Myles Brand, diplomatically speaking

Myles Brand does a Q & A with the Houston Chronicle which has a couple of interesting exchanges.

First, on the “P” word:

Q: What do you see as the major issues against having a college football playoff in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A)?

A: I’m not inside those discussions, but let me give you my best sense of the matter. I think those (school) presidents take very seriously the regular season. They don’t want to, in any way, threaten the regular season and turn football into a tournament sport. Basketball is a tournament sport. They want to put the emphasis on the Saturday rivalries. That’s where the fans show the most interest. They are very much concerned about moving toward an NFL-type playoff system.

Carefully phrased. He is honest in acknowledging that college basketball has become a tournament sport and that college football currently isn’t one. What he doesn’t say is whether he or the NCAA takes the position that it would be a bad thing if college football became a tournament sport at some future time.

Then there’s this on college athletics revenues:

Q: Only six Division I programs are making money. How long can this go on?

A: I don’t know how long. Presidents’ lives are short — 4 1/2 for a public university and 6 1/2 for a private university. So presidents turn over. Eventually, you may get another group that thinks differently, so you can’t forever go forward with this. I don’t know if it will change. I don’t think in the near run it will. I don’t think there is as much money in (a football playoff) as people think. [Emphasis added.] A lot of the revenues are coming in through ticket sales and TV contracts on the regular season. I think you’re going to continue to see good TV contracts in the regular season. If you had a playoff, what would the size of those regular-season contracts be?

Q: How do you subsidize those programs? Is that through tuition fee increases?

A: It’s OK to subsidize intercollegiate athletics. If intercollegiate athletics was like the professionals, we would only have one, at most two, sports. … The reason why in college sports they are having to subsidize is because there are teams over and above those revenue-producing teams. Ohio State has 38 sports; we require 16 sports. Very few (schools) have that few. They are all losing money except perhaps a couple of revenue sports. Why do we do that? Why are we engaged in tennis and golf? Tennis is not going to make any money. But why do we do it? We do it because we believe to our bones that intercollegiate athletics participation provides educational value to the student-athletes; it improves the quality of their education and their experience in school…

The highlighted comment was the biggest surprise in the article. And if Brand’s logic is accurate, it reinforces my belief that once the process to expand D-1 football playoffs begins, it’s going to be an enormously tricky job to find the sweet spot where the postseason doesn’t negatively impact the monetary value of the regular season. If it’s missed, then it will lead to a race to the bottom, as the powers that be will have no choice but to maximize the postseason revenue (i.e., further playoff expansion) in order to make up for the lost regular season money. The big losers in that will be the BCS conferences and Notre Dame.

And notice that he didn’t answer the second question there. Instead he dismissed the concern over subsidies and segued into a noble statement about intercollegiate athletics participation. Nice sentiments, but if it’s “OK to subsidize intercollegiate athletics”, why was Brand ringing the alarm bell about spending on athletics a few days ago?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, The NCAA

3 responses to “Myles Brand, diplomatically speaking

  1. Thomas Brown

    The crowds are the same for the NFL regular season games, as they are for the NFL playoffs. No different whatsoever.

    Regular season games, especially if it can be shown to be beneficial to more than just Big 10 and Pac-10 Ohio State and Southern California, will become even more of a big game and big draw.

    Right now, if you are from a conference that has 1 football program like Southern California is in the Pac-10 or like Ohio State is in the Big 10, then your football games against their Opponent that week is more amplified than just won/lost record against cupcakes and creampuff powder-puff “opponents.”

    For example last season’s NCAA Number 73 Strength of Schedule for Southern California and Number 38 SoS for Ohio State (This includes their BCS Game Opponent.) would have to stand on the merits of those wuss opponents.

    Their won/loss record would not mean as much as who in the blazes they beat who were in fact Top 25 teams.

    Then, they would want to play a Championship Game in those conferences like the Pac-10 and the Big 10. Then, another team would actually become good in those conferences. Then, the winner of that game would actually be able to put up a game against all the other conferences who do have Championship Games.

    The regular season games would be even more meaningful. Bigger Games. More important games.

    All that matters right now is can the Big 10 and Pac-10 top team go undefeated. If they can, then they are in the NCAA BCS National Title game, no matter who in the hell it is they actually did beat.

    I hardly think that Ohio State beating 1 ranked team all season long and that 1 team Wisconsin who in turn beat no ranked team all season long, qualified Ohio State to play LSU last season who beat who Number 1, Number 3, Number 12, Number 16 and Number 23.

    The facts of the matter are that all those 5 wins by LSU last season over Top 25 teams were in games that basically everyone out West and everyone up North hoped would cause LSU to lose those 5 games instead, and keep LSU out of the NCAA BCS National Championship Game in favor of some 1 team conference like Southern California with no conference championship game and no good win all season long last year.

    And, it would have. But, LSU won all 5 of those games to the chagrin of Southern California with their NCAA SoS Number 73.

    Click to access ia_9games_cumm.pdf

    It’s frustrating to be stonewalled by fans of college football programs who play nothing but cupcakes, don’t want to have to play a conference championship game, and want instead to talk about the integrity of the regular season and how that integrity of the regular season should not be watered down by having to actually beat good teams to be national champion.

    It’s a beauty contest right now. Go undefeated in a conference of but 1 team, have no conference championship, beat no Top 25 team, and play for the NCAA BCS National Championship.

    All this will end, just as soon Bluto as someone reads your posts here on this topic daily and sees that the answer lies with the Plus One +1. Any watering down of the Plus One +1 to an 8-team playoff will ruin fixing this.

    The fix is that Ohio State NEVER gets to play in the NCAA BCS National Championship Game against the likes of Florida the year before or LSU last year – neither of which did they have any damn business of being in. Obviously.

    Level the playing field.

    Give more than just the Pac-10 and Big 10 one-team conferences an opportunity to be in fact the champion of this sport because we all know that the Big 10 and Pac-10 have but 1 team, that they purposely don’t want to have to play a conference championship, that they purposely don’t want to have to beat Top 25 teams, and that all they care about is preserving their precious won/loss record – saying that they are a BCS Conference and went undefeated.

    When the beauty contest is to go undefeated, this is what you get.

    A mess. A universally admitted mess.

    How in the living hell can you have any sport, especially one this wildly popular, and not know who the champion of this sport any year is ? Let their body of work that season speak for itself on the field of play, as a beauty contest clearly doesn’t work when Ohio State and Southern California are doing everything they can to keep things status quo because it is in their own best interests. Give someone else a chance. Ohio State has proved it does not work as it is today; they prove it every stinking year. Ohio State would NEVER have beaten any of the Top 10 teams in the nation in any bowl game anywhere anytime, half of whom last season were SEC Teams : The Ohio State has NEVER beaten an SEC Team in Any Bowl Game Any Year, Ever.

    Don’t fool yourself that this is not about the most powerful collegiate football conference. That is all this is about. Giving weenie one-team conferences an opportunity to say they had a better won/loss record and did it against an NCAA BCS Conference too. Clearly, Florida the year before and LSU last season again, did belong in the NCAA BCS National Championship Game and just as obviously, Ohio State did not either year.

    Plus One +1 would have fixed Ohio State’s fannies both the last 2 seasons and counting. Give someone else a chance.


  2. MJ

    Thomas Brown wrote:

    “It’s frustrating to be stonewalled by fans of college football programs who play nothing but cupcakes, don’t want to have to play a conference championship game, and want instead to talk about the integrity of the regular season and how that integrity of the regular season should not be watered down by having to actually beat good teams to be national champion.”

    With due respect, Thomas, who pays for state university football teams to travel around the nation in the name of playing a tougher schedule?

    The answer is students and taxpayers.

    I am no fan of the BCS, but playoff advocates have completely forgotten two things.

    First, the sports programs are increasingly subsidized by students and taxpayers in the name of competitiveness. Considering that student borrowing (and default rates) are at an all-time high in this country, what are the merits of jacking up competitiveness to a higher level? Is it because the guy sitting on his duff at home says he wants to see more games?

    Second, despite skyrocketing revenues, only a handful of athletic departments show a profit while managing to keep the primary performers (the players) unpaid. Do you think raising the level of competitiveness is going to fix that?

    Playoff advocates simply do not look at the ethics involved with continuing along this path, nor do they acknowledge that college athletics are not solely funded by private money. The fact is, the BCS has created a financial treadmill that is detrimental to most schools and a playoff would simply speed up the treadmill.

    This, along with tax-exempt status of athletic departments, is why the issue has landed in the U.S. House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees.

    It seems odd that playoff advocates fail to recognize there are many more stakeholders than the guy sitting at home watching the game with a beer in his hand.


  3. “How in the living hell can you have any sport, especially one this wildly popular, and not know who the champion of this sport any year is ?”

    I don’t understand this obsession with having everything wrapped up in a pretty little package. What’s wrong with a little controversy or gray area? Do you lose sleep at night because you don’t know who the definite champion is amongst 120 college teams of 18-22 year old amatuer athletes?