Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘BCS’

Shocker: Major college conferences like system that gives championship to major conferences

Posted by Fred on April 30, 2008

Although the so-called “plus one” system under consideration by the BCS conferences was far from perfect, it was certainly an improvement over the current system, which seems designed primarily to match up the SEC champion and the Big 10 champion for a mythical championship. Needless to say, therefore, that the BCS cabal doesn’t like it, and the plus-one playoff proposal was turned down by the BCS:

The conference commissioners who manage the Bowl Championship Series chose Wednesday to end their brief consideration of a new plus-one format, which would have built a four-team playoff into the current five-bowl structure. Their action — or lack of it — assures the current system will remain in place through at least the 2013 season.

“The thing. .. that came through loud and clear is there’s satisfaction with where we are,” said Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner and BCS coordinator John Swofford.

BCS_poll As USA Today’s poll indicates, however, the only people satisfied with where the BCS is are the people who run the BCS, which is to say the major conferences that want to keep the championship their exclusive domain.  Fans want a playoff, and want a playoff by an ever-increasing majority.  Schools from non-BCS conferences want a playoff, as the chances of a non-BCS team ever playing in the big game are zero. The TV networks certainly would love a playoff, judging from the CBS juggernaut that is March Madness.

The sole justification for the current system is that a playoff would “diminish” the regular season, which BCS backers love to claim means more than the regular season in college basketball.  There may be some truth to this, but keep several things in mind.  First, a 12 game regular season is inevitably going to be of greater importance than a 30-game regular season: the baseball playoffs include 8 of 30 teams instead of 12 of 32 as in the NFL, but no one claims that a single Yankees-Red Sox matchup is more important than New England vs Indianapolis. Second, college football’s system means that there is no incentive to schedule a full slate of challenging non-conference games, as losing two of them means you have little chance of playing for the title.  Why do you think Michigan scheduled Appalachian State (a decision which they now regret, of course)?

Think of it this way: who outside of Memphis and Chapel Hill would have preferred a single Tigers-Tar Heels game to the tournament we were treated to? Did KU’s eventual victory diminish the importance of Michael Beasley’s coming out party in Manhattan against the Jayhawks?  Did KU’s victory over UNC diminish the UNC-Duke games? How about the Memphis-Tennessee game? The regular season would still matter with a playoff – the justification for the BCS is more money for the SEC, not the integrity of the game.


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Georgia president proposes doomed eight-team football playoff

Posted by Fred on January 9, 2008

University of Georgia President Michael Adams is pitching an eight-team football playoff:

Adams voted against a playoff proposal offered by fellow Southeastern Conference champion Bernard Machen last spring. But a loss of control at the presidential level and increased competitive parity have changed Adams’ position.

As chairman of the NCAA executive committee, he will advance his proposal at the organization’s annual convention next week.”I find it interesting that our most high-profile sport is the only place where we as presidents have turned the end game over to another group,” Adams said. “There has been a concentration of power among the conference and bowl commissioners. I believe it is time to take the ultimate power out of their hands.”

Adams’ position obviously has less to do with concentrations of power than it does with his university’s football team finishing third in the polls, with no hope of contending for a title, even though they finished the season with seven straight wins (including four over ranked opponents).  Over its last seven games, UGa went 7-0 with an average score of 35-20.  Eventual champion LSU went 6-1 with an average score of 39-27 (aided greatly by a 58-10 thrashing of in-state patsy Louisiana Tech).  In basketball, Georgia may well have received a higher seed. In the BCS, they had no hope. They didn’t win their division, didn’t play in their conference title game, and LSU beat both of the teams that beat Georgia.  The Bulldogs’ season was over the minute the clock hit 0:00 in the Tennessee game.

All cynicism aside regarding Georgia’s deathbed conversion, Adams is (a) absolutely right and (b) tilting at windmills.  The plus-one idea Myles Brand will pitch next week is the best you’re going to get. It would probably have helped Georgia, assuming that they would face LSU in the plus-one game. But it’s still not the answer, because who is to say that it should be LSU vs. Georgia in that game and not USC or Missouri, West Virginia or Kansas or Oklahoma?  No other sport decides its champion based on an opinion poll, and there’s no reason football should either, other than the big piles of cash at the end of the BCS rainbow.

P.S. Save your garbage about a playoff making the regular season meaningless. Are the regular seasons in other sports meaningless? Tell that to  fans in the Bronx, where the Yankees will play a meaningful series against the Sox in mid-April. Or tell that to Bill Self, last seen chewing out his 14-0 Jayhawks in the first half of a game against Loyola (Md.).  A playoff doesn’t make the regular season meaningless.  The current system does make the rest of the season meaningless for teams losing early. This year was a bit of an aberration with the top six teams having two losses, but in most years, Georgia’s season would have become meaningless on September 6,  USC’s on October 6 and Missouri’s on October 13 when they lost to South Carolina, Stanford and Oklahoma, respectively.

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BCS gets it sort of right, should still be taken out back and shot

Posted by Fred on December 3, 2007

ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski: Chaos doesn’t legitimize ignorance or stupidity of flawed system:

[SEC Commissioner Mike] Slive is a smart, well-intentioned administrator, but when he says, “I don’t see what I would call an NFL-style playoff in the offing,” someone needs to remind him that it isn’t an “NFL-style playoff” we’re talking about. It’s an NCAA-style playoff, the kind of elimination tournament seen in nearly every NCAA sport and every NCAA football division except Division I-A. SEC schools won two of those “NFL-style” playoffs last season. They’re called Final Fours.And when he says he’s looking “very, very hard [at] drilling down into that concept” of a Plus-One format (sort of a seeded, one-game playoff game after the bowls), he’s admitting the BCS has major imperfections. Otherwise, why bother?

Exactly.  Fact is, the BCS is the best system for determining the champion, except for all the others.  This season the BCS probably picked the two best teams, although even that’s not certain.  Is Ohio State better than Georgia?  Ohio State ended up with one loss, but its record includes wins over Youngstown State, Akron and Kent State.  OSU didn’t play a single game against a team ranked in the top 20 at the time (although Illinois certainly should have been, in hindsight).  Georgia lost to Tennessee and South Carolina, but they beat Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Kentucky.  Then again, Georgia also only beat 8-4 Troy by 10 points at home.  And what about USC, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia or Missouri?  Any of those teams would give the Buckeyes or the Tigers a game, and one or two would probably win.

This year was more clear than some years (at least you don’t have more than two unbeatens), but it will never be so clear a playoff is unnecessary.  The usual arguments against a playoff are spurious at best:

  1. That would mean too many games, or too much travel, or time away from class.  Tell that to the four remaining Division I-AA teams, which seem to be doing just fine.  Richmond and Appalachian State square off next weekend in the semifinals of their playoff, each sporting an 11-2 record.  If either goes on to win the championship, they’ll be 13-2.  If LSU beats Ohio State, they’ll be 12-2.  That one extra game can’t be that strenuous, and even if it is, the playoff would make the SEC championship game unnecessary, so you could have a playoff and keep the poor, tired Tigers at 14 games.  if you honestly believe that the BCS is better because it keeps Glenn Dorsey in class an extra day or two, you’re an idiot.
  2. A playoff would increase the risk of injury.  This is really just the flipside of #1, and equally worthless.  Besides, are there really more injuries in I-AA than in I-A?  Any added injury risk from an extra game is more than made up for by the BCS system, which encourages coaches to leave their starters in blowout games to run up the score in order to impress voters and pad the BCS formula.
  3. A playoff would make the regular season meaningless.  The regular season is already meaningless for all but two of the Division I-A schools.  Georgia’s season was essentially over in the second week when it lost to South Carolina.  Michigan’s season was over in the first week when it lost to Appalachian State.  Lose a starter to injury in week one and drop two games, and your championship hopes are out the window even if you finish 11-2.  The regular season would still have meaning, especially if the field was small, and all games but the championship game were played on campus.  The NFL playoffs include 12 of its 32 teams, but that didn’t make New England-Indianapolis or Dallas-Green Bay meaningless.
  4. A playoff would deprive fans of something to argue about over beer.  I’ll give you that one, but it’s hardly reason to prefer the BCS.  I’ll also give you “a playoff would deprive the NCAA and its sponsors of money, as they wouldn’t be able to cherry-pick Notre Dame (most years) to increase $$ from the bowl game.”  Money is of course the great motivator.  It’s why Kansas got picked over Missouri for the Orange Bowl, and why a team like Hawaii has to go undefeated to play in a BCS bowl at all.

There is no justifiable reason that Division I-A football should be the only one of the 89 NCAA championships not decided entirely on the field.  None.

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USA Today: BCS a three-way scrap

Posted by Fred on November 15, 2007

Sports media is starting to acknowledge that there is a very real chance that the Jayhawks could be this year’s “screw up the BCS system and prove yet again why college football needs a playoff system” team.  Yesterday, John Seibel and Orestes Destrade included both Oklahoma-Texas Tech and KU-Iowa State in their Five Reasons to Watch College Football This Weekend segment on SportsNation Radio.  Now, USA Today weighs in:

All that remains is for LSU and Oregon to win their final three games. Or not.There is the little matter of Kansas. The little Jayhawks that could. Unknown at the start of the season and still an outsider.

Kind of like the unwanted relative that you have to invite to your wedding. And they could spoil the party.

They’re certainly not going away. Not with an unbeaten mark and Missouri and probably Oklahoma left the schedule. That’s two top-10 opponents to pad their credentials with poll voters and the computers.

Missouri and Oklahoma are huge obstacles for this Jayhawks team to overcome. KU has played only one game against a team ranked in the Top 25 at the time, a 30-24 win over then-24 Kansas State.  Missouri and Oklahoma have played each other, with OU coming out on top 41-31.  Overall, Missouri’s played the toughest schedule (#35, according to CBS), with KU and OU roughly equivalent (73 and 68, respectively).  If KU can win out (and I still don’t think they will), they have to get the nod over Oregon – undefeated and with two wins over Top 5 teams in successive weeks is a no-brainer, even if they aren’t a traditional football school.

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