Just a couple of random tidbits to show how serious football’s custodians are about taking the postseason to the next level.
First, don’t let anybody tell you differently. Shreveport is in the running to host a national semi-final game!
The group overseeing the new college football playoff announced today it has invited 31 bowl committees to consider whether they are interested in submitting a proposal to host the national semifinals and other bowl games to be played New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
The Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl have already been chosen to host the first national semifinals of the playoff on January 1, 2015. The Orange Bowl and a yet-to-be named bowl will host the semifinals in the second year of the playoff. The two bowls that will host semifinals in the third year have yet to be named. Bids are being sought for the three to-be-named bowls.
“This is about giving as many fans as possible the opportunity to enjoy the new playoff and the other bowls in person,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the BCS and the future playoff. “A rotating event means more fans in more places will be able to experience the excitement of the new playoff. Because of the criteria, we don’t expect every bowl to proceed with a bid, but we want to extend an offer to all that are part of the college football bowl tradition.”
Damn, I wish some billionaire with more money than sense would back a play for Shreveport to be a host, just to watch Hancock weasel out of it. (Shoot, there’s got to be more bang for the buck in that than there was in all those RomneyPACs last fall. Combined.) Somebody help a third-tier bowl out.
Of course, we all know the reality here.
Next, Stewart Mandel organizes a brief symposium on the role statistical analysis should play in assembling the semi-finals field (the teams, not Shreveport). It’s well-meaning, but… well, let’s put it this way. Here’s whom Mandel elicited for opinions:
• Bill Connelly, author of SB Nation’s Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders’ S&P efficiency ratings
• Ed Feng, publisher of ThePowerRank.com and Sports Illustrated contributor
• Brian Fremeau, author of BCFToys.com and Football Outsiders’ FEI efficiency ratings
• Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com bracketologist and former publisher of CollegeBCS.com and CollegeRPI.com
• Ken Pomeroy, publisher of the KenPom.com basketball efficiency ratings
And here’s whom Hancock says they’re looking for:
1. People connected with each conference, but not necessarily current staff members — more likely retired ADs or coaches.
2. One or two former media members who covered college football.
3. “Nationally known and respected football people who know the game and made their name in college football.” Former players might fit this bill.
Yeah, those two groups have so much in common. If you put them in the form of a Venn diagram, you’d wind up with a couple of circles that didn’t overlap, with a line drawn between them labeled “Bill Hancock”.
Hint: If you just described all the playoff trappings as the most conservative way to generate the most money, it would save us all a lot of effort, Bill.
UPDATE: Michael Elkon writes something that went through my head when I composed this post earlier.
Thankfully, we are coming to the end of the BCS era. The decisions that were previously made by suspect pollsters and denuded computer programs will now be named by an as-yet unnamed roster of committee members. College football’s innumeracy will no longer be written into the rules. Instead, we will just have to hope that the individuals tasked with selecting four teams will do a better job of utilizing mathematically sound reasoning. It would be something new for college football to go down that path. (Bill Hancock’s comments on the composition of the committee are not confidence-inspiring.)
Baseball has made major strides and yet even now, we are far more likely to see batting average on the screen when a batter comes to the plate as opposed to on-base percentage. How long are we going to have to wait for college football to make similar progress and where will that progress be reflected? In baseball, the use of outdated numbers does not affect the competition. Because of the subjectivity inherent in picking teams to play for the national title, it potentially matters when ESPN uses bad numbers to analyze teams and then Hancock’s “retired ADs and coaches” form their beliefs based on those numbers.
Baseball is much, much farther along in its usage of advanced stats than college football – yet even there, as Michael notes, there’s still plenty of resistance masked as adherence to traditional (read: less accurate) measures. It’s not rational to think that college football is ready to go to a place that even baseball hasn’t fully embraced. Sadly, that’s the case even though more is at stake.