December 02, 2004

How Not To Fix College Football

Bob Davie is, as they say, one of the best X's and O's coaches in the business (and I'm not just saying that because he wrote this epic singing the praises of Braylon Edwards). I especially like his Football 101 series.

But he's not a big-picture kind of coach, which is one reason he didn't last a long time at fND (lack of talent development, then lack of recruiting were two others). That flaw shows itself here, with what I think is a pretty dumb idea on how to 'fix' college football:

Everyone agrees that the current BCS system is headed for a potential nightmare if USC, Oklahoma and Auburn remain undefeated.

. . .

I offer a simple solution -- put it in the hands of the 117 Division I-A coaches and let them decide their national champion. With so much at stake, let's not look back after one team is left out and say, "We should have tweaked the system."

1. Let all 117 Division I-A coaches have a vote
Currently, 61 coaches get to vote and it's human nature that there is going to be some bias and some coaches will have an agenda. With 117 coaches voting, those biases or agendas will be diluted.
Recall that the BCS was invented to solve the problem of split or disputed 'titles' (I'm using scare quotes with malice aforethought here - just because a group of writers and/or coaches say you're the best doesn't necessarily make it so). I suppose only using one poll instead of two eliminates the split poll issue, but that's like saying you'll reduce wear on your car tires by only driving on two wheels.
2. Provide the coaches with game tapes
Let the coaches have each team's final three game tapes to evaluate. The reason I say give them the final three tapes is because it should be determined who is playing the best football late in the season regardless of who their opponent is. Coaches are experts at analyzing and breaking down opponents' tape. The problem in the current system is that it is virtually impossible for the 61 coaches voting to get to see all the unbeaten teams.
So how many teams do you evaluate? Who compiles the game tapes and sends them out? And most importantly, who pays for it?
3. Give the coaches two days to evaluate the tapes
Given time, the coaches will do a thorough job. If we have to, let's put a moratorium on recruiting and make this the coaches' No. 1 priority. I have great confidence that the coaches realize what is at stake and with no one being able to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting, coaches will dedicate the time and provide a thorough evaluation.
I'll give Davie credit for addressing one of the major problems with the coaches' poll: a coach knows his own team best, his opponents' teams next best, and everybody else not well at all. Forcing the coaches to spend two days looking at game films could solve this problem.


I am as confident as Davie is, but in the other direction. I can't imagine ALL 117 COACHES being willing to take a two-day hiatus from the business of their own team to decide who 'wins' the 'title.' And just because they couldn't recruit doesn't mean that they necessarily would spend the two days reviewing the tapes (there are lots of other things they could be doing that don't involve recruiting), so there goes the throrough evaluation Davie is expecting. And that doesn't even count the schools who cheat now - they'd DEFINITELY figure out a way to gain an unfair advantage over those two days.
4. Eliminate the media and computers
With no disrespect to the media or those running the computers, this is the coaches' national champion. Coaches make their living by evaluating strengths and weaknesses, so let them do what they do best.

And I'm sure the media would just roll over and let this happen. Right after monkeys fly out of my butt.
Why this will work
Obviously, there is no perfect way to decide which two teams should play for the national championship. Under this plan, we can keep the integrity of the system and simply tweak it if three teams remain unbeaten. Obviously, one team will still be left out, but I think USC's Pete Carroll, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville would agree that their peers are the most qualified to make the final decision.
No. The teams are the most qualified to make the final decision. On the field, the way they do in every other college sport - INCLUDING THE LOWER DIVISIONS OF FOOTBALL! C'mon, Bob; this ain't brain surgery - take the top 12 teams (hell, use the current BCS formula for it; that'll be good enough. Or use a selection committee, the way they do in basketball) and move the top 4 second-tier bowls to the week before New Years to match up teams 5-12 (give byes to teams 1-4). Those winners go on to the current 'big four' bowls on New Years. Create two new bowls for those winners the next weekend, then one more for the championship game the next weekend.

Nobody plays more than three games more than they otherwise would, and the season's still over before the Super Bowl.

Posted by Chris at December 2, 2004 12:13 PM

Category: Sports

I have the answer to the college football national championship dilemna. Don't thank me, I'm a giver.

All teams are not allowed to compete in the BCS UNLESS they maintain for two years a MINIMUM 75% graduation rate of the players on the team.

Problem solved.

This years championship game would probably be Penn State vs. Vanderbilt.

Because this is "collegiate" athletics, right? College and stuff? Classes and academics? Right?

Screw the bowls, and all the bullshit money involved. I'm tired of the gravy train parade every year where people pretend the BCS is anything less than a farm league for the NFL.

Posted by: Tman at December 2, 2004 11:10 PM

I feel you, man, but that's a whole different argument...

Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at December 3, 2004 02:55 PM

I just kills me though that a guy like Joe Paterno actually WON a national title while running a 90%+ graduation rate, yet no other schools have ever even come close. That's why the whole BCS argument to me is ridiculous. Admit that college footbal Div-1A has nothing to do with academics, and then have your playoffs and make everyone happy.

Same thing in college basketball. The last ten-twenty years, the national champion had a sub 35% graduation rate for its players. How anyone can call this "college sports" is beyond me.

Posted by: Tman at December 3, 2004 03:59 PM

The only way you will have a national champion that will stand up to any kind of critical scrutiny is to have a national tournament like basketball does. Now, I realize that starting with 64 teams will cause the tournament to last much longer than desired, but reducing the tournament to less than 16 teams makes the selection criteria prone to argument. A larger pool of teams makes it less likely that the selection committee will exclude a team (because of personal bias) that has a real chance to win the tournament, and still allows for a "cinderella story" team to come out of nowhere. A short list of teams makes it little more than the selection committee's fantasy league.

Football is a more physically brutal game than basketball, so it is unrealistic to expect teams to play on the tight schedule that is used in the basketball tournament, but surely they can play more than one game a week. It would be a mark of prestige for a team to be able to tough out an increased play schedule and win the tournament.

I still disagree with linking the championship to the bowl games. Many of them were created as post-season grudge matches between conferences that may not normally play against each other. Some bowls never had such a tradition, but still often created games that would not normally be played.

Every time I see the "wrong" team playing in the Rose Bowl, I die a little inside. By the "wrong" team, I mean either:

* The #2 team in the Big 10 or Pac 10 (because
the #1 team is in a BCS game for a position).

* A team not in either conference (because the
BCS committee decided that the Rose Bowl was
one of the games for a position).

Call me a traditionalist, but I think that either situation dilutes the history of the game, and diminishes its meaning for everyone involved.

Posted by: grimblefig at December 6, 2004 11:59 AM

Chris, do us a favor and get your guys to crush Texas in the Rose. It's ridiculous that something as small as Arkansas' fumble vs. the 'Horns could've made a difference in who ended up playing for all the marbles.

Posted by: Steve at December 7, 2004 01:28 PM

I'm on it...

Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at December 8, 2004 09:45 PM

tman. why 90%? why not demand 100%?

normal college graduation rates for the student body are near 45%. wouldn't that be a better number?

and you might be surprised at the graduation rates for some of the other non-east coast teams. granted, their degrees are in PE, but it's a sheepskin all the same.

and keep in mind too, college football pays the tab for most other collegiate sports as well.

16 teams chris. thsi year's season was 15 weeks. or 16. just force all schools to skip their bye weeks, start at the same time, and use the last 3-4 weeks of the season, PLUS december for a playoof. hell, you could have 32 teams. top 25 plus 7 teams from AA.

longhorns will roll.


Posted by: mlah at December 13, 2004 09:47 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAH Dave's NEVER Home!!!!!!!!!!! ha ha ha ha ha ha..........

Posted by: muffin at December 29, 2004 05:08 AM