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Posted on: December 30, 2010 5:03 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 6:51 pm
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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 17, 2010 1:15 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 3:31 am
 

Lines in the Sand 1 - NCAA, Mid Majors, and BCS

At the recent IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum the NCAA President, Commissioners from 5 major conferences, and the Commissioner from the WAC 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.

Line #1 – The NCAA won’t get involved in the NCAAF post season anymore
The NCAA last stepped in when they pushed to expand the BCS to 5 games and lower the requirements for a mid major to receive an automatic bid.  This looks to be the extent of NCAA involvement as they return to their limited involvement in the NCAAF post season.

NCAA president Mark Emmert
That's not a train I'm driving.
Translation – the NCAA is staying out of the NCAAF post season.

Line #2 – No more BCS concessions to the mid majors
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe to the mid majors Don't push it past this because if you push it past this, the Big 12's position is we'll just go back to the old system.  You're getting the ability to get to places you've never gotten before. 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.
PAC 10 Commissioner Larry Scott The six conferences have bent over backwards and tried to be politically correct to their own detriment, probably further than they had to, maybe should have.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford in response to the BCS helping the majors more than mid major  I think it is fair, because it represents the marketplace.  Every conference has more access into the highest level of bowl games and potentially the national championship game than ever before.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany at the IMG forum  The notion that over time by putting political pressure on, it's just going to get greater access, more financial reward and more access to the Rose Bowl, I think you're really testing. I think people who have contributed a lot have, what I call, 'BCS defense fatigue.'
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…
We gave up the Rose Bowl, the SEC gave up access to the Sugar Bowl, others (mid majors) were included but they never had access to any of this before.  You have to understand who brought what to the table. Who's continuing to give and who's continuing to get.
I'm not sure how much more give there is in the system.
The only thing I would say, if you think you (mid majors) can continue to pressure the system and we'll just naturally provide more and more and more, I don't think that's an assumption that our presidents, athletic directors, football coaches and commissioners necessarily agree with.

I don’t have a problem with this
– the BCS has a fair set of criteria derived from entities outside the majors by which any conference can earn AQ status – a conference doesn’t even have to be inside the top half, 6th out of 11 will do.  There is also criteria the AQ conferences have to maintain or face losing their AQ status.

The BCS and the major’s commissioners have spent a lot of time and energy in 4 congressional hearings and faced numerous lawsuit threats (that never come to fruition).  So far they have played along, but now appear to be taking a different approach – one of frankness and blunt honesty…
1 - The BCS has provided the mid majors bowl access they wouldn't enjoy otherwise.
2 - The BCS has provided the mid majors a revenue stream they wouldn't have otherwise.
3 - The BCS has provided a path for mid major conferences to earn auotmatic invites to the major bowls their fan bases and interest wouldn't otherwise merit.
4 - The majors have brought access and audiences while sharing the revenue.  The mid majors have collected these benefits while bringing congressional hearings and the threat of lawsuits to boost their small audiences and limited interest (as measured in TV ratings) - not exactly even.
5 - At least 3 of the majors project that any additional concessions would result in the old system (conference tie-ins) being more profitable than the BCS (detailed in later parts).

In Part 2. we see the majors aren't reluctant to pull the plug on the BCS and return to the conference tie-in structure.

References for all parts
Dan Beebe Broadcast
http://espn.go.com/espnradio/player
?rd=1#/podcenter/?autoplay=1&id=4752760&callsign=ESPNRADIO

 John Marinatto Interviews
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/20
09/writers/stewart_mandel/07/10/mar
inatto-q-a/index.html

http://blog.al.com/solomon/2009/09/
qa_with_big_east_commissioner.html

 IMG Articles
http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/20
10/12/10/a-plus-one-playoff-is-unli
kely/

http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/20
10/12/09/jim-delany-warns-non-aq-le
agues-dont-expect-more-than-youre/

 Bill Hancock Comments
http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010
/dec/16/college-football-will-mark-
cuban-bankroll-bcs-bust/

 John Swofford Interviews
http://www.realclearsports.com/list
s/John_Swofford/financial_reasons_b
cs.html

http://auburnfootballfanforum.yuku.
com/topic/11186/t/Congress-wants-pl
ayoffs-instead-of-BCS.html

http://www.allstatesugarbowl.org/si
te127.php

 Mike Silve Interviews
http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/footba
ll/blog/dr_saturday/post/Wait-so-th
e-BCS-is-not-about-the-money-now-?urn=ncaaf-175959

 2008 Playoff Proposal
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/20
08/writers/stewart_mandel/04/30/bcs
.meeting/index.html
 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com