Daily Archives: May 20, 2008

The coaches’ poll and credibility

Hey, I’m not the one saying this:

“I would like to see coaches not have a vote,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We would have a panel like the one that chooses the 65 teams in basketball.”

That’s what ails the BCS — credibility. Every coach participating in the American Football Coaches Association poll has a vested interest. The Harris poll has some credible voters but not enough. As Brown said, “For someone to say, ‘Mack, can you honestly vote without saying how it affects your team?’ That’s a hard thing to do.”

Mack, buddy, at Get The Picture, we’re here to help.

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UPDATE: Pac-10 commish Tom Hanson has some timely, albeit less than complementary things to say about the coaches’ poll.

… California lost only one game in 2004: a 23-17 nail-biter to USC. But Texas coach Mack Brown launched a public campaign to convince poll voters to promote his sixth-ranked Longhorns, whose only loss came to No. 2 Oklahoma, ahead of the No. 4 Bears. It worked. Cal, which hadn’t played in a Rose Bowl since 1959, ended up sucking lemons in the Holiday Bowl while the Rose Bowl was forced to select Texas, due to BCS rules.

“The one that was particularly bitter was Cal, because Cal was the apparent victim of what I would term to this day unethical voting in the coaches’ poll,” Hansen said.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

SEC factoid of the day

From Scout.com’s Tennessee site ($):

… The SEC has won six national titles in the 16 years since it switched to eight regular-season games and a championship game. In the four years previous to that (1988-91), playing seven conference games per season, the league won zero national championships. In the 16 years prior to that (1972-87), playing six league games per season, the SEC captured just three national titles.

At that rate, I figure if it went to a twelve game conference schedule, the SEC would never lose another MNC.

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Silence is golden.

You know, my original thought on the Spygate controversy as it might relate to Weis and Notre Dame was that it wasn’t particularly relevant, but the more I think about it… well, if ND canned a coach it hired over a fluffed-up resume, this isn’t that different.

That’s not to say I think Weis should be fired over this, but it’s not unreasonable to ask for an explanation from the coach and the school, either.

One thing – I didn’t need to see that bit about Rick Majerus and nude sunbathing.  Eew

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Filed under Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat..., Crime and Punishment

“They ought to be called ‘Dancing with the Football Stars.’ “

Tradition’s just another word in today’s ACC:

… Counting last week’s decision to move the Wake Forest at Baylor game from Saturday, Aug. 30, to Aug. 28, four ACC teams will open the 2008 season on Thursday.

That’s one-fourth of the league’s season-opening schedule. Florida State isn’t scheduled to play its first game — against Western Carolina — until Sept. 6, meaning only seven ACC teams will play on the first Saturday of the season.

The growing abandonment of Saturday, especially for season-opening games, can’t be smart for college teams.

The Saturday game is more than a hallmark of college football. It’s a institutional birthright that the powerful NFL generally has honored over the years, just as college teams basically have left Friday to the high schools. Game days are a delicate equation across the football spectrum, and though it’s unlikely that the NFL would attempt a widespread infringement on early-season Saturday games, college leaders need to be careful about willingly surrendering their turf.

It’s all about the fans, of course – the ones that show up and the ones with the remote controls.

“Saturday games should always be the preferred option for colleges, but there are television contracts that have to be fulfilled, too,” N.C. State athletic director Lee Fowler said. “We’re fortunate in that our fans are very loyal and have responded favorably to the Thursday games we have played.”

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Even more on the schedule

Barnhart’s got some really good stuff on you-know-what posted today. First of all, a very obvious point:

When it comes to analyzing a tough schedule, it’s not just WHO you play and WHERE you play them. Another big factor that makes a schedule really difficult is WHEN you play somebody. In other words, who did you play the week before and who did your opponent play the week before?

Second, an interesting factoid/observation:

When Georgia dominated the series against Florida in the Vince Dooley years, the Bulldogs always had an open date or a very winnable game the week before going to Jacksonville. Some of that scheduling flexibility was taken away when the SEC went to divisional play in 1992. I went back and looked at the 44 seasons that have been played since Vince Dooley became head coach in 1964 and I believe the trip to LSU (Oct. 25) represents the best team the Bulldogs have played the week before Florida in that span. In 1969 Georgia played Tennessee, the eventual SEC champions, the week before Florida and lost (17-3) in Athens…

I’d like to see an analysis of Florida’s schedule the week before the WLOCP to see if there’s a similar effect.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Around the blogosphere: playoff fever, catch it!

For what it’s worth, I’m not the only blogger obsessing over the BCS/playoff debate. Kyle’s been plugging away about it lately (lots of links, too!), as has Paul Westerdawg. And Doug gets his two cents in, as well.

But I really wanted to spend a minute responding to this post of TH’s over at Carolina March. First of all, because it makes me recognize that I am a mere amateur when it comes to sarcasm – I can get it out in occasional dribs and drabs – who cannot help but acknowledge when I am in the presence of a pro.

But I also think he’s dead wrong about something when he posts,

Oh, and while I’m at it, that whole problem of mission creep? Yeah, that’s a concern. After all, it would be horrible for the postseason to expand to sixty-eight teams. That would just suck.

Face it, the bowl system is just like the NCAA basketball tournament. Except where there’s one meaningless Tuesday game in March, there’s thirty-three in December.

Sorry, but that does not compute. In the context of mission creep, bowl games and March Madness could not have less in common. Bowl games, except for the BCS title game, are nothing but glorified exhibition games. Well paying ones, with better TV ratings than most regular season college basketball games, but exhibition games nevertheless. If you feel a need to analogize them to a basketball tourney, the NIT would be a better place to start.

D-1 football isn’t a tournament sport at present. College basketball is. And it’s real easy to spot the difference. All you have to do is go try to find the football equivalent of ESPNU’s Bracketology. Let me know when you hear Herbie and the other talking heads arguing over who got screwed over not getting a Las Vegas Bowl invite.

Or when you can find a regular season Washington-Hawaii basketball game that draws as much attention as a Washington-Hawaii football game:

On the final weekend of the season, Washington at Hawaii received a 2.0 TV rating. An estimated 1.96 million households saw the game, even though it ended a 3:14 a.m., ET because the Warriors’ victory all but assured them of an at-large berth in one of the five BCS games.

There is one regular season basketball rivalry that draws national attention year in and year out, TH’s North Carolina and Duke. How many D-1 football rivalries are compelling nationally? And how many D-1 regular season football games are there every year like Washington-Hawaii or West Virginia-Pitt that draw our attention, compared to college basketball? If it’s not because of the differing postseason formats, what is it?

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UPDATE: In the “give credit where credit is due” department, TH responds to my post here. I don’t want to spend too much time in my response to his response, mainly because it’s apparent that there’s a yawning gap between our opinions on this subject that I don’t think can be bridged. However, there are a couple of rebuttals to his post I want to make.

First, I think he’s being just a wee bit disingenuous with his “a scrappy team from a minor conference” comment. Memphis vs. Tennessee was a meeting between the top two basketball teams in the country that wasn’t played at three in the morning, East Coast time. The caliber of teams in the Hawai’i-Washington game wasn’t anywhere in the same vicinity.  Neither was the setting.

Second, he misinterprets the point I raised in the last paragraph of my post. I’m not asking why from an overall standpoint college football is more popular than college basketball. I’m asking why there are so many more compelling regular season college football games than there are regular season basketball games.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The Blogosphere

“No matter how successful the BCS becomes, it will never be what the public wants.”

ESPN’s Ivan Maisel does a very nice job of capturing the paradox of the BCS, age 10:

… The Bowl Championship Series is 10 years old, and if you listen to its legion of critics, it is so screwed up that the only thing it’s missing is a congressional birthright. The BCS is a symbol of tradition over efficiency, a triumph of the needs of the powerful over the wishes of the masses, a mockery of common sense and simplicity.

But here’s the thing: since college football adopted the BCS as a convoluted, inexplicable method of staging a national championship game, the sport has never been more successful.

“Even the most cynical person,” Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive said, “has got to admit it has contributed to the excitement and popularity of college football.”

Over the past decade, TV ratings overall have been in free fall, yet college football attracted significantly more viewers on the ESPN networks. Average attendance increased in five of the six major conferences. Payouts for the BCS bowls have increased by millions of dollars.

In essence, the BCS is a symbol of a spectator sport that ignores the wishes of the spectators, a business that succeeds by giving its customers what they don’t want. The BCS might be tolerated by the public, but it will never be embraced for the simple reason that it’s not a playoff.

It’s the setup everybody loves to hate. And that nobody can figure out how to negotiate a consensus to replace.

… If nothing else, the BCS can make a football coach sound Churchillian. It was Sir Winston who described democracy as the worst form of government “except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Few people profess to like the BCS. But given the pressures exerted on college football by university presidents, history and the marketplace, it is the system that the sport developed.

You know I loves me that Churchill reference.

And given my posts below about fixing the coaches’ poll, this seems rather timely:

… The BCS’ battle to win the public trust forced the American Football Coaches Association to make public the final ballots of the coaches poll. That occurred after the 2004 season, when Brown’s Longhorns overtook California in the final BCS standings. That turmoil led to the memorable quote from the Big 12 Commissioner at the time, Kevin Weiberg: “Up until last year, there hasn’t been a real focus on integrity. That seemed to be a new element.”

All in all, a good read. Even if he doesn’t have a solution…

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A fix for the coaches’ poll, part 2

I decided to kill an hour last night by going back and retallying the 2007 final regular season coaches ballots on the basis of top five and top ten votes in order to see how my “fix” might have worked. I wasn’t expecting a big change in the final rankings – after all, I was still using Hal Mumme’s first place vote for Hawai’i – but I was curious to see how the mechanics played out. Would there be some massive tie for sixth place that would be problematic? And how many schools received top ten votes?

The tally was simple to organize. The schools were ranked on the basis of the number of top ten votes each received. The votes for the top five were only used to break a tie between schools which placed in the top five in the balloting, in order to make it more difficult for coaches like Mumme to game a tiebreaker for Hawai’i (i.e., a school unlikely to finish in the top five in the voting).

Before getting to the results, one noteworthy item: it’s apparent when you go through the coaches’ ballots that there were many agendas in play. If you feel like it, go through them (they’re linked from Barnhart’s post). You’ll be surprised, as I was, to see how often you can correctly guess the conference a coach is affiliated with based on the order of his ballot.

There were a couple of weird things, too. Ty Willingham abstained from voting, for some reason. And if anyone can explain Schnellenberger’s ballot, which looks like it was phoned in from Mars, I’d love to hear it.

Anyway, here are the final results based on approval voting (top five ballot votes in parentheses, in case of tie):

T1. Ohio State (59)

T1. LSU (59)

3. Oklahoma (51)

4. Georgia (40)

5. Virginia Tech

6. Southern California

7. Missouri

8. Kansas

9. West Virginia

10. Hawai’i

11. Florida

12. Arizona State

13. Illinois

T14. Boston College

T14. Boise State

As you can see, the final order didn’t change much. LSU moved into a first place tie, Florida changed places with Arizona State and Boise State rose eight slots.

The only ties, as you can see, were at the very top and the very bottom of the list. Only fifteen schools received votes in the top ten. Either the voting could be limited to those schools that got top ten votes, as above, or the voting could be expanded to the top twelve or fifteen schools to expand the number on the final list.

In any event, it doesn’t look like a train wreck to me. And given the amount of mischief that was apparent in the actual voting which would be significantly reduced with approval voting, it’s hard to see how this wouldn’t be a vast improvement from a credibility standpoint.

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