Daily Archives: February 19, 2022

In the land of the Jeds, the one-eyed Jed is king.

A day that will live in infamy

Last August, Kliavkoff, Phillips and Warren formed “The Alliance,” which at the time was meant to form scheduling partnerships, bring together like-minded academic institutions and stabilize a landscape that was again uncertain with another round of realignment — none more drastic than Big 12 co-founders Oklahoma and Texas announcing their intent to eventually bolt to the SEC. That move set the stage for the already-dominant league to become the Power 5’s first 16-team superconference.

Sankey, whose dual roles in conference realignment and playoff expansion have been questioned by some, has repeatedly pointed out his conference never advocated for a bigger playoff. On the contrary, he described the league’s willingness to even engage in a conversation considering expansion “an enormous give.” Scott, the former leader in the Pac-12, and former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany initially made the biggest push for expansion.

Nobody will forget, though, the day Oklahoma and Texas decided to join the SEC.

“There was an initial burst of enthusiasm and support when it came out,” Aresco told ESPN last month. “But I think the expansion, the realignment — the realignment definitely threw a wrench into it. I don’t think it should have in the end because I think it’s a good plan and I think we need it for college football. But I do think that paused it to some extent.”

Sure, it’s petty, cut your nose off to spite your face thinking.  Worse, though, they’ve all started coming up with rationalizations to justify it.  The ACC commissioner wants a holistic review of the sport before moving on (that could take decades; not that that’s a bad thing as far as I’m concerned) although it’s suspected that his real motivation is to force Notre Dame to join his conference.  The Big Ten commissioner wants a guaranteed playoff spot for his conference winner, no matter what.  And the Pac-12, which needs playoff expansion more than any other P5 conference, refuses to let the Rose Bowl go without a fight.

And all it cost them was money.  A lot of money.

“I think people in the long term operated against their broader self-interest,” Swarbrick said. “That’s always an odd circumstance and it is frustrating. The things that got in the way were things that were important to people. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the balance between those issues and the larger benefits. Everybody has their own view.”

They’ve torched the short term, so now it’s on to the next deal after the current one expires.  The rules change for that move.

Hancock told ESPN in January that in Year 13, they need a majority of the management committee to agree to it — including three of the Power 5 commissioners. Everyone else at that point can choose whether they want to participate in the playoff.

Also from January is the sound of a man high on his own supply.

“You guys can all determine for yourself what subset of those 11 people would have to say, ‘We agree’ for that to become the College Football Playoff,” Kliavkoff says. “Once you do that and by definition, because it’s going to be expanded, it provides more access for everyone, I think you could then go back to the people who weren’t part of the group that came up with the new proposal and say ‘We’d also like to start that in ’24, not in ’26.’ Everybody would go ‘We’re O.K. with that.’”

“Everybody” is doing some heavy lifting there.  Meanwhile, Greg Sankey sounds like a man preparing to play the long game.

Sankey’s stance is the SEC already made a concession by agreeing to expand in the first place. The SEC has never been left out of the four-team playoff. When Georgia beat Alabama in the championship game last month, it was the second time two SEC teams played for the CFP title.

But Sankey has acknowledged a bigger field could boost interest in college football nationally.

Now, he said there is no guarantee the SEC will remain supportive of expanding beyond four.

“From our perspective, we’ve given. We’re going to have to go and rethink our position based on how others have approached the conversation that, really, they initiated,” Sankey said. “And I don’t expect that to get any easier.”

This is another reminder that the people running college sports are not as smart, generally speaking, as they think they are.  If Greg Sankey’s a little shrewder than the new Jeds, that’s as smart as he needs to be.

19 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, SEC Football

Jolting

I guess The Athletic’s decided to drive me nuts today.  Here’s David Ubben ($$):

The solution is to create more meaningful games in the sport, an idea that can have a host of welcome side effects to a sport badly in need of a jolt of parity.

Not long ago, fearmongers among us warned that replacing the BCS with a Playoff risked ruining the best regular season in sports. If the sport turned to Mike Leach’s famed 64-team bracket, a postseason more akin to what college basketball hosts each year, that probably would be accurate.

But a four-team Playoff only has intensified the regular season and turned more games than ever into contests with legitimate national title implications. And unwelcome side effects on the field have been minimal.

Georgia faced Alabama for the SEC title in December, knowing a loss wouldn’t eliminate it from the four-team field. The Bulldogs didn’t rest their starters. The game didn’t feel pointless. The crowd and game were intense, befitting the stakes of a game for the claim as the best conference’s best team.

It still felt like a heavyweight fight, even if the Bulldogs were knocked out before punching back in the national title game a month later.

Somehow, “Georgia faced Alabama for the SEC title in December, knowing a loss wouldn’t eliminate it from the four-team field” and that was fully meaningful.  I must be going insane.

The reason it felt like a heavyweight fight was because it involved the two best teams in the country this season.  The reason the crowd was intense was because that’s how we feel about regional rivalries.  As the CFP expands to a number somewhere between wherever it goes in the short run to wherever it goes in the long run, that feeling is gonna fade.

But at least we fans will get the satisfaction that comes with a jolt of parity.  I assume that means the blowouts will come a round earlier than they do now.  And remember, jolts by their very nature are fleeting.

By the time this is over, Ubben will be arguing that a 64-team CFP isn’t such a bad thing.

14 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Imagine

I have to go back to this Chris Vannini piece about the playoff expansion debacle ($$), because there’s a stunning logic gap that I can’t get over.

He starts with something I agree with wholeheartedly:

Look, college football isn’t about who wins in the end. Not really. That’s why the sport spent a century letting voters pick multiple champions. It has almost always been decentralized and regional. Your Alabama fans, your Clemson fans, your Ohio State fans can point to a national title as the end goal, but that’s not the case for the vast majority of fans.

But expansion wasn’t about changing who wins in the end. I wrote that on New Year’s Eve after another set of semifinal blowouts. It was about changing what matters and what we focus on. ESPN jams CFP talk into every conversation about the sport, in an attempt at centralization for an unwieldy sport with 130 FBS teams. So the possibility that more than 30 teams could be in that conversation in November in an expanded format was enticing.

This isn’t the NFL. That’s specifically what college football fans like about the sport. There’s nothing else in the world like it. The NFL has better TV ratings, but it doesn’t get several crowds of 100,000 every weekend. The total number of fans who attend college football games on a given Saturday dwarfs anything else in this country.

I mean, shit, he’s there.  That’s what those of us who love this silly, stupid sport, warts and all, feel.  What’s made college football unique and great is its grounding in regional rivalries.  We fans don’t want NFL-lite. If you want the NFL, go watch the NFL.

But he couldn’t stop there.  He had to go and wreck his own argument with this:

But there needs to be something that binds everyone together. A four-team Playoff is not that because most teams begin the season knowing they have no chance, and the majority of conferences are automatically left out. The four-team model unexpectedly created a self-perpetuating system, where the same handful of teams get better and better. That’s why it needed to change. All of the commissioners even admitted that.

Instead, we got the latest example of why a lack of centralized power has hurt the sport.

Somehow, binding everyone together will reduce college football’s lack of parity, or something.  It’s underpants gnomes thinking.

Playoff expansion is being pursued because the commissioners believe it will generate more revenue.  It’s not any more complicated than that.  And for them, that’s a goal worth pursuing, even as it will inevitably weaken those regional bonds that have driven the sport’s appeal.  The idea that there’s anything else going on with the pursuit of a larger playoff field is mere projection.  Quit wasting time on it.

24 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Sweet bitter love

Such a terrible blow to the hopes and dreams of…

We’re owed an apology. All of us. The fans, the public — gosh, maybe even the unwashed media who staked out countless hotel lobbies in the rush to first learn about College Football Playoff expansion. All of it netted, well, nothing. At least for now.

It was a waste of time. The flights to Dallas and Chicago. The hotel rooms. Seven sets of in-person meetings. The hours and hours discussing this while college sports faced myriad other issues. I know how long they were because I sat outside in a hotel lobby for most of them.

Will no one think of our jaded CFB media?  Shame on you, commissioners.

35 Comments

Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

A really futile and stupid gesture

Siri, what’s a complete waste of time?

The NCAA Board of Directors has asked the Division I council to review the impact of name, image and likeness on student-athletes, according to a statement on Friday. The scope of the NIL review includes school choice, transfer opportunities, academics and mental health.

“We are concerned that some activity in the name, image and likeness space may not only be violating NCAA recruiting rules, particularly those prohibiting booster involvement, but also may be impacting the student-athlete experience negatively in some ways,” said board chair Jere Morehead, president at the University of Georgia. “We want to preserve the positive aspects of the new policy while reviewing whether anything can be done to mitigate the negative ones.”

Jere Morehead is concerned, peeps.  That and five bucks will get you that Starbucks latte you’ve been craving.

If the NCAA had an angle that wouldn’t draw the wrath of the antitrust cops, they would have already embraced it.  Which means after a few months of handwringing, all this will end with is another plea to Congress for an exemption.

But at least Jere cares.  That makes all the difference.

10 Comments

Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA