Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

Singing for their supper

Stewart Mandel ($$) shoots a couple of fish in a barrel:

In 2007, Gordon Gee, then Ohio State’s president, famously defended the BCS by declaring, “They will wrench a playoff system out of my cold, dead hands.” On Tuesday, Gee, very much still alive and now West Virginia’s president, said he has “always been supportive of playoffs” and is particularly supportive of the 12-team format model recently recommended by a working group of commissioners.

“I’d like to be playing in November knowing that we (West Virginia) have a chance to be in the playoffs,” he said.

In 2010, Bill Hancock, then the executive director of the BCS, defended that system, in part, by saying, “We believe a playoff would diminish the regular season and end the Bowl system, certainly as we know it.” In 2021, Hancock, now the CFP executive director, said, “Twelve (teams) keeps September important, and it also keeps November important.” (And, “There will always be a place for bowl games.”)

Men of principle, every one of them.  For a price, anyway.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant

O brave new world, that has such conferences in it.

You, a passionate college football fan:  what’s great about the proposed 12-team playoff is that it will encourage teams to beef up their schedules!  A real win-win for the fans!

The Pac-12, a P5 conference that sees the dollar signs on the horizon:  hold our beer.

Pac-12 athletic directors and incoming commissioner George Kliavkoff have engaged in preliminary discussions about significant changes to the structure of the football season as expansion of the College Football Playoff appears inevitable.

… However, a source indicated the 10 commissioners of Football Bowl Subdivision conferences strongly favor the format outlined in the current proposal: Automatic bids for the six highest-ranked conference champions, with six more slots allocated to at-large teams.

If adopted, the format would dramatically increase the likelihood of the Pac-12 participating in the sport’s showcase event but stop short of assuring a berth.

That detail likely will weigh heavily on the athletic directors and Kliavkoff as they evaluate options for the conference schedule and the future of the division format.

Scrap the divisions, and the first-place team would meet the second-place team for the championship.

A single 12-team league would eliminate the nightmare scenario in which, for example, a four-loss division winner with no hope for making the playoff upsets a two-loss division winner that would have qualified.

The lack of a guaranteed berth would also have repercussions for the regular-season schedule: Combine the nine-game league slate with at least one high-level non-conference game, and Pac-12 teams have a treacherous path to compiling the record necessary to qualify for the CFP.

“All the issues have pros and cons,” Knowlton said, “but they aren’t made in a vacuum. What does a 12-team playoff mean for playing eight vs. playing nine?”

Hey, he’s just asking.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Pac-12 Football

The most honest public comment of Bill Hancock’s career

No shit.

When they say it’s about the money…


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Everybody’s talkin’ at me

I’m picking Saban to go first and Dabo to say something aw, shucks stupid.  Whom y’all got?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Mama, I got ‘dem selection committee blues.

Somebody’s saying something that’s music to Kirby Smart’s ears ($$).

“People need to play good games and not worry that one loss to a formidable opponent ends that team’s chances of getting into the Playoff — or two losses.” said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione…

Sure thing, Joe.  I’m sure all those ADs who need the revenue from those home cupcake games are gonna jump all over your suggestion there and start loading up on non-conference home-and-homes (like Georgia is, admittedly).  Also, pay no attention to the fact that no two-loss team has made the CFP so far (although, admittedly again, that becomes more likely filling a 12-team field).

I will believe in this brave new world when Bill Hancock insists the committee won’t take it into account.  Just kidding… I think.

By the way, the article mentions that there is talk to expand the selection committee “to gain additional perspectives”.  I mean, why not?  It’s nice work, if you can get it.  Although they’re gonna need a bigger hat rack.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

“Of course we’re going to lead with the Playoff.”

Aw, isn’t this cute?  The 800-pound gorilla in the room has concerns ($$).

“It’s time to take a little reset as far as we’re concerned,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN’s senior vice president of production overseeing college football. “Obviously, the Playoff needs to remain a priority A) for the sport and B) for business. But at the same time, I’m worried that we’ve gone a little too far away from what makes college football great — and that is that there is something in every game for the fans out there. It’s not just the top four, five, six or seven teams who are playing for something.”

“If we just become too much about Playoff and you lose one game, and we’re saying, ‘Forget about them, they lost the game. They’re out. They’re done,’” Fitting said. “I hate that. I don’t want to hear that. ‘If Penn State loses in September, they’re out. They’re done.’ I mean, they’re Penn State. They have an enormous national following. They’re a huge part of the fabric of college football. They’re not done. They may be out of the Playoff race today. But their games are still relevant to their fan base and in the conference. They are a big part of the sport. So how do we continue to cover them properly?”

Gosh, however did that happen?

But first, [ESPN’s College GameDay] would talk about the College Football Playoff. Ohio State’s first mention came 40 seconds into the broadcast, with Clemson following just after the minute mark. Features and discussions regarding Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame — the four teams that would make the Playoff in 2020 — combined for more than 45 minutes of the three-hour broadcast. When Jimbo Fisher popped on the screen for a pregame interview leading into Texas A&M’s game against Auburn, the first question posed to the Aggies’ head coach was about his fifth-ranked team’s Playoff positioning. The word “Playoff” appeared in a closed-captioning transcript of the episode (provided by college football archivist Tim Burke) 27 times. Only the championship weekend edition of GameDay on Dec. 19 had more Playoff mentions (35).

These people are so full of shit.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil


So, here’s something.

As someone who thinks “normal fan” is an oxymoron, I’m not sure how thrilled I’d be about a poster on, say, Stingtalk, getting a spot on the selection committee.  I think I’d settle for a qualification that anyone who expresses an opinion on social media is immediately disqualified.  (I keed, I keed… I think.)

And you?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, PAWWWLLL!!!

Has Kirby Smart made a good bet on strength of schedule?

Seth Emerson ($$):

Almost exactly two years ago, Kirby Smart stood in a basement conference room, telling a roomful of reporters at SEC meetings why he was doing something that seemed either brave or risky, depending on your outlook: Georgia’s future schedules, at Smart’s behest, had added Oklahoma, Clemson, Texas and Florida State, with Ohio State, Oregon and Louisville to come.

No, Smart insisted, it was not because he had any inkling or insight that playoff expansion was coming.

“I have no clue,” Smart said. “I’m not forecasting this. What I am forecasting is we’re going to have a strength of schedule that’s going to allow us — (whether the playoff is) one, two, three, four, eight teams — to be one of the teams in the conversation because of who we play.”

Honestly, as much as I love beefing up Georgia’s non-conference schedule purely from a fan’s standpoint, I’m not sure Smart will turn out to be right about that under the proposed 12-team format for the CFP.  The reason I say that is because the new structure clearly establishes a place for conference champions, but is totally silent about the role strength of schedule will play in the rankings.  And when you leave purely subjective standards in place for half the playoff field, silence strikes me as being pretty significant.

“I think a lot of this is going to boil down to strength of schedule,” Smart said on ESPN radio’s Marty & McGee show. “For a long time now we have been trying to build up our future strength of schedule, because it’s not the losses that are going to kill you, it’s not playing the best teams.”

That’s an assumption on Smart’s part, one that some may argue against. The selection committee has never come out and declared, well, anything, about its criteria. But when all else is equal it sure seems strength of schedule is more important than a team’s pure record.

Seth’s “all else is equal” is doing some very heavy lifting there, methinks.  I do agree if there’s a point where the selection committee is having to split the thinnest of hairs between two teams, strength of schedule should come into play.  But who knows how often that’s really going to be the case?  I don’t.  Neither does Kirby Smart.

“The naysayers,” Smart said two years ago, referring to critics of harder scheduling, “will say an extra loss is going to cost you. My argument is the men in that (selection) room, the women in that room that are on that committee, are going to have to balance somebody that goes out and plays three nonconference Power 5 teams.”

I think that argument carried a lot more weight when we thought we were looking at an eight-team playoff field, all chosen in a similar manner to the way teams are currently selected.  Now, I’m not so sure.  That’s what silence will do for you.

Now, Seth does make a good point that there were other considerations in play, such as regular season attendance and recruiting, behind the non-conference scheduling.  But we all know ultimately that this is going to be judged by whether this pays off on selection day.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football

Playoff expansion and perverse incentives

Stewart Mandel raises an interesting aspect to the coming CFP broadcast deal ($$).

In 2019-20, the most recent season for which the CFP publicized its data, each Power 5 league got a flat fee of $67 million. A conference could net an additional $4 million for each team that qualified for a New Year’s Six bowl and $6 million for reaching a Playoff semifinal. As such, the spread between schools in the Big 12 (which splits only 10 ways) and those in 14-team leagues like the Big Ten was fairly modest — from $7 million to $10 million per school. The Power 5 conferences also net extra payments for their contracts with the Rose (average $40 million per team), Sugar ($40 million) and Orange ($27.5 million) bowls.

In an expanded Playoff, however, the Big 12 suddenly looks smart for staying at 10 teams all this time. With all those contracts folded into one, the expected average CFP revenue for each Power 5 conference jumps to just north of $320 million. In the Big 12, that amounts to $32 million per school, up from an average of $10 million today. The 12-team Pac-12’s hit $27 million; the 14-team ACC, Big Ten and SEC reach $23 million.

Sure, you could argue the Big 12 isn’t going to flood the playoff zone with teams any time soon, but what about Conference It Just Means More?  Four playoff shares spread among ten teams goes a lot farther than it does among fourteen; Mandel’s $9 million a year ain’t chump change.  And he’s using averages.  If the SEC gets twice as many schools in as others, that spread is going to be even greater.

Is that enough for Sankey’s bosses to reverse course on conference expansion?  If not that, it’s probably a decent reason not to add any more unless you’re getting a new member that’s a likely CFP participant.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Just leave your wallet on the table where they can reach it.


Revenue distribution from the College Football Playoff took a pandemic-induced $44.6 million hit in 2020-21, a 9.2% decline from record revenue the year before.

With capacity drastically limited at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, site of the championship game, only 14,926 fans attended because of COVID.

That left many of the CFP’s best revenue streams, such as ticket sales, hospitality and merchandise, severely hampered. The vast majority of the CFP’s revenue comes from its 12-year media rights deal with ESPN.

Revenue numbers could grow significantly in the future if the CFP expands the playoffs from four teams to 12. That will be the subject of intense talks during CFP meetings this week in Chicago.

For 2020-21, however, the CFP paid out a total of $441.2 million from the college football season, compared to $485.8 million in 2019-20, the best year the CFP has had in its first seven years.

The biggest financial setbacks were most evident among the Power Five conferences, each of which saw a $10 million decline.


The funny thing is some of y’all actually think playoff expansion is going to lead to the elimination of at least some cupcake games.

That’s almost as amusing as realizing they haven’t even expanded to twelve yet, and there’s already pressure to go to sixteen.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness