Jostling for position around the grown-ups’ table at the post-BCS banquet

It looks like the Pac-12 wants to be the lead dog on the playoff debate sled.

Leaders of the Pac-12 Conference agreed in principle Saturday to try to end college football’s Bowl Championship Series, proposing its replacement with a playoff system that would allow only conference winners to play for college football’s national title.

“I don’t hear anyone saying business as usual is acceptable,” said Edward Ray, Oregon State University’s president and chairman of the Pac-12 universities’ CEO group. “We need change.”

The size and shape of the new postseason are some of the kinks left to be worked out – how the Rose Bowl fits in with a four- or eight-team playoff, particularly when there appears to be some disgruntlement over the bowls, looks like a sticking point – but there seems to be clear sentiment to follow Larry Scott’s path towards a conference champion-only format.

“The BCS polls have had unintended consequences that are very negative in terms of the culture around football that places a premium on not losing,” Scott said. “The BCS system really doesn’t have any value around strength of schedule. It’s about won-loss records. It’s encouraged by coaches and conferences to want to schedule games as easy as possible and to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes more to buy games and easy wins.”

Well, duh, Larry.  Like your proposal is going to stop that.

But the real 800-pound gorilla in the room with Scott and the Pac-12 isn’t Mike Slive and his conference (and don’t think Scott’s quote wasn’t pointed in the specific direction of the SEC).  It’s Notre Dame.  Dennis Dodd describes the dynamic accurately when he writes,

There is a way Notre Dame could be allowed special access into the new postseason. The question is, should it? With the apparent end of automatic qualifiers, what is the line between the haves and have-nots? Will there be one at all? Notre Dame is the only single entity in the room deciding the future of college football. But the other partners control the football future of Notre Dame.

I have no doubt there will be a full court press put on the Irish to join a conference.  I also have no doubt that Notre Dame will resist.  What is Swarbrick going to hear now that he hasn’t already heard before?

Those of you who think that Notre Dame’s on the field results have made it an irrelevancy which can be conveniently brushed aside in the rush to give the people what they want (hey, don’t forget Michael Adams “feels frustrated for the fans”) are missing the point.  Notre Dame still draws viewership in a way that no other school really does.  Why do you think Swarbrick is the only AD allowed in the room with Slive, Delany and Scott in the first place?  Hint:  it ain’t because they want to discuss the finer points of Brian Kelly’s public etiquette.  He’s there for the same reason that major bowls fight over extending an invitation to an eight-win (hell, seven wins will do nicely, sometimes) Irish squad.  It’s where the money is.

Swarbrick’s no fool, by the way.  He knows why he’s there.

Which is why Dodd’s plus-one format suggestion of the top three ranked conference champs along with the next-highest ranked team getting the last spot screams successful short-term compromise.  I bet Mike Slive would sign on to that.  So would Swarbrick.  Would it last?  Hell, no.  What’s your point?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

19 responses to “Jostling for position around the grown-ups’ table at the post-BCS banquet

  1. It seems to me like the best solution would be to turn over the selection/seeding process to a committee and open eligibility to conference winners and independents, no?


    • The ATH

      I’m against a committee just because the Scotts and Delaneys of the football world will do everything in their power to keep a second SEC team from entering the picture.

      I do like the 3+”wildcard” option though. It takes care of Notre Dame and, if automatically filled w/ BCS rankings, would likely put a 2nd SEC team in the Final Four every other year.


  2. Faulkner

    The BCS is far from perfect, but I have a feeling will look back with nostalgia after these clowns get through screwing things up even worse. If your going to have a playoff, it has to have the top teams regardless of conference championships. I know they don’t want to have 3 SEC teams in the playoffs, but if that’s how things line up then so be it.


    • Connor

      It’s not like we can say the Senator hasn’t warned us of that. But just like congress, we’ll all hate the new playoff while at the same time explaining how it’s failure is due entirely to not executing it another way. The zealots will never admit that it’s systematically impossible to create a satisfying playoff in college football.
      I only wish I could find some investment that paid out based on general fan dissatisfaction with the college football post-season. That’s would be a guaranteed life-time annuity with geometric return growth.


  3. Cousin Eddie

    About the only offer I haven’t heard is for a witch doctor to cast chicken bones to select the teams. Man I wish there was a college that had a witch doctor program, and no the Auburn Sociology department doesn’t qualify.


  4. Bob

    Actually the Dodd proposal wouldn’t be bad. There will be a loop hole for independents which will mean a loophole for a non-champ.

    I am not necessarily thrilled with that because there is no way a team that fails to win its division should get another shot at the team that beat their ass on their own homefield and then got a “bye” in their own conference championship game. It is hard to claim that “every” game matters when the SEC title game had the possibility of putting 2 non-champs from the same conference in the BCS title game. But with 4 teams vice 2, then I say you take the Top 3 ranked conference champs and then the next highest ranked team.


    • Mayorof Dawgtown

      +1. Lost in the end of season nonsense was the fact that had UGA beaten LSU in the SECCG (and for the first half that sure looked likely) the BCSNCG would have had 2 SEC non-champions vying for the BCSNC. Exactly how palatable would that have been to the BCS? I guess that is why Slive instructed the SEC refs to not call holding or any other serious penalty on LSU in the second half and to flag UGA whenever even remotely possible.


  5. paul

    “It’s encouraged by coaches and conferences to want to schedule games as easy as possible and to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes more to buy games and easy wins.” Unfortunately, Georgia’s 2012 schedule as a prime example of this philosophy. If the issue becomes a talking point, expect people to be mentioning our schedule often this year. And not in a complimentary manner. I would sure hate for us to have a great season and be in the top ten late in the season only to become this years reason why the BCS sucks.


    • Booger Presley

      Win the SEC Championship and its a moot point. Anything less is not reaching our goals anyway.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Paul, the OOC schedule is the same it always is–Tech and 3 easy games (the rare exception is one toughie like a Boise which isn’t happening this coming season). The “easy schedule” you are talking about is the SEC schedule set by the conference. Historically some of those “easy” teams (UT, Florida) actually have been pretty tough. It’s not the Dawgs fault that UT and Florida are down right now. I also think some of the games that everyone thinks are going to be easy may not be. Missouri is going to be tough. So is USCe. Florida may be better than everyone expects. So may Vandy. Wanting a tough game every week sounds good until your team has to live through it, gets beaten up and loses a lot of games. Then everybody wants to fire the Head Coach and the AD.


  6. NC Dawg

    This drimes home to me just how out of touch I am; I can’t remember the last time I even paused on a Notre Dame football broadcast while flipping to find a decent game. Can they really still be that strong in the TV ratings? Knute and Ara left a long time ago.


    • Nate Dawg

      I only stop there if it’s late and there’s a chance they’re gonna loose to some scrub on their schedule. Ah-la Syracuse a few years back when Syracuse was even less than what they are now. Now THAT’S don’t miss TV. But otherwise, I’m with you, straight pass them up for that UConn vs Rutgers game.


      • paul

        I agree with both of you. The unfortunate truth though, is that ND commandeers some of the most consistently high ratings of any team in the nation. Year in and year out. Win or lose. Their fans watch. That’s how they get to be the only independent at the table. They bring the money.


  7. NC Dawg

    drives home….sorry


    • Uglydawg

      I always felt Notre Dame would fit well into the Big Ten,But with UM building a monster at OSU, you aren’t going to get them to go. They would probably look for a cupcake conference or maybe even start their own. How goofy that so much concern is given to one over-rated program. Poster “Faulkner” (above @10:08 a.m.) has it right.
      Pandora’s box is wide open and ewwwwww!


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I never thought of that–ND starting its own conference. That would make a lot of sense for ND. Rip off some Big East teams and some MAC teams, add Navy and Army, and voila!–A made for TV conference with ND as the star and enough TV ratings to command a lot of dough. The Irish would win the conference championship every year and make whatever playoff system is created that way. Ug, you are a genius. Maybe you should contact ND and apply for the job as AD.


  8. Cojones

    Has it clicked in anyone’s mind that the SEC, after years of conference championships, has forced the pissy sisters to have their own CCs and they now want to use that as their credentials to now be in the NC playoff? How long have they held their conference championships? DUuh!

    Now , having been forced into risking a larger L column and losing the political pull that had them ranked high (see tOSU for the last 7 years), they want to insure that they will be in the big one. Good friggin luck!. Make it be a qualifier to have played for a conf. champ. at least 3 years before being eligible for a conference champ to be guaranteed a playoff place and then you have something!


  9. Uglydawg

    If we can put a man on the moon, we should be able to come up with a computer program that will tell us who the top teams are….without prejudice. Until we take the human bias out of it, there won’t be a real good solution…Right now, everyone is looking for an angle that will help their team or conference. .A computer wouldn’t be perfect, but it could be unbiased.
    …to show you how far I would go with this sort of thing..I think umpires in baseball should be replaced with technology. I’m weary of seeing officials and refs stink up a game. The strike zone would be the same every single pitch….adjusted (by a computer) to the batters height.
    Similar with the football crossing the goal line…a minute chip in the ball would tell the tale to a sensor under the grass. Same with first downs and first down markers. The technology exists and has for many years. Who you gonna trust….in the pile down on the goal line? One of our favorite refs or an unbiased computer.
    Yeah, it’s hard to accept, but it’s the only way….and by the way….I honestly understand why some people had a problem with Alabama being in the BCS last year, but I honestly believe a fair and unbiased computer would have given us the same matchup. So being a conference champ won’t be a prerequisite for a BCS Championship participant.
    We did put some people on the moon didn’t we? In the late 60s and early 70’s?


  10. Two thoughts:
    First, re: Notre Dame.
    It seems pretty clear to me that they’ll just be treated the same as a conference champion. If they’re ranked highly enough that they’d be included if they were a conference champ, then they’d be included as an independent. It for example, if you’re taking the top four conference champs, and ND (or any independent) is ranked ahead of the fourth-highest conference champ, then they’d be in instead.

    Second, re: “wildcard” selection.
    Rather than the Dodd model, what about this: take the top two teams no matter what (much like the current BCS), but then let the bottom half of the four be filled by the next-highest ranked conference champs (or independents). It still allows for non-champs to get in, but sets the bar higher. Most years, it would only be conference champs invited, anyway.

    This is essentially the BCS Guru plan, but I’ve elaborated and expanded it and outlined the whole thing here: