Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Jan 2008

Future of the BCS

Stewart Mandel at SI.com looks at the possibilities that the NCAA will go to a plus-one championship game (somewhat likely) or full-fledged playoff (no chance). Everyone gets their say here -- conference reps, bowl game heads, TV execs. Mandel explores the benefits and liabilities of the current setup and every other alternative. And if you can't understand why the Rose Bowl isn't in a hurry to accommodate the BCS, well, the BCS has pretty much screwed the Rose Bowl over the past five years.

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 04 Jan 2008

61 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2008, 10:18pm by Zac

Comments

1
by DNL (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:19pm

So, in 2006-07, we'd have:

Rose -- USC v. OSU
Fiesta -- Boise State v. Oklahoma
Orange -- Louisville v. Wake Forest
Sugar -- Florida vs. Michigan
Cotton -- LSU v. Notre Dame

or something like that.

Let's assume that the first-listed team wins. It's a pretty safe assumption given that 3 of the games actually turned out that way (venue aside) and because both Big 10 teams lost anyway.

So, in a plus-one, who do you take? Florida, obviously, but one-loss Louisville or undefeated Boise State?

2
by The Broilermaster (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:52pm

I hate the Rose Bowl, the Pac10, and the Big10 for this kind of stuff.

Say it with me: "TRADITION ITSELF IS NOT A REASON TO DO ANYTHING".

Honestly, if the BCS simply gave up on the Big10/Pac10 and made a mini-playoff system with the remaining conferences, I would be quite pleased.

3
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:59pm

Oh puh-LEASE!!! The Rose Bowl has done its share of screwing. It was the Rose Bowl that singlehandedly prevented the only two unbeaten teams of the '97 season, FSU and Arizona State, from playing each other, with both having to play one-loss teams instead. That incident directly led to the formation of the BCS to begin with.

The Pac 10 certainly has been screwed, but to paint the Rose Bowl as victims instead of the stubborn impediment to real change and progress that they are is absurd. They CHOSE to invite Illinois and give us all a crappy game.

4
by Jason Kramer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 8:02pm

How is a seeded plus-one not a playoff?

5
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 8:31pm

A seeded plus-one isn't a playoff. It's conference championships plus conference super-championships and a two-team playoff: two or three teams win their super-championship game and are done. In a playoff, all winners would advance.

Tradition itself certainly isn't a reason to keep doing what you're doing when there's hardly anything left of it anyway. There will be playoffs eventually: sponsors will come up with money, interested conferences will participate and lock out stodgy ones if necessary. Or maybe the sponsors will actually get the NCAA to run the tournament, and it can extend invitations to the Big Ten and Pac-10 to be turned down until those conferences get new commissioners.

The avalanche has begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

6
by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 8:51pm

Oh noes! Teh playoffs during winter break will ruin academics forever!

/sarcasm

7
by Eric G (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 8:56pm

How does the USC-Texas bowl game a couple of years ago screw the Rose Bowl? I would say the Rose Bowl made out big on that one.

8
by Larry (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 9:15pm

If the Rose Bowl insists on retaining the current arrangement, which makes a BigTen/Pac-10 matchup rare, in a couple years they'll be hard pressed to claim there's any tradition to maintain. We will all benefit when that comes to pass.

9
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 9:25pm

Say it with me: “TRADITION ITSELF IS NOT A REASON TO DO ANYTHING”.

Why? One of the largest reasons that college football is popular is because of tradition. Why would the bowls be any different?

10
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 9:57pm

The only "tradition" I see from the Rose Bowl is the Big Ten team getting blown out by the Pac 10 team every year they're matched up. If they're proud of that then they deserve to look like fools.

11
by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:14pm

The only “tradition” I see from the Rose Bowl is the Big Ten team getting blown out by the Pac 10 team every year they’re matched up.

How young are you?

Big 10 won 7 out 8 as recently as 93-'00, w/ PAC 10's lone win being USC over trad'l powerhouse N'Western

12
by Mike Y (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:31pm

Why? One of the largest reasons that college football is popular is because of tradition. Why would the bowls be any different?

I would say the reason why college football is popular is because it's football, not really because of any tradition. And the lack of a playoff system is turning off true football fans like myself. Why should I watch a series of exhibition games, which is what the bowl games are? College football would be so much more interesting if we could see the top schools play each other more than 5-10 games every year.

13
by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:39pm

I would say the reason why college football is popular is because it’s football, not really because of any tradition. And the lack of a playoff system is turning off true football fans like myself.

I would say you're not from Big 10 country and definitely not from SEC country.

Ole Miss has been terrible forever, and home games are still the most important event every weekend every fall in the entire state.

College Football's popularity is almost 100% about tradition, state and college pride. If it's high quality football you want to see, that's what the NFL provides.

14
by Vern (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 12:04am

Since neither the Big-10 or Pac-10 have conference championship games, the Rose Bowl should serve as that - albeit played on Jan 1. You then take the winner of that as the "big/pac 10" champion along with other conference winners and move on.

Alternately, I vote for the smaller conferences like the WAC to simply expand into a multi-conference tournament then try to broaden to it conferences like the Big East. The BCS screws them over every year anyway. Finally, convince one decent conference like the Big 12 or SEC to join it and before you know it the only ones standing on the outside of this great glorious (and financial powerhouse) Tournament will be the Rose Bowl bigots.

15
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 1:42am

First point: so who do you take this year? The winner of LSU-OSU? Georgia? USC? WVU? The case could be made for any of them.

Second point, re 13: "I would say you’re not from Big 10 country and definitely not from SEC country." Oh, you mean like the tradition of Penn State being in the Big 10? The tradition of Penn State not playing Pitt? Or that traditional SEC powerhouse Arkansas? The Arkansas-Texas game used to be one of the great traditional rivalries (and I'm glad to hear that they are bringing it back next season, but the SEC essentially made it disappear for many years.) When you hear ACC, is your first thought "Boston College" or "Va Tech"? (Hey, I'm definitely a traditionalist, I still want to call them VPI!) All I'm saying is that we all honor and respect tradition, but when big dollars are in play, the conferences and universities themselves will trample all over those same traditions.

16
by Paul (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 2:00am

Re 15:

College football's popularity is all about tradition and that's why the dollars are ruining college football (though making games available to alumni far from home). I absolutely miss Penn State-Pity games every year. It wasn't quite a tradition, but I also miss what PSU-Notre Dame was becoming as well.

17
by Gerry (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 2:20am

“TRADITION ITSELF IS NOT A REASON TO DO ANYTHING”.

Why not?

18
by Jorge (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 5:32am

Let's see...if someone told you to jump off a cliff because it's tradition, would you?

19
by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 6:44am

Good for the Rose Bowl / PAC-10 / Big Ten. Personally I would be OK with a plus-one after the traditional bowl match ups. Its tradition that is what makes College Football the game it is. I'm a Pitt / Big East fan, my son went to UNC but the Rose Bowl is still the major bowl to us. Tradition doesn't mean things can't change but they must change for the better. I would have loved to have seem OSU vs USC this year.

20
by Grizzled Old Scout (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 12:27pm

A team should be barred from the Rose Bowl if it didn't win the Big/Pac 10 championship, and the Big/Pac 10 champions have no business in any other bowl game.

Ditto the SEC's arrangement with the Sugar Bowl.

And Don Criqui must be the announcer for the Orange Bowl.

I have spoken. Let it be done.

21
by Kyle S (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 1:56pm

20 -

Let's have Charlie Jones and Len Dawson/Jimmy Cefalo/Todd Christensen do the Fiesta Bowl in the morning on New Year's Day; bring back Lindsey Nelson from the dead to pair with Paul Hornung for the Cotton Bowl, use Enberg/Olsen for the Rose Bowl (as a late afternoon game again) and Keith Jackson/Frank Broyles for the Sugar Bowl at night.

Let's make the Big 12 the Big 8 again, bring back the SWC with Arkansas, make Penn State, Pitt, BC, WVU, Miami, FSU, South Carolina, Louisville, Army & Navy independents again.

Hell, bring back the Garden State and Bluebonnet Bowls on the Mizzlou and Raycom networks. Let placekickers use a tee for field goals and extra points, and have kickoffs from the 40. And take away players' ability to advance a fumble if it 1st hit the ground.

OK, enough sarcasm for now.

22
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 2:38pm

The plus one just seems to me to be another way in which a team which didn't win it's conference would have a chance at the title, which I really, really, dislike. It also helps promote, or at least does little discourage, the worst aspect of college football, which is the deliberate attempt to schedule weak nonconference opponents.

All these people who say they want to protect tradition, while they are in support of a system in which it is possible for a team to not win the their conference, yet still win the championship, are either dishonest or ignorant. The real tradition of college football is the primacy of the conference races. Winning a Big Ten or SEC or Pac 8 title used to be viewed as being nearly every bit as prestigous as being voted national champ. Now, when it is possible to finish second in a conference, yet still make it to the final game of the year, winning the conference simply isn't as big a deal. I think a plus one would further that trend.

I've resigned myself to the fact that we'll never have my preference, which would be a playoff in which the six BCS champs, seeded 1-6, and the best two non-BCS champs, seeded 7-8 would have a tourney. Seeding would be strictly calculated by wins or close losses to high quality non-conference opponents, with home field advantage for seeds 1-4 on the first Saturday in December. The semis, on January 1, and championship game would rotate among the BCS sites.

23
by Mike Y (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 3:29pm

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports had a column several weeks back outlining how a 16-team playoff would work (link in name). The 16 teams would be the conference champions from the 11 Division 1-A conferences, plus 5 at-large teams, all chosen and seeded by a NCAA basketball-like selection committee. The first three rounds would be played at the higher-seeded team's home stadium, while the championship game would be at a neutral site. Now why couldn't this work? Wouldn't you want to see USC travel to Michigan in January? Top inter-conference matchups every year? And the bowls could stay, they can just pick teams from the pool of teams that didn't make the playoff, and the Rose Bowl could still have Big Ten #2 vs. PAC-10 #3.

24
by Scott (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 3:45pm

I don't know why so many have an obsession over having a single national champion. I like that many teams can say they are the "X Bowl Champions" so that more students (99% of whom will not have a career in the NFL) can have a positive end to their football careers.

Also, a 16 team playoff would require two teams to play 4 games in addition to the 11 or so they already play. This seems like too much for (cough) amateur athletes in the first place, but I also fear that many big conferences will get rid of their chamionship games and/or schedule fewer out-of-conference games as compensation for playoff games.

Finally, I know that academics is priority number 516 for big-time college football programs and their fans, but is a playoff system what is really best for the students involved?

25
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 4:34pm

Scott, they play that many games in order to reach the state championship game in high schools across the country. They play that many games in I-AA, Division II, and NON SCHOLARSHIP Division III.

No, the reason that there won't be a playoff in I-A is not academics, it's not the wear and tear on the kids (honestly, most of the football factories don't care about these guys anyway, and they treat them like chattel), and it's not "tradition".

It's money, more appropriately six conferences hoarding the majority of the money to themselves instead of having an equitable system.

26
by Kyle S (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 5:49pm

Also, a 16 team playoff would require two teams to play 4 games in addition to the 11 or so they already play. This seems like too much for (cough) amateur athletes in the first place

Aww - let's hold a candlelight vigil for the high school and Div 1-AA & below players who already do that.

27
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 7:45pm

Nothing screams tradition like the International Bowl.

Really the Cotton Bowl is the one that gets screwed, it did not throw money out to top teams like the Fiesta Bowl did in the 1980s and gets passed over for the BCS because of it.

I don't mind a playoff, especially in a crazy season like this-where we have 4+ teams with legitimate arguments for best team in the country.

And I could give 2 rips about "tradition" and my favorite team loves talking about it (Alabama). Hell one of my Ole Miss's tradition was made in the 1980s (or around then, the Grove)

28
by Your Mom (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 8:03pm

Kyle S,

RTFA!

29
by Scott (not verified) :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 10:24pm

25, 26- thanx, I didn't know that players played so much even at these other levels. (That's what I get for being raised in NYC, where NO ONE cares about college football, and going to a high school that won the NYC Catholic School championship at 9-0).

Another issue I have with all the playoff talk is that, in some years when there is no consensus top team(s), a playoff makes sense. Other years, when there is a clear top team or two, the BCS as currently composed makes sense.
Also, if 8 teams are in a playoff, we'll just hear whining about how #9 got screwed, etc. etc.

30
by Vince Verhei :: Sat, 01/05/2008 - 11:50pm

I have a feeling that some of you didn't even read the article. You're not even addressing this comment:

Playoff proponents counter that plenty of other sports, such as baseball and basketball, cross over two semesters (though those sports also account for many of the NCAA's lowest APR scores), and that Divisions I-AA, II and III all hold their playoffs during the mid-December finals season.

"Don't insult my intelligence," said Tranghese. "Don't compare I-AA football to I-A football. Appalachian State-Delaware, that's a great game, but they are not operating in the limelight that I-A is. For anyone to think there could be a I-A playoff during exams -- the press demands, the television demands, they're just huge.

"People criticize us for low graduation rates -- then those same people want us to play playoffs during exams."

You may or may not believe that, but that's the answer you're going to get.

31
by Dennis (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 12:24am

Vince, that comment is BS. If they cared so much about academics they wouldn't have added the 12th game.

32
by Bobby Conners (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 2:44am

Re: 31

I agree with you, man. I'm so sick of this college football.
I remember when I was a kid and I'd play frisbee or soccer or kickball in the yard with the neighborhood kids.
What we always did was play against one another to determine a champion.
We did not have a panel of kids voting on preliminary games to decide who should play in the title game.

33
by Kyle S (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 3:08am

As others have said, Mike Tranghese is full of shit. He just insulted my intelligence.

34
by Kyle S (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 3:13am

29

Other years, when there is a clear top team or two, the BCS as currently composed makes sense.

No, that just means the BCS system got lucky.

35
by Ryan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 5:04pm

Wow..I just thought of the best idea of all time. If they're really worried about the finals,they could just schedule a BYE week during...Finals Week. Wow..and then after Finals week..you'd continue the playoffs for the almost entire Month colleges get off in between sememesters. Quick math tells me a month is four weeks..and a 16-team tournament means the last two teams play..four games. Four games in four weeks. Makes sense to me.

36
by Kal (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 5:53pm

Okay, let's go with that 16-team playoff where 5 of the teams are the champions of non-BCS leagues. Who would we have in that 16-team playoff this season?:

Virginia Tech
Oklahoma
West Virginia
Ohio State
UCF
Bowling Green
BYU
USC
LSU
Troy
Hawaii

and then 5 at large teams. Presumably those at-large teams would be from the ranks of Texas, Georgia, Illinois, BC, Kansas, Missouri, ASU, Oregon, Florida, Tennessee, Boise State - maybe a few others.

For starters - does anyone really want the Hawaiis and Troys in that playoff? Would you rather have UCF in there, or would you rather have Kansas? BYU or ASU? Bowling Green or Oregon? The fact is, the mid-majors do not provide the same level of talent that the BCS conferences do on a consistent basis. They simply don't.

What you'd want to do, I think, is make sure that the top 2 schools from each BCS division got in. Then have 4-at large positions that could in theory be made by anyone, with the proviso that no conference can put more than 3 teams total into the mix. That should allow for things like Hawaii (who should go, even if they suck) but not allow for Troy or Bowling Green. It would make it so that one of the Texas/Mizzou/Kansas teams wouldn't make it, but that's not horrible. If you like, you could even break it down further to avoid this sort of thing and make sure that no really bad second seeders come in. Make it like this:
The champion of the division makes it in, no matter what.
6 at large BCS teams also make it in.
4 at large teams from any conference (BCS or otherwise) make it in.

That way you could avoid having a team like Illinois and put in favor the 4 teams from the Big-12 if you wanted (though whether they should go is arguable). You'd be able to give mid-majors spots if they looked good enough but you wouldn't be locked into it. And with this, you wouldn't be locked into looking at the records as the only evaluation of a team; like basketball, it'd be based on some committee. Of course you'd have some people saying it's too subjective, blah blah blah, but honestly - when you have 117 teams, you need some subjectivity.

37
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/06/2008 - 9:52pm

Keep in mind that if it is an NCAA championship, then you will be required to invite all 11 conference champions. The only way to keep non-BCS conferences out is to run it with the BCS or a similar organization.

And yes, I do want those conferences involved. A I-A championship needs to involve all conferences. If the MAC and Sun Belt aren't competitive, then they'll simply give the top seeds a warmup game before the quarterfinals. The men's and women's basketball tournaments aren't popular solely because of the second- and third-place teams from major conferences: they're also popular because of the upsets engineered by small-conference champions.

I suppose we shouldn't insult Mr. Tranghese's intelligence by assuming he'd consider arguments for tearing his precious BCS down, like what people have suggested here: delay the tournament until late December, when most schools are done. (Heck, play the thing in January if it's that big of a deal.) It'll keep the I-AA/DII/DIII playoffs from being completely overshadowed.

It's not like every school is invited anyway. If they started the tournament after the CCs, then what, eight schools would play during finals week? How is that any different than arranging for makeup classes/homework because of games on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday? (Or, during basketball season, on pretty much any weeknight.)

The BCS people should just be honest about what they're doing. They're simply staging extra games for money. What they're doing has nothing to do with tradition or anything like that, and nothing to do with an undisputed national champion, that's for sure.

I believe it will change. Back in the day, no one thought anything would change the established order: four New Year's Day bowls, everyone else in little bowls, and that was that. With enough money, that changed. When enough money comes along, this will change too.

38
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 12:07am

"I don’t know why so many have an obsession over having a single national champion."

Um...maybe because determining a champion is the whole POINT of sports? That would be my guess...

Tranghese is very good at playing the embattled victim. Mostly because he's had no choice but still, every time he says anything it's always an attempt to justify or defend something, so he should have a lot of practice at it by now.

39
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 12:09am

BTW I fail to see how any first round playoff game between a top team and a mid major champ could be any less competitive than the one I'm watching now--between two mid majors who weren't even their conference champs.

40
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 2:11am

And Tulsa beats Bowling Green 63-7. Thank God we have bowl games to keep us from seeing lopsided games in the first round of a playoff!

41
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 12:40pm

kal, why would I want to make a conference championship so unimportant, as would be the case if every BCS conference had a 2nd place finisher in the tourney? Thanks, but I'd rather keep what we have now than have 6 2nd place finishers still in hunt in December.

42
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 1:12pm

My vote would be to take the champions of the 6 BCS conferences, the highest-rated non-BCS-conference champion, and a single at-large team as the highest-ranked non-conference-champion.

That keeps the BCS conferences in, it keeps the door open for non-BCS teams (which is necessary to avoid further governmental inquiry), and it keeps one wildcard spot.

43
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 1:50pm

The playoff is not going to happen in the immediate future. Click on the link in my name for a message from the BCS commisioner. You might like the idea of a playoff. I would not be opposed to playoffs in the long run, although I do like historical Bowl games. Instead how about we talk about things that could happen in the near future. (Bowl + 1)

I believe it could be an easy transition to move to Bowl + 1 (without seeding). PAC 10 and Big-10 play each other in the Rose Bowl. LSU plays in the Sugar Bowl. After January 1st all of the polls and computers are evaluated and the teams playing the BCS championship would be determined. Hence, even lower ranking bowls could have an effect on who goes (giving serious interconference play).

Of course, I prefer the older determination of the BCS where a close loss to a top team may be worth more than a close victory at home against a weak team. (See Sagarin Predictor or Ranking rather than ELO-Chess required by BCS to ignore margin of victory and home field advantage)

Some years the picture will be clear and place an obvious best team or two into a championship. Even a playoff may not place the best team in the championship, but rather the team that won the playoff games. (The best team does not always win a specific game, let alone a tournament or playoff)

44
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 2:05pm

The PAC 10 does not like the idea of seeding and I suspect the Big-10 would be opposed, too. Click on my name for an article.

So, why not go back to classic, traditional matchups for the major bowl games? Determine who gets into the championship after and I think it is not really a worse system than we have now.

Small improvements sound like some improvement to me... Whistling "Always look on the bright side of life."

2007/2008 Traditional Matchups
Rose Bowl: Big Ten (Ohio State) against PAC-10 (USC)
Sugar Bowl: SEC (LSU) against at large (Kansas, probably, although Georgia might be an interesting matchup)
Orange Bowl: Big 12 (Oklahoma) against ACC or Big East
Fiesta: ACC or Big East against at large (Georgia, probably)
Cotton: Hawaii against Mizz?

After this we might still see LSU against Ohio state, but we might also see Georgia against USC (although I doubt USC would move up enough and theoretically dominant #1 team that lost on January 1st might still be strong enough to play in the Championship).

45
by Mr. Beefy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 2:38pm

Shouldn't Notre Dame automatically be any playoff system?

46
by ElJefe (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 5:07pm

There are some legitimate arguments against a playoff ... but you'll never hear them uttered.

Tranghese's "not during finals argument" is laughable BS. Sure, we'll do it in every other football-playing division where we have student-athletes, but not in the NFL minor leagues. A starting guard in D-II who is going to graduate and become an accountant has a lot more to lose by missing class time than the D-1A player who is training to be an NFL player, but we'll pull him out of class anyway. Idiot. The media obligations? How about doing just what you're doing now, only allowing the media unfettered access to the coaches (you know, the adults for whom this is a full-time job).

No, there are real reasons. For the coaches the current system allows ~60 of them to tell their boosters, "Sure we lost 5 games, but I gave you Shreveport for the holidays!". How dangerous a profession would coaching be if going 8-3 (or even 9-2) means no postseason? Think about how much flack Lloyd Carr gets for only winning ~80% of his games. What would happen if Lloyd was working on 2-3 playoff trips in a decade-and-a-half rather than 15 consecutive bowl games?

The other reason coaches won't want a playoff is that currently, about 90% of the job is recruiting. Any top team generally plays only 2-3 games a year against teams with comparable talent and 8-9 games where they can just "roll the ball out" (so to speak) and win. I would suspect a lot of top coaches would potentially be exposed by having to play 4 consecutive games against top competition. Sure Georgia whacked Hawaii, but how would you like to be told "Congratulations, you're in the playoffs. Oh, you're playing a run-and-shoot team next week. What do you mean you've never coached against that ... And if you win maybe you get Navy?". Interesting as it may be, I don't think the powers-that-be want to see Cinderella Navy baffling big-conference schools who haven't seen the wishbone in a decade.

The administration doesn't want a playoff because of too much money being involved. How many stories of bad behavior by football players have we read this year? And more money in the system only tips the talent vs. character scale of recruiting further towards talent. If I were the President of a major university, I would have a non-negligible fear of potential violent felonies if the money gets much larger. This isn't a problem with basketball because you only need to allow 8-10 players into your college that wouldn't otherwise be there, and you have about 1 assistant coach for every 2 players to sit on those guys. Oh, and the administration also feels the heat for those 9-3, home for the holidays seasons. No postseason = less donations from the alumni sheep.

The players don't want a playoff either. I have two words: Willis McGahee. How much money did his knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl cost him? The difference between #5 and #25 in the first round is probably close to $10 million in guaranteed money. I would suspect an extra 3 games vs. high-level competition poses a fairly significant injury risk. This is the perverse other side of the academic coin. A blown ACL doesn't hurt your earnings potential as an actuary.

47
by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 7:18pm

will@23

I stopped caring as much about conference champions when the money grubbing conferences went to championship games. It still means something, but now that teams have such different conferences schedules it has lost some of its luster. This has lessened the value of a conference championship to me more than the BCS inviting second place teams. Even in the Big T1E1N has problems with unbalanced schedules.

48
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 7:55pm

#46: Who said anything about the rest of the minor bowls being completely shut down? The NIT still goes on in college hoops, there's no reason for the usual 6-6 and 7-5 riffraff to stop playing bowl games. They'd be just as meaningless as ever.

As far as fear of player misbehavior, you're joking right? The inexorably progressive decline of American society will lead to more incidents of player felonies regardless. A playoff will certainly have nothing to do with it.

49
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 9:44pm

Will Allen- I know abhor non-division winners participating in a playoff, but at some point a concession should be made that a 2nd place team in a major conference can be better (and thus more playoff-worthy) than a conference winner. The 2008 Sugar Bowl clearly demonstrated that.

DollFan, I say this in a good natured manner- to you EVERYTHING “proves” that the bowls stink and that a playoff is needed. Blowout in a bowl? More evidence that we need a playoff. USC looks good vs Illinois? More evidence that we need a playoff. Britney Spears has a toxic weekend? More evidence that we need a playoff.

The NCAA basketball tournament is fun, but who really thinks the Final Four consists of the four best teams…or even four of the twenty best teams?

50
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 9:50pm

As far as fear of player misbehavior, you’re joking right? The inexorably progressive decline of American society will lead to more incidents of player felonies regardless.

My head just exploded. If someone would stop by and clean up the mess, I'd greatly appreciate it.

51
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/07/2008 - 9:58pm

I dislike Mike Trangese, but he makes some awfully good points:

"Whenever my [league's] presidents have asked me about the positives and negatives of a playoff, I tell them the two positives are [more] money and people will stop yelling and screaming," said Tranghese. "And the negative is that the value and meaning of the regular season will be diminished. Playoff proponents who say that's not true -- that's just pure stupidity."

Tranghese points to Pittsburgh's upset of West Virginia the final night of the regular season, a riveting game that severely impacted the national-championship picture. "If there had been a playoff, who would have watched that game?" he said. "It would have no meaning. West Virginia would already be in the playoff.

"The BCS has created what I call cross-watching," said Tranghese. "An LSU fan had interest in that game, an Ohio State fan had interest in that game. Most of that would go away if we had a football playoff -- that is one thing I'm certain of."

52
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 6:33am

Gee Kevin11, you sure did make a quick recovery from your head exploding :-)

I stand by my statement. To even insinuate that playoffs will somehow directly lead to an increase in player crimes is just laughable.

53
by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 12:37pm

I stand by my contention that increasing the amount of financial gain that can be achieved through athletic success would tilt the behavioral balance to the negative. (I think that was stilted enough.)

A team that participates in the playoff should be paid more money than it would be getting now from the bowl system, because TV would pay more for 15 real playoff games than it does for the 1 pseudo-playoff game and 14 blatant exhibitions it currently buys. (And as you want the bowl system to continue as well, those 13-15 exhibitions would now have better teams in them and may also be worth more money to TV.) As the financial reward of success increases, the pressure to succeed increases. In an athletic world this is often manifested as different sets of rules for star players. Why did Roger Clemens get to leave the Astros for most of the games he wasn't starting, while all the other pitchers had to be available? Because he was better than them, and this concession was necessary for him to agree to play for the Astros, who with his services were more able to win games and by winning more games were more profitable. Anyone who has ever played organized, competitive athletics has probably seen this effect in person.

In the college football world this is usually manifested in the need to recruit academically marginal, yet highly athletically talented individuals to your campus. If the potential financial reward of success increases, the incentive to recruit even more marginal students increases. I surmise that the same extends to the arena of acceptable behavior. I suspect that at most D-I football campuses the standard of expected behavior is different for the football team than the swimming (or other non-revenue producing) team. It's much easier to kick the top backstroker off the team for underage drinking than to boot the starting quarterback, because losing a couple of swim meets has a much less significant financial penalty than losing a couple of football games.

And as the financial reward of success increases, the penalty for punishing bad behavior also increases, which should lead to greater tolerance for bad behavior. No, it doesn't necessarily mean that violent felonies are going to be commonplace, but I see it like this ... Say you have a boat that extends 10 feet below the water-line, and you know there are large sandbars 20 feet below the water-line at high tide. As the tide goes out, the boat still needs 10 feet, but the sandbars get closer and closer to the water-line. As long as those sandbars are > 10 feet below the water-line, you feel safe. But once the tide goes out far enough that the sandbars are within 10 feet of the water-line, you have the potential to run aground. It doesn't mean you will necessarily hit the sandbars but the risk is much greater than it would be if you stopped sailing before the tide got out so far.

Or to put it another way: 18-22 year old boys have a tendency to find out where the "line" is for acceptable behavior, and then take a step or two beyond it. As that line moves farther into anti-social behaviors I would expect that tendency not to change.

54
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 2:37pm

I think what Trangese thinks is organize a pure plus-1 that only bowl champions are eligible. It solves Rose Bowl problems; it's a way to the purists to have the old bowls back; and the bowls will have a playoff taste regardless who will be considered #1 and #2 after them...

55
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 3:58pm

"And as the financial reward of success increases, the penalty for punishing bad behavior also increases, which should lead to greater tolerance for bad behavior."

HUH??? Wouldn't increased penalties lead to LESS tolerance?

And again, based on what's happened in America for the last 40 years, violent felonies committed by college football players would increase anyway, playoff or no playoff. Just as it has in the last decade without one.

I was so caught up in the whole playoff debate that I completely failed to notice Tranghese's ridiculous attempt to paint the Pitt win over WVU as great for all of college football, when the truth is it was the worst thing that could've happened to his conference, hence the officials' ludicrously bad calls against Pitt in the second half once they realized what a Pitt win would mean. How can he possibly have any credibility left after that? I guarantee Tranghese didn't think that game was so great the day after it happened! Maybe not even a WEEK after it happened!

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by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 4:32pm

My final meaningless Top 25:

1. LSU
2. West Virginia
3. Southern Cal
4. Ohio State
5. Georgia
6. Oklahoma
7. Missouri
8. Kansas
9. Tennessee
10. Virginia Tech
11. Michigan
12. Boston College
13. Florida
14. Texas
15. Illinois
16. Auburn
17. Arizona State
18. Cincinnati
19. Clemson
20. BYU
21. Texas Tech
22. Oregon
23. Wisconsin
24. Kentucky
25. Wake Forest

Oh, and….can you imagine what a MESS we’d have on our hands right now with a “plus one” system? West Virginia, Southern Cal, Georgia, Kansas, and Missouri would all scream bloody murder for being left out.

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by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 5:06pm

“And as the financial reward of success increases, the penalty for punishing bad behavior also increases, which should lead to greater tolerance for bad behavior.”

HUH??? Wouldn’t increased penalties lead to LESS tolerance?
He's talking about the penalties the schools will suffer if they discipline the players, i.e. losing football games after suspending players, which = less revenue.

58
by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 5:07pm

Re: 56. You're right, an unseeded +1 doesn't really help anything. A seeded +1 (really, a 4-team playoff) works, but I don't see that happening.

59
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 5:12pm

#56: Just leave whoever the Big Ten chump--I mean champ, is out of every Plus One and always include USC and the SEC champ, as well as one more SEC team if they finish the regular season in the top 5. If a Plus One isn;t instituted or until one is, always include the SEC champ in a title game until another team beats them.

#57: Oh, okay. But since when does benching starters automatically=losing games? If schools are going to take that kind of defeatist attitude then they deserve to lose revenue IMO. Believe it or not, life will go on if the star RB is benched for committing a felony. It's pretty much been proven that teams with an inordinate amount of thugs never win anything meaningful anyway, regardless of whether they play or not.

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by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 8:26pm

My opinion- LSU, when healthy, is really THAT good and would have defeated WVU, Georgia, or USC in a similar fashion.

Georgia looked great...against weak competition. My feeling is that in an alternative universe Ohio State would have rolled over Hawaii.

I'm not an OSU fan, I just think that they were definitely in the top two at the conclusion of the regular season. Not bad, since 2007 was considered a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes.

61
by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2008 - 10:18pm

Re: 37. Not true. Division I-AA (which I assume is run by the NCAA) gives automatic bids to 8 conferences, and then gives the other 8 spots to at large teams (who may or may not be conference champions). There are 15 conferences in I-AA, and 3 abstain from participating in the playoffs, so they could easily take every other conference champ if they so chose.