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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mark Cuban Versus the BCS

I'd rather seem him take on Rex Ryan or Donald Trump, but the possible tangle between Cuban and the BCS is intriguing to say the least. Put simply, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks is trying to figure out a way to create a Division I college football playoff.

The defenders of the current system say that a) for some (inexplicable) reason, it's not wise to take DI players away from school for a playoff system, b) it would be unfair to the sponsors of the bowls who wouldn't figure into the playoff system and c) it's kind of fun to have debates about which team is best.

Let's debunk each reason.

First, from DI to DIII in every sport but Division I-A football, there is a post-season playoff. Sure, the Ivies are a bit self-righteous about prohibiting their football teams from participating in the FCS (formerly D-IAA playoffs), but everyone else participates in every post-season tournament (and even the fair Ivies have teams that go very far in, and occasionally win, NCAA tournaments without a fear that the athletes will miss too much school). So, while Harvard might not go to the FCS playoffs, academic stalwarts such as Williams can do to the DIII football playoffs and occasionally do. The best academic schools aside, to contend that the DI schools will spend too much time on football when bowl-bound schools spend all of December practicing is ludicrous. Sorry, but the real reason for the defenders of the current system is money.

Second, why would it be unfair to the sponsors of the bowls? Have you checked out some of the bowl games? You have 6-6 teams either facing each other or facing 7-5 teams. Do teams with those records really warrant a bowl game? Letting them go to bowls only diminishes the value of the other bowls, because then bowl games aren't scarce, and value is based to a great degree on scarcity (for example, if outstanding lefthanded starting pitchers abounded, Cliff Lee wouldn't have received the contract he did). No, it's time for Darwinism to take place in college football. Teams with mediocre records shouldn't go bowling. The reason these bowls exist is a) for the money and b) so that college coaches of teams with so-so years can tell recruits that they just went to a bowl game. What other purposes are there? (For what it's worth, you could still have bowl games for a bunch of teams not in the NCAA playoffs -- that is, below the top 16 -- if the NCAA so desired).

Third, the debate as to who should be #1 is silly when there is an easy remedy -- a post-season playoff. President Richard Nixon once told the public that he thought undefeated Texas was better than undefeated Penn State, and the voters in the polls elected Texas #1. There are other similar examples of idiocy. The best way to decide these things is on the field. By the way, if you don't think that there could be Super Bowl-like (or at least Final Four-like) ad revenues for the national semi-finals and finals, I think that you'd be proven wrong. The ratings and corresponding advertising dollars would be huge. Why? Because a) the best teams will be deciding the game on the field and b) the scarcity of this particular game. It could be a lucrative endeavor indeed.

And now comes a formidable foe in Mark Cuban. The BCS folks should put their protective gear on, as this promises to be one tough fight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the NESCAC does not allow football to go to the playoffs, or even schedule a ninth game.

4:44 PM  

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