Fall Roster Overanalysis 2017 in Spring 2018!

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2017 in Spring 2018! Comment Count

Seth May 9th, 2018 at 9:40 AM

Michigan did in fact release a spring roster this year, though this one gets the paint drying treatment, since even Steve Martin couldn’t get excited about the most recent phonebooks.

There are reasons for that. For one we kinda had a basketball thing going on the day they appeared. Two, we kinda had a hockey thing going on. Three, the roster release is what precipitated the Elysee Mbem-Bosse situation (because he wasn’t on it), and I didn’t think an irreverent post on the roster was appropriate right at that moment. And four, these are all the same weights from the game notes they put out for the media last year, which have finally been applied to the online 2017 rosters as well as the spring ones. I’ve taken to updating my spreadsheet whenever insiders said things like “Paye is up to 365” or a player posted his new number and will show that when it’s available, but those are not verified and therefore not included here.

But hey, it’s officially official offseason and it’ll be good to have this when we do get new rosters five minutes before Notre Dame kickoff and we can measure the Herbertization. So I’ll note all the actually new things, and we’ll hit the jump to see last year’s weight gains/losses and make totally unrealistic judgments about it.


We’ve discussed some of these already but seeing them all might put those in better context.

  • Kekoa Crawford: 1—>41
  • Jordan Anthony: 1—>34
  • Kareem Walker: 6—>46
  • Nate Schoenle: 35—>81
  • Shea Patterson: 2
  • Joe Milton: 5
  • Taylor Upshaw: 91
  • Myles Sims: 6

We have an interview with Schoenle going in HTTV so I got the author to confirm that number changed because Schoenle and Uche are both on special teams. Kareem Walker’s change was also his choice I’m told, part of a refocusing process that’s less about “I’m the next Tyrone Wheatley!” and more “I’m going to be my best myself.” He probably didn’t realize he just went to the number of an even greater former Wolverine, Harry Newman (or early ’80s star running back Lawrence Ricks).

In the absence of an explanation for Crawford’s number switch, along with his non-mention in spring, it’s not hard to speculate negative things. On the other hand, I remind you 41 was Rob Lytle, and Harbaugh was the ball boy on those teams, and I guarantee you he wouldn’t miss a chance to point this out if someone groused about wearing it. It also could just mean Kekoa has joined the kick return unit too so he can’t have the same number as Ambry Thomas.


I don’t know why so many of these changed—dudes don’t usually grow taller in college and only fullbacks shrink—but they did so I’ll report them. As best I can tell originally they just grabbed whatever was listed on the Rivals database, and now they report their own measurements.

  • Up 2 inches: Josh Uche 6’1”—>6’3”; Devin Gil 6’0”—>6’2”
  • Up 1 inch: Ben Bredeson 6’4”—>6’5”; Juwann Bushell-Beatty 6’5”—>6’6”; Noah Furbush 6’4”—>6’5”; Ron Johnson 6’3”—>6’4”; Khaleke Hudson 5’11”—>6’0”; Kekoa Crawford 6’1”—>6’2”; Cesar Ruiz 6’3”—>6’4”; and Andrew Stueber 6’6”—>6’7”
  • Down an inch: David Long 6’0”—>5’11; Eddie McDoom 6’1”—>6’0”; Nick Eubanks 6’6”—>6’5”; Kurt Taylor 5’9”—>5’8”; O’Maury Samuels 5’11”—>5’10”; Tarik Black 6’4”—>6’3”; Nico Collins 6’5”—>6’4”; Quinn Nordin 6’2”—>6’1”
  • Down 2 inches: Donovan Jeter 6’5”—>6’3”

Any David Long + Lavert Hill photo could tell you they were the same height—if anything Hill is taller—so that one doesn’t surprise me. Adding an inch to offensive linemen makes people who put stock in roster data (ahem) think those OL are better pro prospects, so that could be what that is. Ditto linebackers.


    These don’t show as much as they should because Michigan’s positional definitions are as vague (OL, LB, DB, etc.) as possible. Also you know about them already: Jared Wangler moved to fullback, and they’re now listing the vipers Khaleke Hudson and Jordan Glasgow as linebackers.

    The changes we’ve heard about are Glasgow swapped with Hawkins for SS/Viper, Uche stayed with the OLB group at his request instead of trying out at DE, Irving-Bey is with the tackles, and Joel Honigford is with the guards.


    After signing day Michigan snuck a new page into its roster list with the guys who’d signed their LOIs. No numbers yet but it’s an opportunity to publish their listed weights versus what the services had them at. I included the early enrollees.

    Height Weight
    Name Pos Mich 247 Rivals ESPN Scout Mich 247 Rivals ESPN Scout
    Joe Milton QB 6'5" +0.5 - - -0.5 220 +10 -20 +12 -
    Michael Barrett ATH 6'0" -0.5 - - x 215 - -15 +8 x
    Hassan Haskins RB 6'1" - - - 207 -5 +5 -5 x
    Christian Turner RB 5'11" - -1 -1 - 185 +2 -7 +7 -
    Ben VanSumeren FB 6'3" - - - x 232 -4 +7 -20 x
    Ronnie Bell WR 6'1" - - -1 x 174 -4 - - x
    Ryan Hayes TE 6'7" - - -1 - 262 -10 -2 +5 -3
    Mustapha Muhammad TE 6'4" - +1 - 244 -9 +5 -5 x
    Luke Schoonmaker TE 6'6" - - -1 - 229 -4 +4 -4 -
    Jalen Mayfield OL 6'5" - - +1 - 275 -2 -23 +10 +13
    Aidan Hutchinson DL 6'6" - - +1 -1 258 +2 +6 -17 -15
    Julius Welschof DL 6'6" - - -1 x 253 -5 +2 - x
    Taylor Upshaw DL 6'4" +1 - - x 240 - -5 +5 x
    Cameron McGrone LB 6'1" - - +1 - 225 -10 -5 +4 +1
    Sammy Faustin DB 6'2" - - -1 - 190 - -20 +7 +13
    Vincent Gray DB 6'2" - - - x 180 - -15 +14 x
    German Green DB 6'2" - - - - 178 -10 +12 -12 -
    Gemon Green DB 6'2" - - - - 175 -10 +8 -8 -
    Myles Sims DB 6'3" -0.5 - - -0.5 173 - - - -

    Also Utah transfer Casey Hughes was listed at 5’11”/195 by Utah and 6’0”/185 by Michigan, whatever that means.

    For those counting at home, here’s how close the services got to whatever the school decided to list them at, on average:

    • 247: Off by 0.13 inches and 4.58 lbs
    • Rivals: Off by 0.11 inches and 8.47 lbs
    • ESPN: Off by 0.47 inches and 7.53 lbs

    So I guess use Rivals’ heights and 247’s weights? This would be fun to do on a larger basis. Scout data is included from what I grabbed before the merger but I didn’t have enough to count them.

    [Hit THE JUMP if you want to see last year’s weight gain 2000 chart, which I remind you again only exists so I have something to work off of next fall]



    Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State Defense

    Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State Defense Comment Count

    Seth November 23rd, 2017 at 12:00 PM

    [Author: sorry. Previously: Ohio State Offense]

    You can’t take the sky from me.

    Ohio State is everything wrong with America. While most hardworking football teams have to struggle day-in and day-out to make ends meet opposing quarterbacks, the Buckeyes have so much wealth they can leave most of it cooling on the sideline, chatting with the next wave of 5-stars and Bosas. They won’t even let any of it trickle out to the NFL or, like, Cincinnati. Three out of the seven hellbeasts they rotate through on the defensive line turned down this year’s NFL draft, and a fourth would be a top-five pick next April except he’s still too young to go.

    With national economy-breaking riches up front, they can afford to play a ton of Cover 1 and Man 2 low—coverages that jam the middle of the field with fast players and take advantage of their natural athletic advantages over everyone they play on the outside. You can’t run on them or pass deep because of that line. You can’t spread ‘em out and throw short because they’re up in your grill and expecting it, and anyway you’re only getting to one read before a DE has turned the corner and your pocket’s bulged inward from a snap-jumpin’ Leviathan.

    So how the hell did Iowa’s offense drop 38 points on these guys? For one they got to go a half and a drive with Bosa out for targeting. They also got a friendly flag. And their quarterback had an uncanny ability to shrug off tackles, going so far as to set up and throw a form TD pass with Sam Hubbard hanging on his leg the whole time. And most of all their offensive line held up in pass pro long enough for him to hit drags and comeback routes. None of this is relevant to Michigan starting John O’Korn and a right side of the line that couldn’t pass pro against Minnesota.

    What is relevant is the week after Iowa, the Buckeyes held Brian Lewerke to an 11.5 QBR and 3 yards per dropback by accidentally fixing their one glaring defensive issue (they had a spacebacker playing middle linebacker). I watched both games, and while I’d love to tell you we’re too pretty to die on Saturday, the main takeaway here is Ohio State’s defense has it so Alabama-good these days they don’t even recognize how Alabama-despicable they’ve become.


    Personnel: My diagram gets bigger with a click, and requires explanation:



    Last year at this time I told you Ohio State’s defense this year was going to be a lot like Michigan’s defense last year. Had they not lost some guys early to the NFL that would be true. It’s still mostly true, especially up front; their second team front seven would probably be a Top 10 national front seven.

    Part of that is they’re not starting their best front seven. DE Nick Bosa isn’t a “starter” in only the most technical sense—see: Mo Hurst last year—despite being their best player to PFF and the eye test. Backup NT Robert Landers, a scrappy-ass, undersized muck-a-muck, is again behind a more ballyhooed space-eater—this year it’s Godin-like Tracy Sprinkle instead of Michael Hill (who’s all but disappeared), but any crucial down will see Landers (#67) in, and for good reason. The other backup DE Jalyn Holmes came back for a fifth year despite plenty of NFL interest, and has barely any drop-off from last year’s B1G DL of the Year Tyquan Lewis.

    The main weakness all season was they moved extraneous spacebacker Chris Worley to MLB, and he’s not one. With their two starting OLBs (Booker and Baker) missing time in the last few weeks, Ohio State moved Worley back to WLB and played MLB Tuf Borland, a 2016 high four-star who played for friend of the blog Todd Howard in high school. Worley is listed first in the “OR” and I imagine they’ll play him at WLB in their 4-4 look; Borland is the better fit.

    Against MSU and Illinois they also played a freak athlete, true sophomore Malik Harrison, as their TE-destructor SAM spot. Harrison is now listed as a co-starter on OSU’s official depth chart, and I didn’t even have room for him on my diagram. The starters at OLB are Dante Booker and Jerome Baker. Both are Viper types; Booker would have been the starter last year but for an early season injury. Baker who’s about 20 pounds lighter, was a PFF fave-rave last year as a sophomore. Neither have any trouble keeping up with backs—Baker can “get skinny in the hole” as the coaches say, but he had some trouble with fullbacks in his first go-round.

    The safeties are the weakest point. SS Damon Webb is a quasi-nickelback who’s solid at run fits but remains a liability in coverage. FS Jordan Fuller is not the superior athlete Malik Hooker was. They’ll sometimes replace him with Erick Smith, who’s more of a run-stopper. I imagine if Michigan’s going heavy Ohio State will prefer to remove one of these guys to get Booker, Baker, Worley, and Borland all on the field at once. CB Denzel Ward is one of the fastest players in OSU history—he got bodied by Simmie Cobbs in the opener and has been lights out since. The other corner spot rotates between Damon Arnette and JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield, both of whom rely on elite athleticism, which for Big Ten passing games is plenty.

    [Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown. Or don’t and go be with your family.]


    This Week’s Obsession: The Future of Sports Media

    This Week’s Obsession: The Future of Sports Media Comment Count

    Seth April 26th, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    [Comments temporarily turned off while we fix an issue]


    The Question:

    What's the Future of Sports Media like?

    The Responses:

    BiSB: Very Professional Podcasts.

    David: Visual podcasts.

    Ace: A vast web of two-minute autoplay videos with 30-second ad lead-ins.

    Brian: Why is autoplay even an option? Why have you forsaken us, computer scientists?

    Seth: Ask the legions of ad network peddlers who got my email when I joined the IAB newsletter. Someone saw on a spreadsheet that videos get incrementally higher ad rates and took this to all the board rooms in America.

    Brian: It can't be incremental, can it? It has to be vastly different for the level of effort everyone is putting into video nobody watches

    Seth: Rates are so dependent on so many factors that any generalization is necessarily incremental.

    Brian: Anyway, it seems to me like there are a few different models for sports content that are viable. I would like you guys to guess at the models.

    Ace: Grantland. RIP.

    Seth: /giphy pours one out


    Brian: Boutique prestige content is indeed one.

    • PROS: good content written by people who don't feel like monkeys in the click factory.
    • CONS: apparently doesn't make money? I kind of dispute that Grantland didn't make money because it couldn't, especially given the immediate and huge success of Simmons's podcast.

    Seth: Obviously we’re rooting for this one. It depends on the media environment. The market of people who want to think long and hard about anything is so small I spent most of my life not knowing we were even a demographic. In a consolidated market like cable TV, the easy numbers favor the lowest intellectual demographic, so that becomes the ONLY market served (Hi TV news!). The internet is an open environment, so boutiques can find their market.

    Not forgotten

    But they have to grow from the bottom-up. Grantland could be making money, but ESPN was structurally incapable of understanding how or why it did. Nobody who thinks putting Skip Bayless or Steven A. Smith on TV is a good idea knows the first thing about marketing to people who fire off braincells for fun. The best thing for everybody would have been to spin it off.

    Ace: The other issue with those prestige sites is writers tend to get snatched up. Grantland was a pretty unbelievable collection of talent that The Ringer has had a hard time replicating.

    Brian: Yeah, a lot of them want to move on to doing other things because they can. This is not so much an issue with Graham Couch.

    The ringer is also stuck on Medium, which is a terrible decision because it feels like a part of something instead of its own thing. That's fine if you're yet another Gannett site but bad if you're trying to be bougie.

    Other boutique prestige shops include VICE Sports, The New York Times, Sports on Earth, and The Classical. The former two are parts of much larger organizations, the latter two basically died and live on as husks that don't pay many people.

    So this is a dodgy and ephemeral way to live.

    [Hit the JUMP for other ideas, like not paying for trash, more diagrams, or embracing “Embrace Debate.”]


    Big Ten Draftageddon: Informative Portion

    Big Ten Draftageddon: Informative Portion Comment Count

    Seth August 26th, 2014 at 10:30 AM


    What the hell was this? Draftageddon is the MGo-version of those preseason all Big Ten articles it is mandatory that sports site generate. If we had titled it "Top 100 players in the B1G" and written one line about each guy it would be great clickbait and nobody would learn anything. So instead we activated our competitive natures, had the MGoStaff draft four 26-man teams, and learned waaaay too much.

    Full details are in the first post. This is the "what have we learned" post.

    PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON (two rounds/post)
    1. Devin Gardner, plus Braxton Miller, Brandon Scherff, Randy Gregory, Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa, Shilique Calhoun, Carl Davis, Stefon Diggs
    2. Devin Funchess and Jake Ryan, plus Kurtis Drummond, Venric Mark, Jason Spriggs, Chi Chi Ariguzo, Melvin Gordon, Trae Waynes
    3. Frank Clark, plus Ameer Abdullah, Kenny Bell, Taiwan Jones, Christian Jones, Noah Spence, Maxx Williams, Rob Havenstein
    4. Blake Countess, plus Andre Monroe, Donovan Smith, Taylor Decker, Sojourn Shelton, Desmond King, Darius Hamilton, Theiren Cockran
    5. Darius Kilgo, Shane Wynn, Brandon Vitabile, Jack Allen, Austin Blythe, Kaleb Johnson, Kyle Costigan, Dallas Lewallen
    6. Matt Robinson, Mike Hull, Corey Cooper, Devin Smith, Jeremy Langford, John Lowdermilk, Jordan Lucas, Christian Hackenberg
    7. Jabrill Peppers, Desmond Morgan, and James Ross III, plus Connor Cook,  Adrian Amos, Steve Longa, Jack Conklin, Tyler Marz
    8. Dontre Wilson, Louis Trinca-Pasat, Nate Sudfeld, Tre Roberson, Tevin Coleman, Earnest Thomas III, Jeff Heuerman, Ibraheim Campbell
    9. Jarrod Wilson, plus Adolphus Washington, Deon Long, Marcus Rush, Eric Murray, Sean Davis, Josh Ferguson, Tony Lippett
    10. Levern Jacobs, Pat Elflein, Jake Cotton, Warren Herring, Zac Epping, Chad Lindsay, Doran Grant, Michael Rose
    11. Darian Hicks, Tyler Kroft, Michael Caputo, Corey Clement, Kevin Snyder, Jordan Walsh, Michael Geiger, Traveon Henry
    12. Willie Henry and Matt Wile, plus Tony Jones, Ed Davis, RJ Williamson, Brad Craddock, Dan Voltz, Andrew Donnal
    13. Joe Bolden, plus Dan Voltz, Andrew Donnal, William Likely, Mike Sadler, Jesse James, Macgarrett Kings Jr., Cameron Johnston, Quinton Alston, Kyle Prater, C.J. Brown
    14. BiSB won the vote, Seth won the photoshop contest

    Supplemental Left Behind series by BiSB: offense (defense not posted yet)


    I thought you might appreciate seeing who did and didn't get drafted from among each teams' starters.

    MichiganOhio StateMichigan State

    Click any to access the giant PDF of all 14 teams plus ND.

    It doesn't tell you when they were drafted or by whom, or how big of a hole the non-draftees are, e.g. Maryland's defense looks like Michigan's at a glance, but Michigan has tons of quality LBs while Maryland has one of moderate value. Ohio State is strongest up front on both sides of the ball. Iowa is strong down the middle.

    [Jump for are we homers, overrated rivals, deep positions, most overrated dudes, and answers to pretty much every other clickbait thing this offseason because we're nothing if not a thorough bunch]


    Draftageddon: It Ends!

    Draftageddon: It Ends! Comment Count

    Brian August 13th, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.


    1. Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
    2. Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
    3. Nothing terribly remarkable happens
    4. BISB takes all the guys I want
    5. A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
    6. WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
    7. Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
    8. Someone drafts an Illinois defender! I know!
    9. BISB goes Maryland crazy, reminds us all that he has Kurtis Drummond eighty-five times.
    11. The transitive property of MSU corners and Wisconsin RBs, and Phil Steele goes Heiko.
    12. Holy pants this isn't over yet?


    currently currently current

    ROUND 24 - PICK 4: Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin
    ROUND 25 - PICK 1: Andrew Donnal, OT, Iowa


    O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), QB Christian Hackenberg (PSU), RB Melvin Gordon (WI), RB/WR Josh Fergusion (UI), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), WR Tony Lippett (MSU) TE Jeff Heuerman (OSU), OT Rob Havenstein(WI), G Kyle Costigan(WI), G Dallas Lewallen(WI), C Dan Voltz (WI), Andrew Donnal (IA)

    D: DE Frank Clark(M), DE Therien Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), LB Desmond Morgan(M), LB James Ross(M), CB Trae Waynes (MSU), CB Jordan Lucas (PSU), CB/HSP Doran Grant (OSU), S Ibraheim Campbell (NW), S Traveon Henry (NW)

    ST: K Michael Geiger (MSU), PR/KR Stefon Diggs(MD)

    BRIAN: Well... obviously. With injuries knocking out a couple of Wisconsin linemen, Dan Voltz stepped into the starting center job for six games last year. Those were:

    OHIO STATE: team rushes 27 times for 104 yards.
    BYU: 54 for 229
    INDIANA: 50 for 554
    MINNESOTA: 45 for 197
    PENN STATE: 30 for 120
    SOUTH CAROLINA: 43 for 293

    So there was little to no dropoff in the Badgers' crushing ground game when he entered. Voltz was just a redshirt freshman, which means his breakthrough is pretty impressive on the conveyor belt that is the Wisconsin OL. A consensus four-star recruit—actually a consensus top-100 recruit—and Army All-American, Voltz has upside in spades that he's already begun delivering on. Phil Steele has him on his All Big Ten list, and he is on the very exclusive Rimington Watch List, which only has about 60 of the nation's 120 centers on it.

    And for my final Wisconsin lineman, I'll take...

    Dammit, Ace. You have no respect for what I'm trying to do here.

    I thought about Rutgers' Keith Lumpkin, who pushed Kaleb Johnson down to guard, but when I watched the Wrecking Ball video he seemed slow out of his stance, and then I got depressed about potentially relying on a Rutgers offensive lineman.

    Instead, I'll take Iowa's Andrew Donnal. Donnal has been injury-plagued throughout his career, but was a highly touted recruit. He had just broken through as a starter during his sophomore year when he tore virtually every ligament in his knee and broke his tibia, to add injury to injury. Two plays later, Scherff went down and the Iowa run game curled into a ball and died. Once he recovered from that horrific injury, 2013 Donnal was a frequently-used utility man who played all across the line as Iowa rotated extensively.

    He enters his senior year as the sure bookend for Scherff, and he retains the size and flexibility that made him a coveted recruit. Draft Insider projected him as a fifth-rounder before last season ("Large, powerful guard who dominates opponents. Showed flashes as a sophomore in 2012 and comes with a large upside.") As a bonus, it'll be harder to doink him in the head now that he's a tackle.



    27 For 27: A Document

    27 For 27: A Document Comment Count

    Brian October 16th, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    [SITE NOTE: Due to a confluence of things including a long drive home, four overtimes, thrilling CONCACAF qualifier business, the Tigers, this post, and a desire to stab my eyeballs whenever I look at the tape, UFR is not quite done and will go up tomorrow.]

    Fitzgerald Toussaint set a Michigan record for sustained futility on Saturday by running for 27 yards on 27 carries. Since 1949, no other back has gotten as many carries without gaining at least twice as many yards. Posterity demands that someone detail what happened.

    A note: blame is apportioned. When things are designated playcall it's because I don't believe it's reasonable to expect Michigan to block player X, either because he's an extra guy in the box or he's tearing towards the line of scrimmage on the snap because he has no fear of a pass. You can adjust your personal indignation levels on this based on how reasonable you thought running into stacked boxes was vis a vis Devin Gardner's 13 YPA and constant turnover threat; I'm just trying to figure out how much of the run splat was preordained by playcalls.

    Ready? No. I know you're not. But here we go anyway.



    Play: Power O
    Formation: Tackle over I Form H
    Yards: -3

    Why it didn't work:

    1. Graham Glasgow ignored the NT.
    2. Predictable playcall sees PSU linebackers flow hard with effectively nine in the box.
    3. Jake Butt gets beat badly by a PSU LB in the hole.

    Blame: 80% OL, 10% playcall, %10 TE/FB



    Play: Zone stretch.
    Formation: Tackle over I Form big
    Yards: -3

    Why it didn't work:

    1. PSU has straight up nine in the box.
    2. Michigan tries to be clever by running at Williams and Bryant, both of whom get destroyed.
    3. Schofield leaves immediately, so Lewan has no shot at the backside tackle.

    Blame: 30% TE/FB, 30% OL, 40% playcall



    Play: Power O
    Formation: Tackle over Ace H
    Yards: 12

    Why it didn't work:

    1. Actually it did work.
    2. It works because Schofield gets nice push, giving Toussaint a crease. Glasgow gets movement on a DT and the eighth guy in the box for PSU tries to get over to the frontside when he should probably stack this up near the LOS.

    Blame: Everyone is happy!



    Play: Counter
    Formation: Tackle over trips TE
    Yards: 1

    Why it didn't work:

    1. Seven guys in the box against six blockers; extra guy makes the stop.
    2. PSU WLB doesn't get suckered by the counter, gives Glasgow no shot to block him.
    3. Kalis gets shed, falling to the ground.

    Blame: 80% playcall, 20% OL.

    [After THE JUMP: just don't click through. I'm sorry I even did this.]


    This Week’s Obsession: Redshirt Oddsmakers

    This Week’s Obsession: Redshirt Oddsmakers Comment Count

    Seth August 21st, 2013 at 2:00 PM


    It’s redshirt roundtable time. Our recruits:

    • Brian Cook: 6’3/215, 5 stars, quarterback out of Michigan, rescues kittens
    • Seth Fisher: 6’1/235, 3.5 stars, FB/TE tweener from Michigan, runs three homeless shelters
    • Ace Anbender: 6’0/185, 4 stars, defensive back from Michigan, spends free time driving old ladies to church
    • Blue in South Bend: 5’11/202, 5 stars, running back from ???, spent 5 years in a foreign country (Indiana) teaching the natives how to sanitize their water
    • Heiko Yang: “5’9”/165, 4 stars, slot receiver from Ohio, committed early because he got tired of coaches calling and asking him to date their daughters.
    • Coach Brown: 6’4/260, 5 stars, strongside linebacker from South Carolina, holds record for most keys to cities
    • Mathlete: 5’10/180, 4 stars, cornerback from Kansas. Never around when Superman is; isn’t that so weird…?

    And the question:

    Time to guess which freshmen are redshirting this year--which will make to 2014 with freshman eligibility, and which won't but would if you were running the team.

    Brian: First, I would like to congratulate [Seth] on [being awesome]. But nevermind all that. To the redshirtmobile!


    One of the advantages of press credentials are all the free Batmobile golf carts. This is what we did with ours.

    [After the jump: answers and answers in chart form]


    Always The Same Mistake

    Always The Same Mistake Comment Count

    Brian February 4th, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    warning: internet/sports journalism/meta post. it's six on friday so no bitching.

    A life preserver belt on blue water. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

    via press coverage

    Way back in the mists of time when I'd just been fired from my engineering job for not doing much actual engineering I was wondering whether or not I actually wanted another one when Jamie Mottram emailed me. He asked if I'd be interested in being a "lead" for the college football section of this Fanhouse thing he'd convinced AOL to start*. I said yes and my career as a pants-optional blogger started.

    A couple years later, Mottram was at Yahoo and I was on the phone with a guy who seemed to put "-ize" at the end of every verb trying to convince him that Adam Jacobi was a key asset even if he kept posting conversations with Joe Paterno in which he decried DIRTY IRISHMEN. This was the middle of the end, and a couple months later I was out, too.

    By that point I didn't much care. I'd stopped posting much because headlines like "God Not A Big Fan Of Sam Maresh, Says Sam Maresh" were getting converted into things like "Sam Maresh Has Further Health Problems." The thing I owned was making sufficient money that I didn't have to put up with aggravation for ten bucks a post.

    When I latched on with Sporting News a couple months later it was mostly so I could tell people I wrote for Company You've Heard Of X when that was convenient or lent credibility, and when that got shipped over to SB Nation I cut my workload there down to a couple things I do weekly. The business story of the blog is gradually in-sourcing all of the writing I do, even if it's about the World Cup.

    "We're Not Bleacher Report"

    Elsewhere, not so much. When AOL decided to blow Fanhouse up and give the Sporting News the brand for five million a year, I wasn't surprised. Ben Koo made a case that it was a stupid move, but we are talking about a company that's had a half-dozen people run Fanhouse in under five years, let Mottram walk out the door, immediately undermined his replacement with HAWT TITS, reversed course on that after 90 seconds, and then did another 180 to hire Jay Mariotti. It's not a surprise AOL has changed course wildly, hoping that doing the exact opposite of their last stupid idea will be the opposite of stupid.

    What is something of a surprise is the naiveté shown by some of the outgoing. Dave Kindred interviewed a few of them for IU's National Sports Journalism Center and it's like they've never been part of an aging relic with a declining legacy business before:

    "In December," Lisa Olson said, "we were told how great we were doing." Once a columnist at the New York Daily News, Olson remembered The National strutting on stage in 1990, a national sports newspaper hiring good people from everywhere. She thought of FanHouse that way, a gathering of veterans on a journalistic adventure. "We were all experienced and qualified, not some 25-year-old bloggers," she said. "The motto was, ‘Go, go, go. Grow, grow, grow.' And we did. Then, this. It's devastating."

    This one in particular even referenced "The National," which lasted all of 18 months. Another complains "we had no idea this was coming," etc. More than one takes shots at bloggers. There's the one above, and then there's the EIC who ended up axing me** stating that when they arrived Fanhouse was nothing more than "a quirky blog."

    The theme running through the piece all the way up to Kindred, who titles it "Waiting for the day readers march in and demand an end to the dreck," is journalists bemoaning the fact that their quality isn't recognized as they die by the thousands and Bleacher Report is getting eight-digit funding rounds. Kindred uses the recent press conference in which Jim Boeheim slammed the reporter who asked a question about point-shaving because the internet's been talking about it as a leaping-off point. You'd think they'd know by now.

    You Are Bleacher Report

    So… the column and those quoted in it are rife with misconceptions that speak to why AOL abandoned ship and why newspapers will slowly bleed readership until internet natives are at the helm in 20 years, at which point they'll just be another voice in the clamor.

    They are:

    Believing Bleacher Report is in the content business. Bleacher Report is not a content company any more than Demand or Associated Media. It is an SEO/marketing company that runs garbage through filters until it comes out with google/newsletter gold. The way they do this is clever, but their success—likely overstated anyway—has nothing to do with the success or failure of people who write for a living.

    Believing Fanhouse content was functionally different than Bleacher Report's content. I only subscribed to the college football bit in my RSS reader, but it was a progression of boring AP-style articles, Clay Travis columns, the leftover guys who got in the door under Mottram who were cheap and non-controversial, and Brett McMurphy breaking stories about USF. Meanwhile the larger site had Marriotti.

    You know what Mariotti and Travis are? They're trolls. They write controversial things they don't believe for attention. How much of the vaunted 50% non-AOL traffic—the same figure we were told, BTW—was either SEO or people stopping by to tell the various trolls why their stupid arguments were stupid? Mariotti is just a Bleacher Report writer with an editor, and he's the star attraction. This is not hyperbole.

    A personal example from my time there: slideshows were pushed ever harder until people started editing posts to stick in random slideshows, hopefully vaguely sexy slideshows, whenever your post could be tangentially connected to one. Slideshows, man.

    Fanhouse journalists complaining about how their quality is not appreciated aren't quite right. Anyone who reads above a third grade level can tell there's a vast gulf between it and BR, but when that gulf spans the gap between "offensive to the English language" and "newspaper stuff mostly about things I don't care about" it doesn't matter. Instead of widely loathed you're ignored unless you're breaking news, which is ephemeral.

    It's no secret that I hate Deadspin. At least, I hate its bottom 20% and don't care about its middle 70%. But even though I don't read it much I still remember a dozen thingsgreat things—it's published in the past year. If there's anyone who understands making it in internet media it's Nick Denton, and he's decided on lots of dongs and lots of outstanding, smart, highbrow content that people will post on their Facebook wall. Minus the dongs, I try to do the same thing for my niche. That's quality that separates you from BR, not spelling "lose" correctly.

    Believing a site that gathers metrics similar to Bleacher Report is long for this world. You can't out-troll Anonymous.


    I'd love to know what Fanhouse's direct hit numbers were. Nobody went to Fanhouse from a bookmark. Fifty percent of this site's hits have no referrer; Fanhouse was probably under 10%. Again, that's Bleacher Report except BR has a legion of halfwits voting and commenting on each other's posts to get more RadPoints*** . And if you're like Bleacher Report except you're paying people—giving people benefits—you lose. How many BR halfwits can you vaguely curate for one Jay Mariotti salary? Thousands, and their content is no different except for the platform. Once that platform enjoys content-sharing deals with, oh, say, the Washington Post, the guy with the benefits is screwed.


    Bleacher Report's secret is that it's awesome at being terrible. It hammers that dong demographic. Here I try to be really specifically awesome for a niche. Deadspin has it both ways. Fanhouse was just okay at the dong demo, okay at the boring stuff, and there wasn't one thing in the history of that site anyone would remember two days after they read it. That's the same mistake they always make.

    When Mottram left for Yahoo he corrected the mistake he made with Fanhouse by creating a suite of independent single-source blogs that are run by a guy. You can tell because each of them comes with a picture.


    Not all posts are by these guys, but they own the blog in a way no one owned Fanhouse. Each is "quirky" to some extent. The soccer one has regular posts in which an obscure Polish goalkeeper rants about corn and his neighbor and the week's events. Doctor Saturday annually embarks on a defense of the recruiting-industrial complex. Each one is a central part of its sports blogosphere, written extraordinarily well by people who may have worked in newspapers but didn't live them. Most of the contributors are just people who write well. They haven't been blown up, and Mottram ascended the ladder at Yahoo to do the same across the company.

    I don't know what to do about the fading ability of people to pay responsible news-reporting types. Fanhouse was run by incompetents and destined to implode anyway. But I might miss it if it wasn't so goddamn boring.

    *[I imagine him crashing through the window of a conference room holding dozens of high-level executives on a chandelier, sword in hand, rose in teeth.]

    **[Not that he should have kept me and my two posts a week output.]

    ***[mwa ha ha. Seriously, though, points here are for troll control and have only incidentally grown into an e-peen contest.]


    What If There Was A Committee?

    What If There Was A Committee? Comment Count

    Brian March 23rd, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Insanely too long, but I fell down the rabbit hole on this one.

    There is an annual complaint against the Pairwise when Team X is passed over in favor of considerably less deserving team Y. This is an exercise in pointlessness, but I was curious as to what a tournament that's selected by eyeballing it would look like. Let's pretend I'm the committee and put 16 teams together.


    Boston College, North Dakota, Cornell, Michigan, Alabama-Huntsville, and RIT.


    Denver and Miami have the top two records in the country against the #8 and #14 schedules. Wisconsin and St. Cloud are 3 and 6 in RPI and have top ten records against top ten schedules.


    TEAM Record RPI TUC Record Rank SOS Conference finish Conference tourney
    Bemidji State 23-9-4 0.543 6-2-1 6 34 1st CHA Third place tie
    Yale 20-9-3 0.537 4-1-2 8 40 1st ECAC First round
    NMU 20-12-8 0.535 11-8-5 13T 19 4th CCHA Runner-up
    Ferris State 21-13-8 0.533 6-10-3 13T 30 3rd CCHA Fourth place
    Minnesota-Duluth 22-17-1 0.533 11-14-5 18 9 4th WCHA Fifth place
    UNH 17-13-7 0.533 7-10-6 19 12 1st HE First round
    Alaska 18-11-9 0.530 6-7-6 16 26 5th CCHA Round of eight
    Vermont 17-14-7 0.526 9-9-5 21 13 8th HE Semi-final
    Michigan State 19-13-6 0.525 8-10-2 17 27 2nd CCHA Round of eight
    Colorado College 19-17-3 0.524 8-14-3 25T 7 6th WCHA First round
    Union 21-12-6 0.523 2-4-3 11 39 3rd ECAC Second place
    Minnesota 18-19-2 0.519 9-17-2 34 2 7th WCHA First round

    Those are the next ten teams in the RPI, the shiniest record remaining after that, and the team KRACH says should be in the tourney that isn't anywhere near these teams in RPI.

    Of the above teams the first one off the board is Northern Michigan. The Wildcats have the best TUC record by far of any team with a significant number of games played, a strong RPI, and the best combination of record and schedule strength. NMU is 7-2-5 against this cohort.

    Bemidji State is next with their excellent RPI and 7-5-2 record against a 14-game slate of WCHA and CCHA opponents that included a three-point weekend against Northern, a sweep of UMD, and a win over Miami.

    And we will take Yale as a 20-9-3 ECAC champ even if KRACH thinks they are worse than eight WCHA teams.


    Now we get down to the tough decisions. Three spots left for eight teams. They come in three sets:

    • High RPI: Ferris State, UMD, UNH.
    • Low RPI: Vermont, Michigan State, CC, Union, Minnesota
    • Straddling: Alaska

    Minnesota is mostly included to show how broken KRACH is as a real world selection device. In its world, an under .500 WCHA team that finished seventh in its conference, went 5-3 OOC and has a horrible TUC record would be a three seed. There is an NCAA rule prohibiting teams under .500 from getting at-large bids after Wisconsin pulled that trick off a couple years ago. They're dropped.

    Next, we shoot down Michigan State. There are two CCHA teams with big RPI advantages on them. Both have better records against basically equivalent schedules. Taking them would mean taking the other two CCHA teams and having six in the tourney, something that can't be justified given the relative nonconference results.

    We also shoot down CC, which didn't do anything in the nonconference or playoffs to disprove the idea it's a below average WCHA team. CC's nonconference consisted of a split against Northeastern, the ninth place team in HE, a win against Cornell, a loss against Maine, and four games against an assortment of AH and CHA teams. KRACH, of course, has them ninth nationally because they're almost .500 in the WCHA.

    Union is the next to die with their ugly SOS and nonexistent TUC categories. That's something that can be overlooked when you have a nice RPI, but there's no reason to look at Union's schedule and think they're somehow underrated.

    The Real Bubble

    TEAM Record RPI TUC Record Rank SOS Conference finish Conference tourney
    Ferris State 21-13-8 0.533 6-10-3 13T 30 3rd CCHA Fourth place
    Minnesota-Duluth 22-17-1 0.533 11-14-5 18 9 4th WCHA Fifth place
    UNH 17-13-7 0.533 7-10-6 19 12 1st HE First round
    Alaska 18-11-9 0.530 6-7-6 16 26 5th CCHA Round of eight
    Vermont 17-14-7 0.526 9-9-5 21 13 8th HE Semi-final

    The only low RPI team we can't dismiss is Vermont, which went 3-3 in six games against RPI #2 Denver and #4 Boston College. They also beat Yale and UMD in single games and went 2-3-1 against UNH. Their TUC record is the most impressive of any team not already selected. They finished eighth(!) in Hockey East, yes, but they were three points from third. Going 6-1 in the nonconference and beating league champ UNH in the first round of the playoffs means they're worth a look.

    Ferris has the best record of any remaining team other than ECAC foe Union but they have an ugly TUC record that's made uglier by the details: four of Ferris's six wins are against UNO, the #21 team according to RPI. The others are wins against Michigan and Michigan State.

    New Hampshire… same boat, but they are 3-2-1 against Vermont for whatever that's worth.

    Alaska swept Ferris, split a trio with Michigan, and tied three of six against Northern. 

    UMD is in a similar boat: eight of their eleven TUC wins are against #18 CC (who they played an improbable seven times) and #22 Minnesota. However, Duluth has a better record, RPI, and SOS than UNH and Vermont. They have slightly worse records by a much higher SOS than either of the CCHA teams. Minnesota-Duluth is in.

    We have to kill two of these teams. I don't know. Maybe goal differential?

    1. Ferris State: +0.65
    2. Alaska: +0.45
    3. New Hampshire: +0.21
    4. Vermont: +0.05

    That does not help at all. This is why they went with the Pairwise. Okay. You cannot possibly put Vermont in the tournament over UNH when UNH has a better record, RPI, SOS, conference finish, and beat Vermont head to head. And I don't think you can leave out UNH without a good reason when they proved themselves vastly superior to all HE teams not named Boston College. So New Hampshire's in. Then you have three teams.

    TEAM A has the best record and RPI but weakest schedule.

    TEAM B swept team A but has a meaningfully worse record and a worse league and conference finish.

    TEAM C beat more really good teams than the other two but lost to more bad teams and finished in eighth place in its conference.

    I… I guess I'm going with Ferris State and validating all the complaints. But it's not like this is obvious.


    Working backwards since those should be the easiest:

    16. UAH
    15. RIT

    Small conference autobids for teams with bad metrics.

    14. Ferris State
    13. New Hampshire
    12. Minnesota-Duluth

    Last three in.

    11. Michigan

    Michigan gets ahead of UMD and Ferris by virtue of common opponents. The other metrics are so close as to be nearly indistinguishable, but Michigan has a major edge in COP against a conference opponent in Ferris and a 10-2 to 8-6 advantage against UMD. The comparison with UNH is basically a push in all categories, so Michigan gets the edge for the strong late-season run.

    10. Yale
    9. Bemidji State

    I guess this is where strong records against weak competition go.

    8. Northern Michigan

    Clearly the best of the bubble-ish teams.

    7. Cornell
    6. St. Cloud State

    They've separated themselves from the below; it's a coinflip as to which is 6 and which is 7.

    5. Boston College
    4. North Dakota
    3. Wisconsin

    Three teams for two one-seeds. Wisconsin has a major edge in comparisons against BC; North Dakota narrowly loses TUC but actually has a much more impressive record since they played 15 games against RPI top ten opponents (and another five against #12) to BC's one. The COP category is BC's mostly because North Dakota went 1-4 against Denver. Since RPI is basically equivalent, I give the nod to North Dakota's SOS.

    2. Denver
    1. Miami

    These are the obvious top two teams in the tournament. Picking between them is not a big deal since the last two teams are by far the least impressive and both should go meekly. Miami does have all three points in the PWR comparison so we'll go with them.


    That sets us up with one intra-conference matchup in the first round: Cornell versus Yale. We'll swap Yale and BSU.

    Fort Wayne

    1. Miami vs 16. UAH
    8. Northern Michigan vs 9. Yale


    2. Denver vs. 15. RIT
    7. Cornell vs. 10. Bemidji State

    St. Paul

    3. Wisconsin vs. 14 Ferris State
    6. St. Cloud State vs. 11. Michigan


    4. North Dakota vs 13. UNH
    5. Boston College vs. 12. Minnesota-Duluth

    Attendance will be shaky in Fort Wayne, but there's no way to swap Michigan in since Northern is holding down the 8 seed unless you want to swap the entire matchup. If Northern and St. Cloud had comparable metrics, I'd do it but there's a big enough gap that the bracket integrity is more important.


    Minnesota-Duluth probably should have been in easily, but was left out in favor of Vermont. If you put a gun to my head, I'd say Ferris is more deserving than Alaska. Apparently, in my Northern is slightly underseeded; other than that it's not much different, at least not this year.

    If I was the king of college hockey I'd have the committee hand select the last couple at large bids but then use the Pairwise for seeding.


    Answering Joe Posnanski On Playoffs

    Answering Joe Posnanski On Playoffs Comment Count

    Brian January 8th, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    College football has either concluded its regular season or concluded its bowl season or announced matchups or failed to exist for eight months out of the year so it's time for another go-around about whether a playoff is a good idea or not. There are a thousand arguments too dumb to warrant a response—see the head of the BCS's post defending the system he's paid to defend. "Every game counts," he says, which is true as long as you're not Boise State or Cincinnati or TCU or Auburn in 2004 or LSU a couple years ago or… you get the idea.

    Those advanced by Joe Posnanski are not among them, however. one playoff proponent's answers to a third party's skepticism follow.

    Many of these answers are rehashes of the my previous thoughts on the matter, but that post is aged and I've learned that most of the people reading are relatively new. Forgive me, old-timers.

    The Primary Challenge

    So, I’ll open up this forum to you, the brilliant readers. But this is no place for screeching. This is your challenge: Tell me WHY there should be a playoff. I don’t want to hear why the current system fails. I don’t want to see your brackets — we have become a bracket nation, everyone can do brackets.

    Let's go back to first principles. What is the point of a playoff? Most soccer leagues across the globe play a balanced schedule and eschew the playoffs entirely. The season determines the champion. To them, the American way of doing things is stupid. And when you've set up your league such that everyone plays everyone else home and away, it is. Around here, however, there are very big leagues where balanced schedules are impossible and at the end of the regular season you're not quite sure who the best team is. So it makes sense to have the teams that you think might be the best team play each other.

    And then there is "off."

    Playoffs are assets when both of the following criteria are met:

    1. The regular season is insufficient to determine a best team.
    2. The winner of the playoff can reasonably claim to be the best team.

    If you don't have #1, then the only thing you can do with a playoff is hand the trophy to the wrong team. If you don't have #2, your playoff is too large and can be counterproductive.

    The problem is that how well your league meets these criteria changes every year. Sometimes the top 12 teams in the NFL are all relatively even. Sometimes you could skip right to a conference championship game or a Super Bowl. You can either have your championship structure oscillate wildly on a year-to-year basis or live with some years where your structure is a little broken.

    Sometimes playoffs are lame, like when the Cardinals on the World Series or any number of years when one particular NBA team was obviously dominant. Other times—almost every NFL season, literally every college basketball season—a playoff is the only reasonable way to distinguish between a set of nearly identical teams. Every playoff will have hits and misses. The important thing is to maximize the hits and minmize the misses.

    Baseball misses a lot.  It's a statistical fact borne out by (relatively) recent history that throwing eight baseball teams in a playoff blender is tantamount to playing plinko with your championship trophy. Elsewhere, an under .500 MLS team won it all* this year. On the other hand, March Madness almost never misses. Might not ever, actually. That's why there was outcry when baseball added teams. It was a dumb money-grab that compromised #2. And that's why there was an outcry when the NCAA floated expanding the basketball tournament.

    Here's the thing about college football: #1 above is almost always true. There has been one season in the history of the BCS in which it was not (2005). It is more true than it is for any other American sport. Teams play twelve games, eight or nine of which are against an tiny interlocked subsection of of available teams. Two or three are against I-AA teams or total tomato cans. Maybe one or two are games between conferences. By the end of the year you have a variety of teams with virtually no common opponents, wildly varying (and largely unknown) strengths of schedule, and identical, or close to identical, records.

    You have a good idea who the best teams in each conference are, but you have almost no idea how the conferences are relative to each other. Before the bowl games, the Big Ten played this many games against the SEC: zero. They played one against the ACC (Virginia housed Indiana). They played four against the Big East, three of which were against Syracuse, two against the Big 12, and four against the Pac-10. Intersectional information hardly exists. As a result, half the time you pick a BCS title game it's an ugly, uncompetitive blowout. This is because college football is the sport with the least information and smallest playoff field.

    As far as #2 goes, the short season, large number of available teams, and numerous cupcakes work in favor of a playoff. It would be impossible for a 9-7 Arizona Cardinals team to get to a championship game. The equivalent of Real Salt Lake—this year's sub-.500 MLS champs—or your 80-some-win world champion St. Louis Cardinals would be in a December bowl game. No matter how you construct a playoff field for college football, the winner of that playoff will be coming off of three (or possibly four) consecutive wins against elite competition. The rest of that elite competition will have lost. In college football, the winner of the playoff has the best resume by default.

    College football meets criteria #1 over 90% of the time and criteria 2 100% of the time. That's why a playoff is a good idea.

    *(Sort of. MLS does award a regular-season trophy that may be more important to soccer fans than the President's Trophy—more of a laughable curse than something to achieve—is to hockey fans.)

    Questions du Posnanski

    Joe has a lot of logistical issues to be worked out. Let's do so:

    1. Are you willing to tell unpaid college football players they now have to play an extra three or four games for free and for our amusement? Are you willing to tell NFL prospects that for the same price of education they have to put their knees and brains and shoulders at greater risk so that we can feel better about our champion? Or will some of the money go to the players? And are you willing to get into that mess?

    Yes, I am willing to get into the mess of paying players, whether it's directly or (far more likely) by providing post-eligibility scholarships so more of them can actually get useful degrees once the dream of playing pro ball has passed.

    For what it's worth, when ESPN surveyed 85 players in August, 75% of them wanted a playoff. Most of them look at it as an opportunity, not a burden, I'm guessing.

    2. Would a playoff more definitively give us the best team in the country? Has the wildcard given us more legitimate World Series and Super Bowl champions?

    This was discussed above, and the answer is yes. College football's structure means that every champion of a hypothetical playoff is satisfying. Especially if it has home games and byes, as my pet plan does.

    3. Montana is one of the true powers in Division I-AA (I guess they call it the Football Subdivision now or something). Missoula has one of the great football experiences — the Grizzlies sold out every game during the season. Every one. OK, so Montana went to the Division I-AA championship game — which meant Montana had three home playoff games.

    Not one of those playoff games sold out. Not one.

    But even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Montana was the only school to draw more than 13,000 people to a playoff game. The Villanova-William & Mary semifinal drew 4,171 people (in a 12,500 seat stadium). So, you tell me: Why do you believe that a college football playoff would draw big crowds? I mean, it might the first year, and the second, and for a while after that. But after the novelty wears off, what makes you think that people at Alabama and Florida and Texas and USC and Ohio State and Penn State and all these places have the money and time and interest in going to two or three more games every year.

    And those people who think these games should be played at neutral sites — how many people do you think are going to travel to THOSE games?

    No offense, but that's like trying to argue against the NBA playoffs because the D-league doesn't sell out. A home playoff game in college football would be an incredibly tough ticket. I'm with him that multiple neutral site matchups are a bad idea, but just because bad playoff systems exist does not mean they have to be adopted.

    (I'm pretty sure on review that Joe will find this objection silly, right?)

    4. Who would a playoff be for? The college presidents absolutely do not want it. You might disagree with them, but they don’t have any interest in making the seasons even longer and more demanding and more disruptive for their students. The athletic directors and coaches are split — some probably want it for more money or potential glory, but I would bet that most are against it because it just adds strain and pressure to the must-win atmosphere. How about the players? You think they want to make their seasons longer and more demanding? Plus, from what I can tell, those guys LIKE the bowls. They get to spend a week in place, get treated like kings. Why not?

    So it would be for the fans. But what fans? Most school-specific fans in college football probably like it just the way it is. Iowa State fans seem to enjoy going to their bowl game every year. A playoff would not affect them … unless the playoff eliminated bowls like it could. That’s how it would be almost every year for 80 or 90 of the 120 or so schools. So it seems to me it would be more for the GENERAL college football fan who likes to watch games on TV. Is that who this is all for?

    As noted above, the players want a playoff. And a playoff would no more end the bowl system than the NCAA tournament ended the NIT. Iowa State fans could enjoy their Insight Bowl all the same.

    Take it from a guy who spends much of his life reading and reacting to hard-core school specific (how many college football fans aren't school specific? 5%?) college football fans: almost all of them hate the BCS. Pick a number, any number: 90% "disapprove" of the thing, or 63 percent hate and 26 percent support it. Literally every survey that's ever asked about the BCS has come back with huge negative numbers no matter the questioned population.

    5. College football is more popular now than it has ever been. There are big games throughout the season — huge, playoff-atmosphere type games. People point to March Madness as a reason for football to go to a playoff, and March Madness is special. But it is also true that the college basketball season is pretty close to meaningless. Texas played North Carolina earlier this year in what seemed like a BIG GAME. But it meant nothing, and nobody cared, and Texas and North Carolina will both be in the tournament with high seeds so … big deal.

    I’m not suggesting, as some do, that a playoff would make Ohio State coaches rest players against Michigan like they do in the NFL. But it certainly could make Ohio State-Michigan mean a lot less … and also Georgia-Auburn, Alabama-Tennessee, Penn State-Iowa, USC-Notre Dame, Texas-Oklahoma, Kansas-Missouri, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Washington-UCLA, Kansas State-Nebraska and on and on and on and on and on. Is that worth the price of a playoff?

    First: football is more popular now than it's ever been. The NFL grows every year as fast or faster than college football. Playoff or no, it's football that's surging.

    Second: This is a completely subjective argument that's hard to refute because of that. But let me just say that the idea that a college football playoff would have any impact on the Egg Bowl or most of the other games on that list is preposterous. Meanwhile, saying Texas and North Carolina "meant nothing and nobody cared" is over the top. It drew 3 million viewers.

    The primary thing that makes college football so intense is its scarcity. College basketball teams play three times as many games. Every other sport except the NFL more than doubles those numbers, and even NFL teams get two cracks a year at their division rivals. In college football you play once per year, or less frequently than that, even, and as a result serious college football fans can tell you all about the high and low points of any particular series off the top of their heads. I can say "Mario Manningham" and cause hundreds of Penn State fans to spontaneously throw up. That scarcity is the thing that drives the feelings of horror and joy in the big rivalry games, not some crazy aspiration to make the BCS title game. Exactly two of the games above had any impact on that game. In fact, wouldn't the Michigan-Ohio State game meant more if Ohio State was still battling for a shot in a playoff game?

    It's inescapable that a playoff would reduce the intensity of certain games, like this year's SEC championship game. But what it takes away it also provides by giving a dozen more teams aspirations at the end of the season. And a properly constructed playoff with byes and home games could inject much of the lost drama back into the games between teams assured of making the tournament. If Alabama and Florida were playing to avoid a first-round game in Columbus, that would be a prize (other than, you know, the conference championship) worth fighting for.

    6. How many teams would a playoff need to be “fair.” I know it’s easy to say that if you take 16 teams, who cares about the 17th? But does anyone really believe that the 16th best team in the country — this year, that would be 8-5 Oregon State — deserves to play for the national title?

    OK, so you make it eight teams. Well, there are 11 conferences and Notre Dame so now you are leaving out conference champs which I thought was the point, to give everyone a chance.

    So, you make it four teams — a little three game tournament at the end of the year. That’s OK — like a plus-one game — but there were five undefeated teams this year, and a Florida team that we now know was about about 12 touchdowns better than one of those undefeated teams. How do you fairly choose? And, larger point, how does this add more legitimacy to the system than just taking the two who seem to have had the best season?

    The perfect is the enemy of the good. As discussed above, unless you want to change your playoff system every year it cannot be utterly fair. The real question is "can we construct a system that is more fair than the current one?" Since a tougher question is "can you manage to construct a more ridiculous system?" I submit that a playoff is probably a good idea.

    I don't think the #16 team in the country deserves to be in a playoff but I also don't think that managing to construct a playoff that is a bad idea means that all playoffs are bad ideas. The point is not to "give everyone a chance." It's to construct a fairer, more satisfying system. I'm fine leaving Troy and Central Michigan and Oregon and Ohio State out.

    You fairly choose by picking the teams that have assembled the most impressive resumes to date—the ones who "seem to have had the best season," as suggested. This adds more legitimacy to the season by making the winner of the playoff play a selection of elite competition that includes, say, a 13-0 team that shut out the Pac-10 champ and a 12-0 team that had more wins over top 20 teams than Texas.

    No system can be perfectly fair. But even generic eight-team playoffs are self-evidently more fair and satisfying than the current mess.

    Here is where the recap of my ideal system goes:

    A six team playoff with no automatic bids chosen by a committee similar to the March Madness committee. Byes for the top two. Home games in the first two rounds, with the first round a week after the conference championship games and the second on or slightly after January 1st. The final is at the Rose Bowl a week later.

    The byes and home games simultaneously make the regular season more important—finishing 1 or 2 is a major leg up—and give the teams at the back end more legitimate should they win since they slogged through extra opponents and road games. The number of teams includes all legitimate claimaints to #1 without allowing mediocrities like this year's Oregon State in. Leaving out autobids sidesteps uncomfortable questions about Notre Dame and the Sun Belt.

    If anyone can give a single reason that would be worse than what we've got now, I'm listening.