Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

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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“At the end of the day, we’re 18- to 22-year-old college students so there’s a lot going on.”

When the next round of playoff expansion comes, I’m sure there will be a lot of talk from Bill Hancock about how the suits have carefully and thoughtfully considered student-athletes’ welfare in their decision.

It’s just that there’s so much money.

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

UPDATE:  Moar.

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Back in my day, sonny, people used to watch the Rose Bowl.

This is fine.

The USC/Penn State Rose Bowl scored a 9.4 overnight rating on ESPN Monday afternoon, up 19% from Stanford/Iowa last year (7.9) but down 16% from Michigan State/Stanford in 2014, the last Rose Bowl of the BCS era (11.2). The 2015 Rose Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 15.5 overnight. The last Rose Bowl to take place on January 2, Oregon/Wisconsin in 2012, had a 9.9.

The Trojans’ comeback, last-second win — which peaked at a 12.4 overnight from 9:15-9:30 PM ET — earned the second-lowest Rose Bowl overnight in at least 15 years and likely further back.

Though low historically, the 9.4 overnight was a high-water mark by New Year’s Six standards. It was the highest overnight for a non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl (12 telecasts dating back to 2014), topping the previous mark of 7.9 for last year’s Rose Bowl.

Later in the night, the Oklahoma/Auburn Sugar Bowl had a 6.1 overnight — up 15% from last year’s subterranean 5.3 for Mississippi/Oklahoma State but down 34% from Oklahoma/Alabama in 2014, the last Sugar Bowl of the BCS era (9.3). The 2015 Sugar Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 15.3 overnight.

The 6.1 is the second-lowest for the Sugar Bowl since the 1995-96 season, when Virginia Tech/Texas had a 5.5 on New Year’s Eve.

Rounding out the day’s action, the Wisconsin/Western Michigan Cotton Bowl plumbed the depths with a 3.2 overnight — down 40% from Michigan State/Baylor in 2015 (5.3) and even down 26% from Missouri/Oklahoma State on FOX in 2014, which aired directly opposite the Orange Bowl and was not part of a major bowl alliance (4.3). Last year’s Cotton Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 9.9 overnight. In the comparable timeslot last year, a higher-profile Ohio State/Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl had a 6.2.

The 3.2 is the lowest for the Cotton Bowl in at least a decade.

In all, the full New Year’s Six averaged a 7.8 overnight on ESPN this year — up 10% from last year (7.1) and down 5% from 2014-15 (8.2).

If you’re a major bowl game in the post-BCS era and you’re not hosting a national semi-finals game, your numbers are trending down and likely to stay that way.

Which means there’s only one solution to your dilemma…

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Hitting the sweet spot

The numbers are in and it’s about the worst news ESPN could have gotten.

After a huge freshman year and a sophomore slump, the third edition of the College Football Playoff split the difference in the metered markets.

Coverage of the College Football Playoff semifinals delivered an 11.0 overnight on ESPN and ESPN2 Saturday, up 11% from last year (9.9), but still well below the 15+ the games averaged two years ago. ESPN alone averaged a 10.4, up 6%.

In particular, the Alabama/Washington Peach Bowl had a combined 11.5 overnight rating on ESPN and ESPN2 — up 17% from last year’s Clemson/Oklahoma Orange Bowl (9.8) but down 26% from the Oregon/Florida State Rose Bowl two years ago, which aired on ESPN alone (15.5). ESPN’s solo telecast had a 10.9 overnight (+12%).

Last year’s Houston/Florida State Peach Bowl, which was not a playoff game, had a 4.0 overnight.

In the nightcap, the Clemson/Ohio State Fiesta Bowl had a 10.5 overnight on ESPN and ESPN2 — up 5% from last year’s Alabama/Michigan State Cotton Bowl (10.0) but down 31% from Ohio State/Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago, which aired on ESPN alone (15.3). ESPN’s solo coverage had a 10.0, up a tick from last year.

Last year’s Ohio State/Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl, also not part of the playoff, had a 6.2 overnight.

Up some, but not up to where things started, in other words.  Had the New Year’s Eve numbers tanked completely for a second straight year, Mickey could have gone with the full court press on abandoning the day for the semis.  Instead, Bill Hancock gets to provide the narrative that the fans are coming around to college football’s newest tradition.  It’ll give the CFP folks at least a couple more seasons before they have to respond to any push from their broadcast partner.

I bet there are a lot of smiling faces at Bristol this week.  Not.

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Nice playoff system you got there, college football. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

Hey, y’all know what happened after the last time Alabama played in a title game when they used the “R” word.

It’s not just that we’ll be seeing last year’s national title game participants face off again.  It’s that the semis were totally lopsided affairs that basically served as evidence that they could have skipped the preliminaries altogether and gone straight to the main course.

Alabama was Alabama, the five-star python that let its opponent have an early chance to breath — Saban’s gotta have something to get his blood pressure up — only to spend the rest of the game slowly squeezing the life out of its prey.

Clemson’s win may have been even more impressive.  Shutting Urban Meyer out for the first time in his career was a big deal, one that will be forever in Corch’s mind.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a coaching staff use the month off to prepare better for an opponent than Dabo’s crew did last night.  (Technically, Ohio State had one more week to get ready than Clemson did, since the Buckeyes skipped the championship game route.)

In the end, both teams showed they’re college football’s 2016 cream of the crop. They should be playing for all the marbles.

All that being said, it’s still Alabama vs. Clemson.  Again.  If you think that’s kind of boring — and if you’re the kind of casual viewer that ESPN and its clients are trying to reel in with the CFP, you probably do — don’t worry.  The folks running college football are sensitive to rematch issues.  Stay away from the TV for a few days and you’ll get their knees jerking eventually.  Hopefully, the rest of us will get to enjoy a great national championship game.

 

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Today, in be careful what you wish for

All of a sudden, coaches backtracking on playoff expansion seems to be a thing.

Here’s Jimbo Fisher, getting all worried about the bowls in the CFP era:

“We better be really, really careful with all this playoff stuff,” Fisher said. “We’re all caught up in a championship. All we talk about on Tuesday [when rankings are released] is who is in the playoff rankings. Who cares? Go play and be the best team you can be.

“These games all mean something. I think they mean more than ever right now, and I hope we don’t push that away and destroy a great tradition in college football.”

Hey, he said the T-word!

Meanwhile, Dabo’s up and gone all old school on us.

Not that any of this matters one bit.  Money talks and will always do so.  And Jimbo and Dabo will keep cashing their paychecks, no matter what happens to the bowls.

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“For years, the NCAA longed to build a football playoff system for one simple reason: money.”

My, what a fine anti-playoff screed John U. Bacon delivers here.  (Although I can’t figure out what Mark Emmert has to do with the CFP.)  Actually, it’s more of an anti-college football management screed, when you get down to it.

First, they quadrupled the number of bowl games, from 11 to 41, which require 82 teams to fill them. Now just about any team with a winning record gets to go.

Then they tacked on a twelfth regular season game, when schools play “tomato cans” like McNeese State, Norfolk State and Bethune-Cookman, all just to grab another payday.

Then they piled on conference title games, too, increasing the total games a team can play from 11 to 14 — just two shy of an NFL season.

But we need a playoff now, they told us, to determine who’s best on the field. How? Instead of picking two teams based on polls, strength of schedule and computerized rankings, now they pick four teams — based on polls, strength of schedule and computerized rankings. Problem solved. Instead of the third-ranked team complaining that it got screwed, now the fifth-place team does all the whining. Another problem solved.

Remember, it’s all for us fans.  Just ask Bill Hancock.

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