If a playoff happens it must be controlled by the BCS (not the NCAA)

Submitted by Topher on December 16th, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Bash the BCS all you want, but it is imperative that the BCS system handle the expansion into a playoff if there is to be one. This is something of a redundant point, as the cartel of BCS powers will not let go unless Congress tells them to. (They will hold on to their cash cow, but they will tweak the cow (a la Pablo Picasso?) to maintain the money stream.)

There are those calling for the NCAA to legally take over the I-A postseason, or for Congress to mandate it, but I believe it to be crucial to the interests of the sport that the NCAA not be allowed to get its nutty hands on the structure of college football's postseason.

So far as I see it, what is most likely to happen in the next six seasons is either a four-team, two-round system using two of the four BCS bowls plus the week-later game, OR the "plus-one" system where the top two teams after the bowls are seeded into a final game. This will solve the vast majority of of "who's in the big game" controversies and entail minimal disruption to the bowl system for teams that don't have any business playing for it all - it satisfies the most interests while disrupting the fewest.

Lest you think the wise and benevolent NCAA would do the right thing, a common-sense solution has less chance of succeeding in the NCAA than it does in the BCS boardroom. There are those who say "well the NCAA runs playoffs at other levels of football so how bad can it be?" Have you seen a lot of people at the lower division games? It's a logistical nightmare but the overall lack of interest makes up for that. (The bowl system developed before playoffs were instituted, and remained because it was profitable. The lower divisions had the NCAA fill the postseason vacuum.)

Unfortunately, NCAA control of the means that the power brokers of the game have no control. The NCAA runs the Division I-AA, II and III playoffs, and they recently expanded the D3 one to 32 teams (!). Do you think anybody coaching a top program in D3 football thought that was a good idea? Doesn't matter - the NCAA decreed and it was so.

There have also been accusations (made by NCAA flunkies) that if the NCAA doesn't run it it's not a legitimate championship. This is cheap semantics - if the top teams play and someone gets a big trophy, it's legit whether the NCAA, the BCS or the Boy Scouts of America say so.

The BCS is no worse at making the tough calls that even a four-team playoff would require. The NCAA is a capricious, double-standard-ridden, closed-source politically-correct organization. The NCAA bball tournament is run by the NCAA proper (after they bought the NIT to keep it from competing for the top teams). There is no end to the funky decisions in smoke-filled room that decided the field and draw. There's no way the BCS could be any worse at deciding who gets into a playoff.

In light of laughably lax enforcement like the Reggie Bush case
I'm not even going to discuss whether the NCAA's disciplinary oversight duties lend credibility to a postseason championship.

The biggest issue (saved for last) is the issue of money control. The NCAA decides who gets the NCAA bball tournament money, but the NCAA serves its own interests, so there's no saying what they might decide to do with the cash at the next NCAA board meeting.

The BCS is doing what it is intended to do - protect the profit centers of the game. It rewards leagues for good performance while providing coarse "revenue sharing" for conferences that are down that year. Because of the cartel nature of the system, it ensures everyone gets a say so they don't walk out of the deal. (This almost happened once, when the Pac-10 threatened to pull out in 2000 if Oregon State didn't get a BCS berth.)

Play off if we must, but keep the NCAA out of the college football postseason!



December 16th, 2009 at 3:50 PM ^

I've never looked at the NCAA as such a evil organization that way. I think you have a lot of legitimate points about how the BCS would still run a playoff better than the NCAA. I wonder, though, if the NCAA would let the BCS run a playoff, or if they would force the BCS out and do it themselves when the playoff train really gets rolling with the big shots.


December 16th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

It would seem to me that, based on the NCAA's ability to select and run a pretty successful basketball tournament (both in the eyes of fans, players, administrators, and whomever else), they are qualified to create some similar process for a football tournament just as much, if not more so than any other group.

(Also, if we're discussing closed source, politically correct organizations, I think that is the dictionary definition of the BCS)


December 16th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

I think that the basketball tourney is run pretty well. Sure there are questions, but the NCAA recognizes that as an official tournament.

I attended a DIII school (Albion) and I never heard complaints about the playoff process. I think that the BCS is the worst group to do this. The Notre Dame contract alone should show how they are not really looking at competitive fairness.


December 16th, 2009 at 4:43 PM ^

Put me with those who want to see the NCAA tell the BCS to take a flying leap through a rolling donut. I am extremely tired of all of their crap. The BCS is a monopoly and I'm sure they are in violation of numerous anti-trust laws. I hope the government pays the same attention to them that they would to anyone in violation of those laws ASAP.

As for the argument that the lower division playoffs aren't well attended: of course they aren't. They are small schools with small fanbases and small stadiums. Why would a school that averages 5,000 fans suddenly "travel" 25,000?

NCAA playoffs could be done in November and early December with the exception of the title game, which could be played on exactly the same day it is now. That way, the bowls could do everything exactly the same way they are now, with the exception that the two teams would have to earn their way in on the field and not in the polls.

If Cincy, Boise State, or TCU could win two or three games against elite teams to get into the title game, more power to them. At least they would get the chance. And the BCS would be able to do the same thing they are now, but would have no say in the playoff.

Sounds like everyone wins. I guess that is too easy.

There is one more argument the BCS lackeys use against playoffs that I find to be utterly asinine: the argument that it is "better for the players."

If the NCAA really thinks it is better for the players, then why don't they poll the players? If it is for the "good of the student-athletes," then why not let those student athletes have a voice? It couldn't be that they are afraid of what the answer would be, would it?

If a truly tamper-proof poll were done and the players said they didn't want a playoff, people like me would shut up about it. I would respect their wishes and stop complaining about it. But I think we all know what the players would say. The warrior mentality almost demands that they want the opportunity to prove themselves as champions.

Too bad the BCS and NCAA don't think that way.

MI Expat NY

December 16th, 2009 at 5:19 PM ^

Are you serious? Do you know how much more money would be made with the NCAA running a playoff than the BCS. Yes, the BCS has made a lot of money for the power conferences, but they've also made a lot of money for the bowls themselves. Do you know how much money could be made with a sixteen team tournament, all games until the championship played on home fields? 15 games vs. 5 means much higher ticket sales and far more tv revenue. The BCS would never expand like this and wouldn't do anything more to minimize their existing bowl games.

In the end, it doesn't matter. The NCAA sanctions every post season game, and if there's going to be a playoff, I assure you, the NCAA will run it.


December 16th, 2009 at 7:39 PM ^

"Are you serious? Do you know how much more money would be made with the NCAA running a playoff than the BCS. Yes, the BCS has made a lot of money for the power conferences, but they've also made a lot of money for the bowls themselves. Do you know how much money could be made with a sixteen team tournament, all games until the championship played on home fields?"

No, I don't - would you like to answer your own questions?

Thanks for the drive-by post.

MI Expat NY

December 17th, 2009 at 2:02 PM ^

The questions were obviously a bit rhetorical since, to my knowledge, none of us work for the networks, the BCS, or any confernce. But a little simple math makes the answer obvious.

15 Games>5 games (or 6 or 7 if the BCS playoff proposals you threw out there were accepted). From a TV perspective this would be tremendous, especially since every game will have a direct impact on the championship. I'd imagine this would at least triple the TV rights.

14 games on campus would sell out. Of the BCS games, only 1 is guaranteed to sell out. So if you average 85,000 per game, you're talking about 1,190,000 tickets sold for a playoff (excluding the final game) vs. about 350,000 at best for the BCS. Even if you couldn't charge quite as much for the first round games, it doesn't take a genius to see that more money will be made on ticket sales.

Finally, the bowl games down't get anything. Home teams would probably get their hosting expenses covered, but the only game with the possibility of a non-ncaa entity making money would be a chmpionship game. There would not be four bowl organizations taking money out. Since the NCAA gives 95% of the money back to the schools, based on my link above, this would mean the schools playing the games have a higher take under an NCAA playoff than a BCS bowl system.

In Conclussion: Triple your TV rights, triple your ticket sales, cut out the bowl organizations = FAR MORE MONEY for the schools.


December 16th, 2009 at 7:37 PM ^

"Isn't the BCS just a collection of the power conferences? "

Yes, and that's the point - because the BCS represents the power conferences, and not the pie-in-the-sky wishes of a joint like the NCAA, it actually addresses the interests of those conferences.

Now, that has its drawbacks, like the screwjob of Boise State and TCU this year. But I'd still rather have an organization that is accountable to the interests of its product-producers than the NCAA, who is only accountable to itself.


December 16th, 2009 at 7:45 PM ^

Not sure if anybody actually read the post. I'm not disputing the motion towards a playoff (although I oppose a broad playoff, I am open to the ideas being thrown around.)

The point is that the BCS can run a playoff by itself, with cursory involvement by the NCAA (and their stupid student-athlete ads). Once the NCAA gets its hands on the playoff, it is out of the control of any sane person...the NCAA is talking about expanding the bball tourney to 96 teams. WTF? Why is that necessary to determine the NCAA basketball champion?

Once the NCAA gets involved, it's not going to be about fairly determining the national champion.

People are pissed about the current system, but that's no reason to take any playoff no matter how instituted. De Tocqueville was one of many historians to note that angry mobs tend to go too far once reform begins to proceed, so let's not turn the rolling ball into an avalanche.