They don’t call it Madness for nothing.

In a blog post that’s filled with all sorts of illogical non sequiturs, Dennis Dodd tosses this notion out:

Meanwhile, March Madness is perceived as the best, fairest way to decide a national champion.

Really?  By whom, pray tell?

Look, we all love the tournament, but to suggest that a six-round, single-elimination tourney is the fairest of the fair is silly.  Hell, the nickname’s a clear indication that what’s most attractive about it is the Cinderella factor.

If the true goal of a postseason is to find the best team in a given sport, single-elimination isn’t the optimum approach.

… Before this NBA season, Paine ran similar simulations, using the actual NBA season structure, and found that the best team has about a 48% chance of winning the title. So his latest results suggest that the NBA’s structure more than doubles the chances of the best team winning compared to an NFL-like season. An earlier study by Pro Football Reference’s Doug Drinen suggested the best NFL team wins about 24% of the time. So enjoy the Super Bowl, but don’t assume the winner is the NFL’s best team. Nor is the NBA champ, necessarily, but the chances are far higher.

Believe it or not, I’m not bringing this up to suggest that it’s the BCS that’s the superior format.  It’s to remind everyone that, as Ed Gunther has so eloquently put it, “… in the end, it all boils down to whether or not you want your champion to be the best (even if that’s disputable) or if you want them to be undisputable (even if they’re not the best).”

Oh, and the money, of course.  In the end, that’s what the postseason is really about, at least for the folks running it.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

38 responses to “They don’t call it Madness for nothing.

  1. barstool69

    “the best team” is still a subjective title, no?

    • I think that’s Ed’s point.

      • barstool69

        so to say single elimination results in “the best team” winning only x% of the time is meaningless to me. you can define undisputed, but not best.

        • I think a lot of us would argue that that’s what the regular season is for.

          • Macallanlover

            If that worked, there would be no issue at all. There simply isn’t enough “interaction” to satisfy the different regions of the country, and the current system only takes a baby step. Another couple of steps and we could at least say who was best given the opportunity to prove it on the field. But with the “any given Saturday” axiom, no one could ever say “undisputed best”, only who won the tournament. That is all we have in the other NCAA sports now, but it seems to calm the masses.

            If it weren’t for the insatiable need to have someone declare “national champion” when they aren’t, there would not be the passion to change things. I wouldn’t mind not having a tourney if someone wasn’t rubbing it in everyone else’s face. SEC Champs is as good as it gets now, but the Big 11, Big 12, and PAC10 folks won’t buy in.

            • Hackerdog

              Just because you disagree with the current post-season format doesn’t mean that the championship is illegitimate. Actually, it’s the opposite. The winner of the BCS title game is, undeniably, the BCS champion of college football.

              • Macallanlover

                I didn’t say they weren’t BCS Champs, I stated they were not National Champs, although they claim it (and UGA will too when they win theirs.) It is a legitimate BCS title, whatever that really is, but it is an illegitimate National Championship claim. It probably will be until the NCAA runs it, and they cannot get control of it from the BCS folks.And by the way, I am far from alone in feeling that way.

                • Hackerdog

                  The BCS championship is the defacto national championship. You are certainly free to declare whatever team you wish to be the “official Macallanlover champion,” but I posit that whatever team that is would certainly be more illegitimate than whatever team wins the BCS title.

                  As to your being alone, you are the only one I’ve seen that incessantly posts that the BCS champions are illegitimate because you would prefer a different post season format.

                  • Macallanlover

                    Because I would never attempt anything that stupid, it would take dummies to fall for it. And I call them that because they are “illegitimate”. But you go ahead and enjoy eating whatever shit someone shovels into your mouth and tells you to like it. Feel free to ignore any “incessant” posts that don’t agree with your innovative solution. Please note, I never initiate any of these conversations, only respond to posts that misrepresent the facts as I see them. I assume I don’t need your permission.

                    • Hackerdog

                      Indeed, you don’t need my permission. But you shouldn’t expect my approval when you respond to any post or comment referring to a championship with, “they aren’t champions because I have decided they are illegitimate! The great and powerful Macallanlover has spoken!” And you shouldn’t be surprised when I point out the deficiencies of that kind of “logic.”

  2. Phocion

    Football will never lend itself to an NBA-like season and post season structure so to compare the two is rather silly…diversionary.

    • hodgie

      Why is it everytime I see a debate about a college playoff someone compares it to a pro playoff? Yes, I agree pro playoffs suck. Pro sports suck in the fact that by divisional standings playoff spots are determined and sometimes teams “dog it” in order to “protect” their players for the postseason. That in and of itself is GARBIDGE and everything I am against in competition.
      However, if you watch any of the other college sports compete, which have a postseason to determine their champion, you would find that they are competing at a high level throughout and the regular season is completely valued. There is no devaluation in my eyes. This devaluation argument is weak and has no basis.

      PS Don’t try to use a pro team to prove devaluation. That is absolutely not a comparable situation.

      • However, if you watch any of the other college sports compete, which have a postseason to determine their champion, you would find that they are competing at a high level throughout and the regular season is completely valued. There is no devaluation in my eyes. This devaluation argument is weak and has no basis.

        I don’t know how long you’ve followed college basketball, but as someone who chose to attend a school at least partially on the basis of it being a member of the ACC in the early 70’s, let me assure you that the decline in significance of the college basketball regular season over the past 35 years or so is palpable.

        • Jim

          I know this is a stale argument that you’ve addressed I just don’t remember your response. I would be in support of a +1 because it won’t devalue anything and if you’re not in the top 4 then you don’t have a claim to be #1 anyways. I guess the issue you see is the inevitable expansion?

          • Exactly.

            That’s why I like this plus one proposal best, because it would have the least effect on the regular season.

            And my first playoff preference would be an eight-team, conference champs only format (with some fairly significant conference rejiggering), because it would be very difficult to expand that without tossing the entire arrangement away.

        • Phocion

          Next time you refere to NCAA basketball and its post-season tournament:

          1) Be sure to mention the fact that the basketball tournament includes 65 teams…or 4 to 8 times as many in most discussed NCAA DivI football tourney talk.

          2) Be sure to mention that the NCAA basketball regular season is more than 3 times as long as the football season.

          BOTH of those factors are the reason that any particular game during the regaular season is of lesser value than any game during a football season.

          By comparing and contrasting football with basketball you are intentionally mixing apples and oranges.

          • Thanks for the advice.

            Did you know that the 1-AA football tourney is going to 20 teams, with an ultimate goal of 24?

            Did you know that the basketball regular season has always been significantly longer than the football regular season?

            What I really love about you guys is the argument you throw my way that every other sport besides D-1 football has an extended playoff. Then when I call you on it, you proceed to tell me that the comparison isn’t relevant. Which is it?

          • Puffdawg


            How many teams made the NCAA basketball tournament the year of its inception?

            • Hackerdog

              The basketball tournament was started in 1939 with 8 teams. Then it expanded to 16, then to around 24, then 32, then 40, then 48, then 52, then 53, then 64, and now 65, with calls for expansion to 96 teams.

              The same story happened with the 1-AA football playoffs. Expansion happens. Expansion devalues the regular season. Period.

              • Phocion

                If that is your position, then so does expanding from the 9/10 game schedule to the 12/13 games we see today.

                So does allowing teams to schedule powderpuff Sunbelt teams…to say nothing of 1-AA opponents.

                And, the SECCG devalues the regular season as well since a team now only has to win half the conference to get a chance to upset the better team in a single game…that may be a rematch of a game that was lost earlier in the year.

                • Puffdawg

                  “If that is your position, then so does expanding from the 9/10 game schedule to the 12/13 games we see today.”

                  Adding a game to the reg season does not devalue the regular season, if that’s what you meant. A lengthier regular season only means teams have to win more games to get into the big game, inthe current system. Adding a game to post season would devalue reg season, for reasons I’ve posted below (which have not been rebutted).

                  “So does allowing teams to schedule powderpuff Sunbelt teams…to say nothing of 1-AA opponents.”

                  Teams are certainly ALLOWED to do this, but the current system obviously DISCOURAGES this practice. Look at Aubrun 2004.

                  “And, the SECCG devalues the regular season as well since a team now only has to win half the conference to get a chance to upset the better team in a single game…that may be a rematch of a game that was lost earlier in the year.”

                  No argument here. I would be fine with demolishing the SEC CG and playing all conf opponents in reg season. The PAC 10 gets it right there. But I don’t know how this is proves that a I-A football playoff would not expand. Please elaborate.

                  • Phocion

                    1) The more games a season consists of the more chances teams have to lose games. The more chances for teams to lose games the more teams that will lose games. The more teams that lose games the more likely it is that a MNCG consists of teams with 1 or more losses. Multiple teams with 1 or more losses eligible for the MNCG; the less important the games on their schedule become because arguments will focus on which early season matchup a team can lose without eliminating themselves from MNCG consideration….thus early season OU vs Texas, FSU vs Miami, Florida vs Tennessee, etc become less important than than late season Alabama vs Auburn, OSU vs Michigan, USC vs Notre Dame..thus they are devalued.

                    Look no further than Florida losing mid season to Auburn (10-2) being of less value than Michigan losing their final game to Ohio State (12-0)

                    2) Look at Texas this year…pathetic non-conf + weak conf = MNCG invite. Games like Alabama versus VT are devauled.

                    Also, the disproportionate strength of conferences also devaules the worth of thier intra-conf games. See 2 loss LSU making it to the MNCG.

                    • Puffdawg

                      Again, how does your comment prove that a I-A football playoff would not expand? You are arguing against the BCS rather than for playoffs.

        • hodgie

          I haven’t followed college basketball that long. However, any night I turn it on I see teams getting after it. I watch the “madness” too. I see that same type of intensity. I just don’t understand what is so wrong with a single elimination playoff. It would not devalue the regular season as long as the field was not allowed to be seeded as they are in the pro sports, where you can “lock up” a 1 seed or homefield advantage early. I think if you would eliminate that ability in pro sports and used some form of ranking system like the college teams do in order to make seeds it would be much better.

          • I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a single elimination format. I just think we all need to recognize that it’s not the paradigm that Dodd makes it out to be.

          • Hackerdog

            It would devalue the regular season because, under the current system, the top 2 teams play for the title. Under most playoff proposals, we would see 4, or 8, or 16, or 24 teams play for the title. It’s a lot easier for the #24 team in the country (that could have 3 losses) to get hot at the end of the year and win the title than it is for a team to navigate a challenging schedule with less missteps than the competition. It’s virtually impossible to imagine a scenario under the current system where the BCS title game could involve a 3-loss team.

            • Phocion

              So 3 losses is where you draw the line, not 2; 2 losses is fine with you, right?

              • Hackerdog

                The best 2 teams in the country is where I draw the line. Obviously, you would like many more teams to play for the championship. Where do you draw your line? 8 teams? 24 teams? 48 teams?

  3. rbubp

    Yawn….another effort to convince ourselves of the evils of playoffs…

    • Yawn..another playoff supporter makes a snide remark without acknowledging the valid point of the non-playoff enthusiasts.

      In the end this debate comes down to two immovable opinions. The playoff supporters want a structure that is “fair” and the non-playoff supporters (at least I do) want a structure that rewards “best”. The problem non-playoff supporters such as myself have is that those that come on these boards as well as those at the highest levels of government threatening intervention completely dismiss the potential cons of a playoff system for the argument of “fair”. Whereas I at least acknowledge that the BCS is not “fair” and not necessarily the best or only solution, you playoff supporters never acknowledge that a playoff does not necessarily reward the “best”. Sometimes it rewards the “best”, but a lot of the time it will only reward the team that was good enough for 4 Saturdays rather than 13. That is the point that the Senator and myself have made constantly over the last 18 months or so.

      However, you playoff supporters will just fall back on the old “if it was good enough for Grandpa, then it must be good enough for you” sarcastic memes to insult our lack of progressive thought on the issue whereas we are the only ones truly thinking about the subject analytically while you playoff supporters are only thinking emotionally about it.

      • Macallanlover

        I would be happy to acknowledge a valid point from those opposing any change, I just haven’t heard one. As I stated above, if schools could not claim a title they have not won, that would be OK. let’s just go back to set bowl tie ins and not pretend we have found a solution, or God forbid, a “National Champion”. That is what gets laughed at. We have titles without having earned it.

        Everyone just claim their conference title and let people argue about which conference is best because all we know under the current system is who won a specific conference. It is the false claims that drive people to offer a solution on how to improve it.

        • Puffdawg

          Above link has a good comment thread that aptly shows the pro playoff crowd being dismissive. There seems to be a MAJOR difference within the pro playoff crowd as to whether the process should be completely objective, or remain subjective but just include more teams. That is part of the problem. The pro playoff crowd does not have a unified idea, and the anti playoff crowd fears that will lead to the demise of college footbal as we know it.

          In the link above, there are plenty of points and counterpoints that seem valid. Example: It was never contradicted, so tell me what part of my previous comment (below) is not valid, in your eyes.

          January 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm Again, there are so many different playoff proposals, I don’t know which one I’m even debating here, but I’ll base this on KJ’s…

          It is obviously easier to make a 4 team playoff than to make a two team playoff, because more slots equal more teams that get in. Am I right so far? And it would be easier to get into an 8 team playoff than a 4 team playoff, right? And it would be easier to get into a 16 team playoff than an 8 team playoff. Said another way, a team would have to be “less qualified” to get into a 16 team playoff than a two team playoff. Am I right at this point? Have I said anything that can possibly be debated?

          Now, what does “less qualified” even mean? It means one’s resume would not have to be as impressive, no? What does the resume consist of? Wins and losses, and who those wins and losses came against. So if a team has a loss on their resume, it is less impressive than before, right? So am I still right at this point? Can any of this be debated?

          All this put together, the larger a playoff becomes, the less impressive an entrant’s resume must be, meaning they can better afford a loss and still have a larger chance to get into the playoff than if it were smaller playoff. Thus, a loss in the current system (2 team playoff) has greater consequence than a loss in your 8 team proposal. Thus, a loss is less devestating. Thus, each games loses a degree of importance. Tus the regular season loses importance.

          That is just one example of a valid point made that was never disputed. I’m sure there are more if I did more research.

          One other interesting point I noticed is King Jerico said the debate about which #65 team should be in is just the media using talking points. mikeinvaldosta also said the issue was “so below” the Senator. But SB provided a link yesterday showing a basketball coach saying HALF the march madness field was less qualified than the NIT invitees. So obviously it is a valid complaint with playoff systems.

          • Nice add-on to what I said. Just because I claim myself as a “non-playoff supporter” doesn’t mean that I don’t believe a playoff can work better than the BCS. I just want someone from the pro-playoff crowd to present something to me that would persuade me to believe that a playoff is a better determinant for the best team in college football than what we have now. The pro-playoff supporters are generally so driven by the concept of “change can only be better” that they never acknowledge the unintended consquences of a playoff. Those unintended consequences are what scare people like me about a playoff system. I feel like the pro-playoff crowd believes that by throwing a playoff system together it will automatically solve all of what is wrong with college football. To me, that is analagous to throwing a Band-Aid on a gunshot would and calling it healed. But instead of debating the merits of the points I just made, I suspect those that support a playoff will just continue to insult people like me as not being progressive enough with our thinking.

            • Puffdawg

              “The pro-playoff supporters are generally so driven by the concept of “change can only be better” that they never acknowledge the unintended consquences of a playoff.”

              Are we still talking about playoffs or did we shift to the 2008 presidential election?

        • Hackerdog

          Valid points against a playoff abound, if only you were willing or able to understand them.

          Instead, you anoint yourself the ultimate arbiter of the mythical national championship, declare any other system to be “illegitimate,” and beg the question when giving reasons why your preferred post season format is superior to the current system.


  4. Lil' Jeffy Schultz, pride of the AJC

    hey dumb DOGS, you see that ur recruitin SUXXOR5 this year? ya better beleeve that MIGHTY TECH will WRECK you pups in ’10 unless Saint Paul Johnson says he doesnt care about the game, in which case IT DOESNT MATTER IF YOU WIN cuz we i mean tech doesnt care about the game cuz we i mean tech has bigger fish to fry.

    mark richt IS A LOOSER and paul johnson only took like 4 seconds to hire a new defensive kordinator and AL GROW IS AWESOME! suck it UGA! im a great writur!

  5. You have to do a cost benefit analysis here.

    Would a best of 7 system for each round of a playoff be more likely to have the better team move on? Sure. But can you really play 20+ football games in the post season? Of course not.

    But just because you can’t do the above, should you deliberately go the other way, and have a single game between two teams picked largely based on hype and media member votes as your deciding game? Hell no.