Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

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.

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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.

cfbncchart

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.

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No trophy at the Walmart this year, boys. 

In the cold light of day, will ‘Bama fans blame the loss on Lane Kiffin?

Hell, in his mind, you know Junior’s already taking credit for it.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Eh, what the hell.

It’s the last night of the season and you deserve a game day post/comment thread.

Consider it done.

FWIW, I think ‘Bama wins, but Clemson covers the spread.

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Take it to the bank.

Bill Hancock speaks such reassuring words about playoff expansion.

Don’t expect the College Football Playoff to expand to six or eight teams anytime soon.

That’s not the sentiment Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, is expressing right now. Hancock addressed reporters at the Tampa Convention Center on Sunday, and playoff expansion was a popular topic. Hancock, however, said that likely won’t happen through the length of the current 12-year contract.

“The only thing that happens after six years is determining whether the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach will remain in the rotation,” Hancock said. “That has nothing to do with the format. The format is in place for the 12 years.”

As for expanding to six or eight teams, Hancock said there has been no movement on that from the management committee.

“I don’t sense any groundswell from our leadership for a change, but it would require starting all over again with a new contract,” Hancock said.

Parse it carefully — “that likely won’t happen” — and it’s not that reassuring.  Starting over again with a new contract isn’t exactly a daunting proposition when you’re on the receiving end of what is likely to be an even bigger money torrent.

In any event, Bill wants you to know their hearts are in the right place.

“The disappointment that team No. 5 feels would be the same disappointment that team No. 9 feels,” Hancock said. “There wouldn’t be any change in that. For me, it’s about the regular season. Our regular season is so compelling, and I don’t think our leadership would do anything to diminish the regular season.”

Perish the thought.  They’ve been such staunch guardians of that of late.  Anybody know what the Big 12’s latest championship set up is this year?

“What would Ohio State and Michigan have meant if there had been an eight-team tournament?” Hancock asked. “Both would’ve have been in. It still would’ve been Ohio State and Michigan with all the tradition, but it wouldn’t have meant the same. It wouldn’t have meant near as much. Our focus on the regular season is unwavering.”

Unwavering, he tells ‘ya!  He’ll be back in a few years to tell you how that eight-team tourney gives college football the opportunity to focus on its regular season with more intensity than ever.  Kinda like more powerful lasers, except nobody risks getting their eyes burned out.

It’s almost amazing to me the media keeps asking him for quotes.

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Moar more

I don’t know the author of this little piece extolling the virtues of playoff expansion from Adam’s house cat, but it’s such a perfectly distilled expression of instant gratification, I just had to share it with you.  Here’s a taste:

The two games we had last week were not that great. Alabama defeated Washington 24-7 and Clemson throttled Ohio State 31-0. There were, however, some games that were absolutely amazing. And they were games that involved potential playoff teams. Those games were the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl.

In the Rose Bowl, USC defeated Penn State 52-49 on a last second field goal. In the Orange Bowl, Florida State topped Michigan 33-32 on a touchdown with less than a minute to play. Both games were absolutely amazing games. The only problem was, after the games finished both teams’ seasons were finished. It seemed backwards. Both games ending in dramatic fashion and that was the end of the season.

What if both winners moved on to play in a semifinal game? What if that game was just the first step of the playoff journey? I’m not sure about you but I would love to be watching both of them play again this week against two other teams. Why not expand the playoffs one more week? It wouldn’t be hard. The first playoff game could be played a week earlier and the season would still end at the same time.

I do believe this will happen. I’m not sure how long it will take for the powers that be to decide on it but I sure do hope it’s sooner rather than later. This college football fan had to live with one too many BCS years. We’re on the right track to fixing the system. Let’s go ahead and fix it right. I want more football and that means I want more playoff games.

Remember, kids, if it’s not a playoff game, it’s not really football.

***********************************************************************

UPDATE:  Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph knows exactly where you’re coming from, bruh.

“From a fan perspective, it’d probably be awesome,” Joseph said. “But from a player perspective, we’re not feeling it.”

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If you’re in charge of college football’s postseason, you overreact. It’s what you do.

From Mandel’s Mailbag today:

Stewart – does the fact that Ohio State made the playoff without winning its division, then got blown out by Clemson, change the narrative of the committee going forward? No matter how good a team “looks” during the season it’s going to be hard to select them ahead of a conference champion if a situation arises similar to the Big Ten’s this year given Ohio State’s poor showing and the fact that Penn State won the conference but was left out.

Well, you knew this was coming.

If the committee is being true to its mission then it shouldn’t let any bowl results affect its decisions. It’s not their job to be prophets and predict how the games will play out. All they can do is make their decisions based on what the teams achieved during the regular season, and the committee seemed pretty adamant that Ohio State’s resume was superior to Penn State’s.

Remember, it didn’t come down to those two for the last spot, it came down to Washington vs. Penn State.

But I realize much of the public — perhaps even the majority? — believe that conference champs should be rewarded above all else. Frankly, the most surprising aspect of the late-season debate for me was the fact that so many people were willing to just completely disregard Penn State’s extra loss. I’d always assumed there would be enormous backlash whenever the day does come that a two-loss team gets in before a one-loss team.  Turns out a great number of you are perfectly OK with that.

I don’t see the committee changing its protocol prior to next season. The emphasis on “four best teams” was a directive from the commissioners when they established the playoff. But I also think you might go another nine years and never see the same scenario — a two-loss conference champ that beat a one-loss team in its own division — play out again.

His point about two losses is a fair cop.  But if you don’t think going forward that the selection committee will be a little more gun shy about plopping a non-conference champ school into the semi-finals, you must not have been paying attention to what happened after the last time Alabama and LSU faced off against each other twice in the same season.

After all, it’s not like these people can be accused of a ton of consistency in their selection rationale from year to year.  Just ask Baylor and TCU how they felt about Ohio State making it in.

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