All that glitters.

Mark Richt has had a real change of heart on the subject of a D-1 college football playoff.

Mark Richt has become an outspoken advocate for a college football playoff. Listen to him from a couple of days ago:

“For the longest, I was like, ‘I like it the way it is. I’m fine with it.’ I’m not that way any more.

“I’m ready. I’m ready for a playoff. I’m ready for a four- or eight-team playoff…”

On one level, I think I understand why he’s done an about face on the postseason.  It sounds like he found the BCS politicking he felt forced to do at the end of last season distasteful.

“Having to live through last year and feeling like you’ve got to have this big filibuster or whatever you want to call it to go out there and try to convince people to vote for your team – I mean, it shouldn’t be that way in sports, especially in major-college football…”

But here’s the thing:  why would any of that necessarily stop with a playoff?  As long as there’s a subjective element to selection, there are going to be teams arguing why they shouldn’t be left on the outside looking in.  The only playoff format that would avoid this problem would be one that was limited to conference champions (a format that, with a little judicious tweaking, I would be in favor of).  But I suspect that adoption of such a playoff format would have little chance of succeeding in the real world.

One reason for that is that subjective standards mean that it’s easier for programs in tough conferences – or tough conference divisions – to gain access to a playoff than it would be if only conference champs need apply.  And playoffs with subjective criteria for admission are easier to expand, which makes more coaches look good.

Of course, that would lead to hearing more coaches whine on ESPN about why their teams deserve to be in, but that’s a small price to pay for progress.

26 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

26 responses to “All that glitters.

  1. Ed

    Hey there Senator, I agree wholeheartedly with the “a playoff won’t stop the politicking/whining/controversy” sentiment. Too many of the talking heads on TV and in the papers who should be most knowledgable about these things (because they’re paid to be) just don’t seem to get that.

    But just for shats-n-giggles, let’s indulge them. An 8-team playoff is as big as it’s going to get – 16 would require adding four more games to the schedule, which isn’t going to happen. Three would be a stretch too, but we’ll let them dream. So we’ve got our 8-team playoff. There’s basically two ways to go, both wrought with problems and unlikely to be “better” than the current system.

    Option #1: Top 8 in the BCS (or whatever) standings. Using this year as an example, the biggest whiners would be the BigEast (champ at #12), the ACC (champ at #19), and undefeated Boise State. In other years, the non-BCS conferences would be shut out – their conference commissioners would never go for a plan where that was possible. And the conference commissioners of the “weaker” conferences, the BigEast and the ACC, would never go for a plan where it was possible for them to get shut out. So this isn’t a very likely possibility.

    Option #2: Conference Champs + 2 at-large. Most likely, one of the two at-large would have to be a non-BCS conference team. The non-BCS conferences already feel slighted – you lose five votes at the commissioner’s table if you don’t throw them some type of bone here. So now you’re down to one at-large – let the politicking/whining/controversy begin between Texas, Texas Tech, Alabama, and Boise State, at a minimum. Problem not solved.

    Is there an Option #1.5? Some way to combine the best of both these options? Not without making the system so convoluted that it makes the early BCS formula look like the model of simplicity.

    You can’t make everyone happy.

    Somebody, somewhere, is always going to argue that their team got the shaft. Always.

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  2. ArchDawg

    With eight teams, only your Option #2 will exist. There is no way–repeat, No WAY–a playoff proposal (or any big-time postseason format) will be passed without the 6 BCS conference champs getting an automatic bid. One of those last two spots, then, will almost have to go to a non-BCS champ (to avoid infractions/anti-trust issues), so there is one at-large spot left. You don’t think there will be politicking for that? Oh, the playoffs would inevitably expand to at least 16 teams then.

    You’re right, Ed. If these talking heads would actually think about CFB playoffs instead of springing for one every chance they get, they’d realize how they would not really solve anything negative about the current system.

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  3. Sparrow

    It’s definately true that there would still be lobbying & whining if an 8-team playoff were imposed, but I think it’s a more tolerable travesty to the one we have now. The likelihood of an at-large team going undefeated over 3 games is arguably slim and there would be less of a feeling among the public of being “cheated” out of a better match-up for the NC. This year for example, certainly there would be crying by the likes of Texas Tech, Bama, Boise State, etc., but few people would be dissatisfied with the two teams playing in the title game. The “what if” is muted with a playoff.

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  4. kckd

    Yep, filibustering for an eight position is the same as a top 2 position.

    I’m glad you BCS lovers will always have this argument.

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  5. How are the playoff contenders chosen for the FCS? I think there are roughly the same number of schools in that division.

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    • PNW, per Wikipedia:

      The Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) determines its champion in a 16-team, single-elimination tournament. The champions of eight conferences receive automatic bids, with eight “at-large” spots. Beginning in 2010, the championship tournament will expand to 20 teams, with ten automatic bids and eight first-round byes.

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  6. ERK VANRUSSELL

    sadly,im finding more and more and more reasons to dissagree with CMR

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  7. hodgie

    I love this site and I check it every day. However, I am a huge proponent of the playoff. I love the idea of everyone starting another season at the end of the year. Seeding is an important part of the regular season, though. I am sure that everyone can agree that the college basketball regular season is hugely intense, especially in conference games. Why do we have 35 bowl games. are there really 70 teams “deserving” of the reward of a bowl game? I think not. Why not use 15 of those games in order to hold a 16 team playoff? Also, the BCS could be used to determine those 16 teams so that you have the best of both worlds. Therefore, you do not lose any bowl games. Also, the teams that are playing in the bowls are a better product. Therefore, ratings, tickets, and merchandising would be in good standing also. You would not have games played in front of less than a high school sized crowd. I love this site and I love the banter in the comments section. I respect everyone’s opinion on this topic. I hope that you will be respectful in your responses. Go Dawgs!

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  8. Spence

    Why do we have to have so much certainty?

    Cause Auburn may or may not have been the best team in ’04? Because Texas isn’t in the game now?

    Call me nuts, but this desire to have certainty is a new thing in college football. In 1990 Tech split the championship. There’s nothing more satisfying than replying to a gloating Techie, “Colorado, you f-ing nerd.” College football was a good thing back when there were three polls to decide the champ. It’s been very good to me since the BCS got started.

    I love Bowl games. I love every minute of them. I love arguing with folks that the 2002 Dawgs were the best team in the country at year’s end. I love arguing that last year’s team should have had the chance. I love arguing about college football.

    Playoffs are as exciting as they are boring. When they’re done, fine, they’re done. Nothing to argue about. Nothing exciting. And I don’t like that. I want college football to be miserable, unpredictable, and subjective. In that sense it’s very much like art. The end product of NCAA basketball and the NFL is boring to me. Who cares about the Super Bowl? We watch it for the commercials, not because we care. Ask the Patriots how much fun a playoff is and if they should be able to say they’re the best team from last year. College football is different.

    College football is about your team. I check this blog nine times a day because I love my team and I want hear about it. Don’t give me a reason to not talk about my team. Don’t make me bow my head and succumb to a playoff realization that we didn’t win it. Let me, stupidly, argue that the Dawgs should have been national champs in 2002 and 2007.

    A playoff won’t work; you’ll have Va Tech (ACC champ) and Cinci-f-ing-atti (lame conference champ) playing, which is weak. Just let us watch our teams and imbibe ourselves with visions of grandeur.

    With certainty comes a diminishment of our ability to delude ourselves about our team. It’s not worth it.

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  9. NM

    Remember the politicking Mack Brown did a few years back for, what, the #4 ranking spot (when the spot didn’t even have national title implications)? Remember how pissed Va Tech was getting left out of March Madness (65-team playoff) last year? If Richt or anybody else thinks politicking goes away, they’re way off — if anything it would get worse, since there are a lot more teams with plausible claims to #8 than #2.

    The likelihood of an at-large team going undefeated over 3 games is arguably slim…
    OK, so why are we including them then? “Hey you have no chance, but we’re gonna put you in this thing so you feel better about yourself?” What? The only thing worse would be if they did have a chance — like Wild Card teams winning the Super Bowl and World Series, it basically gives teams a do-over for the regular season. At least CFB wild cards would be no worse than 10-2 most years, but still — either these teams have a chance, which is unfair, or they don’t have a chance, so a playoff is pointless.

    Why not use 15 of those games in order to hold a 16 team playoff? Also, the BCS could be used to determine those 16 teams so that you have the best of both worlds.
    This seems like the worst of both worlds to me! I don’t think anybody loves the BCS formula, which changes every year anyway; we just support the concept. But the bowl concept is one thing — having teams play neutral site games four weeks in a row would be a disaster! You think you wouldn’t have a high school sized crowd? Think about the ACC title game — two teams playing a neutral site game on short notice far from their fanbases. That’s what you’d have here. Let’s say UGA plays a first-round game in Orlando, then has a second round game against Cincinnati in Dallas or something. We’ve got good fans, but if you’re telling me people are really gonna go to that game (with a potential Final Four game the next week), that’s crazy. The logistics of even doing ticketing would be a disaster.

    No, a playoff would need to abandon all but 1-3 of the bowls, and still wouldn’t be good, for all the reasons everyone’s given and more.

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    • But the bowl concept is one thing — having teams play neutral site games four weeks in a row would be a disaster! You think you wouldn’t have a high school sized crowd? Think about the ACC title game — two teams playing a neutral site game on short notice far from their fanbases. That’s what you’d have here. Let’s say UGA plays a first-round game in Orlando, then has a second round game against Cincinnati in Dallas or something. We’ve got good fans, but if you’re telling me people are really gonna go to that game (with a potential Final Four game the next week), that’s crazy. The logistics of even doing ticketing would be a disaster.

      I’ve always thought that an extended playoff would be the death of the bowls. The only way to plant asses in the seats for the playoffs would be for them to be hosted on campuses until the championship, a la the NFL. As an added bonus, you can sell home-field advantage as a carrot for making the regular season “meaningful”.

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  10. Dawg93

    Spence – your quote: “I love Bowl games. I love every minute of them. I love arguing with folks that the 2002 Dawgs were the best team in the country at year’s end. I love arguing that last year’s team should have had the chance. I love arguing about college football.”

    So you love the argument MORE than you love to see our beloved Dawgs actually get the chance to prove themselves on the field? Call me crazy, but I don’t. I hated that 2002 was considered a “perfect” year for the BCS because 2 teams (UM and OSU) finished undefeated while we had 1 loss. I hated the fact that we only needed ONE field goal from 1 of 3 teams (Vandy, UK and SC) against UT to play LSU for the SEC title. An LSU team that looked very beatable.

    It drives me nuts that both LSU and Florida have won not one, but TWO nat’l titles each in the last 15 yrs in which their teams finished with 1 or 2 losses. Meanwhile UGA’s 2 best teams during that same time period didn’t even get into the title game. Especially when you consider how well both of those UGA teams were playing at season’s end.

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    • So you love the argument MORE than you love to see our beloved Dawgs actually get the chance to prove themselves on the field?

      You know, 93, I understand the argument you’re making, but I really hate the phrase “prove it on the field”. What exactly were those schools doing during the regular season, playing NCAA Football 02? 😉

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  11. Spence

    I’d agree with the Senator there. In my mind, my warped college-football-loving-red-and-black-helmet-smashing-fall-craving mind, UGA did prove it on the field. But there’s also the part of me that knows we didn’t totally prove it on the field. We lost one game. One gut wrenching game. We may have been the best at the end of the season, but one day we weren’t good enough. Yeah, I’d like a mulligan, but not at the cost of taking away the joy and pain of the regular season.

    I love that Terrance’s drop will always haunt me. Imagine that world with a playoff, where I don’t dream about that ball being caught, of 8 running into the end zone untouched as the Gator sits on the ground where he fell. It sounds stupid, but those moments, the good and bad (you have to have both) are important. I’d hate to walk into the UF game knowing we can lose it, that we get one mulligan. F that. Prove it on the field every day.

    “OH MY GOD!!! WHAT IF YOU WIND UP LIKE AUBURN IN 2004!!!!” What if. Let it be like that. Fine. Auburn 2004 gets as much credit as USC does for that year in college football circles. They’re legends. Martyrs. Good for them. Just because some douchebag doesn’t hand them a stupid trophy from the BCS doesn’t mean they can’t (and don’t) claim to be the best that year. It’s their right, and it’s beautiful. It’s like that scene from a Few Good Men at the end. “Harold, you don’t need a patch on your sleeve to have honor.” That’s what college football is: Marine killing marines that hate snarky lawyers till they get them off of murder charges. I digress…

    Poor you that you don’t get to know. Ask the Patriots how great it is to know.

    Let me ask you this question: Why do you have so little faith in your team? Why do you have to know? Do you not believe the 2002 Dawgs were the best team at the end of the year? I do. I know that steamrolling 51-7 Tech killing machine could have won any game they played at the end. I’ll tell people that. But Terrance dropped that ball, and I have to live with it, just like I live happily thinking of Johnson in the corner of the endzone. I need all of those things to matter. And they do. And I’ll know that the 2002 Dawgs will always be argued to be the best team (by me) and didn’t deserve a chance to play in the title game because Terrance dropped that ball. That’s college football. It makes no sense and it’s beautiful. Don’t fucking change it.

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  12. I would say Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech “proved on the field” their merits for playing for their conference. But in the end there was no way to “prove on the field” who really deserved the right to play.

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  13. Dawg93

    Senator – I see your point. Certainly the regular season has to count for something, right? The problem is that comparing Miami’s 12-0 record to Ohio State’s 13-0 record (yes, they played 13 games in the regular season that year, no idea why) and to UGA’s 12-1 record is an apples & oranges comparison because none of those teams played a common opponent. That’s the problem with college football – you have 120 or so I-A teams but you only play a 12-game schedule. So it’s incredibly difficult to compare the top teams from different conferences when they play so few (or sometimes none at all) common opponents.

    According to the NCAA’s strength of schedule rankings, Miami had the #4 schedule in 2002, UGA’s was 8th and Ohio St.’s was 18th. That’s based purely on won-loss record of opponents. According to the BCS that year, UGA had the 5th toughest schedule, Miami’s was 19th and Ohio St.’s was 20th. Not sure how the BCS calculated SOS back then, might have been weighted by home vs. away games.

    Anyway, the point is that we really don’t have a clue as to how we would’ve matched up against Miami or Ohio St. So while we proved we were the best in the SEC, and Miami and Ohio St. proved they were the best in the Big East and Big Ten, respectively, we don’t know which conference was superior to the other in that season.

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  14. Dawg93

    Spence – God bless ya, but I couldn’t disagree more with your outlook on college football. If you “love” the fact that the drop by T. Edwards still haunts you, more power to ya my friend.

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  15. Changed what, Senator? Honestly, in their division I see picking a team from a hat as the only ‘fair’ way to have picked the winner. Or have a skills competition between the top players from each of the teams. (Ok, not really. But I would watch.)

    I just think playoffs give more opportunities to prove on the field who is the best. I by no means think it will take away controversy but I do think it will remove a fair amount of subjectivity.

    As for the theory it makes the regular season less meaningful I offer this. Maybe it renews a team’s season by knowing they still have something to play for. While I’m not a fan of either Penn State or Southern Cal I would like to see them mix it up with the other teams at the top. But that 1 loss made their season a little less meaningful IMO.

    And as for this:

    “I’d hate to walk into the UF game knowing we can lose it, that we get one mulligan.”

    Come on! Losing to UF matters no matter what.

    And yeah, I’m addicted to this blog myself. Great stuff here.

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  16. Dog in Fla

    When they do get around to the next incremental step toward a playoff, we SEC fans will be bitching and moaning about it.

    We’ve got it good now. Right now our champ has a one out of four shot (SEC, Big 12, Big 10 and USC) of having an entrant in the plus one game each year. See, LSU, UF, LSU, UF. Yes, an undefeated Auburn (it’s Auburn, man, they get much less national respect than we do, not that there’s anything wrong with that) and Richt’s second year team didn’t make it but those teams deserved being on the outside looking in because of Auburn’s joke of an out-of-conference schedule and our…drumroll…usual choke v. UF.

    When they come up with an eight-teamer, the rest of the conferences are going to make it a lot harder for the SEC to increase its chances because they think the deal is rigged in our favor now.

    What will drive it toward another playoff step is the bad matchups that the BCS leaves the other bowls with now: Orange – Va. Tech v. Cincy; Cotton -Texas Tech v. Ole Miss, our beatdown of Hawaii last year, etc. Several years ago an undefeated K State lost the Big 12 championship game and ended up playing in some kind of God-awful bowl somewhere, Holiday in San Diego, maybe.

    Granted, all the BCS claims it will do it put a 1 v. a 2, but it leaves the rest of bowls with overall ******* matchups than they had had pre-BCS.

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  17. kckd

    It’s the same arguing for seventh and eighth placed teams as one and two.

    It really doesn’t matter.

    That’s why everyone is glued to their seat every year, holding their breath and hoping Cleveland St. or Valparaiso or Santa Clara’s headcoach in basketball will use exactly the right words to get his team into the NCAA tourney.

    It doesn’t matter. What a dimwit Richt is.

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  18. Dog in Fla

    beaucoup

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  19. Macallanlover

    Dawg93 +1 on all your posts in this thread (except for calling ANYONE a national champ. Don’t give in to them brother!)

    Senator, regarding your comment below, only the four first round games need to be played at the home stadiums of the lowest seeds. Those could be in mid December. With two weeks to prepare for the two Round 2 games, I think they could move 20-30K from each of the remaining teams and allow for some local sales. I am very confident the two survivors would take all they get for the mid January title game. (I saw about 6ooo from Montana last night make it to Chattanooga with one week’s notice.) But you and the other posters are hitting on why you can never do a 16 team like 1Aa does, its the logistics. That just will not work with big fanbases and the associated needs of ticket distribution, airline flights, room availability, etc.

    Senator Blutarsky said:

    I’ve always thought that an extended playoff would be the death of the bowls. The only way to plant asses in the seats for the playoffs would be for them to be hosted on campuses until the championship, a la the NFL. As an added bonus, you can sell home-field advantage as a carrot for making the regular season “meaningful”.

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