Unverified Voracity Drives Barwis Into The Sea

Submitted by Brian on January 21st, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Jihad part II. The offseason saw the return of Barwis Porn, much to everyone's relief. Now another old friend is back:

Barwis' final employment agreement with WVU, drafted in July 2005, said Barwis is to pay WVU a $50,000 buyout for terminating his contract without cause by the university. Sources said university officials are now looking to collect, but a lawsuit is not presently in the works.

That's right: West Virginia Buyout Wrangling with its sidekick, Accompanying Hysteria. I can't wait for the newspaper column describing the vast damage this upcoming dispute will do to the university's reputation.

(HT: Big House Blog.)

Close but no dice. One of the common anti-playoff arguments is basically "The Cardinals." IE: one of the costs of a playoff is that sometimes it throws away the much more reliable results gathered from a regular season of 16 or 162 games and gives you the Cardinals, be they the 9-7 variety from Phoenix slated to participate in the upcoming Super Bowl or the 83-78 variety from St. Louis that won the 2006 World Series.

Such champions are not particularly fulfilling, and they throw the whole playoffs thing into doubt. Get The Picture applies this to college football:

Make the postseason pool big enough and you’ll get your Cinderellas every year, in one form or fashion.  Statistical anomalies mean more in the postseason.  But some of that success, while inspiring in the short term, often winds up being little more than a mirage.  That’s a helluva tradeoff for a diminished regular season.

This is an accurate complaint when leveled at the 12th best team in a league of 32 clawing to the championship or a system which throws away 162 games in which you're doing stunningly well to win 62.5% of them in favor of brief, near-random playoff series. It is not when applied to college football, for the following reasons:

  1. Any playoff field would be dramatically more restricted than that of most professional leagues. There are about 120 D-I college football teams, and even if you toss out 50 or so as not serious contenders (ie, most of the MAC, CUSA, Sun Belt, WAC, and Mountain West) an eight-team playoff contains approximately the same percentage of teams as a four-team NFL bracket would. The Cardinals problem does not occur in a world where the entire bracket is Pittsburgh, Tennessee, New York, and Carolina.
  2. Any reasonably-constructed CFB playoff champion has, basically by definition, the most impressive resume. College football programs play so much creampuff and have so few opportunities to play real teams from any other conference that a three-game win streak over elite competition—coupled with losses from the rest of that elite competition—would render the playoff result un-controversial. IE: even if the playoff was mere exhibition with no official bearing on who gets a crystal football, the playoff winner would virtually always be voted #1 anyway, especially if lower-seeded teams have to play on the road, auto-bids are not handed out to weak conferences, and the field is constructed with byes.

As an example of #2, put together any reasonable pre-bowl eight team field from this year (1 Oklahoma, 2 Florida, 3 USC, 4 Texas, 5 Penn State, 6 Utah, 7 Alabama) take your worst-case #8, which this year would be Cincinnati (other contenders: OSU, Boise, Texas Tech) and give that worst-case scenario road wins over any three of the above teams. You've assembled the best resume in college football.

The Cardinals issue does not apply to college football. It, perhaps alone amongst American sports, would have a much more legitimate champion every year if it had a playoff.

(BTW: European soccer has a great compromise where there are no playoffs—except for the last promotion slot in lower leagues—but there are, simultaneous to the regular season, a number of single-elimination knockout competitions of varying prestige.)

Basketballin'. I'm late on this, but, yes, the regents gave preliminary approval to a 23 million dollar basketball practice facility to be built adjacent to Crisler. Beilein boilerplate:

"Having our coaches' offices, strength training, video theatre, training room and practice court all connected to Crisler Arena will only enhance student-athletes' development and our efficiency as a staff," Beilein said. "Having consistent practice times will assist players academically in terms of scheduling their classes and allowing them to choose any major of interest to them. We are obviously thrilled with the positives this new facility will bring, and appreciate the support of President Mary Sue Coleman, and the hard work of Bill Martin and Mike Stevenson in making this project become a reality."

Martin's forging ahead with the project despite not having a major donor:

"We want to get this done, so we're getting the word out that we're going for it," Martin said, saying a practice facility is overdue. "I couldn't wait any longer. We don't have a major donor for this project, but the regents all understand the value. I'm pleased we're able to move on this."

That's a commitment to the basketball program, and yet another chunk of Martin's legacy salted away. When he steps down as athletic director he'll have quite a list of accomplishments to point to, especially if (when) Beilein and Rodriguez work out.

It's like a laser. Smart Football considers Curtis Painter and Purdue's notable inability to do anything against actually good teams in the waning years of the Tiller administration, and in doing so reiterates a theory from 2006:

The offense has arguably become the opposite of an equalizer, it has become an amplifier: if you are talented you can really rack up the points because no one can cover Vince Young, Ted Ginn or the like one-on-one, but if you're not, you just get sacked and no one gets open.

Extremely prescient, and you're already replacing Vince Young with Nick Sheridan in your head and possibly trembling. In this we might have a general theory about why the first year of Rich Rodriguez has been such a disaster every time: it's not like Dantonio's caveman offense that shortens games and, even when bad, isn't bad quickly. The spread, when bad, is bad fast, allowing more time for the opponent to implode your head.

Well, we could be. For some reason, Varsity Blue just tackled Dan Wetzel's column comparing Michigan and Alabama from October. They attempt to tamp down expectations, which is good. Because for Michigan to be "this year's Alabama" they would have to improve their record by 4.5 games, which would get them from 3-9 all the way to 8-5.

Suffice it to say this would probably not be met with the hosannas Nick Saban has received in his second season.  Also, Alabama QB: senior multi-year starter. Michigan QB: either sophomore Steven Threet or a true freshman. Or a suicidal kitten.

Getting out of this hole is going to take some digging.

Etc.: The NYT finally has their ombudsman tackle the ridiculous Jamarcus McFarland article. Texas blogs, as you might expect, are not impressed.



January 21st, 2009 at 2:27 PM ^

RR will be a strong candidate for Coach of the Year.

If we don't get to at least 7-5 in the reg season — as unrealistic as that may be — Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork is going to have to open up a warehouse to take care of the new orders. Robinson better have some of his own snake-oil.


January 21st, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

Can they really do a worse job of it than the two-team playoff we have now? I don't hold out much hope that they would get it really right, but to do worse than the BCS would require them to actively try to fail. A system this year that included, say, Cincinnati, VT, USC, and Penn State but not Utah, Boise State, or Texas, would still have been an improvement (if clearly suboptimal and still suffering from the problem of the undefeated teams being given no chance to prove their worth).

The method of determining college football's champion, much like Michigan's football team, has "nowhere to go but up".

As an aside, Doc Saturday revealed an email he got suggesting a playoff plan based on the Australian Rules Football system:


(The gist of it: 1-4 and 2-3 face off immediately, with the two winners getting a bye into the third week. The losers play the winners of the 5-8 and 6-7 first-round games in week two. Thus, making the top 4 gives you a second chance if you lose your first game; 5 through 8 have to win four in a row instead of three.)

Sgt. Wolverine

January 21st, 2009 at 3:33 PM ^

1)It's a little unrealistic to say there's nowhere to go but up with a playoff system; I don't think it's unresonable to say that the powers that be could do damage to college football with a playoff system. Once a playoff is instituted, we could conceivable be worse off in ten years than we are now.

2)All these playoff ideas floating around are all well and good, but the chances of any one of them being instituted are pretty small. The only relevant idea is the one the NCAA makes.


January 21st, 2009 at 6:35 PM ^

How, exactly, could a playoff system make things worse? Yes, giving teams that clearly don't deserve a shot a chance is a Bad Thing as far as devaluing the regular season. (Whether the excitement of the playoff makes up for that is another argument entirely. March Madness seems to be a pretty strong argument that it could; YMMV, of course.) But leaving out teams that clearly *do* deserve a chance is worse.

This year, nine teams had a legitimate argument to be included (Florida, Alabama, Utah, USC, Penn State, Boise State, and the Big XII South trio). Assume that the six BCS conference champs get auto-bids; then we leave out three of these teams and include two undeserving teams. How is that worse than leaving out seven of the nine teams that have a legitimate argument, including the only two that had not been beaten, even if that method doesn't include anyone undeserving?

Even with the probable eventual expansion to 16 teams (and auto-bids for every conference champ), I would prefer a situation where all teams who have a plausible argument, and some who don't, are given a chance to earn it on the field to one where half a dozen teams with a good argument are left out. For all the talk of a playoff making the regular season less meaningful, how can it get any less meaningful for a team that went 12-0 and was still given nothing to show for it?


January 21st, 2009 at 7:00 PM ^

"reasonable" in this case is an eight-team playoff, not my wacky six-team bracket. The only thing that could possibly sneak an unworthy contender in are guaranteed autobids for all BCS conferences, which might have an 8-4 Pitt or something show up. I think that would be shot down and any autobids would be something like "the top five BCS conference champions," so this year you'd get Utah and Boise in there.


January 21st, 2009 at 3:57 PM ^

Brian, I have to say that it's totally unrealistic to assume that a playoff would assemble the eight best teams in college football. Most playoff proponents argue that a playoff is used in every other NCAA team sport including the lower divisions of football. The logical next step, which is always left out, is that conference autobids are also a part of every single one of these playoffs. Hence, a 16-team playoff is the bare minimum that can achieve this and still fix the basic problem that left us with this playoff push in the first place: the "Auburn" problem. The larger the playoff, of course, the more resume-building it would naturally be, but the larger the opportunity for Cinderella to crash the party. And yes, Cinderella would get resume-building wins, but would those really excise the losses already on the schedule?

Enjoy Life

January 21st, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

You are correct! Many folks seem to be missing the obvious. Four teams is insufficient and only marginally better than 2. So, that gets everyone to at least 8 teams.

Since every scenario I've seen includes the champions from the 6 BCS conferences, you merely back up a week and make the conference championship games the first round of the playoff.

Voila, you have 16 teams (including at large bids, etc.).

Thus, everyone plays 12 regular season games plus a "championship/first round playoff" game. This 13th game (that the SEC, ACC, and BIG12 already have) gets the top 16 down to 8 with absolutely no change for the SEC, ACC, and Big12 and no significant change for the rest.


January 21st, 2009 at 6:25 PM ^

If you watched last year's Olympic Softball playoff, you would know that the Page Playoff system as used in Australian Rules Football would be terrible. It's a kind of double elimination thingy, but you could win with the same record as the loser...and the damn thing will take 5 weeks to finish.

So here is the format for the Australian Rules playoffs...

1 defeats 4, 2 defeats 3, 5 defeats 8, 6 defeats 7 (7 & 8 eliminated)

4 defeats 5, 3 defeats 6 (5 & 6 eliminated)

1 defeats 3, 4 defeats 2 (2 & 3 eliminated)

4 defeats 1 (1 eliminated)

Wait a minute...1 beats 4 in week 1, 4 beats 1 in week 4, so 4 is champion? Why does this make any sense? What advantage did 1 gain from beating 4, other than the 1-week bye? Also, if you are going to take 4 weeks to determine a champion, why not invite more than 8 teams? If you are only inviting 8 teams, why take more than 3 weeks? Why pretend that the difference between the #4 team and the #5 team is so big? No, this is silly.

No Page playoffs, please.


January 21st, 2009 at 5:42 PM ^

I like the austrailian thingy the best. But think about the problems we have now, compounded. All major bowl venues would have there hands deep into this system. So...much like now. Any East Coast/Midwest team would be forced to play.....um.....every game on the road. That is unless there were regional venues like in basketball. But, the big money bowls are gonna throw their weight all over the place to play games on their terms(and fields). Then there is the time away from school, again, more of a concern for, say, the Big Ten than the Pac 10. USC can roll out of bed and into the Rose Bowl (UCLA too for that matter). And don't even get me started on fan travel. Could even major programs with giant followings fill the stadiums 3 or 4 weeks in a row. Again, Big East and Big Ten (C-USA, MAC, etc. for what its worth) at a disadvantage.

Unless we can get some traction on some regional games to be played, lets stick with what we have that, if nothing else, gives us something(Nat'l title/BCS inclusion) to debate/blog/post about while we watch the recruits come in and wait for the next season.


January 21st, 2009 at 5:43 PM ^

Even though I can see where Brian is going with his playoff argument, I still hold the belief that a playoff in CFB would, at best, create a different, incredibly annoying MNC process, not an improvement on the current one.

"The Cardinals problem does not occur in a world where the entire bracket is Pittsburgh, Tennessee, New York, and Carolina." - The Cardinals were playing really, REALLY well before they clinched the NFC West around week 13 or 14, at which point they went on cruise control and finished 9-7. At the same time, NY is a completely different team without Plaxico, as was shown over the last few weeks. While I'm a fan of looking at the full resume of a team, not just the last few weeks like NCAA basketball sometimes does, to ignore a change in circumstances toward the end of the season doesn't give you the best possible scenario; it just gives you a different scenario. Sure, it would diminish the damage a late-season loss could do to your resume, but it also gives too much credence to how a team performed 2 or 3 months earlier. All it does is shift the arbitrariness to a different point in the season (more toward the middle) than at the end.

Any reasonably-constructed CFB playoff champion has, basically by definition, the most impressive resume - Here is how the second round of this mythical playoff would look like:

Ok(1)/Cinci(8) vs. Texas(4)/Penn St.(5)

Florida(2)/Ala(7) vs. USC(3)/Utah(6)

Just looking at that seeding, I could see USC having wins over Utah and Alabama and making it to the title game, which basically means USC won the Sugar Bowl to play in the MNC game. By comparison, Texas would have had to go through Penn St. and then Oklahoma, which seems a tad bit rougher a trek, even though the two teams finished with the same regular season schedule.

That's my point about a playoff - it works best when the field is large enough that the top teams are rewarded for their stellar regular season, and you do that by protecting them from "weaker" teams that may not be that far off from them in terms of ability/talent. The difference between the #3 and #4 teams in America is pretty minute, yet that somewhat-arbitrary distinction can lead to immense differences in matchups and a playoff's outcome.

I'm all for utilizing a better system than thee BCS - I just haven't seen one that is both better and realistic.


January 21st, 2009 at 6:40 PM ^

The Page-McIntyre playoff system from the AFL that was proposed is better than what we have. That's not the standard we should be aspiring to, given the difficulty of changing anything once we put it in place.

Of course, my idea for a playoff is so bizarre that I don't tell anybody lest they think I have lost my mind. But at least it is single-elimination for everybody.


January 21st, 2009 at 10:29 PM ^

College National Championship that will work to select a Champion and keep the Bowl System virtually in tact.

1) Have all regular season games and/or conference championships end on or before the last weekend in November.
2) Take the (6) BCS conference champions plus 2 at-large teams based on the BCS rankings have a Championship Saturday on the 1st Saturday in December.
    a) There will still be some issues on team 7 and 8 but better than teams 1 and 2.
3) Give a home game to the Top 4 teams based on BCS rankings where 1 plays 8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6, 4 plays 5.  This rewards the top 4 teams with an added home game. By being a home game you do not have to worry about the fan base traveling multiple times.
4) This cleans the slate for the bowls leave all the non BCS bowls alone as they are today.
5) For the BCS bowls.  1st year have the 4 winners of the Championship Saturday games play in the Rose and Orange bowls and the 4 losers play in the Fiesta and Sugar.  Alternate winners and losers every other year between the bowls (2nd year winners go to Fiesta and Sugar).
6) Then 1 week later have the BCS plus 1 game between the winners of Orange and Rose (year 1).  This game would alternate between the 4 sites as is the current format.