Home Playoff Games: Dead

Submitted by Brian on May 17th, 2012 at 10:59 AM

rose-bowl

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!

Comments

MGoAero

May 17th, 2012 at 11:03 AM ^

" That or they just got outvoted and are trying to make it look good. "

Uhhh, yep.  There are lot of other conferences out there.  Not sure why we're surprised.

M-Wolverine

May 17th, 2012 at 12:43 PM ^

This isn't a democracy.  They need to come to something that makes everyone happy, or they don't have to participate. And then the thing goes back to having no legitimacy, just like pre-1998. I'm not saying that they can't compromise.  I just don't see ANYTHING the Big Ten is getting in return for giving up home field advantage, fan travel ability...heck, all the things Dan listed. If they were "well, we'll give up this, but you have to give us THIS" that would be one thing.  But they're just getting bent over and asking "thank you sir, may I have another?"  This isn't majority rule. Better to take your ball and go home than get completely screwed.

maizenbluenc

May 17th, 2012 at 4:01 PM ^

wants to opt out of the national championship system? (Too much money to be lost.)

Did you think the Bowl guys meeting down the street from the conference guys weren't going to plead amends, and wave big money to stay in the process? (Too much money to be lost.)

I think the Rose Bowl is the only bowl that hasn't completely sold its soul. And I think the B1G and Pac 12 have been suffering, and smarting about the loss of prestige since the BCS began. They have been sold that this is the golden opportunity to save it, with a lot of financial grease helping the way.

Personally, I would have liked home field advantage, but short of that, resuscitating the Rose Bowl from the bowl you hope you don't go to, because you would rather be playing in the BCS National Championship game (i.e., the also ran bowl), to the bowl you win home field advantage in by being the #1 or #2 selection (i.e., the resume of your regular season matters), and then the bowl you have to win to get to the National Championship game works great for me.

Who knows, maybe home field advantage was a bargaining chip to get something else out of the deal.

 

Erik_in_Dayton

May 17th, 2012 at 11:06 AM ^

We both went from having a nice night calmly watching the Devils-Rangers game to being really pissed off within a minute or so.  It's hard to imagine this ever making sense.  I think we'll look back on this ten years from now and say, "...and then there was that time the Big Ten shot itself in the face."  

MGoShoe

May 17th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

...(and I believe the one that is accurate) is that the B1G dropped home sites to get other conferences on board with something other than top 4 only (the SEC's preferred method). Witness the ACC commissioner coming out in favor of the Delaney option two days ago when before he had been in the top 4 crowd. 

It appears that what we're watching is the B1G and the PAC-12 vs. the SEC and whoever they can muster on their side battling to determine the process for determining how the 4 semifinalists are chosen and that decision has been given priority by Delaney (and the Presidents/ADs he represents).

See these quotes from a Sporting News article about the B1G meetings regarding B1G ADs and their take on how to choose semifinalists. Whether it's the Delaney plan or a committee, it's clear they want a system that tries to minimize the clear SEC bias in the polls and to reward strength of schedule.

As to how the four teams will be identified, Big Ten administrators seem to be strongly in favor of instituting two “new” factors: 1) restoring strength of schedule as an important component of the BCS ratings, and 2) employing a selection committee, which truly would be new.

“I personally believe that strength of schedule should be more important so that we don’t get to a world where we’re all being incentivized to come up with the weakest schedule we can because people in December forget who we played in September,” said Brandon, whose Wolverines have both Alabama and Notre Dame on their 2012 nonconference schedule.

“You may lose a game early in the season because you play a great football team, but I don’t know that that should be such a big penalty vs. a team that schedules high schools in September to run up its record.”

ScruffyTheJanitor

May 17th, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

Is a really good point-- I know, because I thought something similar!

Just a question for the rest of you: is there anyway that the bowl system doesn't give off the appearance that AD's are recieving huge kickbacks? This whole system makes so little sense I expect a press release to come out that is the following: "LOL JK were doin the playoffs". 

Here's my idea:

1: Narrow everything down to 8 conferences (B1G, SEC, PAC12, Big East, ACC, MAC, WAC, ConfUSA)

2: Top two teams get in from first five conferences; 3 from the other three conferences plus 3 at large bids.

3: Play a 10 game schedule; something like 9 conference games plus one out of conference. No more 1-AA games, all Division 1 schools. 

4: one sixteen teams playoff, with the 16 teams mentioned above getting in. First three rounds are played on campuses, with each team getting at least one home game. Smaller schools-- or even their conferences--name a local "neutral" site that has to seat at least 60-70,000. For instance, Mac Schools could all play in Detroit, Indy, or Cleveland. ConfUSA teams could play in St. Louis, Cincinatti, Nashville.  Northwestern could play in Soldier Field. 

5: Tier two schools (Ostesnibly, teams 17-32) Get into bowl games. That's it.  Everyone else stays home. 

MSHOT92

May 17th, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

it amazes me how DII, DIII, AND high school football players can balance athletics and academics for a 14 or more game schedule to win an outright championship, yet DI cannot? and as mentioned take control. 8 conferences or too bad...you want to be independent, fine, no NC shot for you, NEXT.

This thing can be shaped any number of ways, pretty clear money is the root of all of this and those powers that rule, are resistant to change and money, contracts, tradition are holding them back...funny, I'm pretty sure they've all undergone a LOT of change in the last 20 years, including the BIG/PAC deal in the Rose Bowl...and time keeps moving and teams keep playing, you would have to believe they are making more money now than ever...so change couldn't have been THAT bad right?

Needs

May 17th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

I think what the presidents are concerned about with potential on campus mid december playoff games is not primarily the disruption to the academic life of student-athletes during finals, but disruption to the academic life of their campuses during finals. They don't want the retinue of TV, tailgaters, pregaming to disrupt general campus life at that moment. 

stephenrjking

May 17th, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

That's a possibility, and if it's true, it's a pretty good move. Despite pundits like Joe Schad whining about it, the problem with simply taking the top 4 is that you are seriously open to conference bias, and right now the bias suggests that the SEC has two of the best four teams every year regardless of whether or not that is actually true. If the B1G took this option instead of home sites that's not an unreasonable trade-off.

And it means that regular season conference games are huge. That Bama-LSU game last November wound up being irrelevant, but under a champs-only rule it won't be anymore. The Michigan-OSU game in '06 wouldn't have changed in importance at all. And Boise's incredible game against Nevada two years ago? Still gigantic.

And this will help absolve the new playoff of potential anti-trust issues by making it more likely that a team from a smaller conference has a chance to play in a major game. If good Boise teams (for example) were consistently passed over by vote-biased non-championship teams from Georgia or Auburn on a regular basis there could be whispers of lawsuits again. Yuck.

DoubleB

May 17th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

"the bias suggests that the SEC has two of the best four teams every year regardless of whether or not that is actually true."

So Alabama WASN'T a top 4 team last year? Regardless of whether you think they should have played in the national title game, it's pretty clear they were a top 4 team. Also, when you win 6 national championships in a row, you tend to get the benefit of the doubt. If the B1G had done it, you'd be screaming for a straight top 4 tournament.

I find it absolutely ludicrous that we'd have a 4-team tournament that does NOT include the 4 best teams (by whatever metric--BCS, polls, committee). I thought the whole idea was supposed to fix teams like 2006 Michigan and 2009 Texas being excluded. 

A top 6 conference champ should get in BEFORE a top 6 runner-up in the same conference. This would solve the Stanford / Oregon issue from this past season. That should be only the caveat.

 

stephenrjking

May 17th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

I had no problem with Michigan not playing in the title game in 2006 either then or now. The principle was pretty clear: We had our chance on the football field and we lost. So it was on the road? So it was close? So what? I hated Gary Danielson's schilling for Florida as much as the next man, but Michigan lost its right to argue when it lost the football game.

College football's major strength is that in a 12-game season every game is supposed to matter. A close win isn't just exciting because you win the game; it's exciting because it keeps your dreams for the season alive. And a close loss does not just affect one Saturday, but an entire year.

For example, in 2005 the USC dynasty visited Notre Dame and Penn State visited a mediocre Michigan team. Both teams were undefeated, and neither would lose again in the regular season. In the space of seconds Mario Manningham caught a pass to end Penn State's hopes of a national title game berth, and Reggie Bush pushed Matt Leinart into the endzone to secure USC's ranking for another week. It was an amazing day, and each momoent mattered.

No other sport has this. Not the NFL, not college basketball, nothing. For three months every fall millions of fans pack stadiums to see their teams in do-or-die scenarios every week. 

One of the truly sickening things about last season, that sours me on football, is that the result of the biggest game of the season DIDN'T MATTER. I wasted three hours of my life watching a game that was supposed to be important and wasn't, because no matter who won both would have wound up playing in the Superdome. And while it is likely that they were the two best teams in the country, we can't know that for sure.

By limiting berths to conference champions you ensure that the game that take place within conference are crucially important, because only one team will have the chance to win the national championship. This is better for excitement.

It's also better for fairness. The limit on non-conference games ensures that we don't get a very accurate picture of what conferences and teams are really the best. Oklahoma got two national title berths in '03 and '04 by beating up on a conference that was much weaker than it appeared during the season. Ohio State looked pitiful in '02 despite going undefeated in the B1G, but it turns out the B1G was pretty good when OSU punched an all-time-great Miami team in the Mouth in Tempe. 

By including more conference champions you have a lower chance of excluding a team that is actually good. Don't like getting left out? Win your conference. 

DoubleB

May 17th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

"One of the truly sickening things about last season, that sours me on football, is that the result of the biggest game of the season DIDN'T MATTER."

That is patently false. It DID matter, just not in the way we all thought at the time. At the time of the LSU/Bama result, there was a very slim chance that we'd get a rematch of those two teams. If OSU or Stanford or possibly even Oregon had won out, Alabama wouldn't have played in the national title game. It's not Alabama's fault that those teams couldn't close out (particularly Okie State's loss to Iowa State). That left it up to the BCS which thought Alabama was the 2nd best team in the country (I agreed with that at the time and it sounds like you do as well).

The college football regular season has NEVER been a knock-out tournament from September onward. The best analogy I can come up with is poker. Bama had the best hand after the flop, was hurt badly by the river, but drew the inside straight to win anyway. They controlled their destiny, lost complete control, but everyone effed up anyway to give them the title game berth.

The conference champion argument also has other issues:

Texas 2008 lost 1 game and beat BOTH Big XII championship teams. By any measure they were a top 4 team, but a conference tiebreaker kept them home and this system keeps them home as well.

What happens if Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game this past season? Does anyone really believe the body of work supports UGA as being better than either LSU or Bama? Should we really leave BOTH LSU and Alabama out of a 4-team playoff because neither won the conference?

What about conferences without a title game like the Big XII? 3 teams go 8-1 (in conference play) and SHARE the conference, so they are all technically eligible while the teams with title games limit their entrants to 1. 

Divisional alignments can force very skewed conference schedules. Going back to the Georgia team of this past season, they played in the weak East and skipped all 3 good West teams (Bama, LSU, and Arkansas). They went 7-1 in the SEC and beat one team with a non-losing conference record (4-4 Auburn). But they played in the conference title game while Bama didn't because of geography.

bjk

May 17th, 2012 at 4:38 PM ^

Texas 2008 lost 1 game and beat BOTH Big XII championship teams. By any measure they were a top 4 team, but a conference tiebreaker kept them home and this system keeps them home as well.

There will always be something. I think the first priority is to stop leaving an undefeated team (Auburn, SEC, curiously enough) out of any MNC consideration. What do you do in the case of something like 1973 UM/OSU? That case and the one you cite are conference-level problems. More on that later. I think 2004 Auburn being out is a bigger deal than 2008 Texas being out. Having a good day against a good team or two isn't enough; ask Oregon State 1967 ("giant killer"). To control your destiny, you should beat everyone, and yet this wasn't good enough for Auburn 2004. That's what needs to be fixed first.

We may need to adapt the thinking of "top 4 team," which comes from 90 years of MNC-by-beauty-pageant, to "championship team," in which a good team with a bad day is out. Voting and polling requires the false application of the transitive rule ('team a beat team b which etc.etc.etc.') which is decisively disproven on the field every week.

What happens if Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game this past season? Does anyone really believe the body of work supports UGA as being better than either LSU or Bama?

Championship, yes. If UGA beats the winner of the Bama/LSU contest, then I would be extremely leery of pronouncing the losers better than the winners. That would take the word 'better' into the realm of Tarot cards and Ouija boards. In the event we have an on-the-field result to refer to, I will take that over all the Gary Danielson hype he can huff.

Should we really leave BOTH LSU and Alabama out of a 4-team playoff because neither won the conference?

If your problem is about relative division strength, that is a hard one to do anything about. If we are to prioritize playing football over polling, talking and PRing about it, though, I don't think it's too much to ask the winner of a strong division to defeat the winner of a weak one as part of the process of winning a championship. If Ga can beat LSU as part of a championship process, then Ga goes. If LSU and Bama can't win the key games, than they are out. That, or we stay attached to the system that left 12-0 Auburn out in 2004.

What about conferences without a title game like the Big XII? 3 teams go 8-1 (in conference play) and SHARE the conference, so they are all technically eligible while the teams with title games limit their entrants to 1.

I assume that the condition reads "conference champion," not "any or all of various conference co-champions." Conferences can keep old conference championship rules, but they should have to have a way to decide which team is designated as a participant in a playoff. And hopefully do better at it than they have in the past.

Divisional alignments can force very skewed conference schedules. Going back to the Georgia team of this past season, they played in the weak East and skipped all 3 good West teams (Bama, LSU, and Arkansas). They went 7-1 in the SEC and beat one team with a non-losing conference record (4-4 Auburn). But they played in the conference title game while Bama didn't because of geography.

I wonder of the division system isn't really just an excuse to have an extra game with lots of commercial kerfloofle, because I have rarely seen a conference championship game clarify rather than merely further confuse the championship picture (Okie '03, so on). In a world not all about the money, I would eliminate divisions and have a championship game only if needed to break a tie.

There's talk about "preserving the meaning of the regular season." What does the regular season stand for if you send two conference runner-ups over the conference champion?

Probably the biggest problem playoff opponents have is that the team that wins isn't always the team that is "supposed" to win. And in a system where outcomes are alternatively driven by results on the field and by hype, money and back-room deals, it is sometimes hard to acknowledge the winner over the one who was "supposed" to win, with all the economic consequences that entails. Fans want meaningful, good ball games. Advertisers, TV, and other revenue-driven entities want splashy events involving well-known national brands in manufactured circumstances. In the end, hopefully the attempts to manufacture the outcomes will backfire and economics will drive the controlling stakeholders toward a true championship system.

DoubleB

May 17th, 2012 at 5:04 PM ^

"I assume that the condition reads "conference champion," not "any or all of various conference co-champions." Conferences can keep old conference championship rules, but they should have to have a way to decide which team is designated as a participant in a playoff. And hopefully do better at it than they have in the past."

What they've done in the past is taken the highest ranked BCS team. In other words, they let the polling determine their champion, which is clearly not fair to those with conference title games.

"If your problem is about relative division strength, that is a hard one to do anything about."

So if you're in the best division in the best conference in the country . . too effin bad. But hey Virginia Tech (winner of a watered down ACC), come on down. And yes, you can do something about it . . you invite both teams.

I'm assuming that all of the supporters of the Conference champs only system want to go back to the NCAA basketball tournament pre-1975 when only conference champs made it and a bunch of top 10 teams (including #2 in the country) sat at home (or went to the NIT). Didn't seem to bother hoops fans in 1989 when they got a 3rd bite at the Illinois apple.

bjk

May 18th, 2012 at 12:11 AM ^

the logic of championship v. beauty pageant is not quite intuitive to many, but it comes down to whether you respect the fact that the most "deserving" team is not always the winning team.

I think the championship model is ultimately fairer because it allows teams to control their own fate (by winning when it matters most) and to have a route to the championship.

I don't think a four-team invitation-only tournament is the final answer, but it is closer than a two-team, invitation-only tournament which we call "BCS Championship." Not as many undefeated arguable #1 teams will be left out this way.

The fairest answer, in my eyes, is one in which all teams in the system have a path to the championship, unblocked by ESPN hype or the size of their television audience, which a four-team invitational is not. It is closer than the BCS thing.

But even under a "fair" system, odd things will happen. In 1983, the Atlanta Braves were the 2nd-best team in baseball with a .299 team batting average. Unfortunately, they were in the same division as the best team in baseball in a time before wild cards. I cherish that team, but I accept that, to be a champion, they would have had to beat the LA Dodgers a couple more times, which they didn't. It was still a hell of a team, just not the WS champion. At least they had a chance to try (and fail) on the field.

In other words, they let the polling determine their champion, which is clearly not fair to those with conference title games.

Assuming they didn't place any more teams in a BCS playoff than the other conferences, poll-based championships are unfair to the other teams in the same conference, but not to other conferences. Conference championship games don't add that much to the game of football that I can see, but I assume they are enormous money-makers.

I'm not a fan of playoffs for the sake of having playoffs; watching the spread of playoff creep, the later and later dates for deciding champions, and so on, is, I think, about the media profits rather than the fans, and I think it debases the regular season games, especially in baseball. I would be perfectly fine going back to a simple National and American league pennant with maybe a tie-breaker series as needed. But here, each team has always had a path to the championship, which CFB still does not have. In CFB, too little of the outcome is in the hands of the actual players.

stephenrjking

May 17th, 2012 at 4:48 PM ^

Your Georgia-over-LSU argument is a valid one insomuch as it would result in other conferences getting bids; nobody mistook Georgia for a national title contender and they would not have gotten a bid. Notably, though, LSU wound up hammering Georgia in the second half, since they were actually a national championship-caliber team. Still, this is a legitimate criticism of my position.

The vagaries of conference championships should continue to be left up to the conferences--your scenario featuring three teams with one loss would be tricky for the conference, but that is not, to me, something the entire nation should be punished for. When the Big 12 allowed Oklahoma to be sacrificed to Florida after the 2008 season, that was a failure of the conference, not the nation. You still end up with exactly the same flaws if you allow more than one team per conference. 

In fact, the 2008 season is a perfect illustration of why the berths MUST be limited to conference champions. The final AP poll of the season had a top four that looked like this:

1. Florida
2. Oklahoma
3. Texas
4. Alabama

Under the suggested scenario you would wind up with an all Big 12-SEC semifinal round (let's suppose they flip the last two seeds to preserve interconference matchups). This would be both completely unjust and wildly unpopular. Here are the teams that such an arrangement would leave out:

USC (11-1)
Penn State (11-1)
Utah (12-0)

We'll never know, but it is quite possible that USC was better than Florida that year (in fact, the USC dynasty never played a top SEC team during its height, one of the great tragedies of the '00 decade. The closest they got was a sharply underachieving Auburn team on the first weekend of 2003). We know Utah was better than Alabama because they crushed them in New Orleans. Not listed here is Texas Tech, which also had only one loss, and Boise State, which was undefeated.

This is a perfect example of poll bias: people believed the Big 12 and the SEC were superior to other conferences, and they were wrong. The Big 12's criteria decided which team would get a berth in the championship game, and that was fine; letting another team sneak in on reputation is not fine. 

I would accept a compromise where only one team per conference was allowed, to account for the LSU loss to Georgia. But to have multiple teams from one conference in a four-team playoff is unjust. 

DoubleB

May 17th, 2012 at 7:09 PM ^

In 2008, there were NINE teams that had 0 or 1 loss. The two 0-loss teams were Boise and Utah. There were 7 one-loss teams from major conferences: USC, Penn State, Florida, Bama, Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. In a 4-team playoff, multiple teams are getting screwed. That's just the reality of the situation. No matter the metric, some teams are taking it on the chin.

"This is a perfect example of poll bias"

It's not poll bias. Voters genuinely thought these were the best teams and it's tough to argue they weren't. Alabama was #1 until the SEC title game. Oklahoma was scoring 60 points a game at the end of the year, Florida won EVERY game from their loss to the SEC title game by 30+. Texas lost their game on the last play of the game. The computers LOVED the Big XII South. Had it been the computers with a 4-team playoff it would have included Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Texas Tech.

I do believe that in a 4-team playoff, there would have been some serious support for USC in that 4th spot in 2008. Voters weren't reevaluating their ballot at the 4 and 5 spots at that time. If they knew it counted, they would have made a more serious evaluation of Alabama and USC (or anybody else).

"people believed the Big 12 and the SEC were superior to other conferences, and they werewrong.

I don't think people believed that I all. I think they thought Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas were the best 3 teams in the country (all 3 polls and the computers agreed on this), USC and Bama were 4 and 5 in some order (the computers hated USC that year, the final pre-bowl Coaches poll had them actually tied), and then everyone else with some disagreement between the polls and computers. They voted for the teams, not the reputations.

The injustice is going to be having an NCAA tournament with #3 Stanford, #7 Virginia Tech, #10 Cincinnati, and #17 Michigan State because a couple of teams lose their conference title game.

 

 

 

Skapanza

May 17th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

This sucks. I just want to see LSU or Alabama or USC play in Ann Arbor in December. Lambeau field sells out in February and it's in the middle of nowhere and colder than a witch's tit. We need a five-year period of the SEC losing in MNC games so that some of the other conferences can get their way once in a while.

Yes I'm glad Delaney is pushing back against the SEC's attempt to have the four teams in the playoff be LSU/Alabama/Florida/Arkansas every year, but isn't it about time we stop having to play Florida in Florida, USC in Pasadena, or LSU in Louisiana?

HopeInHoke

May 17th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

This seems to me to be a continuation of being screwed more than shooting ourselves in the face.  Yes it'd be great to get home games or "northern" or "midwestern" matches and fighting for those would have been great- but we had history against us.

BCS sites:

Glendale, AZ

New Orleans, LA

Miami, FL

Pasadena, CA

And the Big Ten's love affair with the Rose Bowl is to keep a game where we are always disadvantaged by geography- playing a PAC 12 team at one of their stadiums.

SEC, ACC, and PAC 12 teams will always have some advantage by being in warmer more bowl-desirable locations.  Yes the home playoff idea could have changed that but the history, tradition, and money interests were all against it. 

We've been hosed for years by it and will continue to be...

WolverBean

May 17th, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

The hardcore fans understand that the current bowl system lets corrupt orange-blazered interests suck money leech-like from the hide of ncaa football, but we're probably the only ones. Casual fans and presumably the players love going to bowls. And there are a lot more casual fans of B1G teams than there are MGo readers. We on this site see ADs quoted as worrying about the fate of the bowl system and say, "why do you care?" But I think we're a minority opinion on this issue. D. Brandon was quoted the other day (in a response to an email IIRC) saying something about how he has to protect the interests of the student athletes first and foremost. And let's face it, the players probably would rather go to a bowl than have another home game. We were always going to lose this fight, because it's not just the SEC partisans we're up against.

MGoShoe

May 17th, 2012 at 11:27 AM ^

...but the B1G Commissioner and ADs have also stated this week that they're seeking a new model for things like ticket and hotel guarantees. They know they're getting screwed by the guys in blazers and like the guys in suits that they are, they are looking for ways to change that dynamic. We'll see if they're successful or not.

Most likely you'll see some change that makes sense and a lot of things that stay the same that piss you off. In the world of competing interests, no one set of interests ever gets everything it wants (I'm sure there's an exception that proves that rule I made up).

MGoShoe

May 17th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

...what's happening behind the scenes, do we? There are 12 conferences plus ND involved in determining how to proceed. The number of variables involved in this negotiation are massive. Who's to say that ceding this ground doesn't serve some positive purpose?

We just don't have the insight required to make a judgment yet.

Needs

May 17th, 2012 at 11:41 AM ^

The last point is certainly true, but it's generally bad politics to cede ground without getting a clear concession. Just look at all the articles surrounding this. Even Adam Rittenberg is declaring that the Big 10 got rolled and is weak. Even if the Big 10 had ceded that ground, they shouldn't have declared anything publicly until shortly before the final resolution was announced. That way, they could have announced some positive affect, instead of trotting out this illogical "we protected the Rose Bowl" idea.

 

Erik_in_Dayton

May 17th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

I would have preferred them to give in on the make-up of the four teams in the playoff than give in on the site of the games.  Fewer Big Ten teams may make the playoffs if the four teams are the top four teams in a poll, but even then more Big Ten teams will make the national championship game if semi-final games are played in the midwest.  I'd rather have five chances to win a game in Chicago than ten chances to win a game in Miami or LA. 

Kermits Blue Key

May 17th, 2012 at 1:04 PM ^

Using this logic, wouldn't it be adequate to say that Florida athletes would rather travel north to a bowl game rather than have another home game in Florida?  Maybe many of them would find it very cool to see snow for the first time.  If the answer is "no", then the competitive disadvantage the B1G has compared to other conferences is just that much more obvious.  Recruits like warmer weather - go to SEC.  B1G players like warmer weather - forfeit home field in NC playoff to play in warmer weather in SEC territory.  No win situation. 

Needs

May 17th, 2012 at 11:32 AM ^

Two comments:

1. I think Shoe's comment above is correct in the horsetrading aspect of this, but, if so, Delaney and the ADs are doing it wrong, politically. You don't publicly abandon what had been a strongly stated position (home playoff games to achieve locational parity) without first receiving concessions on the selection process. And you announce them all at once, to avoid the impression that you got rolled.  The stupidity of the Rose Bowl protection process that Brian points out, to me, shows that Delaney and the ADs may be good businessmen (almost certainly are, given the financial health of the conference) but they're bad legislative politicians, and setting this up is much more akin to writing legislation than arranging business contracts.

2. The Nietzschian term that Brian closes with (Will to Power) is exactly descriptive of what the Big 10 lacked. Delaney and the ADs folded not because of a lack of power, but because they were unwilling to utilize the power of their position effectively. They obviously could have easily marshalled the vast majority of Big 10 fans behind them, given the reaction here. They could have also easily convinced the coaches through appeals to the competitive advantage home playoff games would provide. I suspect they also could have easily swayed key voices in the media in favor of that situation. And they could have easily shown that at least the Rose Bowl would be protected. All of those would have carried a lot of weight.

In short, they had the opportunity to structure a playoff system along values (home games for the best teams) that would have, at the least, not placed their teams at a disadvantage vis a vis many of their competitors. That they were unable to do so, or at least extract clear concessions for abandoning this proposal, shows something about Delaney and the ADs. In Nietzsche's terms, they had the possibility of creating new values but they lacked the will to power necessary to make them so.

Seth9

May 17th, 2012 at 12:41 PM ^

1. I think Shoe's comment above is correct in the horsetrading aspect of this, but, if so, Delaney and the ADs are doing it wrong, politically. You don't publicly abandon what had been a strongly stated position (home playoff games to achieve locational parity) without first receiving concessions on the selection process. And you announce them all at once, to avoid the impression that you got rolled.  The stupidity of the Rose Bowl protection process that Brian points out, to me, shows that Delaney and the ADs may be good businessmen (almost certainly are, given the financial health of the conference) but they're bad legislative politicians, and setting this up is much more akin to writing legislation than arranging business contracts.

I could not disagree more. This much more akin to arranging business contracts than writing legislation in that the people making and implementing the playoff system are doing this to make more money. There are no real consequences to appearing to roll.

2. The Nietzschian term that Brian closes with (Will to Power) is exactly descriptive of what the Big 10 lacked. Delaney and the ADs folded not because of a lack of power, but because they were unwilling to utilize the power of their position effectively. They obviously could have easily marshalled the vast majority of Big 10 fans behind them, given the reaction here. They could have also easily convinced the coaches through appeals to the competitive advantage home playoff games would provide. I suspect they also could have easily swayed key voices in the media in favor of that situation. And they could have easily shown that at least the Rose Bowl would be protected. All of those would have carried a lot of weight.

First of all, the Big Ten's leverage in this negotiation is minimal. The Big Ten doesn't really have the option to not be involved in a CFB Playoff so they cannot pull out of negotiations. Furthermore, the only conference that would actually benefit from having home-site playoff games is the Big Ten. The other conferences that will likely produce playoff teams, namely the SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, and maybe even the ACC, all benefit from using bowl games. So none of them were going to agree to home sites or even a northern neutral site game, which only serves to benefit the Big Ten.

Secondly, with regards to Big Ten fans, the commenters on Mgoblog are not a representative subsection. Mgoblog commenters supported Rich Rodriguez well after most of the fanbase turned on him and many here still feel that he did a good job under the circumstances, unlike the vast majority of the Michigan fanbase. Casual fans and older fans are, by and large, in favor of keeping the bowl system around and would have to be convinced to support home sites, thus making it difficult to rally them in the cause.

Finally, even if Delany managed to get Big Ten fans up in arms around the cause of home sites, what would that actually accomplish? The answer is almost certainly nothing because unless fans are actually willing to boycott travelling to and watching playoff games not held at home sites, then the other conferences still have no incentive to agree to home sites.

The major competitors in college football are disproportionately found in southern, warm weather areas where the important bowls are held. Unless that changes, the Big Ten will not have the necessary leverage to get playoff games at home sites because it will always be to the advantage of these teams to oppose home sites and the possibility of having to play up north.

M-Wolverine

May 17th, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

What 1. shows is they've already conceded the home playoff games, and now they can't go back and say "we want them" and be taken seriously.  However, the other side can say "we never thought we should take anything but the top 4 teams" or whatever stupidity the Big Ten is fighting for, and look consistent. And then the Big Ten ends up with jack shit.

The Big Ten has as much or more leverage than the rest.  The Big Ten doesn't join, and it doesn't really change the status quo. But it does invalidate the system. They tried that once with the Bowl Alliance, and people hated it more than the BCS.  You end up with 1997. A playoff needs the Big Ten for it to be new and effective; the Big Ten dosen't change much by holding out to get what they want.  The default is to renew if they can't come to an agreement, so the playoff proponents have the deadline, not the league.

I don't think there's much poll basis to say causal fans favor the bowls.  Most polls are in favor of a playoff, not the bowl system. And this is speaking as someone who likes the bowls. But the ESPN driven media has been beating the playoff drum for so long, most people believe we need a playoff, even if the average person doesn't know why.

And the Big Ten isn't holding the fans back...they're holding their teams back.  Fans aren't going to these games anyway. No one is traveling across the Country to go to the runner up game, when the Championship game is a week or so later. Nobody.  If anyone shows, it's going to be a local team.  Thus you've made it a road game, and greatly decreased your team's chance to win it.  So is the goal to give them a trip and go home as a loser, or give them a chance to win the title? The SEC has power not because they're in warm weather, it's because they've won 6 straight years. Winning is power.

Seth9

May 17th, 2012 at 5:41 PM ^

What 1. shows is they've already conceded the home playoff games, and now they can't go back and say "we want them" and be taken seriously.  However, the other side can say "we never thought we should take anything but the top 4 teams" or whatever stupidity the Big Ten is fighting for, and look consistent. And then the Big Ten ends up with jack shit.

This is a fair point, but I personally think that looking consistent isn't very important to the decision makers. As evidence, I present pretty much everything a non-Big Ten School/Conference has said about conference expansion/reconfiguration and the NCAA Rules Enforcement system. Because there's no outside body holding people that has the power to hold people to their word when they say something to the media, the only real consequence of inconsistent statements is some bad PR.

The Big Ten has as much or more leverage than the rest.  The Big Ten doesn't join, and it doesn't really change the status quo. But it does invalidate the system. They tried that once with the Bowl Alliance, and people hated it more than the BCS.  You end up with 1997. A playoff needs the Big Ten for it to be new and effective; the Big Ten dosen't change much by holding out to get what they want.  The default is to renew if they can't come to an agreement, so the playoff proponents have the deadline, not the league.

I don't think this holds true in a playoff system. If the Big Ten were to back out of a playoff and the other major conferences participated, then even if the Big Ten champ is rated #1 after the regular season, the best they can do is beat 1 more top-10 team, whereas the winner of a playoff will have beaten 2 equal-if-not-better teams. Furthermore, the people involved with a playoff will probably require any poll they're involved with to rank the playoff winner #1 at the end of the year, if they even allow Big Ten teams to be ranked at all. Except for the rarest of occasions, this would mean that the Big Ten champ would not be eligible for the national championship. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the Rose Bowl would agree to a Big Ten tie-in since they'll be involved with the playoff, meaning that we'd have to agree to a mediocre bowl tie-in that would match us up with teams outside of the top-10 as often as not. So a playoff formed without the Big Ten's cooperation is not necessarily a non-starter.
 
Meanwhile, if we try to hold out, the other conferences can screw with us all kinds of ways. For instance, they can all jointly refuse to schedule us in basketball or stop agreeing to bowl tie-ins with us. These would be extreme steps, to be sure, but if we play hardball with the other 4 major conferences (sorry Big East, but you don't qualify any more) then they can certainly return the favor.

I don't think there's much poll basis to say causal fans favor the bowls.  Most polls are in favor of a playoff, not the bowl system. And this is speaking as someone who likes the bowls. But the ESPN driven media has been beating the playoff drum for so long, most people believe we need a playoff, even if the average person doesn't know why.

The question is not whether casual fans prefer a playoff to bowls, but whether they prefer bowl sites to home sites as part of a playoff. However, you are right to say I have no poll evidence for this, so I withdraw the point. As for your last point, I think we had a communication error because I'm not really sure how it applies to anything I said.

M-Wolverine

May 18th, 2012 at 1:54 PM ^

I can completely see how media might turn against the conference, and the added weight of playoff wins might sway the AP to not vote for those "stuck in the mud" Big Ten guys. I can also see them wanting to tweek the playoff that doesn't have everyone by voting someone else in, just to create controversy.  It's however they're blowing that day.

Everyone always says "we won't schedule X" (see: Notre Dame), but it never happens. Conferences don't really do the scheduling, schools do.  And if Michigan said "Vandy, we'll do a home and home with you" Vandy's not saying no, no matter what their conference wants them to do. People always threaten that...no one ever really acts.

As for the last point, since you were saying that fans favor the home sites vs. bowl sites, I don't think I can accurately say which they prefer either.  I would guess since the majority of teams are around those bowl sites, they'd probably favor guaranteed homefield advantage, which you'd be right about then.  Maybe major population centers in the North and Northeast might offset that. I can't really say. But you cleared up your point there so I see what you're getting at.

schreibee

May 17th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

The B1G is really the only conference that benefits from home-site playoff games.
While it would be cool for all teams to host a game, Florida teams are not strongly disadvantaged by playing in New Orleans, while LSU obviously benefits.
the same for Texas teams in Dallas or Glendale, West Coast teams in LA, etc.
No other conference has any strong incentive to insist on home games... only B1G, ND (should that boat ever float again), maybe some theoretical Big East team that might rarely be top 4, or perhaps VaTech, really are inconvenienced.
Therefore, B1G/ND has only the highly unlikely negotiating tactic of threatening to not participate as leverage.
While I completely agree that if capitulation on this issue is being paired w/ victory on another point (i.e. selection process that limits SEC teams), they should have been announced together to make it apparent... and maybe that's exactly why they weren't?!

WolverBean

May 17th, 2012 at 12:44 PM ^

Delaney and the ADs may be good businessmen [...] but they're bad legislative politicians

That's as succinct a description of Delaney as I've heard. Great businessman, but totally tone-deaf.
I guess all things considered, I'd rather that than the reverse.

RagingBean

May 17th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

Even if this was all political jockeying to get the selection process in a more acceptable order I think we should have tried to hold onto a 'regional' semi-final. Instead of the semis being in enemy territory/warm sites give the top two teams 'homefield' by hosting at the conference championship site (Indy for Big Ten, Atlanta for SEC, etc). Giving up even that advantage seems foolish in the extreme.