Unverified Voracity Bids Crystal Adieu

Unverified Voracity Bids Crystal Adieu Comment Count

Brian January 7th, 2014 at 1:16 PM


It's over. Hooray?

And lo, it ended. It ended for us before the new year, and now it's all over, all of it: the season, the BCS, the goofy bowl scheduling. Next year, there are three large games on New Year's Eve and three large games on New Year's Day, two of which are national semifinals leading to a final the next week.

The BCS itself was sent off with a grander finale than it deserved, a taut back-and-forth affair between Florida State and pretty-much-arbitrarily-chosen Auburn that worked out, unlike near-arbitrary matchups that ended up in one sided blowouts with another team with a near-identical resume looked on in disgust. With the playoff these outrages have been reduced in intensity and spread over a greater number of teams, which seems like progress.

How long this holds before expansion and realignment kicks in, I don't know. I tend to think we'll end up with an eight-team playoff sooner rather than later, and from there who knows what happens. Someone will say "but we can get more money," probably, and then things spiral on and on.

At the very least, a bunch of bad ideas have ceased to impact college football, like

  1. Coaches voting on teams they haven't seen and have a huge conflict of interest about
  2. Retired coaches voting based on what Oklahoma was like in 1975
  3. Computer polls that can't take margin of victory or anything else into account
  4. Richard Billingsley

Whether the new ideas are better is yet to be seen; they almost can't be worse.

OH GOOD. Penn State may have been an incestuous mockery of an athletic department for years, but by God did they turn that around quickly. Bill O'Brien goes so well that an NFL team scoops him up after two years and their sanction-riddled mess of a program heading for a crater is about hire away

...the guy who turned Vanderbilt from a 2-10 type outfit into a consistent bowl participant and all-around thorn in the side of the SEC. Ace and I are trying to come up with the last Big Ten coach to have 1) a job at the time of his hire and 2) a resume better than Franklin's, and, well…

[12:22 PM] Ace: is it bad that kevin wilson was the first name that came to mind?
[12:22 PM] Brian Cook: #ImitateAdam_Jacobi

…we're having some difficulty. Ace throws out Dantonio, but Dantonio's record in three years at Cincinnati was 18-17. Best we've got is Gary Andersen at Wisconsin, who implemented a hugely impressive build at Utah State. But I dunno man, Vandy is coming off back to back 9-4 years. Vandy. Which is in the SEC.

Not sure how good of a cultural fit the fiery, weird Franklin (remember that thing about how he only hires guys with hot wives?) will be at Penn State, but for a team in their situation to poach the hot up and coming SEC guy is impressive.

Unless this is all agents getting their dude a raise, but there's a lot of smoke here indicating he's the guy. Which will mean Michigan is in a division with Urban, Dantonio, and Franklin. Plus Randy Edsall. It's not all bad, I guess.

That was awesome, do it more. Twitter was agog about the ESPN News section of ESPN's BCS overkill broadcast, as it featured coaches (and Chris Spielman and Matt Millen) with instant off the cuff reactions to what was going on. I was with Twitter. Spielman's fervor for assignments came through clearly as he steamed about Auburn's screen touchdown, and then Kevin Sumlin jumped in to say that is what Auburn does, they put the eye candy in front of you for just those reasons, and everything was just terrific.

A few suggestions:

  1. Everyone do this all the time. Seriously, I would watch Glen Mason in a room just dying in disgust as he tries to watch Michigan run the ball. This may qualify as torture under the Geneva Convention; if it doesn't, do it.
  2. The game is the most important bit, so make it the whole screen, with the coaches popping in with small PIP boxes. The All-22 camera angle combined with the smaller box for the actual game was problematic, and I have a huge TV. Maximize the game size; no need to cut to visuals of Spielman, et al., when I can hear them talking.
  3. Cut two guys. One guy to run things, one D guy, one O guy, and Spielman.
  4. Send small electric shocks to anyone who talks in platitudes, like Paul Chryst did much of the night.

Thumbs up.

What I have been trying to express all year. Smart Football profiles Gus Malzahn for Grantland. This is the core of the offensive philosophy that brought Auburn from 0-8 in the SEC to the precipice of the national title in one year with a converted cornerback at QB:

Malzahn had never been in charge of an offense before. Searching for help, he turned to a book famous in coaching circles, The Delaware Wing-T: An Order of Football, by Harold "Tubby" Raymond, and followed it "word-for-word."

The genius of Raymond's book is that it's not merely a collection of football plays, though there's still plenty of that. Instead, it's primarily a treatise on how to think about offensive football. "The Wing-T is more than a formation," Raymond wrote. "It is sequence football." The animating idea behind Raymond's "Delaware" wing-T was his belief that the best offenses were built around a tightly wound collection of plays that fit together so that defenses effectively dictated the next play; each time a team tries to stop one thing, it opens itself up to something else. Beginning in the 1950s and lasting into the early 2000s — first as an assistant under wing-T innovator David Nelson, then as head coach from the mid-1960s on — Raymond fielded teams that devastated defenses. If the opposition tried to stop his base plays, Raymond had counters to his counters, counters to his counters to his counters, and so on. He amplified this "sequential" approach by "utilizing the misdirection theme to its fullest." With a dizzying array of motions, backfield actions, and fakes, Raymond correctly determined that defenses wouldn't be able to stop his offense if they couldn't find the ball.

Auburn's offense is a modernized version of that. It's like Fritz Crisler, basically, except not as wacky. Michigan does not have a tightly wound collection of plays, partially because they can't execute basic runs and partially because that's just not how Al Borges rolls. Borges does have sets of plays that are interrelated, but instead of piling wrinkle on wrinkle like Malzahn does—his thing this year was double arc blocks…


…Borges goes to a different package once his previous stuff has been figured out. And they dispense with the frippery. To me that's a philosophical thing on par with huddling.

How do you run the ball in college football? The top 25 teams in yards per carry this year, with offense type appended (note: distinction between spread to run teams and passing spread teams largely based on how many yards the QB had. Generally spread to run teams had 500+ QB rushing yards, and usually 700+).

RK Name Avg. Offense
1 Ohio State 6.8 Spread to run
2 Wisconsin 6.62 Pro-style
3 Northern Illinois 6.35 Spread to run
4 Auburn 6.3 Spread to run
5 Oregon 6.26 Spread to run
6 New Mexico 6.14 Spread to run
7 Toledo 5.99 Passing spread
8 Alabama 5.8 Pro-style
9 Missouri 5.66 Spread to run
10 Florida State 5.63 Passing spread
11 Navy 5.46 Flexbone
11 Georgia Tech 5.46 Flexbone
13 Baylor 5.37 Passing spread
14 Army 5.36 Flexbone
15 Arizona 5.32 Spread to run
16 Indiana 5.29 Passing spread
17 Boston College 5.28 Pro-style
17 Arkansas 5.28 Pro-style
19 BYU 5.23 Spread to run
20 Oklahoma 5.21 Spread to run
21 Texas A&M 5.17 Spread to run
22 Wyoming 5.1 Spread to run
23 Washington 5.09 Passing spread
24 Marshall 5.05 Passing spread
24 Western Kentucky 5.05 ???

Yeah, it's possible to have a good running game by going under center and grinding it out, but is it likely? Four of the top 25 teams are pro-style outfits, one of which is Alabama and their overwhelming talent. Is Michigan going to be Wisconsin? I hope so, because that's the only way we get on this list.

Dolla dolla bill. We have money. Some of it comes from the only incompetent Germans.

According to a study done by the Portland Business Journal, Michigan's contract with Adidas (which is currently set to expire in 2016) is the most lucrative apparel deal in the country. Yes, more than Oregon's flashy contractual arrangement with Nike.

Per the study, Michigan currently receives a total of $8.2 million annually from Adidas stemming from the contract signed in 2007 between the two parties.

Michigan receives $4.4 million in equipment and apparel, and $3.8 million in cash. That's more than twice as much as the next-highest school in the Big Ten, Nebraska, which makes a total of $4 million from Adidas.

Part of that is the fact that Michigan has so many sports, which drives up the equipment and apparel bit. I wonder what will happen in 2016; that Most Favored Nation status Martin acquired has long driven ND crazy and Michigan's national appeal has… uh… suffered in recent years. The brand, if you will. Maybe we'll run an ad campaign about how we know our football is terrible so we changed our football sauce.


Etc.: Noah Spence got suspended for… ecstasy? See you at DEMF, bro. Bring your glowsticks. Here are the twitter jokes about this you need to read. Jake Butt makes Leno. Congrats? HAIL SPIELMAN.


Unverified Voracity Quits English

Unverified Voracity Quits English Comment Count

Brian October 4th, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Touchdown Billy Taylor. A trailer for Dan Chace's upcoming Billy Taylor documentary:

More Yost pictures. From new M hockey blog Yost Section 25:


The first Sunday matinee game is going to be a trip.

Game: stepped up. OSU just announced a series with TCU starting in 2018, which is somewhat notable since they've already got Cincinnati on the docket. If TCU is notable, this is jaw-dropping:

"We will play two more BCS games that year," [OSU AD Gene] Smith told Yahoo! Sports via email Wednesday, using the parlance for a quality top six-conference opponent.

Even if those are Colorado-style one-off guarantee games, dang. OSU may be done with the Little Sisters of the Poor:

"That year [2018] is a snapshot of future years," Smith said. "As we move forward, from 2018 and out, our goal is BCS only. We are looking at top ranked teams, 1-50 teams."

Here's a thing I never thought I'd say: Gene Smith, I am impressed. If OSU puts together a full slate of BCS opponents in 2018, that will be their first time since 1995 (4-8 BC, 7-4-1 Washington, and 2-9 Pitt) and second time since 1990.

Michigan's last all-power-conference lineup was in 1997, and Dave Brandon has a lot of work to do to keep up with the Joneses what with the Notre Dame series ending*.

*[ : ( ]

Playoff: a motivator. Wetzel points out a key motivator behind the sort of scheduling seen above:

In 1988, before the creation of the Bowl Alliance, the precursor to the BCS, there were 15 non-conference games where both teams were ranked in the AP preseason top 20. This year there were just two featuring AP preseason top 20 teams: Alabama-Michigan and Clemson-South Carolina.

While one of the BCS's oft-repeated talking points was that it protected the regular season, it was, in fact, destroying the non-conference portion.

Now it's back to the future as athletic directors across the country place their faith in a selection committee that will rationally analyze a body of work, not just blindly follow records.

For example, Oregon was ranked fifth in the final BCS standings last season, one spot behind Stanford. The Ducks had two losses, but one was to then top-ranked LSU on a neutral field. Stanford had just one loss, but it was to Oregon, by 23 points at home. The Ducks also won the Pac-12 title.

The BCS didn't care. It claimed Stanford was better. An informed selection committee would never make that decision and thus penalize Oregon for playing a challenging non-conference schedule. Conversely, a weak non-conference schedule might cost you on selection day.

Even Wisconsin says it will seek out "at least" two major opponents in the non-conference schedule. Man, the BCS sucked. Not only did it pick the wrong team about half the time, it also created the worst scheduling practices since things like Iowa Pre-Flight stopped existing.

Money is another factor, of course. With ticket prices rising along with guarantee requirements the money has started coming in on the side of actual games.

Trouba: the devil on skates. Three tweets from the immediate aftermath of Jacob Trouba's first practice at Michigan:

I think we are going to like Mr. Trouba.

Goalie: ack. In less sunny news, Red Berenson revealed that projected starting goalie Jared Rutledge had retina surgery recently and may not be available early in the season. Meanwhile, top backup Steve Racine is also coming back from injury:

Racine underwent an offseason surgery that limited his physical activity, Berenson said.

“He’s just starting to get close to 100 percent, but he looks pretty good,” Berenson said.

Racine is 21 after a long junior career and will be a nice guy to have on the roster—not every 5'6" walkon is going to be the statistically-best goalie in Michigan history.

Ain't got no headset. Hoke on WXYT:

"It is overrated," Hoke said Thursday on an interview with the Stoney and Bill Show on WXYT 97.1-FM. "You ever watch guys on head sets and they don't say a word? This gives me an opportunity to coach kids during a game.

"The game is a mental game, it's a game of motivation and enthusiasm and teaching. Not wearing a headset, I get to teach on the sideline and be a part of it."

As for the question of whether or not he knows what play offensive coordinator Al Borges is sending in, Hoke says he doesn't need a headset to hear that.

"I do know what the calls are, because there's a guy standing right behind me who tells me every call that's going in," Hoke said.

People keep bombing the Vincent Smith call, but when two linemen don't pull that's not really on the playcall.

Also Hoke likes "Smoke on the Water," surprising no one. I would watch a sitcom based around the misadventures of 20-year-old Brady Hoke in Muncie. I would break that thing down.

Oh for the love of God. Two sentences from two PR things I received today:

Heart of Dallas, a newly minted nonprofit, exists to inspire Dallas millennials to become the next generation of influencers and philanthropists by leveraging a consistent calendar of sports and entertainment events. Proceeds from Heart of Dallasactivities will be used to invest in collective impact strategies that make Dallas a better place.

make it stop

Flagstar had an interest in co-branding with our digital properties and we’re excited to have them partner on our website and student loyalty program. We look forward to having Flagstar as a partner in our top-rated digital space on the collegiate level.

if you roll your eyes too hard do you evaporate into a mist of condescension




Etc.: Ed O'Bannon lawsuit forces ESPN to release a ton of contracts. Go Ed O'Bannon lawsuit. GLI would move back indoors if the Winter Classic is lost to the NHL lockout. Game preview from Hammer and Rails. Guys don't have names like Adolph "Germany" Schulz anymore.


Michigan Museday for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Crystal Footballs

Michigan Museday for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Crystal Footballs Comment Count

Seth July 4th, 2012 at 7:23 AM


In CONGRESS, July 4, 2013

The unanimous Declaration of the five united Conferences of America (and the mid-majors and stuff)

When in the course of football events it becomes necessary for one league to dissolve the postseason selection systems which have bound them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, or field turf, or grass, or whatever-you-know-the-blue-stuff-from-Idaho, a separate and more equal system to which the Laws of Nature and of Walter Camp entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all D-I programs start the season equal, that team sports are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are a postseason which is entertaining, properly rewards regular season achievement, is respectful to the cherished traditions of man and Providence, and above all may declare among the nations an unequivocal champion whose commemorative season review may be included unto mankind's Sports Illustrated subscriptions…

From here Jefferson goes on to excoriate George III for a laundry list of tyrannical acts like dissolving elected champions and repeatedly screwing over Kansas State, but you get the gist: we are free!

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that postseason systems long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that the BCS disposed mankind to suffer by constantly abolishing the forms to which we were accustomed. Having undertaken just such an endeavor, it be our duty to provide new guards for our system's security, seeking out the potential injuries and usurpations within the playoff before we go ahead and pledge to it our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred trophies.


A new playoff thus established, allow me to submit to a candid world the entirety of the BCS era revisited as if it were governed by this gallant new postseason.

Precedents. This is 1998 through 2011 as if determined by the new playoff system as Brian was federally mandated to describe last week. I put together a similar post to check various postseason ideas last December and again in May to check if home or bowl sites would be more compelling, but the system proposed is so radically different than the 4-teamers I was checking it's worth another go-round. Hinton did a four-teamer study for 2006-'11, and Connolly did one too, but both left out the hand-crafted, top-tiered, fat-free, non-playoff bowls, which are the best new idea to come out of these discussions.

The Reason I'm Doing it Again: I'm looking for potential points of controversy that would best be smoothed over or at least anticipated, so we don't have a Whiskey Rebellion.

Articles of Revisitation (the method part you don't have to read unless you're going to comment on the method). This is a seven-game postseason consisting of a four-team playoff whose semifinal round is played within the "Big Six" bowls (the seventh game being the championship). Theoretically the top 12 teams get in but I have a feeling before the money guys affix their John Hancocks there will be plenty of room to put a 14th ranked Michigan in a marquee bowl over a hypothetical 1-loss Won't Sell Out State.

Obviously much of the stuff we’ll run into by going back to 1998 has already been taken care of by realignment and conference championships. However with mega-conferences and uneven divisional splits we have not seen the last of two conference foes and rematches.

A-Train98To fill in the details they're still working out, I added the Cotton and Citrus to the Rose-Orange-Sugar-Fiesta lineup in order to get six. They're the two oldest non-BCS bowls and have the next-highest payouts already. Both SEC affiliates, if they maintain their traditional conference loyalties, the result could create a bias in favor of the SEC and against the ACC and Pac 12. I’ll be watching to see how this works out.

Nobody cares who won a mid-major (sorry Big East) championship. This makes the years before the Miami-VT-BC defection a bit weird-looking. Tougher non-conference schedules and conference championship games should help to clarify the top in years going forward.

Bowl precedence (ie better matchups) is decided by an unwritten understanding of each bowl’s historical importance, and their historical tie-ins. Close or intriguing matchups are preferable to “fair” matchups, and where possible I’ve shown a preference for teams to play close to home because that helps sell tickets. Where possible, Rose gets B1G and Pac champs, Orange gets ACC, Sugar gets SEC, and the Cotton has first dibs on any former Southwestern Conference team. If there’s a mid-major nobody wants, it goes to the Fiesta Bowl because somebody has to, and they're in the NCAA's doghouse at the wrong time. The Semis rotate but the new guys can get pushed aside for the old affiliations.

Numbers in parentheses are AP rankings so don't treat them like they're meaningful. Rematches are avoided if possible, though I did have one because of context. On with the shew!



December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Florida (7) vs. Texas A&M (10)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Arizona (5) vs. Tulane (9)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Tennessee (1) vs. Kansas State (4)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Arkansas (11) vs. Michigan (15)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: UCLA (6) vs. Wisconsin (8)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Florida State (2) vs. Ohio State (3)

Champs: Ohio State/Wisconsin/Michigan (B1G), FSU (ACC), Kansas St (BXII), UCLA (P12), Tennessee (SEC)

Left out: Georgia Tech (12), Nebraska (13), Virginia (14), Air Force (16), Notre Dame (17), Syracuse (8-3)

The new controversy: Right away we have Michigan getting in despite being ranked (by the AP) below three relatively equal candidates, a 1-loss team (AF), and two teams who beat us. The selection committee is going to take heat every year for picking an 11th and 12th team out of a pile of 9-win major conference teams and 1-loss mid-majors. Schedule strength was the main quality I used to choose here (and supreme bias).



brady-bama-091610_120December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Tennessee (6) vs. Kansas State (7)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Alabama (5) vs. Michigan (8)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl (SEMI):  Virginia Tech (2) vs. Nebraska (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Michigan State (9) vs. Florida (10)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Florida State (1) vs. Wisconsin (4)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Marshall (11) vs. Penn State (13)

Champs: Wisconsin (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Nebraska (BXII), Stanford (P12), Alabama (SEC)

Left out: Minnesota (12), Texas (13), Mississippi St (14), Southern Miss (15), Pac Ten champion Stanford (22).

The new controversy: The Pac Champ isn't even invited? I'm sure a semifinal and the #1 overall Seminoles are enough of a consolation prize for the Rose Bowl. But I have to wonder if the conferences will sign on to something that could possibly leave their 3-loss champion out of it entirely. There are years in packed mega-conferences when a handful of great teams all beat each other up. Do the Big Five get auto-bids then?



December 31:
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl:  Nebraska (9) vs. TCU (13)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Florida (7) vs. Oregon (8)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (1) vs. Washington (4)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Virginia Tech (6) vs. Notre Dame (10)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Oregon St (5) vs. Purdue (14)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Miami (2) vs. Florida State (3)

Champs: Purdue/Michigan/Northwestern (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), Washington (P12)/Oregon State, Florida (SEC)

Left out: Kansas State (11), Texas (12), Georgia Tech (15).

The new controversy: The rematch or fairness problem arrives. Miami beat FSU, but lost to Washington, who lost to 2-loss Oregon, who lost to Wisconsin and Oregon State, who lost to Washington. With that inbred mess of 1-loss teams, who plays Oklahoma in the first round, then? Do we avoid the rematch or try to rank them?



December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma (10) vs. Tennessee (8)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Texas (9) vs. LSU (12)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl (SEMI): Oregon (2) vs. Colorado (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Florida (5) vs. Maryland (6)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Illinois (7) vs. Stanford (11)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Miami (1) vs. Nebraska (4)

Champs: Illinois (B1G), Maryland (ACC), Colorado (BXII), Oregon (P12), LSU (SEC)

Left out: Washington State (13), South Carolina (14), Virginia Tech (15).

The new controversy: The question of who gets to die by Hurricane is neatly dispatched, aye, but if the selection committee is supposed to be fair, why are we seeing LSU and Florida and Miami all hosting at (basically) home? Because that guarantees more ticket sales. You knew this would happen when they eschewed home sites so that southerners could go on pretending snow is just a myth; now see it in action.



December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl : Texas (9) vs. Michigan (12)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl:  USC (5) vs. Oklahoma (8)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Miami (1) vs. Georgia (4)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Penn State (10) vs. Washington St (6)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (2) vs. Iowa (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Kansas State (6) vs. Notre Dame (11)

Champs: Ohio State/Iowa (B1G), Florida State (ACC),Oklahoma (BXII), Washington St/USC (P12), Georgia (SEC)

Left out: Alabama (13 but ineligible due to NCAA violations), Colorado (14), West Virginia (15), Florida State (16).

The new controversies: The Rose Bowl features a pair of Big Six Bowl-eligible teams from the same conference who didn't play each other in the season, a situation that repeated itself with MSU-OSU in 2010 and with Michigan and Wisconsin in 2011. Can you do that? Does BTN then have first dibs on the friggin' Rose Bowl The second controversy is the inclusion of so many teams from one conference. Indiscernible teams with head-to-head wins tend to get bunched in polls, and selection committees are liable to do the same thing. What happens when on conference has the 10-11-12 and the next the 13-14-15? Here the B1G has four representatives, five if you count ND.



perry greatDecember 31:
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl:  Texas (5) vs. Miami-OH (14)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Georgia (11) vs. Miami-FL (10)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI):  Oklahoma (2) vs. LSU (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Tennessee (6) vs. Ohio State (7)
4:30 pm: Orange Bowl: Kansas St (8) vs. Florida State (9)
8:00 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Michigan (4)

Champs: Michigan (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Kansas St (BXII), USC (P12), LSU (SEC)

Left out: Purdue (12), Iowa (13), Washington State (15)

The new controversy: By this point certain bowls are getting to host way more often than others. Should they rotate? Among the old BCS or include Cotton/Citrus in that rotation? The count so far is Rose and Orange 3, Fiesta, Sugar, and Cotton 2, Citrus zero.



December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Texas (6) vs. Georgia (8)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl:  Louisville (7) vs. Boise State (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (2) vs. Auburn (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Iowa (11) vs. LSU (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl:  Cal (5) vs. Michigan (13)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Utah (4)

Champs: Michigan/Iowa (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC (P12), Auburn (SEC)

Left out: Miami (13), Tennessee (14), Wisconsin (15)

The new controversy: Undefeated Utah is given the nod over the warring Texas/Cal factions; undefeated Boise State is (boo hoo) left out. The Fiesta Bowl gets stuck with them and Petrino's 1-loss Louisville (a game previously played at the Liberty Bowl), but this keeps everything else aligned nicely. To make it interesting the Big XII should offer a two-year trial membership to the victor.



December 31:

1:00 pm: Sugar Bowl*: Georgia (8) vs. West Virginia (11)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Oregon (6) vs. Auburn (7)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI): Texas (2) vs. Ohio State (4)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: LSU (10) vs. Virginia Tech (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Penn State (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Notre Dame (5) vs. Miami (9)

Champs: Penn State/Ohio State (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Texas (BXII), USC (P12), Georgia (SEC)

Left out: Alabama (13), TCU (14), Louisville (15)

The new controversy: Man can't we just have Texas play USC? But this is a Rose controversy really, since by nature of winning their head-to-head Penn State is now the 3rd seed and places out of the Rose Bowl. Wait…how can a Big Ten team win its way out of Pasadena? Or do you say the hell with seeds and put the Big Ten champ and the Pac Ten champ in the Rose Bowl. My solution: put OSU against Texas in the Cotton Bowl, and now both undefeated teams are essentially playing home games.

*Note the Sugar Bowl that year was moved to the Georgia Dome for Hurricane Katrina--hindsight says the WVa.-Georgia game was a hit so let’s keep it.



December 31:
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl: USC (8) vs. Boise State (9)
4:30 pm: Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma (7) vs. Auburn (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (1) vs. LSU (4)

January 1:

1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Wisconsin (6) vs. Arkansas (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Michigan (2) vs. Florida (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Louisville (5) vs. Notre Dame (11)

Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Wake Forest (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC/Cal (P12), Florida (SEC)

Left out: West Virginia (13), Virginia Tech (14), Wake Forest (15)

The new controversy: Notre Dame started the season ranked #2, beat no teams that ended up ranked except #25 Penn State. But what do you do with a 2-loss Notre Dame team? The question is moot so long as they're scheduling like 2012, though many of their regular opponents are very up-and-downy. Also I guess Wisconsin and ND could flip games—the question here is are we honoring the Citrus's affiliation or is that gone now?



Sports Pictures Week 2008 January 7 5uqQjmxkFUzl

Poetry to be replaced by Mizzou

December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Missouri (7) vs. Florida (9)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Kansas (8) vs. Hawaii (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI):  LSU (2) vs. Oklahoma (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Virginia Tech (5) vs. West Virginia (11)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: USC (6) vs. Illinois (13)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (1) vs. Georgia (4)

Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC/Arizona State (P12), LSU (SEC)

Left out: Arizona State (12), Boston College (14), Clemson (15)

The new controversy: That 4/5 split can get down to razor thin—do you favor a Pac12 co-champ (relevant now only for Big XII) or a clearly better non-champ and end up with two conference foes in final four?

Selfishly, this robs us of Lloyd's last stand against Tebow.



December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech (8) vs. TCU (11)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Alabama (4) vs. Utah (7)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI):  Florida (1) vs. Texas (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Ohio State (10) vs. Cincinnati (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI):  Oklahoma (2) vs. USC (5)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Penn State (6) vs. Boise State (9)

Champs: Penn State/Ohio State (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC (P12), Florida (SEC)

Left out: Oklahoma State (13), Georgia Tech (14), Oregon (15), Virginia Tech (22)

The new controversy: Some years simply conspire to ruin any hope of a cut-off. Said Hinton:

Valid Complaints. This was a year of torches and pitchforks under the BCS, and would have been under anything short of at least a six-team field; really, you can make a compelling argument here for at least eight teams, maybe nine. There is no tidy, fair or convincing way to solve that kind of logjam with a four-team bracket.

Undefeated mid-major, or any of a million compelling one-loss top programs? Bama gets left out of the playoff in favor of Pac Ten champ USC (who then gets to play near home—oh the unfairness!) and those two play each other so at least only one can be bitching at the end of the season.



kellen-moore-p1December 31:
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl:  Iowa (10) vs. LSU (13)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Florida (5) vs. Boise State (6)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI):  Texas (2) vs. TCU (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Orange Bowl:  Georgia Tech (9) vs. Penn State (11)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl:  Oregon (7) vs. Ohio State (8)
8:00 pm: Citrus Bowl (SEMI):  Alabama (1) vs. Cincinnati (4)

Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Georgia Tech (ACC), Texas (BXII), Oregon (P12), Alabama (SEC)

Left out: Virginia Tech (12), Miami (14), BYU (15)

The new controversy: Boise State's best season ever just happens to fall at the same time as two other mid-majors' which means they're punched out of the playoffs like LaGarrette Blount (OH SNAP!). After two seasons in a row of this, fans are declaring the new playoff system a disaster and call for an expansion to six teams. NCAA officials declare a six-team playoff would bring ruin to college football, and swear on their souls it will never happen so long as they're in charge.



December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: LSU (11) vs. Virginia Tech (12)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl:  Oklahoma (9) vs. Boise State (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Auburn (1) vs. TCU (4)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Ohio State (6) vs. Michigan State (7)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Oregon (2) vs. Wisconsin (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl:  Stanford (5) vs. Arkansas (8)

Champs: Ohio State/Michigan State/Wisconsin (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), Oregon (P12), Auburn (SEC)

Left out: Nevada (13), Missouri (14), Alabama (15)

The new controversy: We get to see that Michigan State/Ohio State game we missed in the Big Ten season in the "Bitching that we're just as deserving as Wisconsin" bowl.




Will the committee try to get the Michigans of the world into prime bowls,
or are they there to prevent that from happening? (Upchurch)

December 31:
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl:  South Carolina (10) vs. Kansas State (11)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Arkansas (7)  vs. Boise State (8)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl : Alabama (2) vs. Oklahoma State (3)

January 1:
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Michigan (13) vs. Clemson (14)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl:  Stanford (4) vs. Wisconsin (9)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): LSU (1) vs. Oregon (6)

Champs: Wisconsin (B1G), Clemson (ACC), Oklahoma State (BXII), Oregon (P12), LSU (SEC)

Left out:  USC (5 but ineligible), Michigan State (12), Baylor (15)

The new controversy: Michigan State beat Michigan but lost to Wisconsin (their 2nd loss on the season) in the Big Ten Championship and dropped out of the Top 12, thereby no longer being eligible for the…yeah this doesn't get "fixed." A similar argument in reverse is over the Stanford/Oregon thing, where Oregon won their head-to-head and a there-but-for-the-grace Pac12 championship game, but Stanford was ranked several spots higher. However the Citrus Bowl is a more likely destination. The difference is Oregon won their conference; Michigan State won their division because their blowout loss to Notre Dame wasn't counted in the division standings while Michigan's close loss to Iowa counted the same as MSU's blowout loss to Nebraska. N.E.way long story short the Spartans are still korking coupons about the whole biz, even if it's a Citrus Bowl bid now.


Things to discuss at the next Constitutional Convention:

  • Rate the relative importance of SOS, conference champion, head-to-head, total wins.
  • Will proximity to the bowl site be a consideration for the committee's hand-picking?
  • Will the NCAA leave room for them to put major draws in places to up the takings at the risk of favoring those programs?
  • Conference foes who haven't played each other—can they play in bowls?
  • What's more important: a fair seeding system or better/more traditional matchups?
  • Which bowl gets the semi each year? Should they rotate, favor certain ones, function on a system (preferably no—anytime you hamstring the committee you're lessening the good a committee can do)
  • Can it be expanded to six teams? Perhaps this is something to be constantly reviewing and if it proves necessary after, say, 10 years, do it.
  • At least the BCS had a hard number (and pollsters with obvious agendas/incompetency) to blame. How will the committee justify its razor-thin decisions between 4 and 5, and 12 and 13? I vote for lengthy, judge-like written "opinions" made public to publish. Minority can write opinions too.
  • Auto-bids for major conference champions?
  • Backbone? Sparties are gonna Spart, even when they're not justified. Can they agree not to make sweeping changes in response to last year's slights?
  • Billeting troops—this should not be allowed. If any of our lawyers want to create a 4th Amendment case against bowls having power to choose hotels for the schools (aren't they technically billeting government-subsidized "troops?" You can use Kellen Winslow's testimony…) you will win a cookie. Or two cookies if it goes to trial.

Happy 4th of July.


Home Playoff Games: Dead

Home Playoff Games: Dead Comment Count

Brian May 17th, 2012 at 10:59 AM


it is pretty nice.

Read between the lines on other athletic directors' remarkably malleable opinions to find out where the wind is blowing on the idea of playing home games in the first round of the playoffs:

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told the Lansing State-Journal that a plan to hold the coming four-team playoff semifinals on campus sites -- one most prominently supported by none other than Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany -- was no longer on the BCS negotiating table. He said that maintaining the value of the Rose Bowl, however, was "critical."

Those sentiments were echoed by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who said that his opinion had "shifted" on the idea of playing the semifinals at bowl venues rather than on-campus sites, with the Rose Bowl presumably one of those two semifinal hosts. He added that the rest of the league's A.D.'s had been similarly convinced.

Likewise, Nebraska's Tom Osborne left no doubt as to where his opinions stood:

Neb's Osborne: If you play semis outside bowls, "it would pretty much destroy the bowl system." [ED: And?]

Three athletic directors saying that home games were a bad idea within minutes of each other means the idea is dead and the public relations people are getting in some horse-beatin' time to save face. Who knows whether the three guys above really believe what they're saying about how critical the Rose Bowl is? Not us. Maybe not even them. Damn you, Don Draper.

End result: the Rose Bowl will be better-preserved than it has been recently—almost entirely preserved. If you'd like to see your team try to win a national title you're going to have a ton of frequent flier miles, with which you can go… see more games thousands of miles from you. It's a win-win. Also think of the economy.

It's just a flesh wound

No, really, it's just a flesh wound.

It may be time to shoot the Rose Bowl in the head, and by "shoot it in the head" I mean "barely do anything to it at all." A four-team playoff would not have seriously affected the attractiveness of the Rose Bowl in the past decade relative to the current system.

The following bullets look at the results if the playoff expanded to four and you either took the top four teams in the BCS standings or used the top-six champs-autobid structure:

  • 2011: Wisconsin-Oregon is unchanged (or becomes Wisconsin-Stanford if a hypothetical committee reasonably picks the Ducks over Stanford).
  • 2010: Wisconsin-TCU turns into… hard to tell. If conference champs get priority and Wisconsin gets sucked into the playoff, you get OSU-Stanford, a #4-#6 matchup. If Stanford gets in as the #4 team in the BCS standings, you get Wisconsin and 8-5 USC, if USC wasn't banned. So either very little damage or a ton of damage; Rose Bowl might pivot and pick some other team instead of going deep down the rabbit hole.
  • 2009: OSU-Oregon is unchanged.
  • 2008: USC-Penn State unchanged.
  • 2007: USC-Illinois unchanged.
  • 2006: Michigan either gets into the playoff or gets booted by the conference champs rule by USC(#5) and Louisville(#6)—fume city, baby! If they're in, Rose Bowl is USC-Wisconsin. UW was 11-1 that year. If they're out, it's Michigan-Cal (9-3). Damage: there, but not huge.
  • 2005: Rose Bowl was famous USC-Texas NC game. PSU and OSU were #3 and #4, So either OSU gets booted for SEC champ Georgia (#7. so no) or gets in. If they get in, next option is 9-3 Wisconsin. 10-2 Oregon gets the Pac-10 bid.
  • 2004: Michigan-Texas becomes either Michigan-Utah (Utah was 11-0 and #6, but not playing in the Pac-10) or Michigan-Cal. Cal was 10-1 with only a loss to rampant USC.
  • 2003: Michigan and USC get in the playoff. Rose becomes #5 OSU vs 9-3 WSU. This one is pretty bad.
  • 2002: WSU-Oklahoma turns into what it always should have been: WSU-Iowa. This was the year Iowa ended up in the Orange Bowl because of dumb BCS selection procedures.

In those ten years you have six where there is no change, an insignificant one (2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004, 2002), or an improvement. We've created a Rose Bowl from nothing for 2005, one which is a little lame. 2006 is either little damage or moderate. 2010 is either a push or very, very bad. Bad to the point where you'd have to have some provision to prevent an 8-5 team from playing in the Rose Bowl. 2003 is admittedly a major downgrade.

So there is damage. I'm not sure how the powers that be perceive a Rose Bowl in which #2 OSU plays #3 Georgia in a national semi. Is that damage? It is not the hallowed Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup.

Let's say that's not damage and the Rose Bowl will be a series of traditional matchups with the occasional weird-but-very-good interloper. Is the above damage something that would cause you to reject the concept of on-campus semifinals? The Rose Bowl would become a consolation prize. Rather, it would stay a consolation prize, which is what it's been for almost every year of the BCS's existence. Has that hurt it? A bit. Much? No.

I find it hard to believe the Big Ten power brokers would look at the above and come back white as a sheet at the prospects of the future. Dan Wetzel annihilated the thought process that results in the quotes above in his column…

[The Rose Bowl is so] critical that they're willing to make business decisions based on emotion, willing to give up on competitive advantages, logistical ease and monetary benefits.

Possible home-field advantage for Big Ten teams? We love the Rose Bowl.

Making the elements, which Big Ten teams are presumably better equipped to handle, a factor in the playoffs? We love the Rose Bowl.

Showcasing the incredible game-day environment of Camp Randall, Happy Valley or the Big House? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not requiring fans, students and players' families to continue to make lengthy postseason trips? We love the Rose Bowl.

Creating economic impact in the league's hometowns? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not taking discretionary spending out of the region and into California or Florida? We love the Rose Bowl.

…and he's right. Here's another opportunity to point at the Big Ten's lack of will to power relative to the SEC, Texas, and, increasingly, the Pac-12. That or they just got outvoted and are trying to make it look good.

Either way, an argument about the bowl system has featured arguments hastily assembled to pretend something that makes no sense in fact does. Tradition!


Michigan Museday Fears Nippert

Michigan Museday Fears Nippert Comment Count

Seth May 2nd, 2012 at 8:26 AM

007Baas & Henne - Rose

Unattributed from Colley Matrix computer poll / Archived from MGoBlue.com

Earlier this week Brian discussed the latest iteration of college football's playoff structure. While the commissioners try to get a ratification whip count from the states and techs etc., we're now left with a far narrower scope of playoff possibilities to argue, opine, and get ignored about. The number of teams is probably four. The parameters:

  • Site: Current bowls or home games for higher seeds.
  • Decision Process: BCS-like system or committee

At the moment I'm much more concerned with the first. Fortunately we have an entire BCS history's worth of trials to test these things. So let's just imagine that a four-team playoff was instituted in 1998 instead of the BCS.

Actually I did something similar last December to decide how big the field should be (answer: six). The point of this exercise is a little different in focusing on a four-team system; hopefully it'll give us a preview of what we're getting into. Perhaps by running through BCS history we can anticipate the kinds of controversies a four-team playoff will generate, and which iniquities of the current system will be eradicated.

Fortune Favors Where the Heart Is

Brian's all for home games and so am I, but that's because I'm a college football fan who likes campuses and pageantry and bands playing associative 19th century marching tunes and sidelines where the subs aren't $3.99 sandwiches. Fortunately money is on the side of home games too. Travel costs are at least halved, yes, but the capacities also increase by an average of 10,000 per game.

I got that number by re-seeding the last 14 years of BCS playoffs as if it was a four-team instead of two-team playoff, and showing the capacities of the home stadia they might have played in versus the bowl games they would have been assigned via a host's tie-in system:

Year Game Game Venue Host Capacity Bowl Bowl Capacity
1998 #1 v #4 Ohio St @ Tennessee Neyland 102,455 Sugar 76,468
1998 #2 v #3 Kansas St @ FSU Doak Campbell 82,300 Orange 76,500
1999 #1 v #4 Alabama @ FSU Doak Campbell 82,300 Orange 76,500
1999 #2 v #3 Nebraska @ Va Tech Lane Stadium 66,233 Fiesta 73,227
2000 #1 v #4 Miami @ Oklahoma * Gaylord 82,112 Fiesta 73,227
2000 #2 v #3 Washington @ FSU † Doak Campbell 82,300 Orange 76,500
2001 #1 v #4 Colorado @ Miami Dolphin Stadium 76,500 Orange 76,500
2001 #2 v #3 Oregon @ Nebraska ‡ Memorial 81,067 Fiesta 73,227
2002 #1 v #4 USC @ Miami Dolphin Stadium 76,500 Orange 76,500
2002 #2 v #3 Georgia @ Ohio St Ohio Stadium 102,329 Rose 94,392
2003 #1 v #4 MICH @ Oklahoma§ Gaylord 82,112 Fiesta 73,227
2003 #2 v #3 USC @ LSU Tiger Stadium 99,500 Sugar 76,468
2004 #1 v #4 Utah @ USC ‖ LA Coliseum 93,607 Rose 94,392
2004 #2 v #3 Auburn @ Oklahoma Gaylord 82,112 Fiesta 73,227
2005 #1 v #4 Ohio St @ USC LA Coliseum 93,607 Rose 94,392
2005 #2 v #3 Penn St @ Texas Darrell K Royal 100,119 Fiesta 73,227
2006 #1 v #4 LSU @ Ohio St Ohio Stadium 102,329 Rose 94,392
2006 #2 v #3 Florida @ MICH ¶ The Big House 109,901 Sugar 76,468
2007 #1 v #4 Oklahoma @ Ohio St Ohio Stadium 102,329 Rose 94,392
2007 #2 v #3 Va Tech @ LSU Tiger Stadium 99,500 Sugar 76,468
2008 #1 v #4 Alabama @ Oklahoma Gaylord 82,112 Fiesta 73,227
2008 #2 v #3 Texas @ Florida The Swamp 88,548 Sugar 76,468
2009 #1 v #4 TCU @ Alabama Bryant-Denny 101,821 Sugar 76,468
2009 #2 v #3 Cincinnati @ Texas Darrell K Royal 100,119 Fiesta 73,227
2010 #1 v #4 Stanford @ Auburn Jordan-Hare 87,451 Sugar 76,468
2010 #2 v #3 TCU @ Oregon Autzen 54,000 Rose 94,392
2011 #1 v #4 Stanford @ LSU Tiger Stadium 99,500 Sugar 76,468
2011 #2 v #3 Okla St @ Alabama Bryant-Denny 101,821 Orange 76,500


* Miami finished 4th and Washington 3rd in the BCS standing, but I swapped them to avoid an FSU-Miami rematch.

† 10-1 Washington is in over 10-1 VT and 10-1 Oregon State.

‡ Nebraska/Colorado/Oregon is a mess. I figured 2 losses mean Colorado takes the back seat, and Oregon gets screwed by the committee who don't want a game in Eugene if they can avoid it.

§ Another mess. The committee could as easily put USC here to face Michigan.

‖ Texas and Cal were both ranked higher than Utah, but Utah gets nod so that 4/5 undefeated teams are in the playoffs Boise State is out.

¶ I put Michigan as the No. 2 and host since bumping Florida no longer avoids a rematch.


And the numbers:

Factor Home Game Bowl
Avg. Attendance 89,807 79,390
% of Games < 80k 21.4% 78.6%
Largest Crowd 109,901 94,118
Smallest Crowd 54,000 73,227

In 1998 a difference of 10,000 seats might have been made up for by the bowl venues because of their luxury boxes and better concessions, but since then the big-time collegiate venues, i.e. the ones most likely to be ranked in the Top 2 at the end of the regular season, have more than caught up to the pros in every regard except in-stadium advertising (for good reason). Meanwhile the only bowl venue comparable to the homes of D-I power programs is the Rose (a college stadium).

There were some calls I had to make in there, for example LSU won't increase its capacity to 99,500 until 2014 (they're at 93,000 now). And U-Phoenix Stadium was listed at its maximum football capacity to date, not the one they say they can get to with their ultra-hydro-matic seating expansion system™, because if they couldn't whip them out for the Superbowl why would they have them for an NCAA semi-final?

Sanity-checking, I did this initially using real numbers—taking the largest announced capacities for each host's and bowl's venue for that year (example: Neyland Stadium's 107,653 in 1998 is from the '98 Florida game)—and the numbers barely moved. Avg. capacity for home games: 88,489; Avg. capacity for bowls: 77,877. Same difference.

Future-proofing the dolla dolla bill y'all advantage, college football stadiums are growing in capacity while the bowl stadiums aren't.

I emphasize this because the bits of conversation leaking from the commisionerati keep fearing things like Cincinnati (Nippert Stadium: 35,097) finishing in the Top 2. Looking above there are just four games in 28 in which a stadium of under 80,000 capacity would have hosted: Autzen's 54,000 once, Virginia Tech's 66,000 once, and two games at Miami (YTM)'s home, which is the same place they play the Orange Bowl.


This is our concern Lebowski

I don't believe the dreaded small venue is that much of a threat. Paul Brown Stadium is three miles away from Nippert and is tapped often for "big" games like West Virginia and Louisville. TCU is in Fort Worth, spitting distance from JerryWorld. Boise State sneaking in after trouncing the now mid-major Big East is the real concern, but they've been handily kept out of the Top Two so far; if it actually comes down to undefeated Boise getting a home seed, either suck it up and let them have the most important event in Idaho history they deserve after being so good so long, or find a way to slide a 2-loss SEC team ahead of them and ride out the now-standard outrage.

Brian mentioned the bowl games aren't worried about selling out since they sell mostly to scalpers who then assume the risk/reward of the eventual matchup, but this also creates a middle-man scenario. The reason scalpers do this is the market is almost always higher than the face value once the teams are decided, with fans commonly paying three times the initial value. If you want to know how to flow this price variance to the athletic departments instead of the scalpers, just have Dave Brandon give his seminar on Creating the Future™ to ADs; a huge donation to get on the waiting list for season tickets feels like fleecing, but if I'm paying $300 on Stubhub now, why wouldn't I donate $200 to the university to reserve my $100 seat?


There Is a Downside to Home Games

And I just hinted at a big one just now: any controversy a four-team field avoids over a two-team field, it gains back again by having either pollsters, computers, or committees parsing between nearly identical seasons to decide who hosts the #2-#3 game. All it takes is one petulant Dantonio (or Urban Meyer PR campaign, or Fulmer with Heisman envy) to swap Gators in the Big House for Wolverines in the Swamp.

Add that to the fact that you just swapped the "who's in" wrangling from 2-3 to 4-5, and now there's at least two teams every season likely to believe they got screwed. Neutral site games at least neutralize any advantage gained by being #2 rather than #3. Of course it also neutralizes the advantage of being #1 versus #4 (except for a vaguely easier matchup in the first round). There is a possibility of a compromise solution here where #1 plays #4 at home but the 2-3 game goes to a predetermined neutral site. Of course now you're just shifting that argument to 1-2.

Another advantage of using the bowls—to the ADs, not the fans—is that home games at college stadiums invite the nasty beast of student tickets. Students pay more now than they ever did (my senior year was $85) but it's still way less than alumni. Make them buy general admission for a semifinal game and you invite the inevitable Daily column and Diag outrage. Give 'em the student discount and you just wiped out much of your 10,000-toushie advantage. Go to a bowl and the question is moot.

ADDED: I forgot (and meant to) mention that another consideration against home sites is that the teams themselves would probably rather travel. The big schools use their bowl trips and bowl swag to reward the players and recruit new ones. Roy Roundtree (just using him as an e.g. senior everyone likes) would probably take the free trip to Pasadena over another home game in Ann Arbor if you put it to him that way. The big thing the bowls have going for them is that the teams themselves love traveling to the bowls.

A Few Case Studies1998


What happened: Tennessee came in 12-0 and an obvious No. 1, but there was some debate about who should play them. Florida State, near the peak of their powers, was the most sensible pick. Other claimants included one-loss Kansas State and Ohio State, both behind FSU more for the timing of their one loss than anything else. Tulane went undefeated spread 'n shredding a Conf-USA schedule. Arizona and Wisconsin also went 11-1.

And then we had a big debate about: Mostly that Kansas State wasn't invited to any BCS bowl; they ended up losing to Purdue in the Alamo.

If we had a playoff: Tennessee hosts Ohio State, Kansas State visits Tallahassee, and nobody complains but Tulane. The normal tie-ins for bowls fit just as nicely.

Outcome: Few thought Ohio State or Kansas State were better than Florida State so this works out either way.



What happened: Oklahoma was undefeated and an obvious #1. After that it was an inbred mess of one-loss teams. Florida State's loss was to one-loss Miami (YTM), as was V-Tech's only loss. Miami only lost to Washington, who only lost to Oregon, who had two losses one of which being to Oregon State, who only lost to Washington. FSU got the nod because they're Florida State.

And then we had a big debate about: If only Henson had been healthy all year. And the whole head-to-head-to-head thing.

If we had a playoff game: Well you leave out Oregon State and VT, though everyone but the fans of those teams could be down with that. But now you need to do some fiddling to avoid a rematch in the semifinals. For this reason you want FSU playing Washington, but which one hosts? Probably Florida State, and Miami has to be content with facing Oklahoma when they thought they should be hosts themselves.

Outcome: This illustrates the playoff problem of rematches, which if not controlled by a committee of sorts would become twice as likely now that twice as many teams are in the playoffs.



What happened: Similar situation as the previous year, fewer teams, more debate. Miami was obviously #1 and mentioned among the best teams ever. Nebraska thought they might be in that conversation until losing to Colorado, who went on to win the Big XII championship but had two losses. And then there's Oregon, as justifiable and as ignored in the year-long, racial-overtoned Huskers vs. Canes fest as Joey Harrington's Heisman-level campaign. Nebraska got the nod, and got demolished.

And then we had a big debate about: If you don't even win your conference… Nobody mentioned Oregon, which I thought was very weird and spent most of a night trying to convince the Daily sports editor to back over Colorado.

If we had a playoff game: Hooray they're all in. Again there's the rematch situation that's easily solved by having Colorado be the fourth seed and Oregon visit Nebraska. We all win.

Outcome: Here we see how a neutral site isn't necessarily a home game, since a Miami home game and the Orange Bowl are the same thing. On the other hand you're trading Tempe for Nebraska in early January.


What happened: There were three viable one-loss teams and only two spots. The BCS used computers to judge the strength of a season to make up for pollsters' obsession with shiny things and whatever happened three seconds ago, and this resulted in LSU and Oklahoma playing with USC left out despite being #1 to both polls of people who are easily distracted by Reggie Bush. The AP rebelled and said it would stick with USC if they beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

And then we had a big debate about: How computers and statistics and the hard realities of the world around us are not nearly as important to the greater human experience as the world that we perceive, that what makes us human is this capacity for fallibility, that we can make choices of the heart even in the face of concrete logical evidence. If you think otherwise then you're a pointy-eared bastard.

If we had a playoff game: Well there's three one-loss teams and then a whole slew of relatively even two-loss teams. However the 5th ranked one had just lost to the 4th ranked one, which was Michigan. So John Navarre and co. travel to Norman while USC faces LSU.

Outcome: I actually like our chances against Oklahoma. Not love, but like better than USC. Oh right, hypothetical. Well USC going to Baton Rouge instead of staying in L.A. because of a computer would bother them just as much as going to New Orleans instead of the Rose Bowl because of a computer.


What happened: Virtually the same thing, different result. Three undefeated teams on top plus two undefeated mid-majors, and two one-loss teams between them.

And then we had a big debate about: How Auburn could be left out because pollsters don't care about strength of schedule and the computers were neutered.

If we had a playoff game: Well now Auburn is in but who plays USC? Can Mack Brown downvote Cal to get the Longhorns into the playoffs instead of the Rose Bowl? Or do they take the Bears for having lost only to USC (and do they play at USC again, or do we move the #1 seed so now Auburn's playing USC? Or do we take 11-0 Utah and skip the be-loss'ed teams? Then what about Boise State? Eh, screw Boise. Oklahoma gets Utah and Auburn visits USC.

Outcome: This is a classic example of how odd numbers screw with playoffs. A two-team playoff left out Auburn; a four-team playoff now elevates the Texas-Cal dishonesty to playoff proportions. That's why I said they ought to take Utah. What I don't want to see is for the system to force them to take an undefeated 6th seed over a 1-loss four-seed. I'm pretty sure by this point that I'm for a committee, not a ranking system, determining the seeds.


What happened: You already know about [deep echoey voice] FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON and the result.

And then we had a big debate about: You know that too.

If we had a playoff game: Now the question is which two-loss team between LSU and USC? And down the line there's still one-loss Louisville, one-loss Wisconsin, and undefeated Boise State. This time I invite the Broncos, because there's such a clear line between Michigan's season and LSU's (at this point anyway).

Outcome: Here's the 2 or 3 problem. We know Florida got in when Michigan's prima facie case was far stronger, but that was to avoid a rematch of [deep voice] FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON. Would they do the same just to avoid a January date in the vicinity of Great Lakes?


What happened: Final BCS Standings: 1. Oklahoma (12-1), 2. Florida (12-1), 3. Texas (11-1), 4. Alabama (12-1), 5. USC (11-1), 6. Utah 12-0, 7. Texas Tech (11-1), 8. Penn State (11-1), 9. Boise State (12-0)

And then we had a big debate about: All of the things.

If we had a playoff game: Half of the things.

Outcome: Expanding to four teams does not guarantee a national champ.


What happened: Five teams finished undefeated, and Florida had only lost to Bama in the SEC championship game. Since only two of the undefeated teams were from real BCS conferences (We had to be reminded multiple times that season that Cincy was in the Big East. q.v.) it was an easy choice.

And then we had a big debate about: How mid-majors who play perfect seasons always get screwed, even after they are careful to add at least one football team to their schedules full of Rocky Mountain mime schools.

If we had a playoff game: Boise still gets left out, Bama and Texas munch on snackycake undefeated teams before the inevitable matchup between them.

Outcome: You got the idea awhile ago. The following year TCU was undefeated and left out of an otherwise obvious matchup of Auburn and Oregon.


What happened: LSU was 13-0, and had already beaten No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Okie State and Stanford made one-loss runs that nobody thought were as good as Bama's season. So we played the rematch nobody wanted to see outside the SEC, and horror of horrors the original loser won by enough to win the battle of "my win over you was better than your win over me, let's lolz at everyone else who is puny for not cutting their bad players and replacing them with robots! lolz lolz lolz S-E-C!"

And then we had a big debate about: How we need a playoffs.

If we had a playoff game: For the first time it would have been almost perfect.

Outcome: As with every other BCS season, the perfect system for any given year is the one implemented next year.

1999, 2000, 2002, and 2005 are examples of when a four-team playoff would have overly complicated a relatively simple field of two. This ought to be a greater concern than whether a school that seats 35,000 and doesn't have access to an NFL venue nearby will end up ranked in the Top 2. I believe an option to skip the semifinals in obvious situations would ensure they have the right playoff every year, but that creates its own problems.

Birthday shout-out to my little brother. You're getting MGoShirts again.