THE NEW NORMAL: COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S IMPENDING PLAYOFF
'The status quo is off the table'
Ready or not, here a four-team college football playoff comes. Longtime readers will know that I'm not a huge playoff fan, particularly when we start getting past two rounds. I'm at the point now where I think that a four-team playoff is reasonable and a way to keep every selection Sunday from turning into a thermonuclear war between aggrieved fan bases.
However, I still worry that a four-team playoff will lead to an eight-team tournament, then to a 16-team format, etc. And that's the point at which we begin to do real damage to the sport. Americans in general and sports fans and administrators in particular have not shown an ability to grasp that less is sometimes actually more. The more teams that get into the playoffs, the less special being in the playoffs and the process of getting there becomes.
Every sport that has ever implemented a playoff has increased the size beyond what it began with and beyond what it really needs. Maybe college football will be the notable exception that strikes the right balance. I'm not holding my breath.
I'm not sure Jim Delany is all there
The B1G commissioner has always been, um, eccentric. But I think we're swing more firmly in the direction of unhinged here, at least in terms of a dangerous lack of perspective.
Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
I've got an idea. Let's have CNN or one of the other news agencies ask the people being slaughtered in Syria right now whether they like their situation being compared to what happens with the BCS. Or, better yet, let's have someone in sports find an analogy that doesn't sound wildly out of sync with what they're talking about.
But Delany wasn't done. The consequences if we get this wrong, you see, is a return to -- I don't even know what to say, just read.
Delany pointed out that the first Rose Bowl, between Michigan and Stanford, was temporarily replaced by ostrich races. Those are in no danger of returning, but Delany made it clear he was determined to keep the Rose Bowl relevant.
IF WE DON'T SAVE THE ROSE BOWL THAN WE WILL ALL BE WATCHING FERRET FIGHTS ON NEW YEAR'S DAY EVERY YEAR PANIC AND DO WHATEVER JIM DELANY WANTS YOU TO SO WE CAN SAVE THE FERRETS.
The selection committee idea
There are reasons to think that a selection committee for a four-team playoff might work -- it could take into account factors like strength of schedule and winning one's conference without completely trying to turn those things into numbers in another Frankenformula by the BCS brain trust.
But there's also a question about how a selection committee could truly be objective with such a narrow field. It's different in a sport like college basketball, where the field is 68 teams and a number of auto-bids also limits the ability of the selection committee to do crazy things.
They still do, of course, but it tends to be things that affect teams at the very margins. When you're talking about a four-game playoff, there are no margins. An elite team that's ranked No. 5 or would have been the fifth team picked is going to be left out entirely. And each team that's selected to the field is going to have a strong effect on every other team in the tournament. Those are just a few of the conflicts of interest that could arise, and there's no clear way of dealing with them all.
Two steps forward, one step back
It's actually not a bad idea to take a little more time to figure out how to do the $2,000 stipend for athletes to make sure everyone is comfortable with the idea. The one thing worse than not having a stipend is creating an unsustainable stipend program, which would quickly collapse and convince everyone that paying players even "the cost of attendance" is a horrible idea that college football should never try again.
But this part of the growing NCAA discussions is an unquestionably bad idea that seems to go in the wrong direction.
Another task force has recommended firming up the scheduling window for major college football's bowl season, setting a calendar through the 2019 season in which the first game would be no earlier than Dec. 15 and the last game no later than Jan. 13.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they're talking about college football games almost two weeks into the new year. That seems to run counter to the complaints of most college football fans, or at least the ones that your humble correspondent talks to. The bowl season needs to end sooner if the end date is going to change; let the NFL play football deep into the winter.
They don't already have one?
Kevin Sumlin suggests that Texas A&M and LSU could be headed toward a rivalry based on ... well, really the fact that older TAMU and LSU fans would probably be surprised to find out that a rivalry doesn't already exist.
Robert Steeples transfers
The Missouri cornerback is leaving because of playing time. Or academics. Or something.
Georgia Tech 4, Georgia 3
Kyle Wren has now done more to help his team win a game at Turner Park than Frank Wren has ever done to help his.
Pat Summitt has a book deal
Apparently being a coach emeritus has its benefits
They caught on
As of this writing, Gameday was trying to figure out how to come up with a system that doesn't make the Jews for Buchanan debacle in 2000 look like a model election system. Currently, the site that once led to a vote for filming a Gameday commercial on the winning campus now leads to this message:
We've Been Overwhelmed With the Fan Response! We're Taking a Time Out to Ensure the Integrity of the Vote. Check Back for Updates.
Russian elections officials are poring over the vote as we speak.