rundown of Michigan's riser
Just one more fantasy-laden post about a college football playoff, and only because excellent input was received. After this I'll put it away, secure in the knowledge that this particular dead horse won't be messing with mgoblog in time soon.
To recap: mgoblog advocates an eight-team playoff selected by a bouncyball-like committee. The first two rounds are on campus at the higher-seeded team's stadium. Champions from the top five conferences (Pac 10, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big 12) are automatically qualified. The committee then selects one team that is either an independent or a smaller conference champion. Two at-large bids are dispensed. The committee places an emphasis on quality non-conference opponents.
IBFC responded wisely per usual with an eight-team playoff of his own with a couple pertinent differences:
- No at-large bids. Only the top eight conference champions get in.
- Two different scheduling items, both of which have slightly less home-field advantage.
I think excluding any at-large bids at all might encourage better matchups in non-conference games but it would remove much of their importance. NC games would be less important since they could only impact playoff seedings, not who gets in. Minor differences, though. I'd be 95% happy with his proposal... though I get the feeling he wouldn't be, since he's posted before that he would prefer a return to ante-bellum CFB and a de-emphasis on national championships. IBFC also floats a great idea for seeding: let the top four seeds choose their opponents from the bottom four. Heaps of intrigue added, plus the disrespect factor provides juicy motivation for the newly-ordained #8.
ParadigmBlog also chimed in with something I still find tres icky: 12 teams all culled from the five or six power conferences. I did managed to back him down from 16, so I guess some progress was made, and a system with byes does place a heavy emphasis on making it to the top four, but mgoblog still thinks that's too many. A matter of taste, I guess.
Some commenters preferred a four-team playoff that works within the BCS system, perhaps with a couple games in December before the bowls. I'd be 95% fine with that, too, though I think eight teams would open up nonconference schedules more.
One thing is clear: the BCS is close to the worst of all possible worlds. It is a half-solution to a problem that the BCS itself created. It's forced college football into a no-man's land where non-conference schedules are weak, the end of the season is more often than not unsatisfying, and the traditions of the game are damaged. We hates it.
I would be happy with almost anything that doesn't let more than a couple teams that did not win their conferences in. Four, six, eight, fine. I'd prefer flagrantly unfair homefield advantage. I'd like the Rose Bowl to be the last game of the season. I know Bo will probably die if anything like this is implemented, and I know I'll miss some of the traditions from the past. I think it's worth it.
IBFC made an excellent, harrowing point, though:
To me, the structure is less important than the selection process. I'm firmly anti-playoff, but the biggest fear stems from a firm belief that "they" will get it wrong. I mean, you can't get wronger than the BCS, and we've had that for almost a decade.
Blue-Gray Sky: it's time to head to the grotto and start praying.
Right, right. Shutting up on this, too. The "mgoblog forces itself to shut up" list now reads:
- Terry Foster
- Great Sissy Boy Blogger Slapfest
- College Football Playoff
- NBA refereeing
Hopefully soon to be added: The Incredible Awesomeitude of Steve Breaston.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting news has slowed to a crawl in recent days after a flood surrounding Michigan's camp. Ricker was supposed to be very interested in Michigan but never ended up getting offered, despite being a Top 100 guy to Rivals. More fuel for the "Cone, eh, probably doesn't suck" fire. Also you can see at right that some Buckeye fans are already cowering in fear of young Mr. Cone. Strange respect for Michigan in that thread at BP. Usually they're the sort to go OMG U SUX0R.
Programming Note: Playoff and the Top Ten meme both generated much interesting discussion in the comments thread and, occasionally, at other blogs. I'll respond to both today or tomorrow. I think the Top Ten is going to have to expand, because I know of at least one flagrant omission that I have to correct. Memes are meant to spread, so anyone considering 'stealing' it and posting one's own version is highly encouraged to do so.
I have succumbed to memery. I apologize to all those who thought better of me. Your faith was totally unjustified. This one that's floating around is the ten "Most Unforgettable" moments you've seen live, either in person or via the wondrousness of TV. Batten the hatches. Discovered this via The Bemusement Park's iteration of same.
10. That LSU Hail Mary Against Kentucky
Probably the most surreal end to a football game I've ever seen. After Kentucky scored late to take the lead, some fans actually started storming the field before the game ended and had to be cleared off, but just barely. You could see a teeming mass of humanity at the edges of the field, just waiting to be released. And then you could see them crestfallen after a ridiculous bomb found an LSU receiver, who scampered into the endzone. And thus ended the Wildcats' brief flirtation with college football relevance.
9. Mariano's blooper.
I don't really follow much baseball, but I do like watching the Yankees lose. I made a point of watching Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, which ended when Luis Gonzalez stared down the greatest closer in the game at his very peak and hit a mighty, towering, shattered-bat bloop single to win the game only moments after Tim McCarver had said "left handed batters hit a lot of bloop singles off of Rivera's cut fastball."
8. You Don't Have A Goddamn Timeout.
7. Both posts.
The second Michigan hockey game I ever watched was the overtime national championship game in 1998 against Boston College that ended when freshman Josh Langfeld slipped a puck under the BC goalie's pads. That was memorable, but the game would never have gotten that far if not for a shot geometrically proven to be the closest a shot can be to a goal without actually being one. The shot skidded along the ice past goalie Marty Turco and hit the right goalpost, then slid straight across the goal-line, hit the other post, and bounced out.
Twenty seconds later, I remembered to breathe.
6. "Hello, Heisman."
Keith Jackson + Triumphant Michigan Football Moment = Brian Happy.
5. Carnival of Braylon.
The greatest comeback in Michigan history.
4. Intended for Row Four.
1997. Michigan vs. Michigan State in East Lansing. Spartan QB Bill Burke rolls out to his left, can't find anyone open, and throws the ball away in what appears to be routine fashion. Except for one Charles Woodson, who leaps into the air and makes a magnificent one handed grab at the absolute apex of his jump. Unfortunately, he landed several feet out of--what? That was in-bounds? OMG CHARLES WOODSON!!!!
O. M. G. Charles. Woodson.
When Jeff Smoker idiotically scrambled to the one yard line with the clock ticking down on the Michigan-Michigan State game in 2001, the game was over. The Spartans scrambled to the line and downed the ball as fast as they could, but only a crooked, partisan Spartan clock operator kept the clock from reading 0:00 at the end of the play. Michigan State, aided by the referees ignoring a flagrant case of holding, scored on the phantom down to win 26-24. Bobby Williams cried. I vowed to Keyser Soze him and his entire family. Part 1 of my plan is going swimmingly.
Definitely the angriest I've ever been about a game.
The four games Michigan played at Yost Ice Arena in the regional playoffs of the NCAA tournament in 2001 and 2002 are, as a unit, the finest live sporting events I have ever attended in my life, and it will take some doing to top them. The trademark moment, the loudest one I've ever experienced, came with under two minutes remaining in Michigan's 4-3 victory over Denver, the #1 team in the country.
The second intermission had heavily featured me staring at the 15:00 countdown on the Yost scoreboard, trying not to think. A few minutes into the third Eric Werner tied the game up by plunging into the slot like the swashbuckling buccanneer he was, and the roof nearly lifted off the building. The game went back and forth, each shot ratcheting the tension level up a notch until Denver turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Jed Ortmeyer came away with the puck and started a two on two rush into the zone. He found freshman Eric Nystrom.
Eric passed it back. Ortmeyer slid the puck two inches past the outstretched glove of Wade Dubielewicz, and I lost my mind. You can see it here, courtesy Michigan Hockey Net. The video does not do the crowd justice.
1. Go, John.
I spent a sizeable chunk of my youth in Colorado--a pre-Avs, pre-Rockies Colorado that was completely, utterly, and entirely obsessed with the Denver Broncos and their Super Bowl-losin' ways. My mother and I were both amongst the great teeming mass of Broncos fanatics. In fact, my entire school was under the orange-and-blue spell: we named our fake town "Ameagleton" instead of just "Eagleton" in tribute to the Bronco wide receiving corps, who had been nicknamed "the Three Amigos" for some reason that no one ever figured out. My mom would sit in front of the TV when the Broncos played and cry out to John Elway as if they were old friends. "Go, John!" when he made an excellent play. "Oh, John..." when he made an error. "Come on, John!" during the tense, tight moments that Bronco games often featured due to the stubborn refusal of Dan Reeves to take advantage of Elway's magnificence.
Super Bowls came and were lost. Mediocrity came and was lamented. Then Mike Shanahan and Terrell Davis showed up and there was a Super Bowl again against Brett Favre and the Packers. I went home to watch the game with my mom.
Late in the third quarter, the score tied at 14, the Broncos faced third-and-six at the Packer 12. Elway dropped back to pass and found no one open. He scrambled, directing his creaky, 37-year-old body to the first down marker. He wasn't going to make it. He wasn't going to make it. Two Packers bore down on him. Elway leapt into the air just as the first made impact. The second Packer hit a split-second later. Elway spun 360 degrees and hit the turf with a thud.
He made it.
I looked over at my mom. She said nothing; she just gripped a pillow, knuckles white, too petrified to speak.
Missed The Cut
Mike Camalleri's diving, twisting, impossible goal against Michigan State scored from his knees; A lot of equally ridiculous stuff Mike Comrie pulled; Charles Woodson's Heisman-clinching punt return; The Music City Miracle; The Longest Yard; The Drive; Tom Brady driving for the win against the Rams with John Madden saying it's a terrible idea and mgoblog screaming "Did you watch the Orange Bowl? Did you watch the Penn State game?"; the time during that same Superbowl where Pat Summerall said "this game has turned into Shockdome 36," sending Raffi and myself into hysterics for a good five minutes; Mercury Hayes catching the game winner against UVA in the early 90s; 313 for Timmy Biakabutuka against OSU; Paul Martin blocking Jason Ryznar's open net shot in the 2003 Frozen Four; Milan Gajic finding the stick of Curtis MacElhinney instead of the back of the net in the 2005 NCAA hockey tournament; Chauncey B
illups banking home a half-court three-pointer to take a 2004 playoff game against the Nets into overtime; Goddamn Robert Horry; Tim Duncan making an impossible shot followed by Derek Fisher making an even more impossibler shot in the 2004 playoffs; Desmond Howard laying out on fourth down against Notre Dame; Desmond Howard getting tripped against Michigan State; Desmond Howard and Rocket Ismail on College Gameday providing the most painful three minutes of television ever; Lance Armstrong miraculously avoiding Joseba Beloki and going cross-country for fifty feet after Beloki splattered himself across the pavement on a descent; Kordell Stewart blah blah blah; Clint Stoener's fumble vs. Tennessee; any number of Wide Rights; Nebraska's kicked ball against Missouri in '97; Marquise Walker's catch against Iowa; Jason Avant's catch against Northwestern; Steve Breaston's punt return against Illinois.
Things I Missed
Tayshaun Prince's block on Reggie Miller in last year's playoffs (was attending indie rock concert; am idiot), Miracle on Ice (was one), Anthony Thomas' fumble against Northwestern (had to leave home before game's end to go to UM-MSU hockey game(no, wouldn't have left for any other opponent)).
Scout.com is on the rampage after the Bruce Feldman ESPN article discussed previously. The 'publisher' of Scout's Nebraska site fires a broadside at ESPN titled "God doesn't like us," which is unclear. Does that refer to ESPN disliking the Scout network or God himself hating the state of Nebraska? (The latter goes without saying, I suppose. As a former denizen of the adjacent, worthwhile state of Colorado, I can say that Nebraska is very flat and very boring and that a ditch should be dug around the pestiferous state and it should be floated out to sea.) The article is hilariously ironic--every attempted parry by the author confirms and enhances Feldman's points. For example, the article ends with a bit of attempted sarcasm like so:
But, at least they know where to put a comma.
Oh Lord. Sides ache laugh hard owie cry.
Those interested in the business side of recruiting should examine this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (for mgoblog's money, "Intelligencer" is the best newspaper moniker ever).
Spanish has a useful distinction between "nuevo auto" (a new car) and "auto nuevo" (a car that is 'new to you,' like a used car you just purchased). The Bemusement Park is a bloggo nuevo that introduced itself to me via Every Day Should Be Saturday and is now a proud BlogPoll voter. He drops a Big Ten preview light on the heavy and heavy on the fake awards. Michigan picks up the
the Col. Sanders Bucket for Outstanding Achievement in Chickenousness for not playing a non-conference road game this season. In fact, their only real road test will be a trip to Kinnick Stadium on October 22nd. (Stifle it, Badger fans . . . you know I'm right.)
TBP is also the first Iowa voter in the poll. Good on yer. Meanwhile, frequent mgoblog hockey reference Packer487 has jumped aboard the blogwagon with a nuevo bloggo nattily named The Blog That Yost Built. Hopefully he will alleviate my guilt at shamelessly shorting hockey coverage during football season.
Speaking of the BlogPoll Paul Westerdawg is already preparing to whore out his vote, which BlogPoll Central initially frowned upon until the secret council of war determined that it could probably do the same and net anywhere from two to four cans of creamed corn, which is nothing to sniff at. And EDSBS has finally stopped slack-jawing, yokelling, and posting pictures of mustaches long enough to post the Roundtable #2 Roundup. (Note that even the Roundtable Roundup has a picture of a mustache!)
Terry Bowden's article came in for a thorough buffetting at State Fans Nation, who makes the excellent point that there is going to be an awful lot of lag in head coaching opportunities for black guys, because head coaches are old and in the past racism was worse than it is now. mgoblog would like to further declare that the same things that make one a kickass athlete (run fast, jump high) have exactly no correlation with the things that make one a kickass coach (maniacal dedication, sophistication, desire to punt from opponent's 30) and that expecting 50% black athletes to translate into 50% black head coaches is ridiculous. mgoblog thinks that if the NCAA isn't represented proportionally (ie, about 12%) in 10-15 years, that's a serious problem. Yammering now is a good way to get your INDIGNANT JUSTIFIED PRINCIPLED OUTRAGE!!! out there so you can look like a sweet progressive activist and get crunchy tail. It doesn't impress me, though. To get mgoblog tail, you better bring detailed statistical charts.
The fact that New Jersey broke hockey in the early 90s is just now coming to the attention of the NHL, although not without protest. The NHL's new competition committee has recommended a number of rules changes over the howling of GMs that used to have power in this area but used it for evil instead of good. The proposed rules include:
- Promotion of the free flow of play. (Incidentally, many of these are already part of the NCAA game. CHL SUX!!1!) Tag-up offsides returns. The nets are moved back a couple feet to increase the size of the offensive zone. The two line pass dies a merciful death. A no-touch icing rule (explanation later) is implemented and teams that commit an icing infraction are not allowed to make a line change. Blue lines are fattened to increase the size of the offensive zone and to make it harder to stall rushes at the blueline.
- Reining in goalies. Goalies are no longer allowed to play the puck outside of a designated area directly behind their net. Their pads have to look less like sumo suits and more like, you know, old-timey goalie pads.
- Meaningless ref admonishment. Blah blah obstruction blah blah.
- Retarded overtime stuff. Okay, take the current overtime, then extend it three minutes with teams playing three on three and if the game is still tied, have a shootout. And, while you're at it, throw acid in my eyes.
The no-touch icing is different than the NCAA rule wherein a puck played from behind the red line is blown dead the minute it crosses the goal line. The proposed NHL rule is that the play is blown dead when the defensive player chasing the puck crosses the goal line. If the first player to cross is an offensive player, the icing is waved off.
mgoblog is generally in favor of all these proposed rules changes (they haven't been adopted yet), especially the little bit of genius in regards line changes after to icing. That's a simple and effective way of removing part of the incentive to slap the puck down the ice when you find yourself in trouble (as long as TV timeouts can't intrude in that space of time). The only exception is the overtime circus. The game isn't troubled by too many ties, it's troubled by too few interesting things happening in regulation.
The NCAA isn't going to let the NHL have all the wacky rules changing fun. Red Berenson apparently asked the NCAA if it could use exhibition games to experiment with a funky change to the offsides rule:
The proposal would change the attacking zone boundary from the blue line to the center ice red line after the traditional zone is gained legally. So, if the attacking team gains the traditional attacking zone legally under current rules on side, the attacking zone expands to include the space between the blue line and the center ice red line.
Whoah. mgoblog's initial reaction is positive: hockey has a lot of artificial ways of relieving pressure, and amongst the most annoying is poking the puck a millimeter out of the zone. This generally leads to an ugly scrum in the neutral zone and a dump-in after the offense has cleared the zone that leads to another ugly scrum in the corners. The change sort of functions like a BALCO version of mgoblog's desire to see bluelines that are three feet wide: the attacking zone is much bigger. The rule change also prevents cherry-picking by leaving the offsides rule intact.
The rest of the rules changes are fairly mundane, but there are a few that will come up next year. The NCAA has adopted the NHL rules for scoring with your skate (legal as long as you don't kick), crease violations (ok as long as you aren't interfering with the goalie), and goalie equipment size (reduced going in to 2006) and allowed any game to be subject to video review. All are fine by me. Unfortunately this wasn't passed:
12.7b.A4 subrule 4: Mark Wilkins can't referee games anymore, not even mites.
(HT: Packer487 on The Wolverine.)
The playoff postin' a while back spurred an interesting comment thread with a host of ideas, objections, and declarations that I'm crazy. It's obviously a subject that inspires a lot of shouting, because there is a deathly fear that college football, being a fragile peach of a sport that tends to bruise easily, will be ruined by changes. I submit that it can't get much worse unless we get "January Madness," and 16 or (gasp) more teams make the playoffs.
Some ground rules to start.
First, let's dispense with the notion that college football teams can't play more games (because of the children! Think about the children!). Last year's I-AA national champion, James Madison, played 15 games, four of them in the playoffs. No one at James Madison is going to be able to buy a Bentley when their playing days are over--they have to go to school, and there doesn't appear to be a peep of complaint from I-AA folk about the rigors of the playoff. They keep expanding the number of teams in it, actually. A four-team playoff adds a grand total of one game to the college football season. An eight-team playoff adds a grand total of six games. The NCAA just added approximately 60 games by legalizing a 12 game schedule. Objections to a playoff on Save The Children grounds are either hopelessly naive or dastardly cynical.
Second, there were objections that ran along the lines of "I don't want to see a playoff because I don't want a champion crowned at all." I can understand this line of reasoning--the overriding focus of the media on the national championship as the one goal for every team has overwhelmed even the best efforts of lovably cranky old coots like Bo, who regarded the nonconference schedule as the "preseason." Now Lloyd Carr embarrassingly complains about how hard Michigan's nonconference schedule is on a regular basis. The chances of Michigan's brief series against Miami or Florida State ever resurrecting themselves are nil. Most programs around the country are content with one marquee matchup in their nonconference schedule, if that, all in the hopes of being a national championship contender. It's too late... and if you remember the arguments that flew back and forth in the late 90s and early 80s, those were unbelievably annoying. Just flagrantly unsophisticated.
So. Assuming you are me, and have a deep respect for the game's traditions but have become really frustrated with Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan, hate the BCS with irrationally intense fervor, want those pansy southern teams to play some real burlyman football in the North when it's cold, and don't buy the Save the Children line, this is what things look like:
Ante-bellum bowl system.
Pro: Tradition-laden. Pac 10 meets Big Ten in the Rose Bowl every year. Also some other teams play games. New Year's Day is a sacred holiday for college football fans. No games on Wednesday, January fourth.
Con: Ask Penn State '94. National championship often split or, worse, wrongly denied to a deserving team that has done nothing but waste its opponents. Constant pointless bickering between fanbases that extends well into the next millennium, boring all in its wake. M part of MNC strongly emphasized.
BCS as is: two team playoff.
Pro: Occasional undisputed #1-#2 game that produces a true national champion. Produced one really good game when Ohio State beat Miami with the aid of a late pass interference call.
Con: Only produces satisfying result when there are two and only two undefeated teams. Anything else causes conniption fit. System revamps itself every year so that it won't screw up the same way it did the year before only to screw up in unexpected new ways. National championship game is on a goddamn Wednesday at 9 pm and goddamn Ashlee Simpson performs at it. Since teams are punished heavily for losing and not rewarded proportionally for winning tough games, nonconference schedules become mostly lame. Rose Bowl invaded by heathens on regular basis.
"Plus One" BCS system
(note: this is basically a return to traditional bowl tie-ins with an additional MNC game after the bowls)
Pros: Sort of like a playoff that would allow years like the last two, when two undefeated teams remained after the bowls, to conclude satisfactorily. Traditional bowl ties restored.
Cons: Pointless when there are two and only two undefeated teams and in situations like that could lead to more controversy than the system we have now. Still emphasizes not losing at all. Asks an awful lot of CFB fans to travel to a bowl game and then travel to another one a mere week later.
True BCS based four team playoff.
Pros: Virtually guarantees that an undefeated major-conference team will have a chance at a national championship. Should generally produce an NC
Cons: Warm weather schools get all games at home. Again emphasizes "undefeated," paralyzing non-conference schedules. Abomination known as "Fiesta Bowl" continues to lurch along unimpeded.
mgoblog's eight team playoff.
Pros: Miami versus Michigan in Michigan Stadium in December. USC in Columbus in December. Probable beefing up of nonconference schedules, as there is always the win-your-conference out into the playoff. Winning is still really important, especially to fans, as the first two rounds are at campus sites: finishing in the top two is a huge advantage.
Cons: Bowl system severely damaged (shouldn't this be a pro?)--the eight playoff teams are all gunning for the Rose Bowl but the six that don't make it probably won't go to a bowl game at all. Every bowl except the Rose Bowl becomes a sideshow that doesn't really matter.
Sixteen+ team playoff.
Pros: Uh. Anyone who sorta half-deserves it gets in. No complaining from anyone about illicitly bestowed national championships.
Cons: 8-3 teams that finished third in their conference start getting in. Season loses dramatic urgency. Power teams hardly ever miss the playoffs. Essential difference between college football and every other sport on the planet gone.
College football faces the following problems: lame nonconference schedules, useless bowl proliferation, traditions fading in favor of Simpson sisters, and national championships still being delivered largely on whim. An eight-team playoff that gives the top-rated teams significant advantages decided by a committee that uses cojones as a significant components of its seeding process erases all of the above except the tradition bit, which it exacerbates.
I would personally rank these options as...
1. Eight-team playoff
2. Four-team playoff
3. Plus one
4. Ante-bellum system
5. Current system
6. Anything else
1,000,004. Playoff with more than eight teams.
All right. Go Syndicate on me. (Uzi. Uzi. Minigun. Minigun.) What are your ratings? I'd like to find out if I'm a nut.