Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just When I Think I'm Out...

HeismanPundit writes something so inane that it pulls me back in. I don't know how I missed this gem last week, but HP has now decided that a Plus-One game is a bad idea because he's a "stodgy traditionalist" who doesn't want college football to be more like the NFL (as opposed to: (1) a Pac Ten supporter who will likely back up anything that comes out of Tom Hansen's mouth; and (2) one of the few allegedly sentient beings on earth who doesn't realize that Auburn going 12-0 in 2004 and not getting a shot at the national title was a little problematic). No sooner has HP taken on the mantle of Harley Bowers and voiced his support for tradition than he comes up with a ham-handed scheme to standardize just about everything relating to conference size and scheduling in college football. Right, because one of the traditions of college football is clearly that every conference should have the same number of teams and that the NCAA should be able to mandate what conferences look like. I can't think of any other league that is quite so standardized.

This is going to be an exercise in demonstrating to a child that Darth Vader isn't really hiding in his closet, but I'll do it anyway. Why is this plan a bad idea?

1. College football would generate significantly less revenue under this "plan" because teams with large fan bases would be forced to play road games against teams with small fan bases. It makes no economic sense for Tennessee to play a road game at Middle Tennessee State when Tennessee's stadium holds more than three times as many people. This plan only makes sense if you support the Pac Ten, which has relatively small fan bases as compared to the Big Ten and SEC and therefore their teams have to play name opponents in their non-conference games in order to sell tickets.

And more importantly, the TV networks would gag at the thought of the MAC, WAC, and Sun Belt champions getting automatic BCS berths and thus getting mandatory prime time exposure. On occasion, one of these programs will produce a team worth seeing (such as Boise State last year or Miami (Ohio) when they had Ben Roethlisberger) and expanding the BCS by one game has taken care of that problem. I was originally opposed to the BCS adding on an extra game (except to the extent that it was a precursor for a Plus One format), but last year's Fiesta Bowl changed my mind. That said, the prospect of Houston and Troy in a BCS game would make most programming directors run for the nearest open window and would therefore reduce the negotiating position of the major conferences. Additionally, removing conference title games would be a third way in which the plan would be a revenue-negative, as those games have been cash cows for the conferences and the TV networks.

2. If every conference has to be the same size and every conference has to play a round-robin, then you have one of two likely possibilities. If the standard size is ten, then the SEC, Big Ten, and Big XII would have to evict teams that would then have nowhere to go because all the other major conferences are full. In the end, you would have some bizarre amalgamation of castaways from various geographic spots forming a new conference. That sounds like a result that a "stodgy traditionalist" would support.

Conversely, if the standard size is 12 (and this really makes the most sense) and a round-robin schedule is mandated, then each team is going to play one non-conference game. Teams would have all sorts of problems synchronizing their conference schedules with their non-conference schedules in terms of home and road games. More importantly, the opportunities to compare conferences against one another would be severely reduced, which defeats the whole point of this half-baked plan, which was to standardize the world so better comparisons can be made.

3. This statement is a unique blend of myopia and lack of understanding of history:

But, all this talk of the BCS and how someone is getting screwed every year...that gets tiresome. I remember the old bowl system. Nothing was really solved at the end of the season. The polls voted on the teams and it was great. No one bitched or moaned--we were too busy enjoying the Rose Parade to care.

You're right. No one ever bitched about the old bowl system. Alabama fans didn't bitch when their two-time defending national champions went 11-0 in 1966 and finished behind a Notre Dame team that tied in East Lansing. Notre Dame fans didn't bitch when their team lost close votes in 1989 and again in 1993. USC fans didn't bitch when their team had to share the national title in 1978 with an Alabama team that the Trojans beat in Birmingham during the season. Penn State fans didn't bitch when their team went unbeaten in 1969 and was ignored in the national title discussion. Something tells me that fans in Tuscaloosa and State College weren't saying to themselves "we're too busy enjoying the Rose Parade."


Chg said...

While any response to HP is always appreciated, I was really hoping you were going to tackle the e-ticket on Vick and the Atlanta civil rights community.

I think if the writer had actually canvased the rank and file middle and upper class black Atlantans he mentions in passing, he might find their views less forgiving than the NAACP and crazies like New Order.

Michael said...

It's coming, either tonight or tomorrow night. The short answer is:

1. It is important to consider the history of prejudice on the part of law enforcement against African-Americans, but

2. Putting Mike Vick in the same frame as victims of lynching is obscene. At some stage, historical grievances have to take a back seat to making rational decisions based on evidence and there is a ton of evidence that Vick is guilty of a felony here.

3. If the civil rights organizations hadn't blown their wad on the Duke lacrosse case, then maybe their criticism of a "rush to judgment" would have more merit. Likewise, their defense of Vick is going to hurt down the road when they have to defend someone who really needs their help.