Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The BCS Is A Cartel

I meant to mention this a couple of weeks ago when it came out, but I'm slow, as you all know. Dan Wetzel and  Austin Murphy collaborated on perhaps the best article I've seen in SI in a very long time. Unfortunately, everywhere I click to link you to it, I get a "bad gateway" error message. Perhaps the BCS cartel has firebombed SI's server.

If you get a chance to read the article, wherein Wetzel and Murphy detail why the current system is such a screw job. You may be surprised to learn it's not just a screw-job to the fans. It's also a money-losing proposition to almost every school. One of their examples was an OSU appearance in a BCS game -- a money-gainer, to be sure, right? Wrong.

For a summary of some of their points, go to Rock Chalk Talk here or visit your dentist's office and read a hard copy of SI. You'll find yourself getting really, really angry. Even if you like the bowl system, you'll be pissed at the way the schools get screwed over.

And then once you've done that, check out this great column from Murphy, where he details some of the pissy/nonsensical responses he's gotten from those in power with the BCS.

Calling it a cartel is awesome, because that's what it is. The argument that it would lessen the regular season just isn't true. Just as the wild card doesn't lessen the baseball season, a small playoff (8 or 16 teams) would only keep more fan bases involved and excited. An upset in your rivalry game could mean getting into the playoff mix. A loss by a #4 or #5 team over Thanksgiving could suddenly drop them out of the mix. Point is, there would still be excitement for a lot more teams.

Alabama, for example, lost two games earlier this season. And for them, winning a national title is the goal... so their season was essentially over. How is that exciting? Because they may get to ruin Auburn's season? Whoop-dee-do.

As you know, I could go on about this forever, but I'll let you read the much, much, much better works by Murphy and Wetzel.


von Nostrand said...

Thanks for the heads up and +1 for the dentist office comment.

zlionsfan said...

Yes, thanks for pointing this out ... I rarely read SI any more, but the issue you've pictured is sitting on my table, waiting for me to read it, solely because of that article. (It's not that I need to learn more to despise the crock that is the BCS - I can do that fine on my own - but I enjoy any article that explains why it's a crock.)

Georiga Boiler said...

Here's the link. Seems to be working now.

BoilerPaulie said...

I've got that article and I'm scanning it in now.. Check your BS email soon if you want a PDF you can post.

Jeffobocko said...

I agree with what you said about the BCS, but I think the wild card has hurt the baseball regular season. The way the divisions are set up also hurts things. Remember a few years ago when St. Louis won it all after barely going over .500? That regular season didn't mean much. All they had to do was be better than a few mediocre teams to get in.

College football with a playoff makes sense. There are only 12 games a year and the schedules are wildly unbalanced. Baseball has 162 games, which is enough to determine who is the best team. I wish baseball would go back to having no playoffs and just a world series. Get rid of interleague as well. That would really make the regular season worth something.

BoilerPaulie said...

Here's a PDF for anyone who wants to see it in its original magazine format instead of just text.

SI - BCS Sucks PDF

zlionsfan said...

Yes, adding more teams to postseason play in any sport does decrease the value of succeeding during the regular season ... but it significantly increases the interest across the league during the season.

Take away wildcards and division winners, though, and you'd get a completely different picture. I'll use another St. Louis season as an example. Check out the NL standings on August 1, 1968. The Cardinals have a 15-game lead over second-place Atlanta with two months to go. Yes, those regular-season games were meaningful for St. Louis, but how important were those August and September games for the rest of the league? There was hardly any point in playing them; the Braves would have had to play at nearly an .800 clip to catch the Cardinals playing .500 ball.

By September 1, the Tigers had built a 7-game lead over Baltimore; by the 15th, the Cardinals had clinched and the Tigers were a day away from doing so. The last two weeks of the season were meaningless. Divisions and wild-card spots don't prevent those things from happening, but they do keep more teams involved late in the season, which (theoretically) keeps more fans involved.

That's part of the reason the leagues split into divisions in '69 (or perhaps most of it; back then, I suspect TV revenues weren't nearly as much of a concern), and the same thing would apply to college football, at the I-A level, at least. (Obviously the other levels have been doing this for some time now.)

Benjamin said...

The BCS is why I can't get too riled up about Purdue football. I know the cards are so stacked against us - even as a B10 team because what the BCS really does is force a glacial pace to the college football landscape in general, where the top programs stay the top programs unless serious NCAA violations (see: USC). To thrive in this environment is not due to merit, it's about who had the advantages set up when the system was established and can continue to take advantage from then on.

Go b-ball. Dirty yes, but checked somewhat by a playoff...