Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why a BCS Collpase Doesn't Mean Playoff

     In recent weeks, there has been a long and heavily heated conversation in regards to the BCS, its viability as an organization, and what a potential collapse could mean to the college football landscape. Everything at this point is purely speculative, as is the this potential collapse of the BCS, but the major issues surrounding the Fiesta Bowl disaster in regards to the behavior of executives have created a muddying of the collective waters, and people are believing what they will about what the future holds. One of the most popular theories is that the NCAA weill simply shun the current system altogether and give America what it truly wants, which is a playoff system inherent on every other level of college football. This is where I burst the balloon with my cynical pin. Don't count on it.

BCS Dilemma

     The firing of sacrificial lamb John Junker by the Fiesta Bowl through everything into a whirlpool last month, after it was discovered that Junker was basically buying favor with college football administrators with lavish parties, gifts, and well, strippers and cruises, sometimes all of it at the same time. Junker, if your into that sort of thing, seems to know how to drop some cash on some crazy shit. What it all boils down to, however, is that none of it should shock you. As a matter of fact, you shuold have come to expect it from your renegade BCS administrators and executives. They operate outside of NCAA parameters, but that doesn't mean that there are not standards, and it seems as if that was forgotten in the process.
     What these behaviors have done, other than create feined shock by the talking heads at the empire of idiocy, ESPN, is that the very status of the Fiesta Bowl (I mean common, it calls for partying with that title) is now in danger of falling from the "lofty" ranks of the BCS itself. As a matter of fact, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the Fiesta Bowl will likely be dropped from the menu when final decisions are handed out by a committee of morons who were beneficieries of all of the fun and frolic as it turns out.
     The question now becomes, if the BCS does truly dump the Fiesta when the chips fall, who replaces them? Will it be the Cotton Bowl, a bowl that is as old as they come? Well, there lies the problem, as the Cotton Bowl has basically been guilty of the same old shit, different day defferential attitude that has been pervasive of bowl execs from day one. As a matter of fact, you probably won't find a bowl game in America that has not sliced and diced up some new flavor of favor where it did not belong. Even the Rose Bowl sold out and took a corporate sponsor in the TV greed game, which isn't illegal, but it takes away a certain measure of holier than thou.
     Other candidates are numerous, but it's truly anyone's guess at this point as to who would have the clout, and spending power, to join the elite ranks. Spending power is all relative, because the truth of the matter is that the BCS has not been exactly profitable for everyone involved, as UConn took a two million dollar loss just by playing in the Fiesta Bowl in 2011. If schools are losing money by participating in the system, is it worth having? Is it worth saving? Reactions are probably to the negative on that one.


     Understandably, most of you want this scenario. It likely will not pan out the way that you want it to. There is still too much power in the bowl system, and far too mnay schools are still held in place by their sway. Why is this? Because, as they say in Boston, it's the way we've always done things. People, as it turns out, don't have a very fond view of change, especially stodgy assholes who have always found a way to benefit from the old ways, even if others don't. Unfortunately, as is the way across all industry and the political realm, the stodgy assholes hold most of the cards, and they always win.
     The current system is worth well over a billion dollars annually in revenue and sponsorship money. A playoff, by comparison, would be worth at least as much, and probably more, but when you look at the power base that would have to be dismantled, it would take years to make the bowls pack up and leave. Every season, more and more of them are added, creating an industry that is actually growing in power, despite issues like poor attendance.
     According to helmetstickers.blogspot.com, of the 35 bowls played in 2010-11, including the BCS title game, only 8 were sellouts. The New Orleans Bowl, Beef O'Brady's Bowl, Little Caesars Bowl, and Ticket City Bowl all played to less than half full crowds. The Poinettia, Champs Sports, Meineke, and Compass Bowls all played to crowds at less than 60%.  But think about this...if bowls are being played to barely half, or less than half full crowds, why is there an impetus to keep adding games to the slate? With 35 bowls on the slate, the NCAA is officially worse than the NHL and NBA, where half of the teams in those leagues participate in a playoff scenario, sometimes with losing records. There has to be an obvious benefit to keeping this system in place, even if it is a bloating corpse. Follow the money trail, and you have your answers. In several cases, many NCAA member school administrators received payoffs of some sort or another, whether in the case of lavish gifts, country club access, or family paid vacations to destinations that you and I cannot even pronounce much less have access to. That kind of pull has serious power, and that's not likely to go away, much like the stink of a bloating corpse that nobody wants to bury. In the case of the Fiesta (or party, if you will) Bowl, most of the investigating committee members for the NCAA and BCS, were direct recipients of the gifts and favor that John Junker was accused of giving. Double standards? You bet your ass.
      How do you kill that kind of favor giving cronyism, and eliminate a system that has become bad for the overall health of the game? How do you keep a cardiac patient who is a fast food addict away from a burger joint? How do you keep Charlie Sheen away from carrying around suitcases full of cocaine? Kind of difficult, don't you think?
     The other issue is that with all of the corruption that has permiated the system with the bowls, is likely to take hold ten fold in a playoff system. The power conferences will continue to do what they have to to shut out the current non-AQ schools and conferences. The money will continue to find a way to flow, and the "World-Wide Leader (of Idiocy)" will continue to push the crap down our throats as if nothing is amyss. You think that the pay for play scandals are bad now? It'll be an open field flea market for talent, and the $180,000 dollars that Cam Newton got from Auburn (allegedly) will seem like a bargain basement grab.

My Proposal

     Never fear, my freinds. I have a proposal to fix the problem. It involves every level of college football, and creates a clear and even playing field for all involved. It's intensive, and it would rattle the cages of the pwers that be, but that's what I do. It's a ton of fucking fun, and keeps life interesting.
     My first move to restructure the landscape, would be to just get it over with and re-allign D1 football. Let's start by eliminating the stupid FBS and FCS monikers. For starters, we shrink division 1-A. The division would consist of the current BCS six "power conferences, and would add the Mountain West as a 7th and final member, and would include Notre Dame. With this group, you can do one of two things. YOu can keep current conference names and allignments, or you can eliminate the conferences altogether and make everyone independents by region. Take away the role of schedule maker from the ADs, and have the NCAA hire a centralized schedule maker and adopt the NFL standard of scheduling according to strengths. If you won last season, you play other conference winners in non-conference play, etc. (I have done this myself with a pen and paper, and it can be done inside of a day. Pay me about $75,000 per year to do this, and I'll even schedule for college hoops). With this move, I then eliminate the bowls, and go to a 24 team playoff. Done.
    Move number two takes the remainder of the now former FBS members and combines them with the upper alf of the current FCS structure. This group becomes the new 1-AA. This group includes Conference USA, MAC, Sun Belt, WAC, Army and Navy, and would merge this group with the following conferences from the current FCS structure: Big Sky, Colonial, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, and Southland conferences. The current playoff structure remains in place.
     The remaining conferences from the current FCS group would then form up a 1-AAA group of leagues that currently are limited by non-scholarship or size limitations. Also included would be leagues that normally operate outside the playoff structure, or don't participate in it. This group would merge the remnants of the FCS with the upper half of the current D2 structure. This group would include the following: Big South, Ivy League, MEAC, Northeast, Pioneer Football, SWAC, and remaining FCS Independents, Great American, Gulf South, Lone Star, MIAA, PSAC, and SIAC. What this essentially does, is it takes the haves and have nots of both FCS and D2 football, and restructures them into a more even field of competition, strengthening the overall product.
     The remnants of D2 would reform with the upper half of D3, and the remnants of D3 would reform with and fold into the NAIA to create a new Division 4. And if you wanted to throw a real monkey wrench into the system, you would adopt the relegation rule of soccer, with a percentage of the bottom of your conference falling to the lower level to be replaced by an equal number of upper crust finishers from the lower divisions moving up to take their place.
Final Thoughts

  I know that this all sounds like a fanciful pipe dream, but then again at this point, so does an FBS level playoff. As long as the current system exists, and administrators are getting their fat share, nothing will change. At the end of the day, the likelihood of a BCS collapse may or may not happen, but the sway, both politically and financially, on or off of the books, is to strong to kill the monster that exists today in the bowl system. Best case scenario has a return to the old system, which was never really broken to begin with. It was unique and was busted up with our inherent need to name a winner, which is really a sickness to begin with. There was nothing wrong with a system that kept up conversation about the controversies of split champions, and there really was never anything wrong with a tie. Hell, I'd rather tie anyday than lose a game in OT. And if going back to the old bowl system calms things down for awhile, I'm ok with that as well. Anything is better than what we have now, which is a convoluted mess that actually promotes cheating and corruption. The mafia wasn't even that brazen.

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