Friday, March 6, 2009

The Mountain West Proposal

On Wednesday, the Mountain West Conference presented the BCS commissioners with a new proposal to tweak the BCS system. And it wants the proposal fast-tracked - to take place as soon as the 2010 season, when the new TV deal with ESPN kicks in.

Flush with success from the 2008 season - culminating with Utah's undefeated run and No. 2 ranking in the final AP poll - the Mountain West also managed to get the backing of a few congressmen. Its proposal seeks to use as much of the existing infrastructure as possible, with a few add-ons.

You can read the entire proposal, but here's the highlight:

  • Amending the automatic qualifier standard (so the MWC could be let in, of course)

  • Adding a fifth bowl to the rotation

  • Creating national semifinals, to be played a week after the New Years Day bowls

  • Pitting the semifinal winners in the national championship game, played a week later

  • Using a committee to select the 10 BCS teams (and ditching the BCS standings, putting the Guru out of business)

The MWC wants the proposal discussed at the BCS meeting next month. And ACC commissioner John Swofford, no doubt under some political pressure, said the proposal will get a "full airing."

So what's going to happen?

Nothing. Or not much, other than that there will be "continued discussions" about a new format. There are simply too many things at work here against this proposal, or any other proposal.

First, the BCS conference schools and Notre Dame, the big power brokers, like the way things are right now. And so do the smaller conferences that probably will never get a shot at a BCS bowl in the system proposed by the MWC, especially the WAC, the forefather of the MWC that has benefited enormously from the current BCS arrangement.

Second, there is no real political will behind this. The nation is in crisis, college football is not going to be a priority in an environment where unemployment is about to hit 10% and the Dow Jones is heading toward 6,500. Any politician talking too much about this risks being viewed as out of touch with reality. That's why you're not going to see much of a reaction out of any senators, let along President Obama.

Finally, that the proposal comes from the Mountain West actually de-legitimizes it. This sounds too much like a grievance filing immediately after one has been wronged. The MWC conveniently picked and chose whatever data suited its argument. As you can see from this table compiled by our friend Ben Prather, the MWC really is the seventh-best conference over the past four years, when objective and more robust data were used.

But putting aside all the machinations of the BCS, does the MWC proposal have merit?

Not much. Certainly not enough to warrant its adoption.

Beyond the arbitrary automatic qualification process, adding a fifth bowl is wasteful and unnecessary. But the biggest problem is having an eight-team playoff. It's simply impractical from a logistical standpoint. It's even more impractical when you try to jam it in at the end of the bowl season.

Keep in mind the number of people that need to be moved around for these bowl games. Going to one bowl game is a huge expense, even in a healthy economy. Going to the equivalent of three bowl games in three consecutive weeks will bankrupt most people, those who are stupid enough to try it. Given the current economic climate, that's a deal breaker right there.

The most ludicrous part of the proposal, however, is the concept of a 12-man committee. This idea is considerably worse than the BCS standings. To have 12 people, each with a vested interest, to vote on the teams that would divvy up nearly $100 million is insane. Even the coaches poll, fraught with conflict of interest, is far superior to this model - and that is merely one-third of the BCS standings. Just imagine the horse-trading that'd go on in that committee room.

At the end, the BCS commissioners will kick this proposal around, spew out a few platitudes, and feed it down the shredder when everybody else leaves the room.

Unfortunately, that's where it belongs.


Anonymous said...

If you think an eight team playoff is not practical, you won't like my suggestion, which is: sixteen teams, starting Thanksgiving weekend and finishes just before Christmas

The New Years' Day bowl games can go on as before, with traditional rivalries

At worst, the "National Champion" would be paired with some team that got knocked out earlier - and lose

So what? This is not a murder trial, guys. It is entertainment. Let's let the bowl committees and the teams with no chance of being "Number One" have some fun, and as somebody pointed out, at least half the kids will end their careers on a winning team

Anonymous said...

The bowls can not be used within a playoff system...period...only as consolation games (basically what they are now). The sooner fans come to grip with this, the sooner a playoff will be a possibility. Eight teams...each with a seed...the games played at the higher seed stadium until two are left...the losers going to one of current BCS bowls...the two left going to the BCS championship. You also would need two at-large bids being a 9 and 10 seed to fill in the open BCS spots. But it's basically very simple. It won't happen anytime soon though, especially with ESPN in the mix now.

Anonymous said... is the proposal:

1. Scrap everything we now have.
2. Form 8 "Super Conferences" with 16 teams each. (128 total teams so we need to add a few from somewhere).
3. 2 divisions per conference (8 teams each)
4. Schedule is as follows: 7 division games, 2 cross-division games, and 3 out of conference games per season (total of 11 regular season games)
5. Each super conference has a conference championship game.
6. Winner of each conference receives automatic bid to 16 team playoff. (each also earn home game in first round)
7. Top 8 other teams receive bids 9-16. (these can be decided however we want and conference affiliation does not matter and will not be limited to a specific number of participants per conference)
8. If Notre Dame and the service academies don't want to join a super-conference, we'll have a special NIT for them at the end of the season. We'll give them one of those 5 inch trophies that everyone got as a "participation trophy" in tee-ball.

There would be plenty of money to go around so the presidents would be happy.

What does everybody think?

Michael (phx)

Anonymous said...

I like what you have but I have a suggestion. you take the bcs rankings at the end of the regular season. the top eight teams would play a regular season Playoff the week of the confrance championship games. 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, & 4 vs 5. These games could be played anywhere in the country i belive cities would love to host these games.then you take the final 4 and have them rotate in the new years bowl games. Sugar bowl gets 1 vs 4. orange bowl gets 2 vs 3. the next year you would use the rose and fiesta bowls. the losers of the playoff games would still be eligable for bowl games that are not hosting the final 4. then you have a true national championship game coming out of the bowls.this can be done without extending the season and the revenue from the regular season playoff would be huge. plus the fan gets a champion decided on the field! Scott Underwood. Denver, co

dethwing said...

Promotion and relegation. It's really the only way with too many teams and not enough games.