Pretzel logic

Thanks to T. Kyle, I came across this entry from the usually useless Gregg Doyel, who in turn sent me to this bit of comedy gold from the WaPo’s Tracee Hamilton that I’m ashamed to admit I missed when it first appeared.  Discussing the possible expansion of the NCAA basketball tourney to 96 teams, Hamilton offers this observation:

In other words, this is the worst idea in the history of ideas. Well, Jay Leno at 10 p.m. was the worst idea in the history of ideas. This is the worst idea in the history of sports ideas, and that includes the Bowl Championship Series, the previous leader in the category.

Why so bad?  Let her count the ways.

… What is it about corporate greed that, when a company is making a kabillion dollars, it immediately begins wondering, “How can I make a kabillion and one dollars?” Capitalism is great, as long as you don’t screw up the product. The expanded field would definitely screw up the product.

Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, has there ever been a year when you watched the Selection Show and thought, “Man, 31 teams got hosed.” No. There have never been 31 teams who deserved to make the field but didn’t. One or two, maybe. Not 31.

The NCAA would have us believe that more mid-majors would make it, but a more likely scenario is that virtually the entire ACC, Big East, SEC and Big 12 would be chosen. Or maybe one team from each will be left out, for appearance’s sake. So you’ll end up with conference foes playing each other as early as the first round. And won’t that be scintillating? Everyone needs to see a third meeting each March between, say, Nebraska and Iowa State. Or a fourth, depending on the conference tournaments.

The expanded field would eliminate the goal of winning 20 games; that bar would probably be dropped to 17 or 18. And if 18 wins is good enough, a team would no longer need a “signature” win to make it. That could dramatically alter a team’s nonconference schedule. There’d be little reason to load up on tough nonconference foes, which would make college hoops in November and December less interesting.

If the top 32 seeds get first-round byes, that also dilutes the championship itself…

She apparently wrote that without the slightest bit of self-parody in mind.  I don’t know how people like Hamilton are able to keep a straight face.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

5 responses to “Pretzel logic

  1. Tasm

    There will always be people who will say the selection committee left out my old school.


  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    The ‘worst idea’ paragraph is quite the hyperbole, but Hamilton’s column states some standard good points against expanding the basketball tournament.

    Gregg Doyel claiming to think about it is a laugh. He may have thought once but should have tried again. If there’s anything in his column actually saying why 96 teams is good, please show me. Otherwise he’s just knocking down straw man arguments against expansion.

    However, those columns and T. Kyle’s crystallize the difficulty faced by those of us who oppose a football playoff, and will oppose every incremental expansion of the playoff: we’re going to be forced to prove something won’t work, which is hard to do.


    • The Realist

      Playoff proponents are by their very nature expansionists. The current system selects two teams for a two-team playoff. People want to “scrap the BCS” in favor of a playoff… why? To include more teams. They can say it is the system they don’t like, but what system will they use to select the eight teams in an eight-team playoff? Most likely some derivation of the BCS.

      So the whole argument for a playoff is expansion of the current system. If the current system was expanded, there would be some contingent of people who will want it expanded further. They want it “settled on the field” except when the team they wanted in the playoff loses its championship game. Then, they want a slot for those teams that had a hiccup in the play-in game. Then, we have a 16-team playoff, etc., etc.

      The best way to expansion-proof (yeah, right) a playoff is the Senator’s plan. This is the only playoff proposal that can conceivably put limits on expansion… and that’s because the number of conferences are limited, and playoff spots are conference champs only. Any other plan will lend itself to further expansion.

      I’m not against a playoff. I think a playoff would be entertaining. I’m against playoff expansion. I think it would water down one of the best products you can buy for your money. More is not always better.


  3. Phocion

    Baseball’s ‘futuristic’ uniforms…those have to be the worst idea in sports history.