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June 27, 2012

Let’s Talk Playoffs

Filed under: Football,Playoffs — Chas @ 10:39 am

Well, the meta-news in college football is that finally there is a system roughed out for a four-team playoff beginning for the 2014 season — two years away. And by roughed out, I mean roughed out. There are still a lot of details that are unknown with regards to how the selection will occur. Here are the basics:

– This plan is going to run for 12 years.

– There will be a selection committee tasked with choosing the best four teams. The size, composition, level of transparency all TBD (To Be Determined).

– RankingĀ  the four playoff teams will be based on win-loss record, strength of schedule (SOS), head-to-head record, and whether a team is a conference champion. Conference champion status is supposed to be of extra-emphasis. How much extra emphasis is placed on being a conference champion and how they determine SOS are still TBD.

– Playoffs will be held within the current bowl structure. The two annual semifinal games will be rotated between six bowls — Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and two others TBD (though, the Cotton is believed to be one of them). One semifinal will be held on December 31 and the other on January 1. Non-college football watching significant others will hate a New Years Eve game.

– The Championship game will be bid out to a host city/stadium annually. Actual name, TBD.

– The way the money will be divided, TBD.

As usual, the devil will be in the details.

The cynical view is that this will not go for 12 years. That within 5-8 years or so, there will be an adjustment to eight-teams. Would not be surprising, and would be best for the ACC and probably the Big East. The wider the field the better the access for conference champions — especially if the issue of SOS becomes the headache I expect. With only a small number of non-con games each year — and even fewer games that cross conference lines — it is still difficult to compare conferences without a lot of bias involved.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that the 4-team playoff system won’t last the full 12 years. Part of the appeal to the new playoff system is that it will increase the access. Well, at least it may increase the chances of increased access.

“Will the Cinderella team, will the next Boise State fare better or worse with a selection committee vs. computers and polls?” one commissioner said Tuesday.

The fact that we don’t know that answer yet is unsettling. I keep coming back to the 2008 season. The only two major-college undefeated teams that season were Utah and Boise State. Boise State was ninth in the BCS. Utah finished sixth behind three conference champions (Oklahoma, Florida, USC), a conference championship game loser (Alabama) and a division runner-up (Texas). All five had one loss.

A selection committee would have had to supplant at least one of those top four (Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama). Those four just happen to be owners of six of the past 12 national championships. Considering strength of schedule is going to be considered heavily in the future, has anything really changed?

I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised to understand that the new system will still favor the big boys.

Eagle in Atlanta has a breakdown of what the playoff system means for BC. It applies to Pitt and the rest of the ACC as well, so it is well worth the entire read.

Some are particularly unimpressed by the whole situation. Others, at least acknowledge the baby-step, while decrying the matter of the bowls remaining such a tight part of the whole thing.

It wouldn’t be college football without some backroom dealing, without a monumental payout to a bunch of bowl directors whose usefulness has been in question since about 1972. Or at least since ESPN made the game explode in popularity.

Oh, the SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA reportedly tried to push a plan that would stage the game outside of the bowl system, but the others wouldn’t have it. The Big Ten once expressed interest in on-campus games, but soon decided it would rather play in Florida or California, not Madison or Columbus, and certainly not at neutral sites such as Detroit or Indianapolis, two cities that apparently don’t need any positive economic impact.

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, whose dedication to the ugly blazer set is so supreme he deserves a lifetime supply of free Orange Bowl Coco Loco rum drinks even though no one else takes him seriously, actually argued for a system that would enrich these third-party groups even more.

Yes, third-party groups. That’s what bowls are. They’re just a different kind of “third-party group” than AAU coaches, which the suits want to eradicate because since when has anyone from DC Assault ever bought them an aged single malt?

So, in the end, the bowls survived. Heck, they will thrive. They get to run the semifinals, which will be even more profitable than the current title game. They get to print their millions (tax-free, of course). They get to maintain a lifestyle that pays the CEOs at least 700K, their assistants $350K, and offers perks like those of John Junker, the former Fiesta Bowl chief who had a $2,250-a-month car allowance. Seriously, that’s how much he got just for his car.

This will remain the most illogical deal in sports (and, yes, I know Hasheem Thabeet was paid $5.1 million last year). It’s akin to a promoter walking into Roger Goodell’s office and telling him that rather than the NFL fully owning and operating the NFC and AFC Championship games, the league should instead outsource them, allowing the promoter to take half the money and stick the league with the travel expenses while inconveniencing fans who have to travel to some far-off antiseptic stadium.

Jonathan Vilma would get a warmer reception.

In college athletics, this is called “tradition.” A tradition of fleecing, but a tradition nonetheless and, darn it, don’t we value tradition?

Well, at least Dan Wetzel will still have something to go after now that the BCS is dead. But beyond the hyperbolic rant, there is a valid question as to why the college presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners don’t just run their own system. Bowl people better be ready. There’s going to be a lot more sunlight shined on their operations in the coming years.

The mix of broad details and so much undetermined information regarding the playoffs, has predictably resulted in a severe reduction in expansiopocolypse rumors. Now it is no longer clear what is in the best interests fiscally or on-the-field for FSU, Clemson, Texas, Oklahoma, etc.

The path for Clemson and FSU to the playoffs sure looks better going through the ACC than the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma may be thinking how badly a conference championship game upset can screw-up a season — and making the playoffs. And thus hurt the entire conference if they don’t place a team in the 4-team playoff.

I don’t think expansiopocolypse is dead. Just back in hibernation until the system and the details are more firmly fleshed out. Late September at the earliest, but more likely next summer.





What is the point of conferences, if a conference champion is not the one who advances? A selection committee = same flawed system we have now based on BS polls that can never. ever be logical and in fact are deeply biased.

Comment by JoeP 06.27.12 @ 11:05 am

Hopefully all those that predicted doom for the ACC because the self proclaimed big four conferences made bowl deals to play each other will realize how foolish their posts were. Seems to me those deals are out the door now if those bowl games are hosting a playoff game.

Comment by notrocketscience 06.27.12 @ 11:18 am

Why this will be squashed: “The way the money will be divided – TBD”

Comment by Chuck Morris 06.27.12 @ 11:21 am

Seems more of the same..all they did was add two more teams to the same setup they had before and decide to call it a playoff.

Instead of arguing which team should be number two it will be which team will be number four and instead of a computer picking the team a bunch of guys in a conference room will.

I do enjoy college football and I am a season ticket holder and Panther club member but when they keep giving us crap like this and then try to convince everyone that the game is better with the change, I wish they would blow up the whole system and be done with it.

Comment by milobloom 06.27.12 @ 11:21 am

The championship game is bid out. What would the commissioners do if they got an offer of a lot more $$$ from a city than they would from using the two bowls for the semi finals?

Its always about $$$.

Frank MD

Comment by Frank 06.27.12 @ 11:32 am

The one (and maybe only) good thing I see coming out of this is with added weight on SOS, some of these non-con cupcake games may disappear.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 06.27.12 @ 12:00 pm

“The way the money will be divided, TBD.” This is going to have to be resolved before people can decide if this is a fair system or not.
Also, they should bid out the semi-finals to the highest bidding two bowls or cities. That would give the colleges more control of the money like the NFL has.

Comment by Houston Panther 06.27.12 @ 12:01 pm

I hate to be that guy, but this really isn’t worth worrying about. Pitt is no where near going undefeated right now. The main way I see this benefiting us is that if an ACC team can get into the top 4 (which isn’t unreasonable if someone runs the table) then the runner-up would likely be in the Orange Bowl. If there are no major changes to the ACC bowls, on a “good” year:
1st- Semi Finals
2nd- Orange (Miami, FL)
3rd- Chick-Fil-A (Atlanta, GA)
4th- Russel Athletic (Orlando, FL)
5th- Sun (El Paso, TX)
6th- Belk (Charlotte)

so other than getting shot in el paso, at least there are some nice bowl games which Pitt realistically could be going to in the next few years.

Comment by ClarkLotTgate 06.27.12 @ 12:27 pm

I think it’s a good thing. You’re always gonna have #3 feeling like they are left out. With 4, #5 will feel this way. If you went to 16, #17 would be griping.

Like in hoops, #69 is griping.

College football, imho, is a different animal. At the end of most years, most of us that watch a lot, are pretty sure who the top 2 or 3 teams are.
So you take the top 4.

I really don’t feel #5, #6 etc. have a lot to gripe about.

Even though they say it will be for 12 years, if it goes well, maybe after 5 years they revisit it and go to 8 teams?? Who knows.

It’s a good start, and from everything I’ve read, the ACC is being included with the so-called “big 4″, and it really is the “Big 5″ and the other six as far as how money will be distributed.

P.S. Florida State is ranked in a lot of peoples top 5 this year, maybe they will end up in the NC game??

ACC going to be just fine I believe.

Things could change tomorrow of course, but, it looks like Big 12 wants nothing to do with Clemson.

Does Florida St really want to go by themselves and take all of their teams to Waco, Lubbock and Ames??

Especially with a much better chance of reaching the NC game, or final 4 in a couple years, playing in the ACC.

Comment by Dan 06.27.12 @ 12:28 pm

*getting to the final 4 teams and making the playoffs money, will far outweigh a couple million more a year to go to another conference*

I would think, getting in the playoffs is going to be a jackpot for the 4 teams.

Comment by Dan 06.27.12 @ 12:32 pm

Florida State isn’t going anywhere. They just needed a couple of million to tide them over this year. They threatned to leave…sort of… and what do you know? The ACC comes up with a couple of million. That’s what a good conference commissioner will do for you. I shudder to think what the Big East’s response to this type of situation would have been.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 06.27.12 @ 12:38 pm

conceivably, Cincy would have made the playoff back in 2009 after beating us 45-44 and going undefeated. You may remember that they (allegedly) almost made the championship game except for a last minute Texas FG in B12 championship.

we will soon learn just how fair this selection committee is … in the end, I predict even more controversy than present

Comment by wbb 06.27.12 @ 12:43 pm

clarification … 09 Cincy would have made playoff under new system

Comment by wbb 06.27.12 @ 12:45 pm

Shame on the NCAA! They had the chance to something special for the fans and they sold them out. Those semi final games should be on campus. I predict some pretty dull crowds at those semi final games. The hard core fan is going to want to save their vaction time and money for the NC game if their team makes it there. They could have rotated the championship game amongst the same bowls they do now. How many every day fans can afford two trips in a two week window to watch their team play for a championship? Those school presidents should have been lobbying for the locations in which they live. Those municipalities make a lot of money off of sold out home games. Instead, the college Presidents went for the money grab…the heck with our fans, the heck with our municipalities, we want the most money for us!

Comment by HbgFrank 06.27.12 @ 12:52 pm

ok HGB, if semi-final games are on campus, who gets to be the home team. What if by some chance, Pitt goes undefeated in 2014 (only unbeaten) while Bama, Oklahoma and USC all have 1 loss with much tougher schedule. Should a semi be at Heinz?

Comment by wbb 06.27.12 @ 1:07 pm

It’s not the NCAA – the BCS is not an NCAA sanctioned event. This trophy will not have NCAA written on it like the basketball tourney.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 06.27.12 @ 1:07 pm

Depends on the system implemented. I am very happy that Swofford and VA TECH prez had a lot of say so apparently in the talks.

No, won’t effect Pitt as far as playoffs. At least not until Coach Chryst gets us there!! LOL

However, is important for the ACC, and in a way, is important for Pitt being in the ACC.

Good to see rotation of bowls used for semi-finals. That gets the ol Rose Bowl champ vs. the new Champions Bowl thing out of the equation for the NC.

A step in the right direction.

Never understood some peoples argument, “well, I like the polls, it’s fun to argue about who is #1″

Not me, I like having a championship and the teams determined by playing on the field.

The comments regarding the selections, from Swofford and Va Tech prez, said everyone will be represented and seemed happy about it.

Very happy actually. We’ll see.

As longsufferingpittfan said, yes, some teams may have to get rid of scheduling three cupcakes.

Comment by Dan 06.27.12 @ 1:23 pm

Get back to me on this when Pitt is one of those four teams, otherwise for now, it is just a lot of white noise to me.

Comment by Dr. Tom 06.27.12 @ 1:24 pm

Dr. Tom, you point is well taken, and many have it. My only two points about it are,

1. I’m a college football fan junkie, so it has my interest.

2. Happy that the conference that Pitt is going to be in, will still be very relevant.

That’s all. With all of the noise, again, your point and many others is well taken by me.

Comment by Dan 06.27.12 @ 1:38 pm

If we go underrated, we will make the final 4.
Who cares about the rest.
ND is an island…,Neville Island.

Comment by SFPitt 06.27.12 @ 1:53 pm

Dan, This isn’t going to change anything as far as scheduling..Do you realy think an SEC or Big Ten team cares about out of conference games..if they go undefeated in their confernence play they’ll be sure to go to these games..Why take a chance with a hard out of conference game…if they would lose that game they would be out so nothing to gain but everything to lose.

All they did was add two more teams to same thing they were doing before and now they want to call it a playoff. It was a two team playoff before with this setup.

I couldn’t agree more with HgbFrank…only a handful of fans are going to be able to go to both games.As long as the bowls are involved, it’s never going to be a good system. It really is a shame these bowls basically control college football once the regular season is over.

Comment by milobloom 06.27.12 @ 1:55 pm

Just like the Super Bowl, these playoffs are made for TV events…the corporate sponsers are going to control the vast majority of the tickets…they will make a few thousand available to each school, however, you’ll have to take out a second mortgage to pay for the whole trip so the average “fan”‘s primary access to the game will be TV…the schools and the bowls won’t care if 100,000 or 100 fans show up…they will get paid the same millions either way!

…of course, I’m not really going to b!@#h and moan about any of this until Pitt is in the Final 4!…

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Leaseman 06.27.12 @ 3:21 pm

Wbb, the answer is 1 plays 4 at 1, and 2 plays 3 at 2. Your issue is with how 1 to 4 are determined. That part of the debate will go on forever.

Comment by HbgFrank 06.27.12 @ 3:24 pm

HgB .. I know how seeding works – that’s not the issue. The issue is how darn important it is having the No. 2 seed instead of the 3 seed … an how many poliitcs play into this.

Comment by wbb 06.27.12 @ 4:48 pm

However, the bottom line is this … if Pitt, WVU or PSU isn’t involved, I could give a damn less who is No. 1 …. but would like to see a good game

Comment by wbb 06.27.12 @ 4:50 pm

@milobloom. Good points. I’m curious, how would you like to see the college football season end??

Comment by Dan 06.27.12 @ 5:01 pm

Dan how would you like to see the college football season end? with pitt wining it all national champs. how else i know that is not what you ment .
But a 8 team play off would be nice that would be a good end.

Comment by FRANKCAN 06.27.12 @ 7:49 pm

FRANK, that’s the number I come up with. I believe after a few years, they will probably move to 8.

Maybe 5 or 6 gripe, on a given year, maybe 5 or 6 is worthy?? Most years not. Get to 8, all griping should be over.

9 through 16 have no gripe. Not like hoops where 25-30 teams could win it.

I think 4 is a good start. If it’s succesful, I could see them going to 8 eventually.

I know they say this model is for 12 years, we all know how contracts are easily broken and re-made.

Comment by Dan 06.27.12 @ 8:21 pm

Dan read the pitt trib they have a good story on wpial and 4 stars an5 and what a big loss it is to lose a 4 star that was in are own back yard johnson the OT intersting story.

Comment by FRANKCAN 06.27.12 @ 8:31 pm

the story is under heading finding 5 star talent in western pa

Comment by FRANKCAN 06.27.12 @ 8:35 pm

I love Pitt football and have one or two other team interests. I’d have little interest in watching 3-4 weeks of college football playoffs with 8 teams in December. Why even bother calling them student athletes at that point? Not one player from those 8 teams would see the inside of a classroom after Thanksgiving. I understand its business, but using the final 8 from this past season…Oregon vs. Arkansas (3 vs. 6)? Oklahoma State vs. USC (4 vs. 5). No thanks, I’d rather golf.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 06.28.12 @ 12:38 am

A step in the right direction, hope for eight in the future. But let’s be honest, this will never affect us. I just hope to see Pitt in the top 20 some day. You have to have big bucks and no ethics to compete these days.

Comment by gc 06.28.12 @ 6:47 am

I’d be interested in Oregon vs Arkansas if they were in a bowl game that meant they were moving on the next week to the final 4.

Oregon vs Arkansas in a bowl game, and that was it, no interest.

Kids are about done with school after t-giving anyhow. Don’t start up till Jan, they actually wouldn’t miss much.

Comment by Dan 06.28.12 @ 9:58 am

Milo?? Milobloom?? How would you like the college football season to end???

Comment by Dan 06.28.12 @ 2:15 pm

Hey Dan, sorry I don’t live on this board so not quick on the responses.

Like every other football league ends (or any sports league for that matter).
Have a playoff with top 16 teams…#16 plays at #1 etc. Works fine for High School, the lower college divisions, the NFL (though only 12) etc.

It won’t happen of course because it means the people who are in control of all the money would have to give up that control to do so.

The big conferences love this plan because it basically allows them to keep the control of the money, make a ton more money and also keep fans off their backs for a while on why there isn’t a playoff..(like every other college sports in existence.)

If you’re a team in the Big East you are not going to be happy about the playoff it just means more separation between the big teams and smaller teams.
I’m just glad Pitt is part of one of the big conferences, even if it is just barely a part, at lest they’ll get some money from the playoff.

Comment by Milo Bloom 06.28.12 @ 2:43 pm

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