I’m heading up to Athens shortly for the basketball game, but there’s still time to set out the buffet.
When Nick Saban isn’t narrowly pursuing his self-interests, I find he often has thoughtful things to say about college football. This is one of those times:
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to coexist with a bowl system and a playoff system,” he said. “I think you’ve got to have one or the other. You know, if we’re going to have an eight-team playoff, 16-team playoff, I don’t think you’re going to have bowl games. I’m not advocating either one. I’m just saying it’s going to be difficult for those two things to coexist.”
I think that’s right. But I’m not as sure as I used to be that the people running college football care nearly as much about the bowls as they once did. And I’m also not sure that those folks have really thought out the implications of playoff expansion as it would affect the bowls.
I’m assuming Saban’s talking about the top-tier bowl games. The lesser sites will continue to exist as long as there is an appetite to broadcast them on ESPN and there are seven-win and mid-major schools to fill them. But you’re already seeing the trend of the conferences taking greater control over the bigger bowls, which may be a precursor to outright replacement with playoff games. (And with expansion will come a greater likelihood of at least some of those games being played at a team’s home site, not at a bowl.)
More shedding of tradition, in other words. Some, no doubt, will welcome that as progress. But what it will really represent is another step in the sport’s journey from being based on strong regional ties to being one based on national appeal. If you ask me, something meaningful will be discarded in the process.
As Jim McElwain put it, “The issue there is that I think it will lose a lot of what is college football,” he said. “I’d hate to see that.”
Which isn’t a real surprise, given what Baylor was denied. (And it’s probably a precursor to future whining from coaches who just miss making the four-team tourney.)
But there’s a troubling part to his complaint. As much as he tries to acknowledge that the fault lies on his end – “What we have to do is find a way to make sure when they’re voting that we’re giving them enough reason to vote for Baylor.” – he keeps coming back to the composition of the committee as suspect.
To that end, Briles likes the composition of the committee heading into 2015. He got his “Texan” — Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt (replacing West Virginia’s Oliver Luck) — and the return of Archie Manning. Hocutt is a Sherman, Texas native. Manning — that son of the South — intends to return if he can get over some physical issues that caused him to step down last season.
“What we’ve done now is really diversify the committee,” Briles said. “There’s people that represent all there is in the United States of America.
“I wasn’t really so much concerned about my needs. I just think it was the proper thing to do. If you have a jury, you have selected peers that qualify all across the levels. What we really have is a jury that needs to be qualified from all regions of the United States of America.”
Of course the process is subjective. If anything, by ditching direct influence by computer rankings, the CFP folks have made the voting process more intensely human. But subjective is one thing. Alleging flat-out bias is another. And that’s really the message Briles is sending.
And note that his solution isn’t to find ways to minimize bias (*** approval voting *** cough *** cough ***). It’s to introduce more bias in the hopes that it balances out in the end. Coming from someone whose experience before this season has been with the effect of the Coaches Poll, I guess that’s to be expected.
But what’s the message being sent that such a level of bias is perceived to be built into the selection committee’s thinking? I’d say that if we keep hearing stuff like this, it’ll wind up being another justification for enlarging the size of the postseason field. The way most of these people think, the best cure for bias is wider inclusion.
Color me a little surprised, but it sounds like Roger Goodell has blinked first about the potential conflict between the CFP and further NFL postseason expansion.
Support has eroded for a proposal to expand the NFL playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, to the point that the measure no longer is viewed as likely to be enacted for the 2015 season…
… Several of those with knowledge of the league’s internal deliberations said Wednesday there also are concerns about a Monday night playoff game potentially conflicting with college football’s new playoffs.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the expanded-playoffs proposal during his annual state-of-the-league news conference two days before the Super Bowl, he did not offer an endorsement.
“There are positives to it,” Goodell said then. “But there are concerns as well, among them being the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January.”
Now, I don’t want this to sound like it’s etched in stone, because if you look closely, the real reason the brakes have been applied is that the NFL is uncertain about how much money the networks are willing to pony up for the extra product at this moment. When it comes to money, the NFL hates uncertainty.
But still, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a plus for the college football suits, who get to crow that Goodell acknowledges their interests. That’s unusual. We’ll see how long it lasts.
I’m a fan of Gary Patterson, both as a coach and as a generally decent guy. But even he’s guilty of occasional bouts of self-interest, I suppose.
Even though TCU was left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff this season, Gary Patterson isn’t one of those people clamoring to see it go from four teams to eight teams.
Nope, he’d like to see it go to six teams.
In doing so, Patterson said the top two teams would get byes, and if the other leagues agreed to do away with their conference championship games, the current playoff schedule could stay intact, and there would be a representative from all Power 5 conferences, along with a true at-large team.
Er, um… wait a minute. Isn’t the Big 12 the only one of the P5 conferences without a playoff? Why insist on the other four changing?
Patterson’s rationale is the SEC is the only conference for which the championship game has been a big hit.
Oh. Spoken like a man who’s been a head coach at the mid-major level most of his career. And was the odd man out at CFP’s first dance.
Don’t get me wrong here. I actually prefer the Big 12’s round robin format for producing a conference champ. But the postseason is all about a money chase and the guys who created what we’ve got aren’t going down Patterson’s road. If – ah, shit, when – the CFP expands, it’ll go straight to eight, because that pays better.
Have patience, Gary. You’ll get there soon enough.
You will be shocked, shocked to learn, given the sizes of each postseason pool, that advanced stats suggest from 2005-2014, the BCS did a better job of matching the best teams in the championship game than the NFL did.
Bill Hancock’s flapping his gums again, with the usual results.
Bill Hancock, the executive director for the College Football Playoff, believes there isn’t interest within the college football industry to expand to eight or 16 teams in the future.
“I’m not hearing the drum within our business,” Hancock told AL.com. “I’m hearing it from journalists. I think we need to give this a chance. It’s such a remarkable new innovation for the game. There is no talk in our group of expanding.”
Not sure who’s in “our group”, but I guess that means he’s not including John Swofford or a bunch of head coaches.
I’d say it’ll be fun listening to him spin his denial at the presser the CFP holds when it announces the expansion to eight participants, but who am I kidding here? He’ll just blink a couple of times and then pivot to denying that the playoffs would ever expand to sixteen teams.