Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

The dream never dies.

Air Force’s football coach Troy Calhoun really wants to bring Cinderella to the college football playoff prom.

It was the sports fan – and Air Force/Group of Five advocate – in Calhoun who pitched his latest idea for the College Football Playoff.

Calhoun would take the field to eight and break it down like this:

1. ACC champ

2. Big Ten champ

3. Big 12 champ

4. Pac-12 champ

5. SEC champ

6. Wild card

7. Wild card

8. Group of Five playoff winner

That Group of Five playoff would consist of four entrants. He didn’t specify how those four would be determined. Maybe it would be the top-rated champions among the Group of Five. Maybe the top rated regardless of conference.

Point is, as a fan, he wants this process to be open to all involved, and he routinely cites Cinderella stories from other college sports as an example.

“I think it would, really, bring a wholeness that would be splendid for the spirit of college football,” Calhoun said.

That’s an eleven-team playoff, when you get down to it.  Why wouldn’t a sixteen-team playoff be even more whole?

The problems with this proposal are pretty apparent.

The most obvious issue is the sheer number of games involved. At a minimum, the team that wins the Group of Five playoff and moves onto the College Football Playoff would have to play three extra games — two G5 playoff games and then a CFP quarterfinal — which is more than what current CFP finalists have to play. At a maximum, that team would play five extra postseason games. Tack that onto a 13-game season and, theoretically, a Group of Five team could play 18 games. That’s more than most NFL teams. We can’t keep asking college football players to play more and more games without paying them a salary.

Secondly, it’s uncertain what type of market demand, if any, there is for more Group of Five teams in a playoff of any kind. For example, the idea of a second playoff involving Group of Five teams has enough legs that it won’t completely die. But in the quest for that next media rights pot of gold on the other end of the rainbow, it’s unknown just how full that pot really is. In February, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier told CBS Sports “the concept he first floated in an ESPN interview may be worth at least $160 million per year to a TV rights-holder.

I suspect that second point is really what’s driving this.  The mid majors see the P5 conferences making all that sweet playoff bank and want their own taste of it.  As a standalone concept, that $160 million is likely to be little more than a pipe dream, but as part and parcel of an expanded CFP, it might have more legs.  Which ought to be a huge comfort to those kids asked to play in their eighteenth game of the season.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

”Traditions are an important part of college football.”

Which explains why the College Football Playoff is planning to import the rich tradition of the Super Bowl-style halftime show to the national championship game.  Why, you may ask?

Reader, please.

Hancock said ESPN approached CFP officials with the idea of a concert in Centennial Olympic Park at halftime as part of the national championship game broadcast and live watch party. Fans without tickets to the game will be able to watch the game and attend the concert in Centennial Park for free.

”This will be a win-win, enhancing the viewing experience for a broad section of fans at home and in the park, while maintaining the culture of the game inside the stadium,” Hancock said.

I really hate these people.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, The NFL Is Your Friend.

What happens in Vegas…

So, with that spiffy new stadium being built in Las Vegas, what say you, NCAA, about the college football playoffs getting a shot there?

Down the road even further is the possibility of hosting a College Football Playoff championship game, however NCAA president Mark Emmert said Thursday that Las Vegas will not be eligible to host a playoff game when the next round of bidding for the 2019-22 games takes place. The NCAA sports wagering policy prohibits a state that allows single-game sports betting from hosting NCAA championship events, however, it should be noted that the playoff operates separately from the NCAA and could allow an event in Las Vegas before other sports are allowed.

That ought to chap Emmert’s ass.

“We have not begun the process of considering cities to host the CFP national championship after 2020 in New Orleans,” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “So it would not be appropriate to address the matter now.”

In the local vernacular, that’s a lock, then.  Thanks for letting us all know, Bill.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The NCAA

“I wish none of us played in this tournament.”

John Calipari, as is his wont when conference tourneys are the subject of discussion, speaks truth to power.

Calipari always has placed the importance of NCAA tournament preparation and seeding ahead of any value in a league tournament trophy. His Wildcats (26-5) are seeded first in this year’s 14-team SEC field, having won the regular season with a 16-2 league record.

Kentucky, which has been seeded first or second in every SEC tournament under Calipari, will open play Friday afternoon against the winner of Thursday’s matchup between eighth-seeded Georgia and ninth-seeded Tennessee.

“This tournament to me is all about preparation,” Calipari said Saturday afternoon in a news conference after a 71-63 win at Texas A&M. “That’s why I don’t like it ending on a Sunday. When they throw you a Thursday game (in the NCAA tournament) like they did last year, that’s five games in eight days if you get to the second (NCAA) game.

“It’s five games in eight days for these young kids, and it’s not fair. When you play Sunday and they put you in the Thursday bracket, you better hope the team that you face on Saturday (in the NCAA tournament) is as tired as you and that they played on Sunday.”

With a 64-team national playoff, conference basketball tournaments, at least from the standpoint of upper tier teams like Kentucky, are as useless as tits on a boar hog.

College football doesn’t face that problem as of yet, but between years like this past one, when winning a conference title game (or even playing in one, for that matter) wasn’t a necessity for reaching the national semifinals, and the future enlargement of the postseason pool, it’s a scenario that has legs.

When that day comes, either there will be enough money in the pot that the conferences won’t mind sacrificing their own championships for the national good, or, more likely, they’ll keep the games anyway for the extra revenue.  At which point you can cue the bitching from someone like Nick Saban the first time he loses a key player to an injury in a meaningless conference championship game.  Not that it’ll matter.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

Today, in thought experiments

For those of you who believe that college football playoff expansion will do nothing but enhance the regular season experience by making it more meaningful, tell me how well you think the experience of this year’s Georgia basketball season would translate in that regard.

In other words, last year, if you were told the football team’s postseason hopes were still on life support before the Tech game, would that have been sufficient to keep your interest level higher than it would have been ordinarily?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football

If it ain’t broke… ah, hell, tinker with it anyway.

Stewart Mandel traveled to Tampa, Florida, spoke with various CFB movers and shakers and proclaims the eight-team playoff currently has less life in it than Charlie Weis’ career prospects.

During my stay in Tampa, I spoke with numerous commissioners, ADs, coaches, players, bowl executives, TV executives and other industry officials. The consensus vibe was that of overwhelming satisfaction with the system they created four-and-a-half years ago. In nearly every key area it has met or exceeded their expectations.

Not coincidentally, I sense zero appetite across the sport for an eight-team playoff. Before the CFP started, I predicted the system would expand halfway through ESPN’s 12-year contract. I was wrong. There’s even less support for the idea now than there was then.

Now I could start to lay into this by noting the folly that a large part of his conclusion is drawn from Bill Hancock’s confidence in the current arrangement, but I’ll take a pass on the low hanging fruit to focus on another point Mandel makes.

For one thing, power brokers on both the playoff and TV side are pleased with the positive effect they’ve seen on the regular season. The BCS first helped turn the traditionally regionalized sport into a more national model; the CFP has only enhanced that.

In particular, the intense focus on the four-team race once the committee starts producing its weekly rankings in early November has raised the stakes for games that previously might have flown under the radar.  [Emphasis added.]

So the shift to a more national model is seen as an enhancement.  And the selection committee’s weekly rankings being flogged relentlessly has raised the profile of certain games.  Before writing that, I wonder if Mandel thought about this year’s Iron Bowl, which was reduced to an irrelevancy in the eyes of many —  prompted in large part by ESPN’s narrative — after Auburn’s loss to Georgia meant the Tigers had zero chance of attaining the national semi-finals.  I guess we’re gonna have to disagree on that whole enhancement thing.

The rest of his piece is a mish-mash of contradictory signs of marketing acceptance and money-making (which is all that really matters, when you get down to it).  This, in particular, is truly depressing:

Finally, give the folks in charge credit for achieving one particular vision. When I first interviewed College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly in 2014 for my book about the playoff, he spoke of turning the sport’s new national championship game (the first to be played outside of the traditional bowl system) as “a hybrid” of the Final Four and Super Bowl.

This year’s game in Tampa felt like exactly that. Unlike initial sites Arlington, Texas and Glendale, Arizona — where events were spread out across large metroplexes — fans, media and industry folks all seemed to congregate in downtown. Media Day was at Amalie Arena, a fan fest at the adjacent convention center, concerts (with acts like Usher and Flo Rida) at a nearby park. Many of us stayed at hotels within walking distance of everything but Raymond James Stadium itself.

Expect a similar setup next year in Atlanta.

Mind you, the staggering costs involved did not exactly make the game accessible to the common fan. Even the lowest-priced tickets on sites like StubHub were approaching $2,000 by kickoff.

Yes, credit is certainly due.  Pricing out the common fan from the biggest game of the season is exactly what the sport was missing to make it truly special.

At least it’s more convenient for the media now.  That’s gotta count for something in Montana.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

They’ll be right back after this word from your commercial sponsor.

The college football national championship game continues to go from one ratings success to the next… er, not exactly.


The Clemson/Alabama College Football Playoff National Championship had a 15.3 overnight rating on the ESPN family of networks Monday night, down 4% from the same matchup last year (16.0) and down 19% from Ohio State/Oregon in 2014 (18.9). The 15.3 is the lowest for college football’s national championship in five years, since Alabama/LSU scored a 13.8.

Going back further, the 15.3 is the second-lowest for the title game since 2005 and the fifth-lowest since the formation of the Bowl Championship Series in the 1998-99 season.

You ungrateful wretches!  Don’t you fans recognize improvement when you see it?  Aren’t they doing it just for you?

Birmingham was the top market with a 53.6 rating, down 9% from last year (59.2) and easily the market’s lowest rating for a national championship involving Alabama or Auburn since the formation of the BCS.

Maybe we’ve overdosed on the Tide. Sad!

I’m sure it’s nothing a sixteen-team playoff couldn’t fix.  Everybody loves a good Cinderella story, after all.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs