Monthly Archives: December 2018

The CFP rent’s too damned high, ctd.

Okay, as a follow up to yesterday’s post about playoff expansion, I wanted to share a few semi-facetious thoughts about a better path.

I say semi-facetious because we all know what college football’s Jed Clampetts and Mickey are going to do, no matter what, and so any suggestions to the contrary are basically pissing in the wind.  That being said, there is a certain freedom in wind pissing that I appreciate.

So, let’s start with this basic premise:  as a general rule of thumb, there aren’t four teams worthy of national title consideration in a given season.

Or, to put it another way,

There just aren’t that many teams built to win national championships. Just because there’s a playoff with X number of teams doesn’t mean that they all are good enough to win it:

Over the past 25 seasons, every team that has won or shared a national title has had an S&P+ rating in the 95th percentile or better, with rounding. The worst was 2002 Ohio State at 94.8 percent. However, all but three teams (four, if you include UCF in 2017) were in the 98th percentile or higher. Usually the elitest of the elite earn the ring.

As I wrote yesterday, one of college football’s unique aspects is that it boasts less parity between D-1 teams than any other major competitive sport in this country.  There simply aren’t that many great teams in a given season.  Which is why I think this conclusion is a stretch:

The Playoff semifinals are weed-out classes. The best teams almost always get through, but they’re good for ensuring the best teams really are the best teams.

So far, it’s worked. The four national champs in the Playoff era have finished first, first, second, and second in S&P+. Bama and Clemson are in the top two spots heading into this season’s title game. It’s time for the final exam.

There really hasn’t been much weeding out.  As Matt Hinton pointed out, only two of the first ten semi-final games have finished with single-digit margins between the participants.

In other words, a four-team playoff hasn’t really been needed for the most part to separate the two best teams from the pack.

There is a but, though.  Here’s my second basic premise:  to the extent that there is any real tension behind the drive to expand the college football playoffs, it comes from years when there are three teams with legitimate claims to earning a national title.

Those sorts of season aren’t the standard, but they crop up often enough to be an issue.  The problem is that a mandated four-team (soon to be eight-team) format is a cure worse than the disease, if the goal is to reward the very best in college football, given the likelihood that teams unworthy of that final goal are being incorporated into the process in an attempt to make sure the worthy teams are given their place.

Let me extend that medical metaphor one step further.  The reason the cure is worse than the disease is that an expanded playoff creates a new symptom.  A watered down playoff field not only makes the playoff itself less entertaining, but it also makes the top tier bowl games less entertaining because those match ups are diminished by bracket creep.

As crazy as that seems, what’s even crazier is that the only solution the powers that be appear to have for the problem is to introduce a larger playoff field, something that will only exacerbate the exact problem they’re trying to fix, or, more accurately, the problem they claim they’re trying to fix.  The real problem for the suits is leaving money on the table for their product.

It’s a broken system.  How, then, could the patient be cured, or at least nursed back to health, so to speak?  Well, one way would be to level the playing field a good bit through re-engineering scheduling or roster size, but that’s an even bigger pipe dream than holding back the tide on playoff expansion.

If it were up to me, here’s where I would go.  First, outsource the selection process to the folks with no skin in the game, the bloodless types who run Vegas sports books.  They have no inherent bias or conflict, other than avoiding the loss of money.  In one fell swoop, you would eliminate a factor that was introduced with the shift from the BCS to the CFP, the consideration of spreading the wealth between the P5 conferences.  (That factor being, of course, the primary motivation behind expansion to a quarter-finals.)

Vegas power ranks programs.  Let Vegas come up with whatever games involving the top teams would result in setting lines of less than, say, eight points.  If there is only one game that meets that criteria, so be it.  If there are three teams that are on that level, then fashion a semi-finals that includes the three and winds up with the top team getting to face the fourth best.  Nobody deserving is left out in that situation, and we’ve still got a decent shot of having at least one competitive game worth watching.

Yes, I know it’s a proposal that’s DOA because there’s no way Disney would be happy booking that level of uncertainty.  (I said this was a semi-facetious post, remember?)  For what’s it’s worth, though, I think that’s actually a little overstated.  ESPN could still come up with a whale of a show setting up how the playoff would look every season and — here we get to the second part of my mad scheme — the remaining games would be more competitive, more entertaining and, hence, more valuable.

To enhance that possibility, I would let the bowls do the one thing they were good at in their heyday, which is to let them have free rein in assembling the participating schools.  End the mandatory conference tie-ins; hell, make things more Wild West by letting the bowls bid for teams.  (For schools that just whiff on making the playoff, that could make for a nice consolation prize.)  Top tier bowls selfishly want games that generate fan interest.  Let them have those again.

Okay, so that’s all I’ve got.  I know it’s a waste of bandwidth, but I feel better for typing that.  (It sure beats what’s coming.)  Now I’ll go back to my college football death watch.  Just give me those five good years, please…



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Scenes from a commitment

Not unfair at all, according to Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who had this advice for kids about to sign an NLI:  “Students need to go into this with their eyes open.”  That, of course, is an incredibly wise suggestion for those high schoolers being pressured to sign by a head coach who warns that a December slot may not be available come February.

Manny Diaz has come out alright.  Temple has banked six and a half million.  The kids have learned a life lesson, and how can you put a price tag on that?

And some of you pretend to wonder where this generation gets its lack of commitment from.


Filed under College Football, Recruiting

The last “it just means more” moment of 2018



And that, friends, is why CBS will do everything in its power to renew its SEC broadcast deal when the time comes.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Ok. Cool Hook Em.

Speaking strictly for myself, if I see the refs throw a flag against Georgia should a player flash the horns down sign, I’m gonna be one POed Dawg fan.

Opponents have been known to flip that sign to a “horns down,” the equivalent of a Georgia player taking Florida’s Gator Chomp and doing it after a big Bulldog play.

The Big 12 frowned on horns down. So much so that Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said before the league title game against the Longhorns that a player doing a “horns down” would draw a penalty, according to the Norman Transcript.

The Big 12 said that an “unsportsmanlike act,” by rule, is subject to a penalty.

“That was a weird deal,” Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray said days after the Sooners beat Texas in the Big 12 championship game. “I wasn’t going to waste my time doing it anyway during the game. After the game have at it. I don’t know. For them to make it a penalty was pretty ridiculous.”

Georgia safety J.R. Reed, who hails from Frisco, Texas, saw plenty of Hook’Em Horn gestures growing up. He was asked if he’s practiced the horns down.

“I don’t know if that’s a flag for this game,” he said. “I think that’s only a Big 12 rule so I’ve got to find that out….I’m going to find out and learn my rules so I don’t get a flag.”

Here’s the answer from Wright Waters, the executive director of the Football Bowl Association:

“It is a judgment call,” Waters said. “Remember when kids were giving the throat slash action? For a long time it was called different by different conferences until finally there was a national standard.”

The issue is taunting if an official feels a player is taunting by doing it, they will probably call it. But purely a judgment call.”

Hey, Wright, how do you have a “national standard” for a signal that’s directed at a single school?  Asking for SEC refs who’ve been just fine flagging teams for the Gator chomp.

They’ve got a Pac-12 crew calling the Sugar Bowl, so that doesn’t exactly give me room for comfort.


Filed under Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

Nothing is easy.

Jim Chaney said out loud what many of us thought was the team’s biggest problem over the first half of the season.

“We were having some good things come our way, but I’m not necessarily sure we were working as hard as we should have. It kind of opened up – like you said, it opened our eyes a little bit. Hopefully, we’ve all learned from that.”

It was obvious to me at the time that the team was coasting on its talent edge, until it showed up — maybe didn’t show up is more accurate — in Baton Rouge.

Which kind of makes you wonder what might have happened if the Dawgs had somehow managed to coast to a win against LSU.  Not showing up in Jacksonville would have sucked beyond words.

Hopefully, it’s a lesson that sticks.


Filed under Georgia Football

Musical palate cleanser, caught like a sewer rat edition

For our last MPC of 2018, here’s a nifty clip of the instrumental backing track to the Beach Boys’ “Sail on Sailor”:

If you didn’t stay ’til the end, click on it again and listen all the way through.  Trust me, it’s worth it.


Filed under Uncategorized

The final “Mark Richt has lost control” moment?

According to this report, he’s lost control over his Miami career.

InsideTheU has learned through multiple sources that Richt informed school officials on Sunday that he plans to retire. The news comes just a few days after the Hurricanes were rolled by Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl.

I wonder if he comes back to Athens in retirement.


UPDATE:  Life comes at you fast.


UPDATE #2:  Per Bruce Feldman ($$),

A person with direct knowledge of the matter told The Athletic on the condition of anonymity that a big reason for Richt’s exit is that he was under pressure to remove his son Jon from the Hurricanes coaching staff. Jon Richt was the Hurricanes’ quarterbacks coach.

This is why there’s a good reason for anti-nepotism rules.


Filed under ACC Football

Pride goeth before a Sugar Bowl.

I mentioned earlier that several Georgia players took to social media in the wake of yesterday’s lopsided results to express being miffed about their exclusion from the CFP.  Does that count as a pre-bowl distraction?

Not according to some of their teammates.

A loss to the Longhorns now makes UGA look like a fraud, but a win, especially a convincing one, might prove their point. The pressure is on but the players insist that they don’t feel it.

“I don’t think we have to go out and prove anything,” sophomore running back D’Andre Swift said. “I think we’re going to play to our standard, which we always do and everything will take care of itself.”

Swift went on to say that he thought the tweets were harmless, that the fact of the matter is that they simply felt quite strongly that the Bulldogs were one of the nation’s top programs.

None of the players expressed any regret about the actions of the teammates. While they may not have participated, the Bulldogs feel that they already put a lot of pressure on themselves to play well. When toe meets leather in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a couple of days, they won’t be looking at the scoreboard or thinking about the collective decision of the CFP committee. They’ll be trying to do their job to the best of their ability on every play.

This game doesn’t become more important all of a sudden. The UGA player believe they’ve been locked in during Sugar Bowl preparation from the jump.

“I don’t think it’s any extra pressure. As a team, we understand the meaning of the game and the importance of this game,” sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas said. “We already understand how we need to play to be successful.”

I do think (and Vegas concurs) that on paper, Georgia is the better team.  The question is how much of the game gets played on paper and how much comes down to what’s between the ears of Georgia’s players.  For better or worse, Kirby’s motivational skills will be on display as much as his prep and scheme work is.


Filed under Georgia Football

Boom, keep your powder dry.

Somehow, South Carolina managed to get shut out yesterday by a team that finished the regular season with overtime losses to Georgia Tech and a team that didn’t have a winning record.

At least the ‘Cocks now enter their favorite time of year, the offseason of content.


Filed under 'Cock Envy

The CFP rent’s too damned high.

After yesterday’s games, I know the popular take in these here parts is Notre Dame no, Georgia yes, but it’s not the right lesson to learn.

This is.

The essential reality of the 2018 season is that there weren’t four teams worthy of national title consideration before yesterday’s games were played.  Don’t take my word for that, either ($$).

On​ rare occasions,​ we​ sportswriters actually predict​ something​ correctly.​ Not​ that​ this one was​ particularly challenging.

That​​ Alabama would meet Clemson for the 2018 national championship seemed ordained before the teams even reported to camp. They were ranked 1-2 to start the season. They were 1-2 in every edition of the College Football Playoff rankings…

Frankly, we didn’t need a Playoff this year. The old BCS formula would have sufficed. Alabama and Clemson were the best teams all season, which should not be surprising, seeing as they’ve been the best programs in the sport for the past four seasons.

There’s a reason Vegas established ‘Bama and Clemson as heavy favorites, you know.  Yet most of us were willing to buy into a mass hallucination, aided and abetted by Mickey, that these were going to be competitive matches, that Notre Dame and Oklahoma weren’t mere cannon fodder.

Suckers.  ESPN and the people running the college football playoffs push the narrative because there’s money to be made.  We buy it because we want to be entertained.  It’s a fool’s errand, because we ignore the statistical evidence.

Matt is being too generous with his “small sample size” gesture.  The essential nature of college football, particularly in the last two decades, is two-fold:  one, it boasts less parity than any other major organized sport in this country and two, its excellence is also unbalanced, geographically speaking.

None of this should come as a surprise.  College football’s uniqueness comes in large part from its regional nature and from the ability of a select few programs to accumulate talent in significantly greater numbers than the bulk of their peers.  The flaw in the current drive to expand the playoffs in an attempt to nationalize the appeal of the sport is that it eradicates the former factor while ignoring the latter.  That is why playoff expansion for college football, as it continues along its current trajectory, is doomed to failure.

We’re already seeing it now.  Mandel’s column hints at it, but Dan Wolken’s “here we are now, entertain us” piece really hits at it.

Every year now, college football fans and administrators have to ask themselves: Would they rather the selection process be about evaluating seasons or personnel? Georgia has better players than Notre Dame. But by no measurement did two-loss Georgia handle its schedule as well as the undefeated Fighting Irish.

When those two things don’t line up, you get mismatches. And boy have we had a lot of them. Will the cycle even out someday? Or has the romance and intrigue about what a real playoff would look like given way to permanent drudgery? If that’s the case, change is needed ASAP. Such a beautiful sport can’t be allowed to become a bore.

Yes, college football’s two best teams facing off for a national championship is a drudge, a bore.

This is the next argument you’re going to hear for playoff expansion.  I admit there’s a superficial attractiveness to it — surely four vs. five will have a certain level of competitiveness to it, right?  And don’t forget the Cinderella factor that ESPN will flog to death.  But if Alabama and Clemson beat the selection committee’s third and fourth best teams by double digits, are we really supposed to expect that numbers seven and eight are going to put up better fights consistently?

Don’t be ridiculous.

If playoff expansion is inevitable as I believe it is, then we can either expect one of two outcomes.  The first is that the current trends I mentioned above are exacerbated by an increasingly watered down field and we’re treated to more and more lopsided affairs until we get down to the championship game or the sport takes steps to reduce the lack of parity that defines it.

With regard to the latter of those, given that those kind of steps would involve making moves like restructuring the nature of scheduling or roster size reduction, all of which would be rightly seen as serious threats to the very college powerhouses that sit atop the sport today, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

In short, I hope you enjoy three-touchdown blowouts in the postseason, because there are plenty more in our future.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football