Notes from the Collegiate Sports World…

Posted: June 30, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , , ,

Here are three collegiate points from the prior week in sports.

1)      American finally got a playoff

Enjoy this now because this four team playoff will only be going downhill from this point forward.  Beginning in 2014, NCAA Division I football will have a four team playoff to determine its National Champion with the major BCS bowls serving as semi-final games for some super huge title game.  The deal will be twelve years meaning the twelve university CEOs, eleven conference commissioners, and one athletic director wanted something substantial to capitalize on the dollars and provide stability for their schools.  Now, I did not think that college football needed a playoff.  People watched the games and in the history of the BCS, the best two teams generally ended up in the Championship game.  Restricting the number of teams eligible added controversy (those number three teams left out) but also cut down on controversy (limiting teams stating legitimate claims to compete for the championship.  I am not against a playoff but I did not think it was absolutely necessary.

All that said, get ready for all hell to break loose.  Four teams get in based on…a selection committee.  People worried about the computers with mystery formulas will quickly turn their attention to some type of committee with closed criteria evaluating the top four teams to compete for a championship.  Of course we are not sure how this committee will be formed, if it will be consistent throughout the life of the playoff, or the criteria to be used.  All of this suggests bad news.  The biggest concern with this selection committee will be choosing four teams from the wealth of talent dispersed within conferences and throughout the entire landscape of college football.  The regular season still matters (although people advocating for an eight team playoff would be doing damage to that idea) but how much is placed on winning your conference?  Strength of schedule?  Placement in a major conference?  Consider the difficulty in picking the top four teams over the past three seasons.

2010: Auburn and Oregon both went undefeated from major football conferences (SEC and Pac-12 respectively).  So we have two more spots left.  TCU went undefeated too.  Makes sense to include the undefeated teams.  One spot: Stanford (11-1), Wisconsin (11-1), Ohio State (11-1), Michigan State (11-1), and Boise State (11-1).  Well, Big Ten obviously had a great year but which one do you take?  Arkansas was 10-2 but play in the toughest conference in college football.  How does one figure that out?  Thank goodness we have a four team playoff to solve this issue.

2009: Alabama (SEC) and Texas (Big 12) both went undefeated.  Traditional power conferences so they are definitely in.  But Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State also went undefeated.  All three of these teams come from lesser respected conferences, conferences that simply are not as challenging as the SEC, Pac-12, Big 10, and Big 12.  Florida, case and point, went 12-1.  Probably going to put them in…but why?  Because they had a power schedule?  Bigger attraction for the television people?  This is bedlam.

2008: Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama, USC, Penn State, and Texas Tech lost one game.  (Oklahoma and Florida played for the championship)  Already there is going to major controversy.  Oh Utah and Boise State went undefeated.  You know the Utah that went on to beat the hell out of Alabama in the Sugar bowl 31-17.  It would be a shame if Utah did not get a chance to make the playoffs because it is in a lesser conference.

Despite being easy to argue for the playoff in 2011 with four one loss teams, more often than not the selection of the four teams will lead to multiple angry franchises because in this system an opportunity is more valuable than before.  A chance is all that matters.  Maybe the commissioners waited for their opportunity to get a season where four teams clearly stood out from the rest.  Congrats on the playoffs but remember this enthusiasm while you are cursing out the selection committee in December.

Aside: The value of conferences will probably go up.  Pac-12, SEC, Big 10, and Big 12 are the dominant conferences.  Everything else is secondary, have been treated as such, and will continue to be treated as such.  The aforementioned athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, represented Notre Dame, the thoroughly outdated power still living off its success in the 1980s, NBC contract, and independent status.  Notre Dame means hardly anything to young athletes.  Your school is no longer the anchor of college football.  Your NBC contract is insignificant compared to the large television deals to schools and conferences today.  Get in a darn conference or step aside.  It’s a joke that they continue to be independent.  NCAA should get progressive on this issue because it is laughable that the Fighting Irish get special treatment with independent status.  Get control of your program, stop covering up the illicit behavior in South Bend, and get with the program.

2)      Michigan did less with more than any other school over the last twenty years.

When the Miami Heat became NBA Champions, Juwan Howard earned acquired the first and only championship ring of the famous Fab Five.  Howard hardly had significance on this Heat team meaning Jalen Rose is the only member of the Fab Five to meaningfully contribute in the NBA Finals.  Webber-Rose-Howard-King-Jackson.  This squad did reach two NCAA Championship games but lost in both games.  They went on to have good careers with Chris Webber as a borderline Hall of Famer.  But this reminded me of Michigan’s athletic motto: Top Five draft classes, few results on court/field.

Basketball has limited samples but it did set the table for the football program which absolutely eroded during the 21st century.  Michigan consistently acquired top five football classes but found themselves losing bowl games, being destroyed by Ohio State (re: Sweatervest), and ultimately not putting players in the NFL (Tom Brady, before you come after me, went very late in the draft –pick  #199- so don’t act like he was a high pick).  Before Wisconsin rebuilt their program, they put more players in the NFL from 2000-2006 than Michigan.

Michigan football also dealt with the turmoil surrounding Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez which never helped develop talent or win games.  I have nothing against Michigan and think Brady Hoke will continue the reestablishing of Wolverines football, but Howard winning a title forced me to address the trend of top classes leading to underachievement.  Michigan…my eye is on you long term.

3)      UCLA: Playing to the home crowd

UCLA, a school which recently signed Sean Combs’ son Justin Combs to play football beginning this season, decided to offer a scholarship to Cordell Broadus, son of USC fan Snoop Dogg.  Unlike Combs, Broadus just completed his freshman year of high school.  One year of high school football.  May not grow to be any taller.  May not make it through four years of the game.  May get bored with it and play basketball.  UCLA just gave him a scholarship and expect people to believe it is not because he is related by blood to Snoop?  UCLA basketball and football has eroded over the last five years and public relations stunts like this suggest the trend will continue.  But maybe this is a case of great scouting…naaa, not even I could try to argue the other side of this one.

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