Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cuban's Pre-Bowl Playoff Idea

Andy Staples' column breaking down why Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire Mark Cuban's college football proposal is an interesting read. In a nutshell, "Cuban wants to stage two games... [to] match the top four teams in the BCS standings from among the independents and conferences without championship games," with the end goal being that "...a team with an uncertain shot at the BCS title game might agree to a game against a quality opponent to strengthen its résumé." Staples then goes on to list more of the details and why the plan is both a good idea and realistic.

But the problem (like so many other playoff ideas) is that it's not realistic and won't go anywhere.

The concept itself is intriguing, but right off the bat there's a major catch-22. Basically, those teams who would be inclined to participate in an extra game to better their BCS title game chances don't really have a chance at getting to the BCS title game anyway. One extra game isn't going to help them because playing one less game isn't their problem. Their problem is that they don't play in a BCS conference, and whether that's fair or not, it's a bias that the coaches and Harris poll voters have. Even a game against another ranked team probably won't help them. If TCU, sitting at #3 last year in the BCS standings, had played and beaten #5 Wisconsin (as they did in the Rose Bowl) before the BCS standings came out, would they have jumped over Oregon for the #2 spot? It'd take a miracle - in the post-bowl Coaches Poll, 13-0 TCU edged a 12-1 Oregon (who lost to Auburn) by just 3 points for #2, 1,336 to 1,333. There's no way they jump an undefeated, 12-0 Oregon for the title game. That's about as perfect of a scenario for this extra games idea as there could be, and the plan fails.

But another part of the plan is that a team would have the option to opt-out of the game, taking their chances that somehow the dominoes will fall in their favor. Staples even admits that, "Last year, TCU almost certainly would have opted out after locking down a BCS at-large berth." Basically, the risk of losing the game (and a potential BCS bowl spot) is too much to go for the gold. If that's a case for a team in TCU's position, who came as close as any non-AQ team has ever come to the title game, then how is it a possibility or a good option for any other team? It's not. Staples continues, "In some cases, a non-AQ school such as Boise State or Nevada could be playing to bolster its case for a BCS at-large berth. In some cases, an AQ-conference runner-up might try to do the same thing." So bringing the other BCS games into it we get into boosting a team's chances at an at-large bid, which is basically just as much of a risk. That's mainly because at-large bids are based on which teams are going to bring the most fans and make the most money for the bowl, not W-L records. Winning an extra game isn't going to sell any extra tickets, so any boost in the rankings just isn't worth the risk of losing. In fact it's probably more of a risk than trying to get into the title game because at least those bids go to the #1 & #2 teams in the rankings, while at-large BCS bids are much more subjective.

The other point is that with the new conference realignment taking place this year, the top two conferences who might have benefitted from such a setup in the past, the Pac10 and Big10, are getting ready to hold their first conference championship games, along with the SEC, ACC, CUSA, and MAC. So basically this idea would only apply to the independents (of which Notre Dame is already a BCS team and already had special consideration), the BigEast (which has already had an undefeated team in Cincinnati passed over for a title spot in 2009), the Big12 (Texas, Oklahoma, and the Big12 powerhouse schools won't suffer in the polls for not having a championship game to play in), and the MtnWest, WAC, & SunBelt (which have no chance at the title game ever).

So the teams with the best shots at the title game don't need an extra game to prove themselves, and the risk is too great for teams that it might help a slight bit. Add to that the fact that the BCS presidents and commissioners would never vote for something that, even just in theory, gives more opportunity for a non-BCS team to appear in the title game (thus diminising their own chances) and all you're left with is another unworkable playoff idea.

***On a side note, I do however like the fact that Mark Cuban is interested in the problem, since he's known for both unique but realistic ideas (current one here discluded). His voice is a great one to have in the discussion.

1 comment:

4rx scam said...

I didn't get the title because his last name. but it is impressive that he wants to achieve that in this season.