Tired of the fatigue

This is a fun read from Bill Connelly and there’s a quick take from it I’d like to share with you.

One premise of his is that 2018 was essentially the opposite of 2007, which still remains, in my humble opinion, college football’s greatest season of the BCS era.

There’s always wackiness beneath the surface, but the national title race, the most direct source of entertainment, wasn’t all that entertaining.

Only four teams ranked in the top two in the AP poll at some point during the season: Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia. For reference, seven did in 2017, and there was an average of 5.8 over the past six years. Not since 2009, when Alabama, Texas and Florida took over as the top three in Week 4 and squatted on those spots for the rest of the regular season (Alabama and Texas played for the title), have we had such a by-the-book title race.

By bringing this up, am I attempting to jinx us into a wild title race this fall? You betcha. Remember the amazing 2007 season, which featured a decade’s worth of surprise contenders and plot twists? That year featured 11 different top-two teams. The 2008 season featured nine. I’d settle for seven this year.

Are we entering a time of the super program, when a handful of teams have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack?  Or was 2018 simply an anomaly?

David Hale thinks it’s the former, and that we’re already well within it.

David’s conclusion is that it’s problematic for college football in that it’s a recipe for fan fatigue.  If so — and, to be fair, that’s something that’s yet to register in TV ratings — what exactly can college football do about it?

Not much, I’m afraid.  The knee jerk response is to suggest expansion of the CFP, but if these programs have truly separated themselves from the remaining 126 or so others, then all expansion does is postpone the inevitable.  Sure, four additional teams will have the opportunity to chase their postseason dreams, but if you’re not an Alabama or Clemson, what’s gonna change when you face them in the quarterfinals?

Throw up your hands, blow up the CFP and take us back to the chaos of the bowl game era?  For a variety of reasons (read:  money) that ain’t gonna happen.

The only thing I can come up with is cutting the scholarship limits down from 85 to, say, 65.  That would serve to spread the wealth more equitably.  More parity would mean more chances for regular season upsets that would affect the shape of the playoff field and might also serve to reduce the gap David charts between the cream and the merely upper tier.

Then again, if all you really care about in the end is seeing college football’s very best programs face off for a national title, is the current state of affairs troubling?

14 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Stats Geek!

14 responses to “Tired of the fatigue

  1. Bama has at least two programs that have the ability to go toe to toe with them. No matter what Hale says (I don’t think he’s that great anymore) Georgia is on par with Bama.

    Mr. Hale needs to look at the league he covers if he wants to see the problem. Clemson right now has no one close to being an equal. Florida State is probably looking at another coaching change. Miami has been to 1 WSOCP since joining the ACC and was run out of Charlotte in that one. Everyone else is a bunch of dwarfs.

    Oklahoma has a rising Texas (who beat them last year). Ohio State has Michigan and Penn State to deal with (although I believe the natives are getting restless in Ann Arbor).

    If not for Clemson, the ACC would make the Pac 12 look like the SEC.

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  2. Biggen

    Hard to imagine they would ever be a consensus to go down in scholarships. Seems to me The League wouldn’t take kindly to having their farm league reduced in player quantities. The ACLU and NAACP would also sue claiming discrimination or some other silly shit they claim on a daily basis.

    No one stay at the top forever. Eventually a Saban rides off into the sunset.

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    • I can think of one big reason for schools to consider it: player compensation. If the day comes when amateurism is no longer enforceable, reducing scholarships is a quick, efficient way to control overhead. It would have the added benefit of taking pressure off Title IX requirements for schools to maintain adequate numbers for women’s sports.

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  3. illini84

    I remember being at an Illinois-Ohio State game in Columbus in 1972 and the OSU players stretched from goal line to goal line.

    “The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was established in 1906 as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States. The name was changed to its current name in 1910. There was no control over scholarships for any sport, but there was a requirement that a school’s athletes had to be enrolled in the school they played for. Football schools could offer as many scholarships as they could afford and many had 150 players or more.

    1973 brought about the first limitations on football scholarships in order to free up money for women’s sports after Title IX was passed by Congress in 1972 as part of the Equal Opportunity in Education Act. This caused the NCAA schools’ presidents and athletic directors to push through a limit of 105 football scholarships. Additional reductions were made in 1978 (95) and again in 1992 which brought the limit to its present number of 85 and 63 for Division I-AA.”

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  4. don’t have long so here goes……of course in the college football world the the rich are getting richer and you don’t need any stats to see it is becoming less competitive in the over all sense…BUT ….the dawgs are competitive and in the hunt so I don’t give a flying F. Just stay undefeated in the East and we’re fine. The rest is mental masturbation.

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  5. Gaskilldawg

    The foreseeable consequence of the ersatz playoff. Win a conference championship while beating all rival teams? Formerly fans would call it a great season and celebrate the team. Now we are in an era that, as an ESPN radio host put it, “being 4th is as good as being 1st but being 5th is no better than being 125th.”
    That is one big reason fans only care about 3 or 4 teams

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  6. So the maths support what I, we, long predicted and see with CFP.

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  7. Otto

    Bring back the BCS, yes the SEC was predictably in the playoff but the other team rotated between the other P5 conferences.

    Further if a SEC or ACC wins their conference with 1 loss or less they’re guaranteed a spot. The playoff makes it easier for teams to control their own destiny meaning there is less reason to watch games involving other playoff contenders and it is less likely the playoff picture will completely change on rivalry or championship weekend.

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  8. Texas Dawg

    There was a link to an article on here a few weeks ago that highlighted the concentration of 5 star talent at just a few schools. Fortunately UGA was one of the elite. As long as college football is about the Jimmies and Joes, and a few schools continue to recruit well, only a few will stand a real chance of reaching the mountain top.

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  9. Union Jack

    Historically what typically has ended the dominant teams reign? Usually it has very little do with things on the field but off the field things like NCAA sanctions, coaching changes, academic scandal and conference realignment.

    Given the fact that the NCAA enforcement staff is not as strong as in the past, I can’t see them having an impact in the near future.

    Perhaps some type of on campus scandal will come along but the things that happened at UNC and Baylor didn’t truly bring sweeping changes like Prop 48 did in the late ’80’s & early ’90’s.

    Conference realignment seems to have found a happy place for a few more years while the conferences and networks work through the tv contracts. Nothing will happen much there until its time to re-up the playoff contract. I can see something happening there if its determined not to expand but no one really believes that its not going to expand.

    Coaching changes could make a difference especially if Saban retires in the next 2-3 years and kicks off a round robin of changes that result in Swinney leaving Clemson or CKS leaving Athens. But Stoops left OU and Riley stepped right in to lead the Sooners to back to back CFP appearances. We should all watch the happenings in Columbus over the next few years to see what happens with the Buckeyes. Maybe it might create a change if Saban retires or leaves Bama at the same time the Meyer comes back to take over USC?

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    • PTC DAWG

      Saban doesn’t look ready to go anywhere to me.

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      • Union Jack

        Yeah – I agree. I was just pointing out that historically college football has had these periods where a handful of teams dominate and what ends that domination is usually scandal (NCAA or otherwise) and/or coaching changes.

        Bama will be the top or at the top for as long as Saban is there.

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  10. Cojones

    Conjecture, conjecture; all for trying not to entertain the thought of 8 teams.

    And “knee-jerk” buzzword response has nothing to do with several of us calling for an 8-team playoff for several years. We would have been included in that playoff last year if not for some of the asinine arguments put forward to not have teams representative of a NC caliber playoff. Objective reasoning doesn’t seem to be in your forte on this subject, Bluto. Ok, kickin’ and screamin’ it is for the win.

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  11. Hobnail_Boot

    This is all just wailing and gnashing of teeth. Dominance is cyclical.

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