Any Way The Wind Blows: Playoffs

Submitted by Brian on May 3rd, 2012 at 10:25 AM

An apparently continuing series on Dave Brandon's remarkably malleable opinions.

Dave Brandon, January 16th($):

"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff. You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."

Dave Brandon, May 3rd:

"I'm not opposed to 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3, plus-one concept," Brandon said. "I don't see it as a true playoff system. It's a clever way to come up with one more football game. I'm not sure I call that a playoff, but if it makes everybody feel better, call it a playoff."

Mmmm, bendy. Dave Brandon's line between playoff and not playoff is 5.87 teams, no fewer, no more.


Bando Calrissian

May 3rd, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

I look at it this way:  Current system, teams 3-4 are bitching about their shot at the title.  4-team playoff, teams 5-6 will bitch about their shot at the title.  8 team playoff, same with teams 9-10. 16 team playoff, teams 17-20.  

The bitching will never stop.  Fanbases will always think their team should have had a chance.  At the end of the day, every system is imperfect.  There is no magic loogie.  It's time we stop acting like there is.

Section 1

May 3rd, 2012 at 11:42 AM ^

Now I don't dislike Dave Brandon; but how anyone can read those two statements from him and not howl at the essential reversal of his position is beyond me.  From, "The whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous," to "I'm not opposed to [it]." 

Okay:  It is something ridiculous, that he is not opposed to.

It is just too bad that Brandon won't supply the honest answer, which might be something like, "Oh, there is so much cool stuff being negotiated, with how this would work; it's all happened in the last couple of weeks; and I think that maybe we as conferences and major power football schools are going to take back a lot of influence and financial power away from the bowls and the broadcast networks.  It has really turned me around.  But I can't say anything to you about it..."


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:48 AM ^

It seems like positioning to back the Big Ten to be a player with the threat that "we really don't want this that much anyway."

But you selectively pick out quotes to say how obvious is, and it could be done a lot of ways-


This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff

I don't see it as a true playoff system. It's a clever way to come up with one more football game.

I don't know if that's any more accurate, or a fair display of his feelings either...but picking and choosing which parts you want to take out of it to make it contradictory isn't any better.

Section 1

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

Let's suppose the new system is implemented for 2015.  And Michigan gets into the final four for that year.  Do you suppose that Brandon will then refer to the postseason prospects as "Not a true playoff system... it is ridiculous, and unfair... honestly it was really just another way to come up with one more football game..." ?

No; he will say, Michigan is pleased to be part of the historic inaugural FBS National Championship Playoff.


May 3rd, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

I don't want a playoff, but I certainly hope that Michigan is in the playoff every year if there is one.  Being somewhat absurdly crowned the national champion is better than watching while some other team is somewhat absurdly crowned the national champion. 


May 3rd, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

Let me help you here: 


No; he will say, Michigan is pleased to be part of the historic inaugural FBS National Championship Playoff brought to you by Tostito's, Charmin, Arby's, PNC National Bank, ESPN on ABC, and Goldman Sachs. 



May 3rd, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

The correct reading of the two statements is something more like "[1] A true playoff is not possible without a complete reorganization of NCAA football, including a drastic reduction in the scope of Division I. [2] I'm not opposed to expanding the current system from two teams to four. It's not a true playoff, but it's marginally better than the status quo."


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:49 AM ^

While I agree that "the bitching will never stop," I disagree that the bitching carries the same merit as you add more and more teams. In most years, teams 3 and 4 usually have a decent claim that they could be the best team in the country. As you add more teams, like 5 and 6, 7 and 8, etc., these claims have less merit. Does the 9th highest ranked team really have much evidence to "bitch" that it is the best team in the country? I understand that it could be, but the argument that you could add teams to infinity and still have teams "on the bubble" complaining, doesn't mean that we have to continue to care that they are complaining.


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:31 AM ^

Was a plan like Brian's considered? I haven't seen other public discusion of a six-team playoff. Not that it would necessarily be the same thing. Just thought it interesting given it's the UofM AD throwing the number out.


May 3rd, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

My understanding of what I've read is that other formats were considered, but rejected in favor of the four-team format. Essentially the decision made last week was to adopt incremental change rather than trying to agree upon something more dramatic.

I think there will be another round of major-conference expansion after this is in place, and then probably another incremental step in the format after the dust settles from that, maybe to 6, but more likely to 8 (television will want two more games instead of two byes).


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:36 AM ^

I would find Brandon much more deserving of criticism if he said he's always been fine with a four-team format, whether or not he calls it a playoff. To me, the "I create the truth" is more frustrating than the "I create the future" in Brandon, which is why I found his previous lie regarding his about-face on the timing of The Game to be far more worthy of discussion. Here, he has simply shifted his opinion without disowning his original stance, as if he can be reasoned with; I find this to be a postive trait.


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:41 AM ^

Brandon's statement about the playoff system not being fair because of the various differences between possible opponents doesn't make sense.  The UEFA Champions League does this exact thing every year and it seems to work out pretty well for all of Europe (meaning its a spectacular tournament, brings in incredible amounts of money, and spawned a second tier tournament of teams that finish in the 3rd-7th place range in their league). 

American football, while tremendous and my most favorite of all sports, could benefit from some outside counsel and ideas.


coastal blue

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:01 PM ^

This is the only way to come up with a "true national champion". Short of every team playing every team home and away or even once (impossible), treating the conferences like national leagues and a playoff like the continental champion is the next best thing. 

The best way to do this would have been twelve conferences of ten teams each, with the top 4 conferences either getting a bye or a second team into the playoff for a 12 or 16 team playoff. So winning the Big Ten would be like winning the EPL, while winning the NC would be like winning the Champions League. 

Each conference team would play each other once and three OOC games would be played to help determine rankings for seeding. 

Its unfortunate this will never happen as it would make both the regular and postseason incredibly exciting. 


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

This has to be one of the worst posts I have ever seen on Mgoblog.  Not only is Brandon essentially consistent between the two 'damning' quotes that you posted (even explicitly says 'i don't see it as a true playoff system'), but you completely left out the context of the situations, namely in the second one that a 4-team playoff is now being discussed, and he is asked to respond to it.

Seriously, huge huge fail with this post Brian.  You sound more like a rabid, unintelligent fan who is trying to string together an argument that fits your narrative at all costs.  We get it, you don't like Dave Brandon.  At least wait to pick a fight with him until there's actually something worth fighting about.




May 3rd, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

I'm not sure if Brandon's position has changed or not, but if it has, why is that bad?  Is he never allowed to change his mind? 


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:59 AM ^

I guess the difference is that Brandon would be changing his mind/opinion in a public setting.  I generally think its a sign of intelligence and humility to admit when you're wrong after learning more about the issue.  However, its harder to be sympathetic towards Brandon when he takes a hardline stance like he did in January in such a public way and later changes positions.  Maybe that is what Brian is thinking too.



May 3rd, 2012 at 12:14 PM ^

Oh sure, I was just thinking the same thing.  I was playing devil's advocate I guess I would say that, although this blog is also a public forum, Brian's statements hereon are much more private/personal than statements made by a public official in his official capacity.  That's the argument, anyway.


coastal blue

May 3rd, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

There's a difference between Brian saying "My opinion about Hoke was wrong and I admit it" because he didn't know the kind of coach Hoke was going to be and Dave Brandon's quote.

Brandon knew that a 4-team plus one of this variety was an option at the time. He says so in the quote. He opposed it as a ridiculous idea. Now he's saying he's on board with an idea that has not changed (A 4 team plus one in January is still a 4 team plus one in May) that he previously considered ridiculous.

It's not news, but you guys who are comparing this to Brian and Hoke are stretching it as much as Brian is by putting this tidbit on the front page and expecting people to be as annoyed as he is about a non-issue. 


coastal blue

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:15 PM ^

Right, but Brian freely admitted he was wrong across the board.

Brandon is just hedging to make it seem like he was never really that opposed, in fact its clever!, when in January he clearly thought it was a terrible idea (at least from the quote). 

Brandon doesn't seem like the type of guy who would admit to being wrong about anything. 

But you're right everyone is entitled to change their opinion. 



May 3rd, 2012 at 4:52 PM ^

with "The Process" that made it suboptimal (even if Hoke turns out to be the next Bo Schembechler-level idol at Michigan) is the resulting recruiting class that Hoke was forced with in 2011. While it wasn't the half-filled smoking crater it easily could have been, it was still the worst-ranked recruiting class Michigan has ever taken in the star era.

Had Hoke been something less than amazing in the first month, the class is probably unranked and players would have been more likely to transfer. OTOH if Brandon had known Hoke was going to succeed as much as he has so far, he could have hired Hoke sooner and allowed him to obtain an even better recruiting class in 2011. Thus, "The Process" was flawed, but only time will tell before it's known how "The Process" affected the 2011 recruiting class. 

snarling wolverine

May 3rd, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

I think this line of reasoning is overblown.  How many recruits did we lose during "the Process"?  Like two or three?  Getting the right coach is worth a lot more than that.  Regardless, given that the 2011 recruiting class ended in decent shape, it doesn't seem like something holding a grudge over.


May 4th, 2012 at 1:21 PM ^

Rich was fired on Wednesday, January 5th. Hoke was announced as coach Tuesday, January 4th. If those days cripple recruiting, I guess it's a complaint.  But what it really sounds  like in advocating for Rich to have been fired earlier. Which really would haven't had made anyone happy. Because you'd have the Rich factions, the Harbaugh and Miles ones, and everyone complaining that they didn't get a chance, weren't considered, etc. As it was he gave  Rich a bowl game and a two day exit interview to decide, found out Harbaugh was headed to the NFL, and at least reached out to Miles...for the job, an olive branch, or politics...but it made it a smoother transition.  If that cost the class being ranked 19th instead of 24th or something, it was probably worth it.


May 3rd, 2012 at 11:57 AM ^

College football teams from different conferences that play in different time zones in different stadiums before different crowds and in different weather conditions actually have a tournament to decide a national champion?    . .  


Yes, I know.  FBS schools can't have an extended playoff system because they've already got that 12th game and all those "money-making bowl games."  Right.

The person who devises the FBS tournament that's acceptable to the NCAA, the college presidents and athletic directors, the broadcasters, the bowls, the sponsors, the fans and (most importantly) the athletes might have the inside track at becoming Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year or a Nobel Prize winner.

Section 1

May 3rd, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

I've read every post in this thread and I still can't figure out why I'm supposed to be mad at Brandon.  

All that you should understand, is that things Brandon declares in January, can change 180 degrees by the time May rolls around.

In fact, not only are you not supposed to hate Brandon; you are supposed to love Brandon, because Brady Hoke's football team beat Ohio State.

coastal blue

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

No one is saying you're supposed to be mad.

It's just a post pointing out that DB is something of a politician that Brian thinks is a bigger deal than it really is. 

Seattle Maize

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

Brandon isn't exactly reversing his opinion, he's just accepting what is now becoming a forgone conclusion in a 4 team playoff.  I dont get why that is controversial enough to get written about here.  Actually, I don't really understand the hate towards Brandon in general as he is the man who brought us Hoke when it was unpopular to do so and despite some of his failings has been pretty good as an AD.  


May 3rd, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

I find myself ever more opposed to playoffs. I like the college football conference system. I love B10 football. I loved it back in the 60's and 70's when the pundits called us football dinosaurs and I love the game we play in this conference today. I'm whistful for the old days where every big ten team played 8 or ideally 9 conference games. It didn't always produce a clear champion, but it made more sense to me than the divisional system we have now. While I understand the desire of many to have "the best" (4/6/8/16) teams resolve a national championship on the field, I fear that within a couple decades that spells the end for our traditional football conferences. To some degree I share the desire for a playoff, but not at the expense of destroying the great conferences with all their traditions and history. If we lose the big ten eventually we'll lose "The Game" along with it. The pressure of the B1G Championship game is already threatening keeping "The Game" at the end of the regular season.

Someone wrote that the end of the Rose Bowl was certain the day the first BCS national championship game was played. It certainly looks like he will eventually be proved correct. 

As much as I chaffed over the "shared championship" in 1997, had I realized the future the BCS would bring us, I'd have gladly left the bowl system alone. 


May 3rd, 2012 at 4:16 PM ^

I hear what you're saying, but people need a champion crowned.  If no playoffs, then each conference is a separate syndicate with the winner of the conference running around claiming right to the title.  Think about the mob scene in Miami - you've got the Chicago boss walking around town like the king and the NYC boss doing the same thing.  Then the NJ boss comes into town and a trifecta is born.  The only way to solve it is a good, old fashioned, shootout.