Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Is Why You Fail

Imagine an SEC football coach saying the equivalent of the following from John Calipari:

John Calipari is one win away from clinching a Southeastern Conference championship in his first season at Kentucky -- just what he was brought in to do.

That's why his answer was swift and decisive when Calipari was asked Friday what winning the school's 44th conference title would mean: "Nothing."

The No. 2 Wildcats (27-1, 12-1), college basketball's winningest program, would assure themselves of at least a share of the championship by beating Tennessee on Saturday. They would get the championship outright if Vanderbilt also loses at Arkansas.

"I've always taken the approach that it's about the seed in the NCAA tournament," Calipari said. "If you want me to be honest about how I think and what we're doing to prepare, that's what it is. The SEC tournament is about our seed in the NCAA tournament."

Calipari is an unethical twit. He's made Kentucky hateable again, which is a public service, in a way. That said, he just did a wonderful job of distilling why college basketball has killed itself: it has rendered a three-and-a-half month regular season completely meaningless by making everything about a three-week tournament in March. It has produced a legion of casual fans who tune into the sport in March so they can stumble their way through the banal exercise of picking a bracket, but it has killed any incentive for people without a rooting interest in one of the contenders from being anything other than extremely casual about the sport. So thanks, John. You make me feel better about no longer caring for a sport that excited me as a kid.


chg said...

This is exactly why casual CFB fans or those who don't follow the sport at all are the ones most overwhelmingly in favor of a playoff, and it is also why I could not care less about polls of the general public on the matter.

College football's regular season is the most valuable in American sports, and I don't want it reduced to jockeying for playoff seeds so ESPN can sell it to Joey in NYC in December and January.

Anonymous said...

chg, cite? That sounds baseless; plenty of hardcore cfb fans want a playoff.

College football's regular season is the least valuable for the 95-100 teams who have no chance of winning a national championship (e.g. South Carolina). College basketball's regular season features better matchups, fairer schedules, and scores of meaningful regular season games.

chg said...

Anon, cite? Plenty of hardcore fans do not want playoffs as well. I would imagine we're both basing our premise on anecdotal evidence.

I would like to see polls on a college football playoff broken down by particpants' number of regular season CFB games viewed in a typical week or season. Such polls would reveal one of three possible results:

A. hardcore fans are more supportive of the current bowl system than non-fans and casual fans

B. hardcore fans are less supportive of the bowl system than non-fans and casual fans

C. there is no discernible difference in level of support for the bowl system between hardcore fans and casual fans and non-fans

I can think of a multitude of reasons that A would be the most likely discovery of such polls. If you would like to make an argument for B or C, I'd be happy to read it.

Anonymous said...

Well ghb, I think there was a Qunnipiac Poll published last year showing that people who claim they watch college football "somewhat" and "a lot" favored a playoff over the BCS something like 65-20. I also seem to remember a Gallup poll from a couple years ago where people The pollsters removed people who "didn't follow the sport at all" from the group, as I believe the Gallup poll from 2007 did. I don't Qunnipiac issued information that directly resolves the issue, but I think that people who graduated from college were both more likely to support a playoff and more likely to call themselves "serious" college football fans.

As for rationale, there are plenty that could be plausible: hardcore fans like watching good college football teams play games against each other, and thus support a postseason format which results in more high quality games: hardcore fans understand how meaningless most bowls became after the Bowl Alliance and BCS came into existence (even the author of this blog, a playoff opponent, questions the motivation of bowl participants); hardcore fans hate the pointless and unnecessary idle period during December that kills any momentum that the season created; hardcore fans are more likely to have watched the abortions that were the 2009 and 2010 bowl seasons; hardcore fans would enjoy the excitement and reduced expense of home playoff games; hardcore fans understand the ridiculous bloat and wasted administrative costs associated with bowls (read the great Dan Wetzel article from 2008 if you don't know what I'm referring to)...

I could go on like this for hours. You are on the wrong side of college football history, brother. Embrace the future.

Michael said...

For the record, I'm not a playoff opponent. I would be comfortable with any playoff of eight or fewer. However, I don't think that the current system is as bad as many claim and I prefer it to a big playoff that destroys one of the factors that makes college football unique and outstanding.