While I’m on the subject of playoff expansion (okay, again), I can’t help but share a naked display of what the real motivation behind bracket creep is.
Hint: it’s not a search for the best.
Today’s quote comes from Scott Boras, the baseball super agent who’s been racing around the winter meetings trying to convince a team to shell out record contract terms for his client Bryce Harper. While there, though, he’s got plenty of other clients trying to shake fruit out of the money tree, and the going’s been slow. So, here’s his solution for that problem:
To sell his players Boras needs more teams trying to win, and to do that Boras wants baseball to expand the playoffs–three wild-card teams in each league instead of two, making for “seven playoff levels.” His idea would allow teams barely above .500, or worse, to push for a postseason berth and create an “October Madness” of supposed playoff excitement.
Before you snicker or brush that off as simply a pushy player agent’s way of getting players paid, tell me how that’s any different from Jim Boeheim’s relentless push to expand March Madness because it would give more coaches the opportunity for job security through claims that their teams qualified for the playoffs.
The point here being that it’s about the money — it’s always about the money — and that there are more than just the hands of the owners that reach out for a stake in that. Owners, players, coaches, they all grab. The only ones who don’t get a seat at the table are the fans. Keep that in mind as you tell yourself that an eight-team college playoff is so great it solves everyone’s problems for good. It won’t, because there’s never enough.
36 responses to “Today, in settling it on the field”
Coaches’ job security is even bigger than money when it comes to playoff/bowl expansion and scheduling, IMO.
It;s never enough is one of the most basic rules of economics… the supply of everything is finite and the demand for everything is unlimited…..the supply and demand curve are crossing in the appropriate loci about now but the real problemt with all the expansinists arguments is the obvious one……..If deciding between 4 and 5 is hard just wait until your deciding between 8 and 9, I for one don’t need nor want to listen to the Boise States and UCF’s of the world bitch about not gettin in the playoffs. Playoffs are like my waist line they only seem to go in one direction.
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The players also don’t have a voice in playoff expansion or much of anything else.
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In CFB the players don’t get a seat at the table either Senator. More teams in a playoff means more games they have to play to earn their scholarship and more risk of injury.
They’ve been inching that way for a while, Mayor. That’s why the COA stipend was created and grows. If Alston goes their way, they’ll be all in.
Just posted this in yesterday’s post, but the “compromise” seems too obvious. 5 P5 conference games plus 3 Invitational games for the group of 5 and ND to be selected by the committee (yeah! …still get to meet in Grapevine, TX!). This solves the ND problem by giving them an extra game but against a non P5 opponent. Immediate leap to 16 teams using an existing weekend that saves the conference championships. Army-Navy game gets moved to Kickoff Classic weekend.
This year, we have a 4-team playoff. There’s at least one left-out team, Georgia, that probably would have a legitimate shot at winning the Nat’l Championship if it were in the playoff. If this year’s playoff included 8 teams, I don’t think any of the left-out teams (Washington, Florida) would have a realistic chance at winning the Natty, and that’s why I’d like to see an 8-team playoff.
they don’t have a chance but you’d like to see it ? Is this a typo ?
If playoffs expand to eight, the sec is going to be even more dominant unless they start putting the at large (and there will be a perennial sec at large team) sec team on the same side of the bracket as the sec champion. The sec has already put an at large team into a 2 and 4 team playoff. Is there any doubt Georgia would go through any team except Clemson and Alabama like a hot knife through butter?
I’d also predict that an eight team playoff would even separate the haves from the have nots in terms of national championship odds due to recruiting being even more important than it is now (and recruiting is already critically important now)
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Oh, you can be sure all the SEC entrants (and there will be multiple) wind up on the same side of the draw. Can’t have any of that “SEC favoritism”, can we?
What do you mean? The two times that there were 2 SEC teams in the playoff system, they met in the championship game. So I wouldn’t have this fear.
The players don’t get much of a seat at the table either.
I understand the attraction by so many for the expansion to 8. I don’t agree for many reasons. After really thinking about it, the right 4 teams are in, and those on the outside really only have themselves (or their schedule to blame … looking at you, UCF).
Bama – 13-0 and beat the best of those on the outside in another instant classic
Clemson – 13-0 and was rarely challenged (yes, the ACC sucked this year)
Notre Dame – 12-0 and had probably the 2nd best win with its win over Michigan.
Oklahoma – best resume of the 1-loss conference champions and avenged their only regular season loss
Those on the outside:
Georgia – show up in Red Stick and don’t go into a shell in Atlanta
Ohio State – don’t get blown out by Purdue and taken to OT by Maryland
Michigan – don’t get blown out by Ohio State and win your division for crying out loud
UCF – play a big boy schedule and maybe you can be at the big boy table
Washington – don’t look awful for most of the season and make your case on the season’s first weekend
Every team that’s in has a legitimate claim to win the championship on the field. Everyone else has real flaws or missed their opportunity to win it on the field.
This is the way it is most years, but I’m not a dummy. When the TV people put up enough money, the idiots who run the sport are going to take it.
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^^ This. But in today’s world money talks and realistic rational thinking walks
Clemson – A schedule the MAC champion could have gone undefeated with.
Notre Dame – Struggled with a mediocre USC and had a laughable schedule as well.
Ohio State should have been in over Notre Dame.
I, too, am tired of Clemson’s free pass to the playoff every year.
Get your shit together FSU.
No way was the committee (nor the WWL) going to put in a 1-loss champion in over ND.
The standard has been set … an undefeated P5 (+ ND) is going to be in every time (SOS be damned).
Depends on if you are choosing “best 4 resumes” or “best 4 teams”. The committee is supposed to be picking the best 4 teams.
I get that … they say the best 4, and they believe they have selected the best 4. The subjective nature of the committee’s ranking is why I would have rather had a BCS type of formula do the selection except that format was so toxic after 2011.
The only way I would agree to an expansion to 8 would be a champions only format which would require so much change in college football that it would never happen. You would have to blow up the current system and start over.
Are there 8 teams this year that anyone thinks could win 3 games in a row against any 3 of the other 7? 8? There aren’t. There are barely 4 teams that could win 2 games against any of the other 3 (if there are even that — I guess I think OU could beat both Bama and Clemson within a week or that Notre Dame could beat Clemson and OU within that same week — someone has to. I’m pretty sure UCF or Florida or, given their performances to date, Ohio State could not).
The thing here no one is talking about is that if we added a 3rd consecutive game against a high-quality opponent, the deepest teams are almost always going to win because that’s pretty much how it is now with them only playing 2 such games back-to-back. Bama is deep (duh) and has better players on its 3 deep than UCF or any Pac-12 team really has as starters in many cases. Nevermind UCF, Washington (a pretty good team) or Florida would completely disintegrate in this sort of format.
And we should all recognize that the championship games are going nowhere, so it’d really be 4 more-or-less consecutive games against high-quality opponents for those playoff teams. And boo-damn-hoo B1G will then moan about how they play conference games the last week of the regular season, boo-hoo.
Say Alabama wins this year: they will have played Auburn, Georgia, Oklahoma and, say, Clemson in a row. Last year, there’s no doubt they benefited from not playing in the championship game when it came to the CFP while we had to beat Auburn, Oklahoma (across the country), and Alabama (granted, in our backyard) all in a row. It’s a lot. Add another game just to let a team with a shallow roster and weak schedule “have a shot”? That borders on ridiculous. Your champ will always be Alabama, Ohio State or Clemson: you could more less just look at the recruiting rankings and predict the finals. And you can do that now – it’ll just be a bigger correlation with an 8 team playoff.
This doesn’t even get into making the players play another game with no appreciable benefit to them.
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(Sorry for my rant)
Nah, those are good points. A bigger playoff probably ensures that, the deeper into the tournament one goes, the more likely the team with the higher recruiting ranking wins. Not sure if the UCFs and Washingtons of the world wouldn’t just say “well it’s better than being left out.” But the point still stands…….Washington upsetting Georgia in a Round1 probably means they get massacred even harder in Round2 by an Alabama or Clemson.
Yes, the expansion will happen because of money. However, pointing that out doesn’t really address the arguments of the majority of people who think an 8 team playoff is a more fair way of determining the champion. If your desired end is achieved for cynical reasons, you still get your desired end. If a return to the old bowl structure was more economically advantageous, I wouldn’t lament its return just because money was the reason for it, ultimately.
I hear what you’re saying, but here’s the problem with it: expansion isn’t being directed by your “the majority of people”. It’s being driven by the same greedheads who have created the 64-team (or whatever it is now) March Madness spectacle.
You aren’t going to get your desired end. You’re going to get whatever is in their financial interest. And before you give me some song and dance about how that’ll be one and the same, don’t forget we’re talking about the same bunch that wanted to balloon the men’s basketball tourney to 96 teams, but couldn’t find a broadcast partner willing to pay them for that.
How many times do you have to listen to Bill Hancock swear things are etched in stone, only to seem him retreat to a new talking point before you realize this?
It’s not my desired end. I just don’t think the people who want the 8-team playoff are going to care that greed is why they got it. I also don’t think they’ll care if it expands beyond eight, even if they agree that it’s inevitable.
My apologies for misunderstanding. I think your last sentence is spot on.
The commissioners are counting on supplementing the traditional CFB fan with the casual fan who tunes in for playoffs. That’s the national branding strategy ESPN is happy to employ. The mistake they’re making is that they think they can add the latter without affecting the former. ESPN doesn’t care because they’ll price the regular season rights down when ratings slow.
If true, that sucks and it will kill the sport the same way they killed NASCAR – trade regional traditions and die hard fanatics for a bunch of channel surfers.
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I was thinking of the NASCAR analogy, too… beat me to it.
If you peel behind the curtain, the majority of the people screaming for an 8 team playoff are luke-warm college football fans at best. “I haven’t watched much football this year…….but ____march madness…” What amazes me more is how much credence journalists give this bunch.
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Taken to its illogical extremes, the natty will be played on Easter weekend, March Madness will become May Mania, and the seventh game of the World Series will be played Christmas Day.
Since everyone has put in their perfect plan here is mine.
Have four Power Conferences with sixteen members each. Conferences member play 10 games in conference and two non conference. Only conference champions are allowed to compete for the National Title. First round of the playoffs is your conference championship game. Then on a rotating basis the conference champions play each other at New Year six bowl sites. Power conferences are SEC (16), BIG 16, PAC 16, and ACC (16).
If your conference does not have sixteen members or your team does not play for one of these conferences then you are ineligible for the playoffs.
SEC: current members plus Texas and Oklahoma
BIG 16: Current BIG 10 plus Oklahoma State and Iowa State
PAC 16: Current PAC plus TCU, Texas Tech, Boise State and Hawai’i
ACC: Current Member West Virginia and Notre Dame
Here’s a perfect model to follow if that’s what you want.
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I think, I would like my proposed model more than the current. The current is pretty good. I feel this makes it a bit more equal. It doesn’t diminish the regular season and makes entire into the playoffs equal across the board.
With your model the best teams are all in the SEC. Why would the SEC need to add Oklahoma and Texas. It would make travel for their fans impossible and destroy their regional traditions. It is not worth destroying tradition for an 8 team playoff.
Amongst public universities (for whom data is available), athletic departments in the AAC require a $26million /year SUBSIDY from the taxpayers and students in order to afford to play FBS football.
How come nobody is talking about this ? Should every city that “Just wants it” get an NFL team ? Hell, no. Not an anti-trust expert (where this is headed), but I do know there is a lot of overlap in the analysis regardless of whether the industry is non-profit or for-profit. In my mind, UCF’s claims are akin to Memphis or Birmingham claiming that it’s all the fault of the Falcons and Titans that their Alliance of American Football teams don’t get to play in the same playoff. UCF thinks it’s UF fault that their whole product sucks, not the 80 yr head start in the goodwill department, or what the anti-trust framework might call “historical accident.”
Oh sure, in the college non-profit world, it’s covered up real clean-like because the University (tax payer and student fees) just cloaks the inferiority with a check from the coffers, but the fact is these teams should never have been able to self-elect a move up into FBS and should be playing at the FCS level. They are a drain on tax dollars and only inflate tuition costs.
Gosh, that scares me. Could it really expand to 60% of the teams Daddy? This is awful! Since we cannot get a guarantee someone might go totally stupid some decade in the future, we should just put our foot down and not do what is right!
And did you hear that hint? We might not always know it is going to give you “the best”. Goodness, because we want to always be guaranteed that no contrarian opinions should ever exist once we crown someone as “champion” (champion = best to everyone, you know?) It doesn’t matter that best will always involve subjectivity, regardless of who makes, or who wins, the playoff…if you keep it at four.