Who’s In Control Of The BCS? – By Ben of BCS Busters
Posted by Matt on September 28, 2007
Editor’s Note: This column is by Ben of BCS Busters and is part of our NEW partnership. Ben has a lot of great thoughts and his columns will appear here weekly and you can see these columns AND MORE on his homepage.
Posted by bcsbusters under College Football
Photo by: Tuscaloosa News “The NCAA was bowled over by the College Football Association and its unanimous southern contingency nearly 25 years ago and the fans are left to wonder – who exactly is in charge of refereeing the direction of college football? – BCSBusters.
Bowled over nearly 25 years ago by the College Football Association, the NCAA has become a mere spectator in the annual controversy known as the BCS. This year, as we race onward towards another bitter dispute connected to the BCS disaster, the feuding sides of the NCAA (Big-10 & PAC-10 Alliance) and the College Football Association (Southern Contingency of the Big-12, ACC & SEC) will continue to battle over the slippery oblong ball that bounces indiscriminately in all directions as parity has arrived in unprecedented proportions.
So as the college football season continues to march onward – who can believe it is already week number four – the fans are left to wonder who exactly is in charge of directing the new emerging national past-time?
Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated took a stab at this subject lately in his book “Polls, Bowls and Tattered Souls,” likening the BCS era to the political stalemates often occurring on the steps of Congress. In his words – “You have your congressmen (Conference Commissioners & Athletic Directors), your senators (University Presidents and Chancellors), your lobbyists (bowl games and smaller conference schools), and your fund-raisers (the television networks), each exercising their respective influence on the decision-making process while at the same time seeking to protect their own best interests. Meanwhile, there’s no singular leader – like, say, the President – to steer the ship in any particular direction. The Result: Nothing ever changes.” It’s important to note we lost our refereeing president, when the NCAA was stripped of its governing authority by the college football powers in the 1980’s, which led to the super-conference movement and ultimately to the BCS controversy of today.
But Stewart fails to recognize another significant – and perhaps most important – member of this political stalemate…the fans. We are the most important member of this enterprise and hold the keys to a possible solution, for without us – college football’s most passionate party – and our financial influence supported by season ticket sales and television ratings, the monopoly would quickly come to a standstill.
We – the fans – have failed to recognize that we can most certainly change the current system and can do so quite quickly if we could become united on common front. While much has been made of the Plus One Concept… I’m whole-heartily against it.
The back room politics, which have precipitated the administrative benchmark events for nearly five decades will continue to influence the unionized alliance of the College Football Association because the signs of their influence – just within the last decade – as related to the BCS controversy – are so strikingly present, it is almost laughable in predicting what will happen next.
Last week I sent Stewart Mandel an email wondering if he would be willing to do an article related to my BCSBuster cause and the mis-understood playoff proposal I have put together. Less than five days later, he has come out with an open letter to Big-10 Conference Commissioner Jim Delaney, and Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White, urging the two sides to mend their differences and fuse an agreement so the Irish can be baptized by the Big-10 as a conference member.
So I guess Stewart’s answer to my question is no – I’ll take your information and move on without you – especially considering the three 1000-pound Gorillas standing in the way of BCS reform are in fact Jim Delaney, Notre Dame and the PAC-10 conference, just as I have stated in several of my articles. The basis of my playoff proposal listed in the six part National Expansion series, which can be located within this very website, has been well publicized around the internet since Mid-August, hyping this very issue.
As we continue to head towards a possible five or six pronged controversy between LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Florida and West Virginia, Bill Trocchi – also of Sports Illustrated – ran an article yesterday sensationalizing a simmering feud, which has been running for years I might add, regarding which conference is the best in college football. Commissioning Las Vegas oddsmaker Ken White with ten hypothetical match-ups between the PAC-10 and SEC because he was unwilling to stand on his own legs with his own opinion, will not relieve the venom spewed back and forth between the networks supporting and hyping these two conferences.
While White gave the PAC-10 a 5-4-1 hollow victory for the season results thus far, things will really look to heat up as the season progresses, especially if West Virginia and Penn State continue with their undefeated seasons, and how would CAL be perceived as compared to Oklahoma and LSU if they, in fact, run the table in the PAC-10 and defeat the mighty Trojans. As if throwing gasoline on an already inhospitable fire, the CFA alliance would most certainly penalize the Bears since bell-ringer Auburn was left out of the 2004 match-up, although this was simply the CFA boys shooting themselves in their own foot, for how can you include three in a championship equation destined for two, without any form of head-to-head itinerary?
On Friday night, just prior to the Oklahoma – Tulsa match-up, Lou Holtz – who is a longtime supporter of the CFA with coaching stops at Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina – gave us another glimmering clue that the unionized rift still exists. In his weekly pre-game “Coaches Speech” to the team, he adeptly supported a Penn State program (coached by longtime CFA good ol’boy Joe Paterno), while making a very distinctive comment that most of America probably didn’t connect to the unionized alliances that still exist in college football today. Talking of Michigan’s arrogance was another key reminder to the CFA good ol’boys that you don’t cross or forget a unionized rift, and you never forget past issues, even if they happened 30 years ago, especially when the Big-10 and PAC-10 Rose Bowl alliance continues to place a thorny path in front of the CFA led playoff proposals…most recently the Plus One Concept.
While most people recognize that Notre Dame and Michigan – two regional rivals who compete for the same local and national recruits, are fierce competitors on the field, few have made the connections to their bitter disputes off the field with the current BCS controversies. If you want a further review, pick up a copy of “The 50 Year Seduction – by Keith Dunnavant,” and “Unsportsmanlike Conduct – by Walter Byers,” and see for yourself.
The CFA boys, which includes a very large number of the key figures still currently involved in college football (whether it be conference administrators, media pundits or job headhunters looking to place administrators and coaches in key positions), will utilize any medium available to continue the long winded smear campaigns that run annually against the Big-10, PAC-10 and the Non-BCS factor.
Lately, as the Big-East has become a rising threat, and this coming after three key defectors (tied to the CFA I might add) bolted the conference for greener pastures within the ACC, the CFA boys have often smeared the competitive balance of this conference as well, due to the fact that the East Coast television market is a considerable threat to their bowl and poll positioning enterprises.
Due to the fact that Chuck Neinas (the founding father of the CFA) and Vince Dooley (a key participant in the critical Board of Regents vs. NCAA Antitrust Litigation lawsuit which evolved the game into the BCS) have created the Harris Poll to protect their self-serving interests, we witness some very peculiar incidents within the polls on a weekly and yearly basis.
Mandel recently released his Week #4 Power Poll, which serves as his Top-25 votes for the AP Writers Poll. As a result the inconsistencies within these Poll selections continue to baffle the college football world, especially after it is constantly hyped that every game is a playoff in college football.
This question was posed by a Kentucky fan, who like me, couldn’t believe my eyes when Louisville was ranked ahead of Kentucky in this weeks power poll developed by Mandel, after Kentucky beat the Cardinals less than 24 hours prior.
I’m not a Kentucky fan. I’m not a Louisville hater. But when the polls came out on Sunday, I said, “Wow, these people really are idiots. Good thing Mandel, with his common sense and knowledge, will have the Wildcats above Louisville, even if it’s just one spot.” Now, I’m going to stop just short of calling you an idiot for this week, but what’s your reasoning behind the Cardinals’ higher ranking?
This is a wonderful question, for it brings the CFA bias (alliance) to the forefront. Although Mandel admits he isn’t proud of his pick, it would have been much easier and far less damaging to the college football world if he would have simply fixed his error. And no Stewart, you can’t use the excuse that you were up against a deadline because it takes all but 5 seconds to read the score: Kentucky 40 – Louisville 34.
But then he uses another CFA rationale piece – “if the teams played ten times they’d probably split”…I thought every game was a playoff in college football…we don’t play 3 game, 5 game or 7 game sets in college football. You see, whenever a non-CFA team wins a game, especially a close game decided in the final seconds, the CFA homers will always use this rationale, or the complete cop-out that that Team A didn’t show up against Team B for this is totally incredible in itself since every game is supposedly so critical in college football. This totally de-emphasizes the victors earnings, while protecting the elite status of the CFA members in the process.
When both competing teams are CFA members – such as USC and Nebraska or LSU and Virginia Tech, they are completely protected after a loss, because after all how can we penalize a team for losing to such a quality foe. If you question this consider Virginia Tech and their incredible ranking, as if stinking up the joint against East Carolina wasn’t bad enough, they were completely out-classed against LSU. Do they even deserve a ranking after such an ominous start?
Incredibly, Mandel’s excuse for not ranking the Wildcats higher than the Cardinals (?)…was Nebraska, who got crushed by USC in a game that at one point was 49-10. Considering both Nebraska and Louisville have considerable problems on defense and the Cornhuskers got completely annihilated at home, how do we rationalize both programs inclusion into the Top-25? At such an early juncture in the season, both should completely fall out of the Top-25 altogether.
I could understand Mandel’s rationale if both teams were undefeated at 8-0, resulting in a 8-1 record for the Huskers or even the Cardinal, but when a team is 2-1 (?)…which leaves one to conclude that the polls are built around the unknown or equally grotesque expected, projected or speculated paradigm, since what hasn’t happened or what is expected to happen almost garners as much or more clout than the results on the actual playing field…every games a playoff you know!
This Kentucky – Louisville snafu has happened many times before. In 2005, TCU defeated Oklahoma 17-10, and yet 24 hours later – the Sooner’s still out-ranked the Horned-Frogs in the polls. TCU wasn’t even ranked in the Top-30 going into the game, while Oklahoma was ranked 7th. In less than 24 hours, TCU climbs to 22nd, four spots behind the mighty Sooners at 18th.
In the year 2000, a rising University of Oregon program defeated longtime CFA supporter Texas (considering Athletic Director Dodds worked closely with Chuck Neinas in formulating CFA objectives) in a wide open Holiday Bowl. In the pre-season poll the following season, although Oregon defeated Texas on the playing field less than 10 months earlier, Texas started 5th and Oregon 7th. Given the fact that Oregon was voted out of the championship match-up with Miami in the Rose Bowl in one of the most controversial sports incidents in history as Nebraska didn’t even play in their conference championship game, much less win their division, it makes you wonder about an alterior motive.
Where would Oregon have been in this equation if they began in the number five spot like Texas in 2001? And where would TCU have been given the fact that I’ve hyped the continual war between the CFA and the Big-10 / PAC-10 alliance. Couldn’t we conclude that the fishy smell is ripe with intellectual significance given the fact that, thus far, Oklahoma, Texas, Miami and Nebraska (four of the all-time media darlings who whole-heartedly supported the CFA cause with venom and vigor) have continued to “face” the NCAA (Big-10 & PAC-10) alliances – essentially taking over the Rose Bowl and relegating the PAC-10 to such minor bowl game venues like the Las Vegas, Hawaii, Sun and Insight.com?
The alarming trend to me in the great American Poll and Bowl shuffle is that the fans and the media made such a fuss about the end of the season polls a couple of years ago when the coaches finally agreed to have their poll votes (at the end of the season) up for public scrutiny, but by then it was too late to do anything about it, which precipitated the response “The system is what it is.” If the fans and the media were truly concerned, they would call people out early in the season, just like I’ve done with Mandel, so we can fix the process before the outcome becomes too harsh and controversial to accept, because this happens over and over and over, every single season.
Although parity is evident within the game today, gaining strength much like an evolving tsunami, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks is responsible for its shock waves of origin, resulting from Oregon’s Rose Bowl berth in 1994, for this showed everyone that the landscape in college football was beginning to change with rapid evolution. Although my article related to the PAC-10 match-ups for the coming week created quite a stir among the loyal Nikeville contingent (read the comments section), you can’t question the coaching ability of Coach Brooks. Lost in the numerous fan tirades he endured a couple of seasons ago was the fact that he had to overcome the loss of 10 available scholarships, while playing in one of the toughest venues in all of sports – The Almighty SEC.
And lost among the Oregon contingent who let me know with vigor and passion how bad it was in the Brooks era under his direction, was the fact the he over-came the CFA era where stock-piling players was a gross advantage, as was the arms race, of which Autzen stadium was pathetic during much of his era with the Big Green of Oregon. As soon as he was able to make improvements to the playing field at Autzen Stadium, Oregon went on a bowl run, beginning against Tulsa with the controversial 1988 Independence Bowl, where he went out on a limb and bought his way in – at a time when Oregon was in the RED money wise within the administrative confines of the athletic department, and culminating in the Rose Bowl match-up with highly ranked Penn State in 1994.
The Boys at the Bleacher Network have put forth a challenge to fellow bloggers and writers across the country to come up with a “Marshall Moment,” which typifies an underdog triumph. I’ve had many in my coaching and playing career, for in 25 years as a playing participant or coach, I have had the blessing and fortune to play in 7 state championship events, ultimately winning 5 state titles.
My favorite Marshall Moment as a coach was an incredible kick-off return against Willamette High School, a local Eugene rival, when we won the game after falling behind 7-3 with 1:58 to go against our cross-town “outspoken” rivals from the West side of town. Both teams entered the game undefeated at 8-0, and played in front of a capacity crowd, nearly 10,000. Alex Brink, the current quarterback who is currently as hot as a pistol right now at Washington State University, was our quarterback at Sheldon, and he led us to not only back-to-back state championship games in 2001 & 2002, but ultimately the state (2002) title in thrilling fashion, setting a state record 10,000 + career passing yards.
My favorite “Marshall Moment” as a fan participant has to come back to the Rich Brooks era at Oregon, when Kenny Wheaton intercepted a Brock Huard pass at the goal-line and raced untouched, after several nifty moves, 100 yards for the score. As Washington – with its premier back Napolean Kaufman – was driving for the inevitable winning score with less than two minutes remaining, most of the fans expected defeat because the discrepancies between the two northwest programs during the Don James era were miles apart. But James left just about the time that the 85 scholarship rule came into affect and coinciding with the cable television platform achieving critical mass, the game exploded with many non-BCS and weaker sisters of the BCS conferences, such as Oregon, swelling as well.
It remains the most significant play to me in Oregon Football history as the play ignited the Ducks in the Race for the Roses in 1994, and ultimately the Cotton Bowl berth in 1995. Although Oregon has continued to falter in their quest for big-time recognition in college football as they are 8-21 against the elite teams in the last decade, they are on the cusp of greatness, especially considering the CFA alliance that prevented them from playing for the championship in 2002. If Washington completes the drive into the end-zone on that fateful day, Oregon may be in-fact, still searching, for its national identity. We have Rich Brooks to thank, and it makes me warm inside to know that Kentucky fans will now be experiencing much of the same for years to come.
Brooks left a footprint in the sand for others to follow, especially considering the CFA line in the sand, which epitomized that whole era, as the CFA civil war – arguably still brewing – affected the game on many levels. Which brings me to my favorite television “Marshall Moment,” which has to be last years Boise State victory over mighty Oklahoma, especially given the same CFA issues I have detailed in this very article. And finally, it brings up the greatest “Marshall Moment” in the history of the sport which has yet to come – The BCSBusters Playoff Proposal, which would be the greatest revolutionizing factor in the history of college football, and as “Sports Management Worldwide” CFO – Dr. James Lashbrook has written in the foreword of my book manuscript, certainly would be worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.
While I admit, the playoff proposal is difficult to follow, because we constantly think of the NFL loser out model, where once a team loses they are finished with their season, the playoff model I have proposed simply creates a chronological organization out of the current college football paradigm.
I have received many criticizing comments from fans across the country claiming they don’t agree with a 32-team model, but they have missed the concept altogether – “as they can’t see the tree’s through the forest.” It doesn’t matter how many teams you place in the bracket (2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 (65) (like the March Madness affair), for if you don’t have a chronological head-to-head sequence of match-ups available to determine superiority, teams who are on the bubble will always be complaining and whining about some sort of discriminatory bias.
And if we constantly rely on a polling system or NCAA selection committee, there will always, most certainly, be evidence of discriminating bias because there is too much money at stake – considering college football is a billion dollar enterprise – and let’s face it, people are people, full of their own agenda’s and personal biases. People are not just going to sit back and watch the money stream go by, without casting their net to grab as much as possible, garnering self-fulfilling attention in the process.
What is completely missed by criticizing fans is the fact that there are four seperately competing brackets in the BCSBusters Model, involving all 120 teams. By eliminating the bogus September match-ups, I have simply saved time in the regular season to determine not only the elite match-ups and premiere bowl venues, but the regional match-ups and less significant venues as well.
The BCS Bracket is utilized to determine the BCS Bowls, including the championship match-up, as well as the remaining upper-tier bowl ventures. The Holiday Bracket determines the remaining lower-tier bowl venues, while the NIT Bracket determines a newly created 5 bowl extravaganza in Hawai’i, and the Eddie Robinson Sportsman’s bracket allows for head-to-head competition among the bottom end teams in the country (replace the Bottom -10 with the Bottom-24) to finish their 12 game seasons.
The magic button concept is “A team EARNS their place in one of the four brackets based on their conference finish, and a team EARNS their non-conference schedule in the process.” Equally missed is that the BCS Bracket is really an 8 team bracket, but you need a chronological sequence of events in place to arrive at 8, without any discriminating biases and jaded opinions standing in the way of playoff harmony.
The final 8, is in fact the conference champions, but how do you get to 8 under the current paradigm when the conference championship events in the SEC, ACC, Big-12 and the MAC don’t even necessarily involve the top two teams from the overall conference, as many times the number two team from one division is better – as proven on the field – than the number one team from a rival division of a given conference. So to get to the final 8, without any hints of discrimination or bias – hence: head-to-head match-ups – you have to include a field of 32, again based on the conference finish.
The hidden jewel I’ve created virtually eliminates the riddle wrapped up inside the enigma controversy (the CFA Alliance and its grossly controversial affects on the Poll and Bowl shuffle), as college football could operate under the same current arrangement (12 game regular season, upholding the tradition of the bowl platform as well as the importance of the regular season), yet determine on the field who the best teams in the nation are on an annual basis. And we don’t have that far to go if people would realize what is happening with the current poll system, and if Notre Dame, Jim Delaney and the PAC-10 Conference could get on board. Now that’s a “Marshall Moment,” and ultimately we have Rich Brooks to thank – for parity continues to march onward!
At the conclusion of this article today the following results occurred:
Nebraska 41 – Ball State 40
Syracuse 38 – Louisville 35
Florida 30 – Mississippi 24
Virginia 28 – Georgia Tech 23
Navy 46 – Duke 43
As parity marches onward…where will we be five years down the road, especially considering it takes nearly a decade to move large agenda’s forward on the national level. The BCS storm, swirling from the dry line created by the 85 scholarship rule and the wind shear factor, resulting from the non-BCS rise within the game, is just beginning to brew.
This entry was posted on September 28, 2007 at 10:35 AM and is filed under NCAA Football. Tagged: AUTHOR:BCSBUSTERS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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