I previously posted a few truncated quotes from the recent Football Forum hosted by The National Football Foundation and The Football Writers Association of America. The complete transcripts are posted here and here and are worth reading, if you’ve got the time. I wanted to share a few more quotes from the FF’s panel specifically regarding the BCS/playoff debate, because I think they help to illuminate the issues that surround the controversy.
It’s easy to dismiss some of it as BS, or to disagree with a speaker’s priorities, but I found seeing the various perspectives on the matter interesting.
To start with, here’s Jim Tressel, comparing a the 1-AA postseason with that of D-1 football:
… It’s a little bit different world in the 1AA. In fact, we talked about this just sitting around with a couple of the guys. When you add more games in a playoff system for a 1AA guy, it’s probably one more game that he gets to play in his life, because his career, percentage wise, is probably going to end after college. And there wasn’t a Bowl system in 1AA, so we didn’t have X number of guys going to get to play a postseason game. So you cherished every game you could play.
Now, fast forward it to a 1A situation, where there are so many opportunities for postseason play. After we played Miami in 2002, and I looked at the two teams limping off the field after an overtime or two or whatever it was, I thought to myself, wow, could you pick up and go play another game next week, with the reality that a lot of those guys on that field were going to have a chance to have a short professional career, maybe even some have a long professional career; what’s in the best interest of the student athletes?
Tressel thinks we’ll have a playoff one day, but professes his support for the bowl system:
… I think there will be a day where we move into something beyond what we’re doing. I can’t tell you that I have a great idea right now as to what it ought to be, plus one or this or that. But the Bowl experience is wonderful. The reality of our guys is that we played on January 7th and they had to decide by the 15th whether or not they were going out early in the NFL, and some of them left the game and went to an All Star Game.
The time crunch calendar wise of moving further into January and so forth I think affects some kids who are getting ready to go on to the next short moment in their life if they have that chance. So I’m not for a full blown playoff system if it affects the Bowls, if it pushes the calendar deeper into their postgraduate world.
Coach Mangino seconds Tressel’s sentiments.
… I see it the way Jim sees it. I like the Bowl system. I know eventually because of public pressure and economics that we probably at some point in time are going to go to some kind of playoff system. But I hope it doesn’t affect the Bowls. I think the Bowls are unique to college football, and everybody that’s a college football fan just loves that period of time where the Bowls start in mid December and go through the 1st of January. It’s what makes college football unique.
I wouldn’t want to take those Bowl experiences away from the players because they really and truly enjoy it, and it’s something that they I don’t care how many Bowl games you play or are coaching, they’re all special. Those are memories that the players will have forever.
I have a feeling eventually, based on economics, probably more than anything, that we will eventually have some type of playoff, but I hope it doesn’t destroy the Bowl structure as we know it today.
TCU’s Coach Patterson doesn’t think the players will enjoy a playoff as much as they do the bowls.
… But you end up except for one team, you end up losing your final game. One thing about the Bowl system is there’s 32 teams that end up winning the final game. You end up with a positive, you end up with something. I believe in the experience.
You know, the one thing about playing in a playoff is I don’t know how it would be anywhere else, but there would only be about three hours of excitement. That would be if we won after the game on the ride home because the rest of the six days we’re going to be working 24 hours a day getting ready for a ballgame. It’s not going to be any fun for the kids.
If you think the playoff system is going to be fun for the kids except for the team that wins the final game, we’d all be kidding ourselves because you put the amount of every ballgame is a National Championship game, every game is going to be like the BCS final game. It’s going to be because to get to the next round, so you’re talking about six hard days of work, we let them take one day off, somewhere we’ll work finals in between all of it, and then yeah, we’ll end up as the National Championship winner, but there’s not going to be anybody else happy.
Then Notre Dame AD Kevin White throws out a stat that got my BS detector going a little bit (admittedly, nobody contradicted him on it):
… And just in rough terms, as I think about it, and Grant, you may have data to support this, I suspect the regular season college football season in 1A represents, on average, and I’m making it up, 85 percent of the revenue that we generate to support all of these athletics programs that we all have.
And the majority of it, 85 percent, almost all of it, comes from the regular season. So protecting the regular season is really important. If I think in these terms simplistically, the regular season represents this much resource, and the postseason, regardless of what we have or what we don’t have, might represent this much resource.
So for me as an operator of an athletics program, that has to generate $70 million in revenue. Or Jim’s program generates $100 million in revenue, so you have to protect the regular season…
I have to admit I’m amused by this exchange:
Q. Kevin, since you’re the only reigning member of the BCS Commission that’s up there, I’ll ask you this question. Are you familiar with the term bracket creep?
KEVIN WHITE: I am.
Q. We kept hearing that in Florida, that beer leads to heroin, four goes to eight goes to sixteen. Because you guys control this, unlike 1AA, 2 and 3 that have committees, can’t you just stop? Just philosophically, I’m not particularly for a plus one, but couldn’t you just stop it and say, yeah, we’re going to do it, and that’s all we’re going to do?
KEVIN WHITE: Yeah, I guess we could, but I have to tell you, it’s funny, the whole BCS has taken on its own language, double hosting, bracket creep. I mean, I sit in that room and hear expressions I’ve never heard before. But they’ve kind of become expressions…
Tressel makes a nuts and bolts point about academics that I hadn’t considered.
Q. Well, the two 1AA schools have both had their finals the week of the National Championship game. Both of their graduate success rates are above the national average. They had their finals on site. To me it’s a little bit of an insult to 1AA that you guys say that it can’t be done when they get it done every year?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, academically we had our best years when we were kept playing because that was at the end of things and you had the discipline. I get a little bit nervous about a bad start. We haven’t even been to class yet.
You can do something at the end, take a test early, do those kinds of things; you’re well along the path. The thing that has hurt us a little bit, and not that we’re going to turn down a chance to play January 8th or whatever, but having that so let’s pretend it was the 12th because it got pushed back. Now there’s probably more effect. And I think you run into the other end of their calendar, East West game, the Hula Bowl, the Senior Bowl, the combine, the decision do I go to the NFL. The guys playing in that game, there’s probably going to be a significant number of them that have that discussion.
Patterson talks about the economics of the BCS, which begs the question of how playoff revenues would be accessed by non-BCS conferences.
… For me, short in a short version, I think one of those ten shots should be one of the 55 schools out of 119, whether we have the top two schools of those non qualifying schools, play for that position. But I just think if you’re talking about fairness, whether you’re talking about having an opportunity or you’re talking about financially, I think my biggest thing, and if you’ve listened to me here in the last two days, whether it’s about the student athlete or it’s about the game, at some point in time if we don’t find a way to make sure that we even out financially how we get paid back everything, pretty soon we’re going to look up and there’s only going to be 50 schools playing Division I football because the other group is not going to be able to handle it and to be able to move on.
I think that’s why we have you have the BCS system, at least from my term, you kind of have a corner on the market of how that goes, and at some point in time we’re going to have to change.
With a bonus shot at a certain unnamed coach (who’s identity is pretty easy to figure out):
… But for me, I look at just the economy of the self preservation of the game. We keep talking about we have to play 12 games to make more revenue, and that’s what the BCS is all about. It’s about finding a winner, but also, there’s a lot more revenue, that’s part of it. I just think there needs to be a little bit more access.
I’m not going to mention names, but there was a coach that was from a non BCS conference that had strong views when he sat on that side of the table and then he moved to a BCS conference school and then he had strong views the opposite way. Then he said, no, they don’t ever belong.
I think hopefully I’d be one way or the other, that I felt for the betterment of the game that you did all
CHRIS ROSE: Do you want to whisper in my ear who it was?
COACH PATTERSON: You can go back and go through the blogs (laughter). It was a couple years ago.
Q. It was for the BCS National Championship game.
And speaking of bracket creep, I’ll leave you with the thoughts of FSU President T. K. Wetherell.
… It will get figured out. My guess is that the small Bowls will be a part of that system, and somehow that will be worked into it and it’ll work itself out. It’ll start off with a plus one, then we’ll go to four or eight or sixteen at some point in time, just like the NCAA tournament started off at 16 or 32, I think.
DR. WETHERELL: Okay, then it went to 16 and 32 and 64 and now somehow we bought the NIT (laughter), and I’ve got a sneaking hunch somewhere along the line it’s going to go to 84 or 124 or something…