Even The BCS Commissioner Admits The Money's In A Playoff

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obviously, I'm a full-fledged playoff advocate for Division I-A football (I prefer the 16-team method; 11 conference champs and 5 at-larges), so with that said, SI's Andy Staples presented a rather interesting case for one, particularly regarding public universities. What's remarkable about it is this:

ACC commissioner John Swofford, the current BCS coordinator, readily admitted Thursday that there is more money in a playoff than in the current system. Then he spent almost 10 minutes enumerating the various excuses for why there isn't one.

"The community isn't there. In a nutshell, I think the reason is there are parameters that particularly the presidents want to see maintained," Swofford said. "You're looking at things like the number of games played. You're looking at things like the sport basically remaining a one-semester sport. You're talking about concerns over having playoff games during most schools' exam periods. All of those things come into play, as well as -- and I know you're getting tired of hearing this -- the quality and uniqueness of the regular season."

Amazing admission, but maybe not, if you consider that the idea isn't the total money that could be earned -- it's how much can be kept amongst the conferences and their teams. The reason the BCS still exists is because the conference commissioners do not want to give up control of a playoff to the NCAA, which would re-distribute the profits among it, the conferences, and to other programs in what would be a smaller piece for the conferences and teams than they currently get.

So, with that in mind, consider the country's economic crisis, which is affecting public universities in a very real manner (speaking as a California resident and media guy, I've run a bunch of stories about the UC and CSU systems in the past year dealing with some major budget cuts). Generally, I don't think anyone really enjoys the grandstanding that goes on when the federal government holds publicized hearings on such matters on TV, but considering the money that would go to universities, both public and private, if Staples' math and Swofford's assertions of more money in a playoff are to be believed, why isn't every state and federal legislator pushing the heads of their public university presidents to pressure the NCAA?

Posted by Signal to Noise at 2:45 PM


I've addressed most of these arguments before, here. And if you want a 16-team playoff with all 11 conference champions, you'll love my Golden Bowl Tournament.

Obama suggested reducing the size of the regular season and I agree (Staples himself brought up the university presidents greedily adding a twelfth game). I DO have some concerns: unless you remove an even number of games, you can't award bowl berths to .500 teams because there will be none, so you will need to get rid of some bowls, and I don't want to ditch the conference championships without MAJOR realignment.

The game ALREADY isn't a one-semester sport, if we're defining "semester" the way I am, dividing the normal school year into thirds with a semester break at winter break. An 11/5 playoff, I think, would mostly maintain the sanctity of the regular season, perhaps better than any 8-team playoff, because there wouldn't be the glut of at-larges that there are in basketball (especially if you chop up the conferences and reduce the at-larges) and we'd be including crap teams to increase the incentive for a super-high seed (think the basketball tournament's 1-16 games). Throw in first-round home field advantage for even more incentive. And you CAN schedule four rounds of playoffs around exam periods, especially if you shorten the regular season by at least a week.

Morgan Wick said...
Jan 11, 2009, 4:02:00 AM  

The 1AA playoffs end the weekend before Christmas, so the one semester argument is just more BS.

Anonymous said...
Jan 11, 2009, 10:06:00 AM  

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