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Tag:football
Posted on: February 6, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Playoff Discussion Cliff Notes

This is lengthy, but it is also comprehensive.

Developing a new playoff format is the favorite indoor sport in NCAAF forums.  The items below are a summary of the results of countless playoff discussions in open forum, grouped under a few related topics.  A comparative analysis of the pros and cons as they apply to general formats is at the end.

Thru the topics below “Plausible sounding” statements, despite following a line of logic, are not considered evidence – after all, it was once logical the earth was the center of the universe based on plausible conclusions derived from observations.

No credence is given to searches for the “Golden phrase” – attempts to increase the validity or significance of an issue or diminish evidence by changing the way it is prosed.  Evidence stands or falls on its own merits without embellishment.  You can include in this group attempts to redefine common terms.

No credence is given to possibilities which haven’t happened – when an event occurs, it can be included and weighed with frequency it occurs, until then it is just another “What if?”

RESULTS
A core reason given for a playoff is that it would be a better means of crowning the best team. 

The validity of this statement depends on the playoff size.  As the size of the playoff field expands, the chances the best team is not invited drops off quickly.  However, the chances the best team is upset increases nearly exponentially as the number of playoff games increases.  As the size of a playoff increases, eventually the chances of an upset surpass the chances of not getting an invite, at which time the chances of crowning the best team decreases.

An estimate can be made for comparison
Chances the Best team is crowned  =  chances the best team is invited  x  chances of winning round 1  x  chances of winning round 2  x 

Using reasonable estimates that the best team is twice as likely to be ranked 1-2 as 3-4, twice as likely to be ranked 3-4 as 5-6, etc. coupled with an estimate the best team wins around 60-70% of the time:

4 team formats are more likely to crown the best team than a 2 team format
,
but only slightly (well less than a 5% improvement)
8 team or larger formats are less likely to crown the best team than a 4 team format with the results dropping off quickly.
The comparison between 4 and 8 team formats holds with any reasonable estimates.
Seeded 6 team formats are too close to call compared to a seeded 4 varying with the estimates, but are generally about the same.

You can add "Legitimacy" or "Better method" claims to this grouping - the Championship format most likely to crown the best team champion would be the most legitimate.

I have not seen where this has been disputed, only downplayed.


REVENUE
 
Everyone with access to, and the ability to project, relevant information who has looked at the issue have derived the same conclusion – a large playoff (more than 4 teams) can generate more money than the BCS, but would decrease overall revenue for the entire season.  They do not believe a 4 team format would substantially add to or detract from the overall season revenue.

This has never been disputed by the mid majors or any other group with access to, and the skill to project, relevant information.

One counter argument is that they are all lying to protect their power and/or status.  I mockingly refer to this as the “Conspiracy theory” because of the large number of groups with different priorities that are all reaching the same conclusion (networks, majors, consulting groups, BCS, bowls, etc.),  Even groups that favor large formats (such as mid majors) do not dispute these findings.  Since they are all saying the same thing, I assert that for all of them to be lying, there must be some level of collusion as they make revenue a secondary issue.

Another counter argument is that their conclusion are wrong
, but these assertions have never produced evidence to the contrary (reference “Plausible sounding” statements above).

DISPARITY
 
Playoffs have been cited as a means of closing the financial disparity between the "Haves" and "Have nots." 
Financially a seeded 4 provides the mid majors with as much as the majors can give without sacrificing themselves.  The BCS provided enough gains and opportunities to benefit all groups - there was no need for any group to sacrifice financially under the BCS format.

Poll respect, etc.
is another form of disparity which follows the same discourse as Justice/Injustice below.
Neither the majors, mid majors, networks, experts, etc. disputes the above.

INVITED
The assertion is that it is only important for the best team to be invited.   This argument came about after it was accepted that larger playoffs are less likely to crown the best team.

Using the same estimates used in “Results” above where the best team is twice as likely to be ranked 1-2 than 3-4, twice as likely to be ranked 3-4 than 5-6, etc. the best team would be ranked:
1-2  50% of the time
3-4  25% of the time
5-6  12.5% of the time
7-8  6.25% of the time
9-16  6.06% of the time
In a comparison between formats, the gains can be weighed by their frequency of occurrence.  For example, in increasing from a 6 team format to an 8 team format, there is only a 1 in 16 year gain – it takes a heavily slanted view to hold an event that occurs less than twice in 30 years in sports as significant.

These are estimates slanted to favor a large scale playoff – it takes a slanted view to claim the best team was ranked 7th or lower once every 8 years over a sizable sample period.

This inherently overlaps the Justice/Injustice issues below – this was split because it can be quantified by its frequency.

JUSTICE/INJUSTICE
 
I am summarizing this for a broad range of issues such as fairness, worthiness, deserving, etc.
Unlike the issues above, this is a highly subjective issue, but 1 aspect is common to these:
To  correct a perceived injustice to 1 group, you have to diminish the accomplishment of another group already deemed better.
Examples - discounting SOS places records in a weaker schedule close to or even with teams that played a harder schedule, inviting teams considered not as good diminishes the season accomplishments of teams considered better,  inviting conference champions diminishes the accomplishments of champions of harder conferences, etc.
In the balance, the accomplishments being diminished at least partially offsets the gain in reducing the injustice and from some perspectives creates a greater injustice than the one being addressed.

Among those who cite INVITED and JUSTICE/INJUSTICE issues
, a 4 team format is considered to do little to resolve the issues, generally feeling an 8 team format is needed.  A few use it to push for larger formats, but subsequent discussions usually reveal they are fitting the reason to their belief, not basing their conclusion on the evidence.

COMPETITION
 
A playoff would add more games at the highest level.  But like the Justice/Injustice arguments, this is a 1 sided view.

Competition is not limited to the top teams.  If the level of competition is measured in fan interest and quantified by TV ratings for the season (a fair assessment), everyone with access to, and the ability to project TV ratings agree there is no substantial change in a 4 team format, a decrease in larger formats.  Elevating the context of a fewer games and adding a few more while diminishing the context of over 600 other games  is hardly an argument for competition.

This is the same as the revenue issue evidence - they project that the larger the format, the greater the number of games with elevated context and new games, but the less significant the other bowls and outcome of regular season games become.

OBJECTIVITY
 
Any system that would diminish the role opinions play, replacing them with game results would certainly be considered more objective.
This overlaps the RESULTS, INVITE, and JUSTICE/INJUSTICE issues above – it takes a 1 sided view to only look at the process and not the results to hold this as a separate issue.

LEGALITIES/POLITICS/NCAA
 
You can also group politics and NCAA approval into this.

After 3 congressional hearings, countless threats from elected representatives, and countless law suit threats without subsequent action, it should be apparent the BCS is on solid legal and political ground.  The NCAA has no interest of injecting itself into the NCAAF post season issue.

This cannot be said of many playoff proposals.

CONTROVERSY
covers a wide range of topics which are addressed above, but in general they usually fall under the JUSTICE/INJUSTICE heading.

OTHER  ISSUES
 
A myriad of other issues are frequently brought up that may not fit in the above, but under scrutiny they are generally deemed to be insignificant in comparison to other issues, false beliefs, or conclusion lacking merit because they have no basis in fact.

ACCEPTABILITY
 
They have more information, more resources, and have looked at the issue since before the BCS was formed.  I would be amiss not to recant their conclusions.
No major opposes a seeded 4 in principle.  They feel a seeded 4 would typically encompass all of the teams with a strong claim to the title without the downside of larger playoff formats.
Their opposition is based on the belief a playoff would inevitably expand under pressure, and with the larger size comes a decrease in overall revenue.
They do not believe a seeded 4 would answer the BCS criticisms  You only need peruse the comments and actions of playoff proponents to see the origin of this belief. 
It is not a question to them which is better in terms of a seeded 4, but why take the risk when there are nominal gains?  Their opinion is following the revenue issue above.

OPINION OF THE MID MAJORS
The mid majors are also driven by revenue issues – their favoritism or disfavor of a format is driven by its ability to deliver them more or less revenue.
The major difference is the regular season – mid majors have much less invested in the regular season.  Their broadcast contracts for a conference are comparable to or less than an individual team from the top major conferences.  They generally have smaller stadiums, more unsold seats, much lower booster donations, and lower advertising revenue.
Most of the mid major proposals center on expanding the number of conferences with guaranteed invites.  They do not see benefit to a seeded 4, believing an 8 or larger format is needed.

THE NET GAIN
In the final analysis it becomes an issue of the net gain and loss
, with each group posing a varying degree of resolution or difficulty as the playoff size is increased or decreased.  As noted, many of the topics above are sub topics of other issues.  The core issues are RESULTS, REVENUE, and JUSTICE/INJUSTICE.

The RESULTS issue is based in statistics which I have not seen disputed by anyone who understands the analysis.  It is weak support for smaller formats (gains of a few percent) but a strong argument against larger formats (losses in performance quickly exceeding 10%)
The REVENUE issue requires supreme arrogance to dismiss the conclusions of those with skill and knowledge with no evidence to the contrary, or a conspiracy theory to declare they are all lying.  These problems are exasperated with larger formats, diminished with smaller formats.
The JUSTICE/INJUSTICE issue sees little improvement with smaller formats just as the 2 team BCS format did little to resolve these issues with the old poll system.  As the size of the playoff increases, more of these criticisms are resolved with no notable criticisms at 32 team formats.
Additional problems are introduced once a specific format is placed side by side with the BCS and other formats - it is 1 thing to find problems in 1 system, entirely different to put forth a format that answers these issues without introducing new downsides.

SOME GENERALITIES CAN BE DERIVED
8 team or larger formats
diminish REVENUE, have substantially lower RESULTS.  They have varying gains in JUSTICE/INJUSTICE depending upon the perspective, but it takes a heavily slanted 1 sided view to have the upside outweigh the downsides of larger formats.

6 team formats
have virtually the same RESULTS as a 4 team format, better results than larger formats.  It has less REVENUE and less resolution of JUSTICE/INJUSTICE issues than smaller formats, more revenue than larger formats.
6 team formats are generally where the scale is about balanced to the next smaller 4 team format, with some nominal gains in JUSTICE/INJUSTICE balanced against decreased REVENUE.  Whether it is a gain or loss depends on the weight given to each of these issues.

4 team formats
provides a small gain in the RESULTS over the BCS, about the same as a 6 teams format, better results than 8 team and larger formats.  It provides neither a gain nor loss in REVENUE compared to the BCS, more compared to larger formats.  It is generally not considered large enough to provide notable resolution of the JUSTICE/INJUSTICE issues though it does help.
4 team formats  mark the point where you can achieve gains without a downside.
For a 4 team playoff, it isn't an issue of "Is it better than the BCS?" as even the majors find merit, but an issue of providing insufficient gains to draw the favor of playoff proponents and those making the decision.  Without substantial gains and low risks, there is little incentive to change.
It would be accurate to say playoff proponents are their own worst enemy – in demanding more (larger formats) they get nothing.

Plus 1 formats
are generally believed to have inferior RESULTS to a seeded 4, the same REVENUE impact as a seeded 4 (no notable change).  It is generally considered less successful addressing the issues of JUSTICE/INJUSTICE than a 4 team format.

The BCS
across all topics is the same or less than a seeded 4, better than the old system.

The Old System
has about the same RESULTS as a seeded 8, less REVENUE than the BCS but more for most majors than a seeded 6.  It is worse than all formats on the issues of JUSTICE/INJUSTICE.

Other Formats
which incorporate the regular season and/or modification of conference composition are considered too intrusive for serious consideration, wholly unacceptable to those making the decision, and/or generally a playoff in disguise.

REFERENCES for some of the above are provided in these other blogs.
Part 1 the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors.
Part 2 majors position on a post BCS landscape.
Part 3 a playoff isn’t an option.
Part 4 no conference opposes a seeded 4 format
Part 5 a playoff’s impact on the bowls
Part 6 a playoff’s impact on the regular season
Part 7 the different economic dynamics which lead to mid majors favoring playoffs, majors opposing them.
Part 8 supporting and opposing arguments for the earlier parts.
Part 9 what playtoff proponents can do to get a playoff

Posted on: December 30, 2010 5:03 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Lines in the Sand 9 - Being your own worse enemy

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we reviewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors and links to references for all.
In Part 2, we reviewed their position on a post BCS landscape.
In Part 3, we reviewed a playoff isn’t an option.
In Part 4, we reviewed no conference opposes a seeded 4 format, they oppose the inevitable larger formats.
In Part 5, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the bowls
In Part 6, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the regular season
In Part 7, we reviewed the different economic dynamics which lead to mid majors favoring playoffs, majors opposing them.
In Part 8 we reviewed the supporting and opposing arguments for the earlier parts.

Review
The majors would be receptive to a seeded 4 format if it wasn’t believed it would inevitably grow to larger formats.  Their concern with larger formats are their fiscal impact on the regular season and the other bowls.

This doesn’t mean the playoff proponents should just give up
…but their actions are making a playoff less likely, not closer to fruition.

Here is a starter list of things playoff proponents can do to help bring about a change
.  This focuses on 3 aspects:
-Changing the environment the majors are basing their decisions on
-Providing a benefit to the majors to make a change (fan approval without pressure to expand)
-Provide reason not to expand past a 4 team format (the concern of the majors)

1, Quit blindly buying into the comments by anyone who says what you want to hear
This includes every conference commissioner (no conference favors a playoff), every mid major representative (their preference is driven by finances as much as the majors), every university president and athletic director (they only become vocal when a playoff would benefit their program then disappear into the crowd), and headline grabbing hacks like Cuban (does he really think anything he says would sway anyone with a vote?)
The comments by these groups place a playoff further out of reach – they are not going to change anyone’s mind.  If you provide cover for those seeking press and spouting lies and false characterizations, you will never get the real issues on the table for discussion.

2. If you give a frak, tone down your rhetoric
The conference commissioners, universities, and networks aren’t just another guy on the street.  They have spent far more quality time studying the issue, and have access to more information than any of us.
They have no reason to listen to someone unfamiliar with the details who is more interested in hearing their talking points than educating themselves to the reason for opposition.
No matter what the volume or quantity, they are no more inclined to listen to a playoff proponent screaming un informed conclusions than a ranting crazy on a street corner in piss stained pants.

3. Educate yourself and be realistic
If you are going to talk on the subject, make sure you have at least some basic knowledge on the subject.
It won’t be easy – it encompasses amateur athletics, amateur athletes, donor relations, TV demographics, traditions, advertising, NCAA, anti-trust laws, and more of topics effecting organizations managing 9 digit revenue.  Don’t expect to catch up with just a couple articles… but if you don’t know the topic at hand, why would anyone care about your opinion?

The universities, networks, bowls, BCS, and private groups are headed by people earning 7 digit incomes with large staffs, consulting firms, and information we could only dream of at their disposal.  They have collaboratively studied the issues for years.  It would be supreme arrogance to believe you can come up with something new for consideration or harbor the belief you know more than they do.

The reality is you will never know more than they do because even if you had access to the same information, you would’t know how to interpret the results and/or project their results (example – TV demographics).  Without their information, you aren’t going to disprove their beliefs.

4. Make their concerns your concerns
How often have you read a comment where a playoff proponent doesn’t care about an issue of concern to those making the decision?
They have responsibilities beyond the gridiron.  They carry the final decision.  They aren’t making rash decisions.  They aren’t going to be swayed by just the right phrase more fit for a bumper sticker than a subjective decision.
If you don’t share their concerns, don’t expect to receive anything more than lip service in response.

5. Throw out your playoff format #1,582
Talk about your arrogance – if the issue was really just the format, don’t you think they would be able to use their resources to have developed an answer by now?
Honestly – do you really think you will come up with something more acceptable than those with access to resources you couldn’t imagine?
The majors have stated their primary concern is inevitable growth to larger formats – rolling out playoff format #1,583 only strengthens this belief and the reason you have a 2 team format.

6. Give up the idea eliminating the BCS will bring about a playoff format
The BCS offers a cooperative framework including the NCAA, 4 major bowls, all of the conferences, and most independents – a solid starting point for a playoff structure to arise.
If the BCS folded, why would they enter into another cooperative agreement?  It took a lot to get everyone on board a 2 team format – break it up and expect them to abandon the concept, not start over at square 1.
It is evident they aren’t turning the post season over to the NCAA nor will the NCAA force the issue.
If you want a playoff, you will need to change the format of the BCS, not eliminate it.

7. Chant in unison “Seeded 4”
It already has support among all of those with a vote that counts.
If they are opposed to change, the next step from a 2 team format isn’t a 16 team playoff – it is a 4 team format (duh!)
Those with a vote adamantly oppose larger formats.  From their point of view, it isn’t true that “Any playoff format would be better” (remember #4 above).
Chant in unison “Seeded 4” and you will be on the same page as those making the decision and might get your wish.  Seek larger formats and you will get nothing.
Quit throwing your fit you can’t get it exactly your way.  Given that you have no vote, it is a fair offer.
If you need more detail, the BCS top 4 with not more than 1 team from a conference would garner the most support – take it or leave it – the majors would be fine with the old system.

8. Adamantly oppose larger formats
Take all of your rhetoric , rants, and childish fits and use it to shoot down larger formats - they are as much in the way of a playoff as anything else.
Anything you can do to alleviate the concern it would grow to a larger format helps bring about a playoff.  Anything you do to allow calls for larger formats puts any playoff further away.

9. Admonish the 5th and lower whiners
Thrash all of those who complain a team outside the top 4 didn’t get an invite to the title game.
If they have a gripe, take it to the computer polls and pollsters, or take it to their own programs and demand they schedule tougher OOC games.
Teams ranked 5th and lower complaining they didn’t get an invite feeds the concern a playoff would grow larger.  Invalidating their claim helps alleviate the concerns the majors have.

10. Support the bowls
How many times have you read a playoff supporter say they don’t care about the other bowls?
The dissolution of the other bowls is a component of the financial loss the majors expect under a playoff.  It is not just the direct and indirect bowl revenue; it affects the significance of regular season games by teams outside the BCS chase.
Strengthening these bowls to where they could realistically expect to survive alongside a playoff would alleviate a major financial concern.

11. Before your next rant, know your opposition
It shouldn’t be a surprise most BCS supporters didn’t start out as BCS supporters.  A playoff is the natural tendency for a fan to favor.
Most arrived at their decision only after looking at the reasons not to have a playoff and finding them more compelling than playoff supporters’ talking points.
The BCS supporters don’t discount the opinion of playoff supporters because they have a different opinion – they discount their opinion because they took the time to look at the facts from a neutral perspective.
It doesn’t take a lot to recognize the misconceptions most playoff proponents hold (such as a large format playoff crowning the best team).

12. Develop reasons to expand to 4 but not more
It is not enough just to diminish their existing concerns - since they don't see a big gain at 4 financially, there has to be a reason to take the risk.
I have only found 1 so far - implementing a system that is most likely to crown the best team.
A. As a playoff expands, the chances the best team is invited increases, but so does the chances of an upset.
B. The chances the best team is not invited drops quickly while the chances of an upset increases with each round.
C. Eventually the chances of the best team being upset passes the chances the best team is not invited, at which time the chances the best team is crowned drops.
D. Using reasonable estimates, the best results come from a 4 team format, the results drop at 8 or more.


The choice is yours
It won’t come fast.
The actions and rhetoric of playoff proponents have placed them further from a playoff by convincing the majors, networks and bowls the fans would never be satisfied with a seeded 4.  Congratulations – you are the biggest obstacle to a playoff.
It would take a long time to undo the damage of these actions… but given the length of BCS contracts, there is plenty of time available.
You can change your methods and you might get a seeded 4 playoff, or you can continue down the current path and get nothing.

For a list of references, see Lines in the Sand Part 1

Posted on: December 29, 2010 6:47 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 2:49 am
 

Lines in the Sand 8 -Sounding Plausible isnt Fact

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we reviewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors.
In Part 2, we reviewed their position on a post BCS landscape.
In Part 3, we reviewed a playoff isn’t an option.
In Part 4, we reviewed no conference opposes a seeded 4 format, they oppose the inevitable larger formats.
In Part 5, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the bowls
In Part 6, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the regular season
In Part 7, we reviewed the different economic dynamics which lead to mid majors favoring playoffs, majors opposing them.

You can readily dispute the commissioner’s statements
If you aren’t concerned with backing an argument, it doesn’t take much effort to do so.
Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  You can claim the majors are bluffing.  They have abandoned other arguments and are now citing only 1 line of reasons, diminishing their protection from anti-trust legislation.  At least some would earn as much if not more in the old system compared to the BCS.  It is doubtful they would do this if they weren’t ready to pull the plug.  The new rhetoric of the majors arises from apathy as to the outcome (they benefit either way), not a bluff to quell criticism.
Part 4  You can claim a seeded 4 would not expand to a larger format.  All you have to do is throw out the history of playoff expansion in every other sport, and at every other level in football, and claim NCAAF is insulated while you expect NCAAF to change under pressure (self-contradiction).
Part 5  You can dispute a playoff would hurt the bowls.
Part 6  You can dispute a playoff would hurt the regular season.
The bowls, major commissioners, conferences, Presidents, and networks are unanimous in saying it would.  It would be quite the display of arrogance to claim you know more than they do with your access to… well, let’s face it, you have access to nothing, and wouldn’t know how to project the results if you did.
Part 7  You can dispute the economic concerns of the mid majors are dynamically different from the majors.  It isn’t hard to formulate a reasonable sounding assertion, but the value of an assertion is its validity, proof, and/or support – not just sounding plausible.

You can simply claim you don’t care about the concerns of the bowls, conferences, networks, universities, etc.
  Just don’t be surprised if they respond with lip service - why would they value the opinion of someone who doesn’t share their concerns?
(my favorite) You can claim the bowls, commissioners, conferences, Presidents, and networks are lying in a conspiracy – just pull your aluminum foil hat down a little tighter less their mind control waves effect your judgment.

The Strongest Evidence For All of the Above is Self-Interest
They all have overall TV ratings and/or the revenue they generate their primary concern, and all agree a playoff would decrease overall revenue.  There is no conspiracy against playoffs unless all of these entities are acting against their self-interest.
Everyone with access to, and the ability to project, TV demographics who has looked at the issue have derived the same conclusion – a playoff can generate more money than the BCS, but would decrease overall revenue for the entire season.

This doesn’t mean that playoff proponents have to abandon their efforts
.  It does mean they need to take their efforts in a different direction if they ever want to see playoffs come to fruition.  The current efforts by playoff proponents are counter-productive to their goal.

In the final Part 9, we look at productive efforts playoff proponents can undertake to see their goal come to fruition.
For a list of references, see Lines in the Sand Part 1

Posted on: December 22, 2010 11:17 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2010 6:49 pm
 

Lines in the Sand 7 - 2 Sides of "Greed"

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we reviewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors.
In Part 2, we reviewed their position on a post BCS landscape.
In Part 3, we reviewed a playoff isn’t an option.
In Part 4, we reviewed no conference opposes a seeded 4 format, they oppose the inevitable larger formats.
In Part 5, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the bowls
In Part 6, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the regular season.

The Mid Majors could benefit from a large Playoff
Mid Major support varies with the format, but generally increases with the size and guaranteed invites (how often does the MAC, SUN, or CUSA have a team in the top 4, 8, or 16?)
Like the majors, theirs is a financial decision, but their programs operate with different fiscal dynamics.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe Some of these other programs (mid majors) want us to have a playoff so they can get the notoriety and money from us…  We've Jerry-rigged the free market system to the benefit of those institutions and a lot are institutions that don't even fill their stadiums.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany Some of us (referring to mid majors) don't have a great investment in the regular season. If you look at attendance, you look at television, tradition, you look at the kind of matchups we have – there's no doubt about it

The broadcast contract for an entire mid major conference is comparable to or less than the broadcast revenue of some individual major programs.
There are majors with more fans attending 2 games than many mid majors have during an entire season.
The mid majors aren’t close to the top majors in terms of donor or advertising revenue.

It is not surprising
the mid majors would not be concerned with devaluating the regular season – they have little stake in it.

Finances are behind both mid-major support of, and the major’s opposition to, a playoff
.  In both cases, they are looking out for their own financial interests.

Finances are a major issue to University Presidents

They have responsibilities beyond the arenas and stadiums.
NCAA President Mark Emmert There are 14 schools in the U.S. that broke even in their athletic programs last year.   Every other one of them put significant to dramatic amounts of money into their sports programs to support their student-athletes.

The Universities are getting a return
A successful sports program can result in increased enrollment and applications, elevating the quality of students and ultimately the academic standing (reference Miami).  The attention drawn by athletic exposure attracts individual and corporate donors to academia. 
But there are limits Subsidizing athletics does draw funding from academics.  They would prefer for athletics to be self-sufficient (or very close) so academics can reap the rewards.
The additional revenue funds improvements in coaching, facilities, venues, and equipment.  When you decrease the revenue flowing to athletic departments, the student athletes suffer the most, followed by academia.

In Part 8, we will look at the supporting evidence for the statements of the major’s commissioners.
For a list of references, see Lines in the Sand Part 1

Posted on: December 22, 2010 3:28 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 11:19 pm
 

Lines in the Sand 6 - Season ties

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we reviewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors.
In Part 2, we reviewed their position on a post BCS landscape.
In Part 3, we reviewed a playoff isn’t an option.
In Part 4, we reviewed no conference opposes a seeded 4 format, they oppose the inevitable larger formats.
In Part 5, we reviewed a playoff’s impact on the bowls

Less obvious is a large format playoff’s impact on the regular season.
ESPN College Football Programmer Dave Brown I wouldn't want to see the bowls changed because I don't want to create meaningless games during the regular season. I don't think that would be good for college football.
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto If we ever go to a playoff, we lose what is probably the most valuable regular season in all of sports.
SEC Commissioner Mike Silve One of the ways to measure a conference is by understanding its television relationships.  It’s all based on regular season play, and that is something we’re very careful to protect.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford
“…Every other sport has devalued the regular season while college football's regular season has only gained in stature, interest, attendance and television coverage.”

Swofford provides a compelling absolute
– as a playoff expands, gaining an invite becomes easier as the significance of a regular season loss decreases.  As the outcome of regular season games drop in significance, the regular season is devalued.

The BCS success lies in its small size
By encompassing only 2 teams and 1 game it did not devalue the outcome of regular season games – lose a game and a team can expect not to get a NCG invite, don’t win your conference and your chances of getting a BCS invite drops.
Since going undefeated in the regular season is rare, the BCS still adds significance to games played by 1 loss teams pursuing an invite.
The BCS attracts fan attention to games played outside the conference as 1 loss teams or any team still in a conference title hunt pursue an invite.
It preserves the significance of other bowls as the BCS games are only played at the end of the season after most bowls, and only encompass a small percentage of the bowls.  Even if a team is not pursuing a BCS invite, the stature of the bowls they are invited to (or the chances of bowl eligibility) is still on the line with each game.
When you diminish the significance of the outcome of regular season games, you diminish fan interest in these games.

In NCAAF math, Interest = TV Ratings = Revenue

Diminishing the significance of the regular season hurts more than broadcast contracts.
  The regular season broadcast revenue is more per major than the post season revenue.  Game day receipts are usually more than broadcast revenue.  Corporate and individual donors coupled with venue advertisers can compare with or surpass the revenue of both of these.

In Part 7, we will look at why the mid-majors harbor a substantially different opinion.
For a list of references, see Lines in the Sand Part 1

Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:37 am
Edited on: January 2, 2011 9:34 pm
 

Lines in the Sand 5 - It makes more and loses $$$

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we reviewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors/
In Part 2, we reviewed their position on a post BCS landscape.
In Part 3, we reviewed a playoff isn’t an option.
In Part 4, we learned no conference opposes a seeded 4 format, they oppose the inevitable larger formats.

A playoff would earn more revenue than the BCS
ACC Commissioner John Swofford In and of itself, a playoff of some type would generate more money than the current BCS.

This  is no secret
Every commissioner has voiced similar comments.
This isn’t a surprise After all the BCS could be made more profitable by adding more games.

Playoffs earn less in terms of the entire season and all revenue sources
PAC 10 Commissioner Larry Scott College football is so popular today because we have a great regular season and because we have an important bowl tradition that provides a meaningful experience for the students and fans -- all of which would be at risk if this concept were implemented.
We have to think what a 16-team would look like, the effects on regular season and bowl system.   It's a pretty easy call that no one wants to go down that path.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford What would be the effect on the regular season?  What about the effect on the other bowls?  But the BCS is certainly healthy financially and has been from the beginning.

The most obvious hit is to the other bowls
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto The opportunities we have in bowls across the country would lose the interest and value they currently have.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe I don’t think the bowls are going to exist (with a playoff)… once you create that level… if you are Oklahoma State fan, why am I going to go down to the Alamo bowl?...
ACC Commissioner John Swofford Sponsorships and TV revenue that now go to bowl games would instead be spent on playoff games, meaning that it will be very difficult for any bowl, including the current BCS bowls, which are among the oldest and most established in the game's history, to survive.

A seeded 4
is only 1 more game.  It is small enough not to detract attention from other bowl games.  It only draws the top end sponsors leaving sponsors of other bowls substantially intact.  It spans as little as 2 weeks of the season leaving a spotlight on the other bowls.
A seeded 8 encompasses 7 games (nearly 20% of the NCAAF post season) drawing a lot of interest from the other bowls.  Unlike the BCS where the games occur at the very end, it draws attention from the other bowls over a 3+ week period.

Most Bowls
exist on the margin of profitability or lose money requiring a subsidy from the local government.  Minor bowls can readily find a broadcast carrier, but large sponsors are still needed to balance the books, and they are becoming harder and harder to locate.  Most have difficulty selling out the stadium (even the Orange bowl) as venues often go partially filled.
Host cities can afford a minor loss they recoup thru tax revenue as local businesses receiving a boost from fans and publicity.  They improve the gains by making bowls a weeklong event with rallies, press days, fan days, etc. but there are limits… fans are shortening their stays and spending less.  Even if the economy wasn’t down, there are limits how much subsidy a local government can provide.

Most conferences
collect the appearance fee, pay the participants a stipend, and share the rest providing a benefit for all teams.
Bowl participants expenses are almost always over $1 Million, but last year 16 bowls had payouts from $1.25 million to $300 thousand – below the team’s expenses.  Expenses could be dropped by decreasing the length of the stay and decreasing the number of motel rooms (most teams are required to buy more than they use) but only at the expense of the bowl host city.  The teams and universities profit financially, but the gains come from increased donations resulting from the increased exposure.
The teams gain from exposure in recruiting and an opportunity to practice several weeks longer helping future years.
The athletes gain from a great experience and for those with NFL hopes, a last chance to spotlight their skills.

Networks. commissioners, and universities agree a playoff would diminish the bowls
Diminishing or losing the bowls
, even just the minor bowls, would diminish the experience and/or finances of the conferences, programs, host cities, businesses, athletes, and fans.  It isn’t just the appearance fees paid by the current bowls that would be threatened; a valid comparison includes the peripheral money raised from boosters and corporate sponsors.

In Part 6, we will look at the playoff’s impact on the regular season.
For a list of references, see Line in the Sand Part 1

Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 5:12 am
 

Lines in the Sand 4 -Majors admit only 1 reason..

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we viewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors.
In Part 2, we viewed their position on a post BCS landscape.
In Part 3, we viewed a playoff isn’t an option.

Surprise - No conference is opposed to a seeded 4 playoff format
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany I'm not morally, philosophically opposed to one and two… I'm not morally, philosophically opposed to four.
If the face of playoff opposition Jim Delany says its fine, then why not?

The issue lies in the history of playoff expansion
The BCS AQ commissioners say they're less likely now to be in favor of a "Plus One" model for fear that would ultimately lead to a full-blown, 16-team playoff.  (As noted in part 2, plus 1 really means seeded 4 thanks to some shenanigans by Silve and Swafford.)
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany history informs you the best way to think about the future…  every small incremental step has led to an incremental step; not only inside the NCAA, but inside the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball.
Plus One would lead to four, six, eight, 12 and, ultimately, a 16-team playoff and said the pressure to increase the number of teams would come from everywhere – the NCAA, Congress, the public and the fan bases.

In every other sport, and even in football at other levels, every playoff has grown in size.  That is the playoff history and the only reason the majors won’t adopt a seeded 4.

The major’s commissioners don’t see it as a choice between the BCS and a seeded 4;
they see it as a choice between the BCS and larger format playoffs.

1 voice disputes this belief
SEC Commissioner Mike Silve What the concern that has always been expressed is 'bracket creep' is endemic.  That has been the history of all championships, particularly those governed by the NCAA. The differentiating factor here is the BCS is not governed by the pressures for bracket expansion.

Apparently Silve is on an island.
  Swafford no longer voices support for a playoff.  In the SEC you won’t find a single statement confirming a majority of the Presidents would vote in favor of a playoff in any format.
They will make individual statements when nothing is on the line and it favors their press (UGa President when his team was left out) but not a single statement saying the majority favors a playoff.

In comparing the arguments
it is the historic absolute of playoff expansion –vs- Silve stating NCAAF is different.   It isn’t surprising a University President’s decision would follow history.

After you clear issues
listed for anti-trust laws (extending the season, etc.), you arrive at the core issue standing in the way of a seeded 4 playoff – valid expectations it would expand to a larger format.  Other concerns, while they may be valid, are not the insurmountable obstacles.

In Part 5, we look at why the commissioners are opposed to a playoff format larger than 4 teams.
For a list of references, see Line in the Sand Part 1

Posted on: December 20, 2010 2:08 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 10:35 pm
 

Lines in the Sand 3 - Are Playoffs an Option?

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, NCAA leaders sat on a panel.  The ensuing discussion became much more than the typical polite exchanges.
From their comments at the forum and elsewhere arise several lines drawn in the sand on a range of topics.
In Part 1, we reviewed the position of the NCAA and the BCS position on mid majors.
In Part 2, we reviewed their position on a post BCS landscape.

Line #4 – Playoffs aren’t a consideration
The BCS AQ commissioners say they're less likely now to be in favor of a "Plus One" model for fear that would ultimately lead to a full-blown, 16-team playoff.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe I don’t like it for football…  it isn’t like some of these other (mid major) programs that want us to have a playoff so they can get the notoriety and money from us, we have kids playing in a high pressure situation week after week…
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto We've talked about them all since (the BCS) was created, all the different models, but when you apply them; none of them achieve the current benefits without sacrificing something.
PAC 10 Commissioner Larry Scott while it's "easy to poke holes" in the BCS format, a playoff would hurt college football's regular season.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford But what would be the effect on the regular season?  What about the effect on the other bowls?  But the BCS is certainly healthy financially and has been from the beginning.
Sponsorships and TV revenue that now go to bowl games would instead be spent on playoff games, meaning that it will be very difficult for any bowl, including the current BCS bowls, which are among the oldest and most established in the game's history, to survive.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany We're not winning the PR war… but we do have a great regular season, a great bowl season and the 1-2 game.  We don't have an NFL style or college basketball style playoff.  I get that people want it.

There isn’t any major conference supporting a playoff
BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock The consensus of all of the schools in the 11 conferences support the BCS.  There are some who have said they would rather do something else. But it’s a small percentage... it does preserve the importance of the regular season.  And it does preserve the bowl system... I don’t see the universities changing their minds about a playoff or about the BCS system.

When the SEC
put forth the original proposal in April 2008, the PAC and Big Ten immediately announced opposition, the Big 12 and East waited until the meeting to announce they had taken a poll months earlier and were opposed.  The mid majors didn’t comment, but it is unlikely the MAC, CUSA, or Sun favored a seeded 4 (when was the last time they had a team in the top 4?).

The SEC and ACC
said they “…were anxious to bring the model to our conference for discussion.”
What?  They propose a seeded 4 and call it a plus 1 (when someone redefines common terms it should set off red flags).  There was a flood of publicity to be gained by any conference supporting a playoff, the other majors had reached a decision, but the 2 conferences proposing the change have no idea what their members think?  I smell a couple of rats, but the cheese these rats are headlines and press.

Don’t believe me?
  Do a search and find where any major announced their conference would support a seeded 4 (plus 1) playoff – the most you will find is 2 commissioners, the WAC, and the MWC.

In Part 4, we will look at why the majors oppose a playoff.
For a list of references, see Line in the Sand Part 1

 
 
 
 
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