Sunday, June 28, 2009


I know it's only June, but we have a runaway winner for the Least Surprising Headline of the Year Award:

BCS rejects Mountain West's playoff proposal
Other finalists were: "Kiffin commits recruiting violation" and "Iowa tackle arrested, suspended."

But back to the playoff rejection, I'm pretty sure every logical college football fan thought the same thing when that headline popped up on ESPN: Obviously.

At the time of the Mountain West's proposal, it sounded like Congressional pressure and an actual structured plan might be able to put some pressure on the BCS executives to listen and think about a change -- I didn't expect a playoff, of course, but I thought some of the proposal's pieces might be intriguing enough to create discussion that would eventually lead to something.

Instead, we got more of the same idiotic excuses about why a playoff supposedly isn't plausible, this time from BCS oversight committee chairman David Frohnmayer (also the president at Oregon):
"In the last six years, I've read pundits, heard the pronouncements of broadcasters and collected several cubic feet of e-mail printouts from advocates of an NFL-style playoff system. Even those that go beyond sound bite certitude share two intertwined and fatal deficiencies: They disrespect our academic calendars and they utterly lack a business plan."
I won't bother with links here, but I could provide Frohnmayer with infinite playoff proposals that interfere in no way with "academic calendars" (at least no more than the current setup, in which many teams are on the road for a week or more right at the end of the fall semester). The two most commonly suggested playoffs -- a plus-one and a standard three-week, eight-team tournament -- could both easily be fit into the gap between semesters, and this has been taken into consideration in almost every serious discussion I can recall. The academic argument has been a joke for years, and it irritates me to no end that it continues to be spewed by people in power whose sole purpose is to generate as much money as possible.

As for the "business plan" aspect: How can there be a legitimate business plan included in these proposals? No one can possibly know what the sponsorship offers, TV contracts, etc., would look like under an entirely different system than the one we have now. The only thing you could reasonably compare a hypothetical playoff to would be the Final Four, which seems to be doing OK financially.

The whole concept of a playoff has become essentially a broken record: Every time a new idea comes about, there's a glimmer of hope for change in the system that's inevitably crushed by a guy in a suit telling us why the newest proposal will destroy academia and the traditional postseason format. We all know what happens in the end -- it's only the details that change.

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