Daily Archives: January 8, 2009

Postseasonal food for thought

Damn, if Chris Brown hasn’t nailed the essence of the whole BCS vs. playoffs debate with this excellent post at his Smart Football blog.  Chris, who prefers a playoff over the BCS status quo, says this about what you get with a playoff:

… But the advantage the playoff gives you is not anything metaphysically correct. It probably does not crown the best team. And it does not reward the best season (sorry Utah).

It merely gives you relative certitude. It’s not perfect — some clunker teams can be crowned, some historically great teams will get the relative shaft — but, before the season, during the season, and in the playoffs, everyone knows what it takes to be the champion: you must get into the playoffs, and you must win every game once you’re there. The Patriots couldn’t lobby for votes, they couldn’t say that they got jerked around, and they even couldn’t say that they didn’t get their chance. They played and they lost. They were probably better, they might only have had a bad day, but hey, you knew what you were getting into.

Which is really the issue here. No one has any idea what being “National Champion” ought to mean — especially in college football where you have over a hundred D-1 programs and no team can come close to playing all the others. A playoff would simply lay some ground rules people could follow. As it stands, without a playoff, everyone may mount their high horse and argue past each other.

That’s really it in a nutshell, isn’t it?  For some, the uncertainty we’ve got now is a bug, for some it’s a feature, but that’s really what the debate is over.  Unless you’re one of those “is the cure worse than the disease?” folks like me.

Speaking of which, Chris’ reasoning gets back to my main concern.  Any D-1 playoff proposal which retains an element of subjectivity in how the participants are selected doesn’t eliminate uncertainty about how a school qualifies for the big dance.  Which means that the debate will continue to rage.  Which in turn means that the pressure to expand the postseason will continue to be there (and easier to comply with, since a playoff structure will be in place).

Money aside, that’s why March Madness is the 64-school monster it is today.  Because if you can’t come up with an objective standard, what you’re left with doing out of some sense of fairness is casting a wider and wider net to make sure you’re not leaving a deserving participant out of the postseason.  The resulting downside is that the postseason enlarges at the expense of the regular season until you get to a point where the latter is merely serving as a delivery system for seeding the latter.

That’s why the people I don’t get in this debate are the ones who, on the one hand, rage against the unfairness of the current set-up because matters aren’t “settled on the field”, but in the next breath are more than comfortable with a playoff format that uses the BCS formula or the polls to select some or all of the participants.

In my mind, if you want to structure a playoff that is stable for the long haul and avoids that risk, the best approach is one based on purely objective standards:  a conference-champions only format, or a tourney comprised of the schools with the best eight won-loss records in D-1, for example.  Granted, there would have to be some judicious tweaking of conferences and regular season scheduling to make this viable, but the end product would be far more likely to have little negative impact on the regular season, which is what makes college football special.

In the absence of that, I prefer the devil we know, folks.


UPDATE: Mergz provides some valuable perspective on the BCS title game here.  LOL.  How true.


UPDATE #2: And don’t miss statistician Bill James’ take on what’s wrong with the BCS.  (h/t Doc Saturday)


UPDATE #3: More rationality at Rocky Top Talk. (h/t Smart Football)



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The Blogosphere

(Final) Mumme Poll reminder

Okay, guys and gals, there’s a game tonight that will bring this season **sniff** to an end.  That will also mean it’s time for some of us to submit our final Mumme Poll ballots of the season.

Here’s a reminder of the rules for the last dance:

  • Anyone who cast a Mumme Poll ballot this year (that’s 59 of you) is eligible to cast a final ballot.
  • This will be the only three-tier ballot of the season.  Your vote should be organized as a single #1 team, a grouping of the next four best schools and another grouping of the next seven best.
  • As always, send your vote to me by e-mail at mummepoll@yahoo.com.
  • Votes are eligible to be cast immediately upon the conclusion of tonight’s game and must be submitted no later than 9:00 PM on Sunday, January 11th.
  • I’ll post the final results on Monday.  You will be invited to post your final ballots, as well as any thoughts you have about your vote or the poll in the comments section to that post.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions about this.


Filed under Mumme Poll

Regrets, I’ve had a few…

I couldn’t help but play the “what if” game for a moment after reading this exchange from yesterday’s presser:

… Moreno, 21, who talked to family and coaches, said financial considerations were a factor. So was the short shelf life that NFL running backs sometimes have, which prompted Richt to remind him about his redshirt year.

“That’s a whole year’s worth of hits you didn’t take there,” Richt said.

“I appreciate it,” Moreno said laughing.

How different would the ’06 and (early) ’07 seasons have been if Knowshon hadn’t been redshirted?  I’ve got to think that having Moreno in the backfield for his true freshman year would have taken a significant amount of pressure off of the quarterback corps that struggled noticeably through most of that season.

I don’t think it’s a big enough deal that it’s going to haunt Mark Richt for the rest of his life, but I don’t think it’ll be out of his head totally, either.


Filed under Georgia Football

“Touchdown Georgia… game over.”

Does Joe Cox have Matthew Stafford’s arm?  Of course not.

But he’s had his moments in a Bulldog uniform already, don’t forget.


Filed under Georgia Football