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Commissioners Concerned With Self-Interests, Not Best Interests Of College Football With New Playoff Proposal

A word of advice for those of you hoping for a simple, fair playoff plan to end future college football seasons: Don’t.

The men making the decision on the playoff — what it will be, where it will be, and who it will be — are too interested in their own self-interests to do what is logically correct and what is best for their game as a whole.  They are motivated by greed.  They are motivated by power.  They are motivated to do whatever the heck is best for their own conference.  The rest of college football — the other leagues, the players and coaches, and you fans — be damned.

In a simple world run by rational people who understand that a rising tide will lift all boats, a four-team playoff would be created in order to crown football’s national champion.  The bowl system would be incorporated into that system in an attempt to save a little bit of tradition and, yes, in an effort to make sure the biggest conferences still make the biggest share of money.  While that too could be classified as looking out for one’s self-interests, is there anyone out there who really believes the University of Nevada will be as responsible as the University of Alabama for the new TV dollars a playoff package will create?  Is college football thriving because of the UCFs, North Texases and Western Michigans or because of the previous work of the Floridas, Texases and Michigans?  So let the big boys keep most of the money while still providing the little guys with more cash than they’ve ever seen.

And for gosh sakes include the top four teams in the nation in the playoff.  One would expect that to be the most obvious, simplest, no-brainiest part of the battle.

But it’s not.

Just weeks after floating an idea that would have created three semifinal games in the hopes of giving the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten and Pac-12 special treatment above all other leagues, Big Ten commish Jim Delany is at it again.  Late yesterday, Delany told a group of reporters that the conference commissioners now working on a playoff plan are considering a proposal — no doubt backed by Delany and the commissioners of leagues like the Sun Belt and Mountain West — that would guarantee a slot in the playoff to any conference champion ranked among the nation’s top six teams.  If four conference champs failed to rank among the top six, then and only then would the highest-ranked non-champs or independents be welcomed into the playoff.

It’s a busy day for yours truly so I’m just going to cut to the problem here.  While last season would have ended with a playoff involving #1 LSU, #2 Alabama, #3 Oklahoma State and #5 Oregon (instead of #4 Stanford), imagine this scenario:

 

#1.  LSU — 13-0 SEC Champion (from a 14-team league with a championship game)

#2.  Alabama — 12-1 SEC non-champ (from a 14-team league with a championship game)

#3.  Southern Cal — 12-1 Pac-12 runner-up (from a 12-team league with a championship game)

#4.  Boise State — 12-1 Big East champ (from a 12-team league expected to have a championship game)

#5.  Oklahoma — 10-2 Big 12 champ (from a 10-team league with no championship game)

#6.  Ohio State — 10-3 Big Ten champ (from a 12-team league with a championship game)

 

In that event, the second and third best teams in the nation would be out of the playoffs, replaced by teams either a) from easier-to-win, smaller leagues or b) with lesser records.  If you think that’s not a likely scenario, fine, but it would be a possibility under Delany’s “anything to keep two SEC teams from making the field” plan.  And until last January, who would have predicted a two-teams-from-the-same-league BCS Championship Game scenario?  What may seem unlikely today can quickly come to fruition tomorrow.

Too bad the guys making this decision can’t wrap their pointy heads around that fact.

How hard is it to simply take the four best teams in the country and put them in football’s version of the Final Four?  Not all leagues are created equally.  The SEC has proven that fact in eight of the last 14 and six of the last six BCS title games.  It also happens to recruit and churn out more pro draft picks than any other league.  And it just expanded to 14 teams making it even more difficult to win.

The Big 12, by comparison, looks to be a 10-team league for the foreseeable future.  As we showed earlier this week, it’s recruiting zone is shrinking.  Ditto the Big Ten.  Those leagues — like it/don’t like it, fair/not fair — do not look to be on even footing with the SEC or even the ACC or Pac-12 moving forward thanks to their current footprints and the migration patterns of the modern American citizen.  The idea of putting those leagues on a bigger pedestal than the one they’re already resting on is patently absurd.

Their advantage is the fact that they helped create this nation’s love for college football and that they will rake in bazillions of bucks via the new playoff system.  The SEC and ACC should have an advantage because they’re 14-teams deep at this point.

Some of the smaller conferences will get an increase in funds and — with a playoff open to anyone ranked among the nation’s top four teams — more opportunities to play for crowns.  Whether they deserve it or not.

Take the Big East (please).  Here’s the group Boise State would have to best to win its league — UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Navy, Rutgers, San Diego State, SMU, UConn and South Florida.  Hate to tell ya, Big East’ers, but winning that league would equate to finishing second, third or fourth in some of the bigger, tougher conferences.  Winning that league and finishing sixth in the ranking should not automatically jump the Broncos over #2 or #3 ranked teams.  Now, if Boise is deemed to be in the top four by the voters and/or computers, okey-dokey.  But the eyeball or a computer chip will still have a say.

 

For the college football fan out there, you should drop to your knees and pray to your favorite omnipotent being that eventually — wisely — these commissioners will simply agree on a ranking formula that can be used to determine the playoff participants.  If three teams come from one league, so be it.  Everybody still makes money.  If four conference champions get in, super.  If four conference runner-ups make the field, fine as well.  Just so long as the four highest-ranked teams are involved.

If the power brokers of college football are truly ready to respond to waning bowl ratings and falling attendance figures then they’d best start putting fans first, not their own self-interests.  Unfortunately, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

And if the proposal Delany mentioned yesterday winds up getting a thumbs-up, here’s the scenario we at MrSEC.com would absolutely love to see play out in Year One of the new system:

 

#1.  Ohio State — 13-0 Big Ten champion

#2.  Michigan — 12-1 Big Ten runner-up

#3.  Wisconsin — 12-1 Big Ten non-champ

#4.  LSU — 11-2 SEC champion

#5.  Boise State — 11-1 Big East champion

#6.  Oklahoma — 9-3 Big 12 champion

 

That playoff would nix a pair of Big Ten powers in order to provide space for guaranteed league champions with lesser records.  Such a scenario would also dole out a healthy dose of karma for guys like Delany who would rather do what’s right by his own league than what’s right by all leagues, all teams, and all fans… which is to just take the four best teams in the darn country and play ‘em off.

 


24 comments
Crayton
Crayton

"Champions Only" has its merits... if only there weren't non-champions regularly appearing in the Top 3. Am I right?

 

My favorite solution is to schedule a nation-wide CCG for two top teams that aren't already playing in one. Last year, Alabama and Stanford would play against each other at the beginning of December with the winner being crowned a "champion" and having a shot at making the playoffs.

 

This would throw a bone to the SEC by giving all of the Top 5 teams (pre-CCGs) a direct line to the National Championship, but it would also continue to put an emphasis on winning your conference and adding an extra hurdle for the SEC (or any other conference) to put 2 teams into the playoff.

 

A quick look back: (with projected final BCS standings BEFORE any CCGs are played)

[other playoff teams with projected post-CCG rankings]

 

2011: #2 Alabama vs. #4 Stanford [#1 LSU, #3 OK State, #4 Oregon]

2010: #4 Stanford vs. #5 Wisconsin [#1 Auburn, #2 Oregon, #3 TCU]

2009: #5 TCU vs. #6 Boise State  [#1 Alabama, #2 Texas, #3 Cincy]

2008: #3 Texas vs. #6 Utah [#1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida, #5 USC]

2007: #4 Georgia vs. #5 USC [ #1 Ohio State, #3 LSU, #4 Va Tech]

2006: #2 Michigan vs. #4 LSU [#1 Ohio State, #2 Florida, #4 USC]

 

jlynch1976
jlynch1976

 @Crayton The fact that Louisville was not ranked in the top 4 in 2006 is a clear example of how flawed opinion polls are.  In 2006, the Big East was the second best conference behind the SEC and there wasn't a close third.  Louisville did not get the respect they earned because of they are not a big name and the Big East usually is not one of the top conferences. 

Crayton
Crayton

Not sure what you are getting at. I was writing about a wild-card game, not human polling. Human polling, like any polling, will not please everyone simultaneously. A Wild-Card Game will broker an excellent compromise between those pushing for "Champions Only" and "Top Four" playoff proposals. It will add gravel and tree limbs to the "slippery slope" by practically ensuring that the Top 6 teams that don't make the playoff don't because they lost their CCG or the WCG.

USCTraveler
USCTraveler like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Just take the Top 4."

 

Top 4 according to who ?  A corrupt coaches poll and computers with secret formulas that don't take SOS into account ?

 

The BCS frequently gets it wrong.  That's why people have been so unhappy about the whole system.

 

Last year, if it was the Top 4, Stanford, whom Oregon thrashed in Palo Alto would have gone over # 5 Oregon, who won the PAC.

 

Why ?  Because Oregon lost to LSU.  Stanford would have been rewarded for a weak schedule, while the head to head matchup was ignored.  Do you really think Stanford was a better team than Oregon because the BCS rankings told you they were ?

 

Winning your conference should mean something.  It means a team proved itself on the field- not in a beauty contest.

 

Take the 3 highest ranked conference champs and whoever the highest-ranked team outside of those 3 is- could be a non-conference winner, indy, or a 4th conference winner.  

 

Last year, that would have been Bama, and Stanford would have been left out in favor of Oregon, the PAC champ.

 

This system would leave room for the 2nd place team in a very strong conference in the playoff (like Bama last year) while minimizing the effects of the polls and computers as much as possible in a 4 team playoff.  Less beauty contest and more on-field results oriented.

 

 

safety guy
safety guy

Every league in every sport rewards conference/division champs over others.  I guess they are all wrong.  You have to protect conference champs.  Who is to say that the SEC will not become a BALANCED, powerful conference and have a champ with 2 losses.  John, in your second scenario, if you had OU with a 11-1 record, they would have surpassed LSU.  Think about a college playoff without the SEC champ. Ludicrous.  Unless you have an 8 team playoff or a 4 team playoff with 4 - 16 team conferences, no ideas will work.  John, in your first scenario, where is the Pac champ.  But if the college powers want to have a 4 team playoff with only 4 champs, only the top 4 champs in the top 6, or the top 4 ranked teams, it will lead to failure and congressional interference because they are all completely unfair with 5 or 6 major conferences.  Its amazing that so many smart people can be so ignorant on this issue.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

safety guy...

 

No other sport invites just four teams to meet in their playoffs.  Huge difference.  That's not even apples to oranges... that's apples to ducks.

 

And before you starting calling people ignorant simply because they disagree with you, you may first want to figure out what the word "scenario" means.  

 

In the first scenario, we suggest the Pac-12 champ would be an upset winner of the league title game, say, a 9-3 team that beat USC by a point in Week 3 and then beat a 6-6 squad in the title game.  In the second scenario, we included a similar Oklahoma team -- a so-so winner of the Big 12 -- so I'm not sure where you get your 11-1 comment from.  Or, for that matter, the suggestion that OU would automatically jump LSU.

 

These scenarios are possibilities under Delany's latest goofy plan.  Until this year, no one would have thought two teams from the same conference could end up in the BCS title game.  But it actually happened.  The scenario became reality and all heck broke loose because of it.

 

But as long as we're kicking the word ignorant around... I think it's kind of ignorant for anyone to seriously say, "Well, yes, I want a playoff, but can we find a way to NOT take the best four teams in the rankings?"  That seems rather absurd to me.

 

John

jlynch1976
jlynch1976

The NFL apparently thinks winning one's division is important.  In 2008, the 8-8 San Diego Chargers went to the playoffs while the 11-5 New England Patriots did not.  In 2010, the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks went to the playoffs while the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not.  Those who think it should just be the "top 4" would rather have a difference in a math rating of .001 determine the playoff teams instead of something concrete like a conference  championship.  The ratings are based on human opinions and computer programs that use criteria that the general public does not even understand.  Conference champions are won on the field. 

 

There has never been a 3-loss team in the top 6, so stop scaring with people with unrealistic hypotheticals.  If you go back the last 16 years like I have you would see that the top 6 conference champion-rule would have given us very reasonable sets of playoff teams every year.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

jlynch1976...

 

The NFL also welcomes 12 of its 32 teams into the playoffs.  That would equate to about a 45-team college playoff.  The NFL has to give its division-winners some sort of bonus.

 

Not a good comparison, in my book.  If the NFL were only to field a four-team playoff, you can bet they'd take their top four teams by record and no 7-9 team would get in over an 11-5 squad.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

jlynch1976
jlynch1976

 @John at MrSEC Actually, in 1934,1936,1943,1948,1950, 1951, 1952,1956,1960,and 1963 only two teams made the playoffs and yet the team with the second best record did not make the playoffs.  In 1967 the Colts tied for the best record in the NFL but did not make the playoffs out of four playoff teams.  In 1968 the Rams had the third best record and the Cardinals had the fourth best record but neither team made the 4-team playoffs.  I could keep citing examples that contradict your assumption but it's getting late.

Guest
Guest

 @jlynch1976

Neither the NFL, the BCS, or Division FCS  require teams to win their conferences in order to be the ultimate champion.  It's just common sense.   

jlynch1976
jlynch1976

No, but as I pointed out the NFL gives obvious preference to division champs, which is what I am advocating.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Reminder...

 

If someone includes a link on this site, we'll occasionally let it slide.  But when folks come here and post links to their own work or to other sites for sheer advertising purposes, those posts will be deleted.

 

We don't venture into other sites' comment boxes and link back to our stuff.  So when it feels like someone's doing that to us, we're nuking it.

 

Just an FYI.  Thanks for reading the site, all.

 

John

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

 @John at MrSEC when this was in the link, I stopped reading anyway....

 

[i]What Would’ve Happened? No. 1 Tennessee over No. 4 UCLA, No. 3 Ohio State over No. 2 Florida State, [b]No. 3 Ohio State would’ve beaten No. 1 Tennessee[/b] for the national title[/i]

MoKelly
MoKelly

Keep yelling this as often and as loud as possible. You are 1000% correct. The Big 10 is desperate to have ANYTHING that guarantees their champion to be in the mix. The Conference Champ proposal is being pushed to make the case "all Conferences are equal". The SEC success has made all other Conferences upset/mad/jealous that it is consensus that the SEC is #1 and everyone is behind. This Conference Champ proposal is pure and simple a way to say all Conferences are equal.

 

How can anyone believe Conference Champs deserve speacial treatment over a higher ranked team????

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

 @MoKelly The problem is, and always will be that CCG's are separate and unequal. Until the breakup, it really was the B12 vs the SEC in terms of depth. The PAC was Southern Cal based, and the B1G was all about Michigan and Ohio State. The ACC had 4 "possibles" but since they went to 12, none has been able to make it on the national stage. What the PAC and B1G want is a CCG that allows Southern Cal, Ohio State, and Michigan a "second chance" at a MNC if they lose a regular season game. Nobody said this, but it was evidenced by no other school challenging for these spots. With Nebraska gone, the B12 becomes just like the B1G and PAC in promoting a "second chance" for the winner of the Red River Rivalry.

 

The SEC has been about "the 6" and it still fights with this today. Put any of these 6 in a CCG as the underdog, and there is a good probability that they can prevail over the favorite. The SEC is just that competitive at a much greater depth than any other conference. Instead of other conferences allowing other schools to flourish, and compete with the alpha dog, they continue to feed 1 or 2 programs and keep the rest as cannon fodder that pulls the occasional upset. These upsets are limited to single games or a few seasons at best, before it starts hitting the brand status and merchandise of the alpha dog, and things have to go back to the status quo. I often think instituting a draft for the non SEC conferences would be a way to spread their talent pools across multiple schools instead of funneling them into just one or two.

 

Having great teams are fun for the lead dogs, but the view is the same for the rest of the pack. The SEC has by design, or luck, spread the wealth across enough teams to create fan demand at most of their schools instead of just 1 or 2. Maybe the other non SEC teams should try building their own teams before always attacking the SEC in print. The east coast, upper midwest, southwest, and far west are all producing NFL talent, so you have to ask yourself why they are not building more champions on their home turf? The PAC has a virtual monopoly on west coast talent, yet they can only produce 1 historic football team in Southern Cal? How crazy does that sound?

Andy Martin
Andy Martin

The Big Ten is ridiculous.  They have been playing games like this for years.  For the record, I am a graduate of both Iowa and Texas A&M, so I have a dog in the hunt on both sides of the fence.  If the Big 10 wants conference champions, then let's all expand to four superconferences and call it a day.  No problem at that time,  In the meantime, the best four teams should go which tends to favor conference champions anyway.

 

The Rose Bowl should not get special treatment.  If they wish their traditional rivalry, then they get what is left over after the playoffs are seeded OR they allow any team to play in the Rose Bowl in years that they host a playoff game.  There should be no further compromise.

 

Delaney is smart to round his troops with the Pac 12 and little conferences to bully their position.  That is how they operate because at the end of the day, this is a business battle about who has the most money, prestige, brand power, and market share. 

Guest
Guest

True article, but sort of conficts with Mr. Sec's steadfast support of greedy conference expansion with all the destruction of great rivalries and tradition that came with it.

OldArmy
OldArmy

Football is a business, so "greed" is part of the mix. If you run a corporation (and the B12, the SEC, ACC, et al are all corporate conglomerates), then you have a responsibility to excel. No Board of Directors worth their salt keep a CEO who does not want to dominate the marketplace. As a share holder I would demand the Board fire anyone who led a corporation I had stock in lose market share. The number of college teams is increasing, and every one of them has a plan to market their brand and to pull from others in the process. The SEC is just better at this than most. The expansion was done at just the right time to effect long term revenue streams, and did it at a time when big money is essential to maintaining market share. The free market system still fuels college ball, not money allocated from a government entity. If your job is keep your corporate conglomerate healthy (the SEC commissioner), and you do not frame the marketplace to your benefit, you lose. In 2011, the SEC won in a dynamic, turbulent marketplace. Many others lost. Would you rather be part of the conferences in turmoil? One way or the other, you are either eaten by the bear or you eat the bear. Unless you have a brilliant solution to make the requirement for money go away, its the way things are.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Guest...

 

Your post makes no sense.  Steadfast support of greedy conference expansion?

 

We've said that realignment is evolution and that it's gone on forever.  That's not pro or con, that's a statement of fact.  The truth has no polarity.

 

Also, conference expansion has zero to do with the simple fact that a playoff featuring the four best teams in the rankings is fair to everyone.  There's no correlation between these two separate issues.

 

But thanks for reading,John 

Guest
Guest

 @John at MrSEC

 I would say that the method of choosing college football's champion has gone on forever too.  From the Rose Bowl winner, to a poll-based system, to the BCS and now evidently to a quasi play-off.  Seems like evolution to me.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Guest...

 

I would say that teams joining and leaving conferences is a bit more evolution-based than...

 

Decades of the final polls coming BEFORE the bowls... then decades of final polls coming AFTER bowls... then out of the blue a BCS-style system... and then a four-team playoff.

 

One is natural and has been happening regularly for 100 years.  The other -- the means of defining a champion -- has changed four or five times over that period and has done so with little warning and with great left and right turns at each leap forwards.

 

I stick by what I wrote.  You can disagree, plenty of room for various opinions.  I'm just not big on someone saying I'm pro-expansion when in fact I've simply said it's evolution.  Big difference between that and me saying, "Woo-hoo, shake 'em all up!"

 

Thanks again for reading,John 

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

John,

 

As usual, the younger fans think they have a voice. They fail to realize that the decisions are being made in media boardrooms and college offices by men around 60 who have the best seats for free at any game they choose. When the mouse and a guy from australia control college football, do they really care what is right for the fans?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Bubba Gump...

 

Ah, but they do have a voice.  It's called money.  Fans' decisions not to travel to bowls or to watch them as often as they once did has led us to the point of a playoff (with a little bit of anti-SEC jealousy also tossed into the mix).  If a playoff format is chosen that will one day leave out the #3, #2 or even #1 team because that squad is NOT a conference champion then the fans will once again rise up with their wallets and their remotes.

 

Fans aren't in the backrooms, you are very much correct.  But ultimately, they do control the whole situation.  Example: If fans stop giving money to a school and stop attending games, a coach is a dead man walking... whether his AD and president like him or not.

 

Not trying to be argumentative because I see and get your point.  But the reality is that the fans do have a voice... they just have to be bold enough to use it.  That means not watching or attending postseason games.  And they've finally gotten to that point.

 

Thanks as always for reading,John 

OldArmy
OldArmy

 @John at MrSEC This drive to define an undisputed national champion is not necessarily a good thing..... and I think in the end impossible.

 

NCAA rules are in part designed to stop one team from dominating (the limit on scholarships is a prime example, but certainly not the only rule in place to limit the rise of the Uber Rank of college program).

 

So why, if we put into place all these barriers for a university to develop a dominate, national championship program, do we insist on a clinical, undisputed college championship? The nature to the college football architecture makes that almost  impossible. A&M started fielding teams in the 1890's, and for the first 100 years, there was sort of a gentleman's agreement in the sport that running up the score was the sign of arrogance, and whoever did it was highly criticized. Now, you are expected to run up the score because that helps the computer system place you higher in rankings. This has changed the nature of the game. 

 

Whatever system is picked, it will have serious flaws. Either in changing the definition of how teams define success (eg running up the score changes the aura of sportsmanship), or creating more rules on top of the thousands we have already to level the playing field (the 40 scholarship rule) again, within whatever the new system is. Bottom line, NCAA rules affect every aspect of the game, and make an undisputed national championship problematic.  And I am not sure the universities really want that. The number of schools, the volatility from year to year in the team roster, the fact NCAA schools are heavily dependent on booster support (or punished for too aggressive booster support), means NCAA colleges and universities are much more interested by necessity in parity in their tier than establishing a true national championship defining system.

 

Just my humble opinion, but what separates college ball from the pros makes having a pro like championship impossible. They might try, but only a few will like it.

 

 

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