe that the regular season is more important than the postseason.

When the commissioners spoke last week of the BCS’ “good health,” they did so in the context that it’s been an immeasurable boon to the season as a whole, as evidenced by rising attendance and TV ratings. If there’s one thing the commissioners made abundantly clear last week, it’s their belief that a gripping, 12-week regular season with an often-unsatisfying finish is still preferable to a fool-proof postseason that risks devaluing the 12 weeks before it.

I know a lot of people don’t buy that argument, but look at college basketball. Each year, at the beginning of the season, many of the best teams in the country square off in various preseason tourneys (the NIT, the Maui Invitational, etc.) — and only the most diehard fans pay any attention to it.

Meanwhile, on Sept. 13, USC will play Ohio State in football, and the entire country will be watching. The same game would take on far less significance were there to be a full-on playoff. As long as both teams ended up winning their conference (or finishing high enough in the rankings), the result would have no effect on anything. And remember, most major athletic departments are funded primarily by football revenue, chiefly home ticket sales. As soon as fans start tuning out those early-season games (and they would), there goes the cross-country team. [Emphasis added.]

Take note, John Feinstein.

Mandel doesn’t think the plus-one would cause that kind of damage, but is willing to concede that the “camel’s nose in the tent” argument about expanded playoffs is credible.

Hard to argue with that…


UPDATE: Well, not if you’re Matt Zemek, who poses this question to college football fans in urging a BCS boycott: Do you really want your sport to become healthy…

By “health”, he means “national championship playoff”. He grudgingly concedes that there might be another way to look at the well-being of the BCS, though.

… When Swofford proclaimed the patient to be healthy, he was right in a certain, narrow sense. The BCS, after all, is indeed filling the coffers of the conferences with loads of cash. The bowls are lucrative. TV eats them up. Profits are being made in the current setup. So yes, in that sense, the BCS is healthier than ever.

Yeah, there is that.


UPDATE #2: A summary of the cons to both sides of the argument is laid out at Garnet and Black Attack.  I could pick nits with a few of his points (the NCAA has had a D-1 basketball tourney since 1939, which I wouldn’t call a recent development, for what it’s worth), but overall it’s pretty well done.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

Coaching ’em up

Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

— Timbuk 3, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”

It was just a couple of months ago that Doug Jolley over at Scout’s South Carolina site was extolling the virtues of the Gamecocks’ special admissions policy. Everyone in the article was handing out bouquets, particularly to the wise and far-seeing athletic director, Eric Hyman.

… USC Senior Associate Athletic Director Val Sheley said, “When (Athletic Director) Eric (Hyman) first came in here, he could not believe how good the academic credentials were of our Special Admits. ‘These are Special Admits?’ he asked, and I explained to him that they’re not at-risk kids. He said, ‘That’s crazy – these kids should not be Special Admits.’ So from that day, we started looking into the whole process, which was pretty cumbersome. He championed it the whole time. Eric does things very thoughtfully, thoroughly and transparently.”

Well, the NCAA released its annual APR report yesterday. Care to guess which institution was one of only four BCS schools (h/t The Wizard of Odds) that had both its football and men’s basketball programs in the bottom ten of the APR rankings?

… USF was one of four BCS programs that had football and men’s basketball programs with both teams among the lowest 10 APR scores in each sport. The others: Mississippi State, Purdue and South Carolina.

And this despite the assurance, straight from the horse’s mouth, that the institution is on top of things with these kids.

… USC Athletic Director Eric Hyman also talked about the new system. “If a person is very marginal academically, there are stricter guidelines. Those stricter guidelines are called a Contract Admit. That athlete needs close guidance and monitoring; they need to have better focus.”

Jolley’s last point sounds pretty clueless in the wake of these numbers.

… At Clemson, Georgia, and South Carolina, the methods of getting the student-athletes in school may vary, but the objectives are the same – to produce winners on the field and in the classroom. How successful they are in getting those athletes into their respective schools has a direct impact on how successful they are against each other on the playing field.

Getting them in is only half the battle, sport. Keeping them enrolled and progressing towards a degree is how you win this war.  Though we should give the devil his due here.  Hyman was thoughtful and thorough enough to obtain a waiver from the NCAA for the APR scores, which were below the mandated minimum.

By the way, Georgia’s APR ranked in the top three in the SEC for both men’s basketball and football. The football number looks particularly impressive, given the company it’s keeping:

Football BCS Top 10 APRs
1. Stanford 986
2 (tie). Duke 977
2 (tie). Rutgers 977
4. Boston College 972
5 (tie). Miami 969
5 (tie). Notre Dame 969
5 (tie). Northwestern 969
8. California 967
9. Georgia 965
10 (tie). Penn State 964
10 (tie). Wake Forest 964


Filed under Academics? Academics.

How come nobody told me yesterday was a holiday?

Judging from the headlines, it must have been National Stereotype Day.

Just consider a few of these stories:

  • “Party on, Wayne”. Georgia spends around $2.2 million for a week at the Sugar Bowl, more than $320 thousand over budget. Only about $164 thousand was spent on the players. You can guess where much of the rest was spent. Money (heh) quote from Michael Adams: “It’s a work week for me.” Yeah, sure.
  • They don’t call it the death penalty for nothing. That $2.2 million sure would come in handy at SMU, where the athletic department has racked up a staggering $56.7 million deficit over the past four years and is expected to lose even larger amounts of money in the next two years. This comes decades after receiving the harshest penalties in NCAA history and should make every ‘Bama fan realize something along the lines of “there but for the grace of God…”
  • Jerimy Finch, we hardly knew ye. If this doesn’t reinforce the perception many have of Urban Meyer’s recruiting philosophy, I don’t know what will: Finch was a surprise in the 2007 recruiting class for Urban Meyer, who noticed his name on a Web site as an Indiana commitment. Meyer talked to Finch’s high school coach and decided to offer a scholarship to the free safety. Keep in mind, this from a guy who’s complained about the so-called Saban rule that cuts back on head coaching contact with recruits in the spring. By the way, Finch can’t figure out how to play defense at Florida, broke his leg… and is gone, gone, gone.
  • Harold and Kumar go to Georgia Tech. Joe Hamilton continues the tradition. Somewhere, Ruben Houston is smiling ruefully.


Filed under College Football, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Michael Adams Wants To Rule The World