The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the tag “playoffs”

Notre Dame in the Playoff?

There are hundreds of newspaper articles and blog entries about last night’s game between Florida State and Notre Dame, which Florida State obviously won.  With the win, Florida State moves to 7-0 and is positioned well for the college football playoff.  Mississippi and Mississippi State are also undefeated (for now), setting one of them up to be in the playoff after they play at season’s end.  Obviously, an SEC team WILL be in the playoff.  Beyond that, everyone that matters (i.e. not Marshall) has at least one loss already.  So who would get the final two slots?  The Confidential analyzes Notre Dame’s potential to be in the playoff, despite losing to Florida State and hypothetically reaching 11-1.

Read more…

Off-Topic: Major League Baseball All-Star Game & World Series

Count the Confidential as hating the old system, where the leagues alternated hosting the World Series.  Under that system, a 100-win team from the A.L. or N.L. might be visiting an 86-win team from the opposite league just because it was an odd or even year.  The decision to link the hosting of the World Series to the All-Star game was an improvement.  That being said, the Confidential understands that some have serious opposition to a triviality like the All-Star game impacting which team gets to host the World Series.  So the Confidential posits these alternatives.

  • Option 1: Let the team with the best record host the World Series.  But let the winning league from the All-Star game determine whether a DH applies or not.  If the American League wins the All-Star game, the World Series uses a DH.  If the National League wins the All-Star game, the World Series would not use a DH.  This would give teams a few months to prepare for that eventuality too.  A National League team might trade for Jim Thome, just to get ready for the World Series.  An American League team might add yet another reliever or utility player to get ready for the World Series.  And so on.  Meanwhile, the best team for the entire season would get the privilege of being the home team for the World Series–a fair reward.
  • Option 2: Let the team with the best record host the World Series.  To make the All-Star game meaningful, let the winner of the All-Star game determine who is going to host the All-Star game in 4 years.  Kind of like the announcements of the Olympic hosts, the All-Star game would determine which city would get to host an All-Star game down the road.  Suppose the next team up for the A.L. is Detroit.  And the next team up for the N.L. is San Francisco.  The 2013 All-Star game would determine which of those cities would get the nod in 2017.  Fans in Detroit and San Francisco would certainly take an interest in the All-Star game.  In fact, if each league had a list of the next cities up for an All-Star game, even the other teams on the list would have a vesting interest to care.  After all, if Minnesota was after Detroit, an A.L. win would move Minnesota up the list so that the 2014 game would decide Minnesota’s fate.  And so on.
  • Option 3: Just let the team with the best record host the World Series.  Return the All-Star game to a merely fun event that takes place in July.   Nobody will watch anymore, but virtually nobody does anyway.

As you can see, the Confidential would really like to see a change to allow the team with the best overall record to host the World Series.  MLB is smart enough to come up with adequate tiebreakers.  Frankly, the Confidential likes Options 1 and 2 almost equally.

What do you think?

Reports: Orange Bowl Deal Finalized

CBS Sportsline is reporting that the Orange Bowl deal has been finalized.  According to the report: “The ACC champion will play the highest-ranked team among Notre Dame and available teams from the SEC and Big Ten beginning after the 2014 season.  As the article notes, this deal secures the ACC within the five power conferences that will be dividing most of the college football money.

Left unsaid, of course, is how it will be determined that an SEC or Big Ten team is “available.”  Nevertheless, even the 3rd or 4th best team in these two conferences will present an outstanding gate/matchup for the Orange Bowl.  Georgia-Virginia Tech anyone?  Clemson-Nebraska?  Florida State-Michigan?  LSU-Miami?  Notre Dame-Wisconsin?  Yeah, the ACC and the Orange Bowl will be fine.

The report also notes at length the way the playoff structure will work in just a few years.  There will be ample tie-ins for the 5 major conferences, and then six more slots reserved for all teams.  If it is 6 SEC teams in the top 12, so be it.  If it is 3 teams from the Big East, so be it.  Everyone will have the same access and it will be filled based on merit.  Or, at the very least, the merit as determined by human beings.

The Orange Bowl Tie-In: An ACC Cash Cow Now

For several years now, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Orange Bowl have had an official tie-in.  That relationship to continue for the near future, as the ACC and the Orange Bowl have reached a 12-year deal, which will carry the relationship through 2026.  While that news is great, the outstanding news is that the ACC also has the right to market the TV revenue from the Orange Bowl:

Sources told Schad that the ACC will negotiate and sell the Orange Bowl TV rights and plans to keep at least 50 percent of the revenue. Whatever network gets the Orange Bowl will get to broadcast it, even when it’s a semifinal.

Thus, not only is the new deal great for ensuring that the ACC will remain at the big boys’ table, it is also a financial cash cow.

Just imagine the ratings and revenue resulting from a Florida State-Notre Dame Orange Bowl.  Or, when the Orange Bowl hosts a semifinal, it will feature two of the top 4 teams in the country.  Again, this is a huge “get” for the ACC leadership.

The Orange Bowl remains the logical landing spot for ACC schools due to its location.  Now it will contribute money even when an ACC school is not playing in the game.


Huge Win for the ACC–Four Team Playoff In College Football on the Horizon?

For most folks who have been fretting over the future of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the monetary situation is scary enough.  But when the SEC and Big XII announced their new bowl, there was legitimate concern that the national championship might arise out of a winner of that game versus the winner of the Rose Bowl.  If so, there would be a mad scramble for teams to get into one of the big four conferences.  The latest news is that the 11 conference commissioners, as well as the Notre Dame athletic director, have agreed to a four-team proposal that will select the best four teams, regardless of conference affiliation.   As always, Frank the Tank has a great update.

To be sure, the university presidents will need to make the final decision.  But it is doubtful that the presidents will decide to reject the commissioners’ suggestion and trigger conference realignment Armageddon.  As previously noted on this blog, it is not even clear that adding teams to the top 4 conferences is financially viable.  A school pretty much needs to be worth $40M-$5OM per year to allow each of the existing conference teams to get a $2M raise through the addition.  And even if some schools are worth that, it is not clear that it is worth diluting the tight-knit, slow-growing conferences that are stable.  This playoff structure gives the presidents an “out” for delaying realignment.

For the ACC, this should eliminate any real concern by the ever-whining Florida State fan base that they cannot be nationally competitive.  It probably will not shut them up, but it should.  If they can just learn how to win, they’ll be fine.  The money is there.

And for the rest of the ACC teams, they remain in the national title picture.  A 13-0 ACC team WILL be in a playoff.  Heck, even a 13-0 Big East team will probably qualify.  Like Florida State, it is just up to the ACC teams to go out and win games.


Playoffs for College Football?

The Big 10–long an adversary to any type of college football playoff–appears to be coming around.  In a recent article, it was noted that more and more Big 10 leaders are opening up to the possibility of a playoff.

To be sure, the contemplated playoff would involve 4 teams.  And two of these teams would play at their home stadium.  That this would help the Big 10 is obvious.  If a Big 10 school like Ohio State or Penn State made it that far, they would get to host a team in potentially snowy conditions.  Advantage, Big 10.

That being said, if this is the only way to get to a four-team playoff, then so be it.  Of course, the Confidential is far from persuaded that a 4-team playoff is the best solution.  Instead, it will likely just lead to complaints about how:

  • The system is unfair because Team A was a home team and Team B should have been.
  • The 5th team was so much better than the 3rd and 4th teams.
  • The system is pointless because “Undefeated MidMajor Program” went undefeated and was left out.

There is no perfect solution.  But rest assured that the powers that be are noticing those aspects of the present system that appear to be failing.  Bowl attendance is down.  Viewership is, at best, flat.  More recently, the idea of limiting bowl-eligibility to 7 wins was floated.  It sure looks like change is around the corner.  Hopefully, it will be something that at least the majority of football fans consider an improvement.

College Football Playoffs–Be Careful What You Wish For!

The period between the announcement of the bowl matchups and the crowning of the national championship is the season for many to clamor that college football is a failure and will be until there is a playoff.  ‘Tis the season for media personalities to jump on the populist bandwagon and complain about the evil BCS system.  The easy argument is that it is absurd that college football is the only sport without a playoff–and the NCAA has one at every other level of football.  But be careful what you wish for sports fans.  While a playoff may seem like an overdue necessity, the current college football system is simply awesome.  The Confidential thinks that football fans need to appreciate the beauty of the system, rather than looking for the few ways that it is imperfect.

As an initial matter, the current system WORKS!  The BCS system is designed to ensure that the #1 team plays the #2 team.  Well, it has always done that, right?  If you are excluded, it is because your team is ranked #3.  Maybe it should have been #2… but it was not deemed to be.

Yeah, there is often debate about who is #1 and who is #2, but isn’t that always the case?  If there was a 4-team playoff, the fifth place team would be excluded as the greatest injustice in the history of injustices every year.  Just think about this year… who would the 4 teams be?  LSU, Alabama, Stanford, and Oklahoma State.  Stanford and Alabama did not even win their conference division, much less win their conference championship. And what about 2008, where there were FIVE undefeated teams.  Who are you leaving out?

What about an 8-team playoff.  If 4 is hard, try figuring out 8.  If you went by BCS standings, you would have LSU, Alabama, Okie State, Stanford, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State, and Kansas State.  That’s right, no teams from the ACC or Big 10.  How do you leave out Wisconsin, the Big 10 champ at an impressive 11-2 record?   And so on.  Is it the major conference champions that qualify?  So a 7-5 Louisville or 7-6 UCLA would qualify just for winning their conference title, even though there are teams with much better records in their conference and, of course, outside their conference.  The deeper you go in a playoff pool, the smaller the difference is between candidates.  Is Michigan really worse than Kansas State?  Are you sure?  Really sure?  8 teams is just not enough.

Perhaps you think that they should have a 16-team playoff, just like the other divisions.  Now you are adding four weeks to the season.  The FCS playoffs have started and are already down to 8 teams.  Actually, the FCS uses 20 teams and started Thanksgiving weekend.  For a team like Albany, their 11-game regular season schedule ended on November 19th and they were eliminated before December.  They did not have a bye week.  There are no conference championship games.  Albany finished the regular season 8-3, but still qualified in a playoff for the right to go 8-4.  Is that what people want?  8-3 playoff teams?  Of course, in the round of 16, the top seeds all advanced to the next round anyway.  Despite giving the 8 teams the opportunity to pull an upset, none did.  This is not surprising, given that they just played a whole season to determine who the cream of the crop was.  All a 16-team playoff does is water down the regular season.  Having a bunch of 3-loss teams qualify does nothing more than render some regular season losses irrelevant.  You can still lose 1 or 2 more and make the playoffs, after all.

In contrast, the BCS system always pits #1 against #2.  Occasionally, the debate between #2 and #3 is such that a winning #3 might get some votes that belong to the winning #2.  But no matter who is crowned the champion, it is based on the performance of work from day 1 to the last day of the season. Even if you vehemently disagree as to who is #1 or #2, those are still great teams.

But, you say, the playoffs are the only way to settle a champion.  Says who?  Look at basketball.  3 weeks of games and you get a national champion.  However, look at last year!  The 9th place team in the Big East, UConn, won the national championship.  Quick… name UConn’s regular season losses.  I bet you cannot even name how many they had.  They lost 9.  Even though they lost 9 times, they were still deemed the best team–the National Champion. How can that be?  The Cinderella stories of North Carolina State and Villanova were great, but nobody REALLY thinks that those schools were the best in the land.

Perhaps you are of the mind that the National Champion simply refers to the team that wins the post-season tournament, not the “best team.”  Whoever wins it all deserves praise.  But college football does not stop there.  College football sets out to crown a National Champion AND determine who the best team is.  In basketball, you play for 4 months to whittle the field down from 300+ to 68.  Of those 68, roughly 20 of them are not truly among the top 68 teams.  Even so , that leaves 48 that likely are the best 48 (especially if ignore that coach of the 12-loss team on the radio show circuit the morning after the bracket is announced and his team was #49).  You do all that, only to discard it and play a tournament.

Is the regular season just a practice for the Big Dance?  Nobody EVER says that about college football.  Lose to Iowa State in week 10, and it could keep you out of the national championship.  Perhaps you think that it is not fair to penalize a team who loses.  Well, every March, we penalize 67 teams for losing.  It’s a single-elimination tournament where every loss ends the season.  #1 seed?  Better beat Northern Iowa.  #3 seed?  Better beat Belmont.  And so on.

In football, the loss in September or November may or may not end your season from a national championship perspective, but it likely will.  At the very least, you lose control over your own destiny.  In college football, every September game is basically just like a first-round game of the Big Dance.  You have to win to stay alive.  Every October game is like a Round of 32 game.  Every November game narrows down to Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four.  And, by the time the BCS bids are announced, you are down to 2.

But the football system makes up for it with bowl games for many.  Ask Pitt and Syracuse whether their weekend matchup of 5-6 teams mattered.  The winner got a bowl game, the loser went home.  Ask West Virginia whether its game against USF–a win that got them into the Orange Bowl–mattered.  It did.  And we know that West Virginia was watching Cincinnati beat UConn with glee.  Three regular season games in the worst BCS conference and they all mattered greatly.  If there was a 16-team playoff, would those games have mattered at all?   How many college basketball games in February matter?  Sure, for seeding.  A few bubble teams clashing to see which 10-loss team qualifies to be a 12th seed.  But merely days before the bracket is announced, those games largely do not matter.  Even in the worst conference, the worst team in that conference can win its conference championship and get a ticket to the Big Dance.  And notice how exciting those conference championship games are?  That television is compelling.  Because the games matter.  Elimination games matter.

And that is why the current football system is simply awesome!  Every game is an elimination game, from September to December.  Lose once, you are no longer controlling your national championship destiny.  Lose twice, you are done.  Lose three times, and your conference championship hopes dim.  Lose four times, you are looking at a mid-level bowl.  Lose five times, now you are looking at a late December bowl.  Lose six times?  You’ll be playing in mid-December.  Lose  seven times?  There is no post-season (except for UCLA).  Every weeks costs something measurable.

The NFL has a playoff system.  Yes, the NFL allows 12 of its 32 teams to make the playoffs.  The NFL is, like college basketball, more of a marathon than a sprint.  You can lose an NFL game in September, another in October, another in November, and another in December, and yet still finish 12-4.  No 12-4 team has been excluded from the playoffs.  Quite the contrary, there have been late season NFL games that are so unimportant that teams rest their stars.  You don’t see that in college football under the current system.  You might if there was a playoff.  Is that desirable?  Meaningless games at the end of the season?  Of course, unlike many other sports, Football is always single elimination.  The better team does not always win.  The 2010 Super Bowl was won by a #6 seed.  A college football playoff would do nothing more than weaken the import of that September win over your best OOC opponent.  A college football playoff would render that November win over your rival secondary.   Those games are mere tuneups for the playoff.

The day that college football goes to a playoff is the day that your team no longer has to try to win every game.  If a 10-2 team can make the playoffs, that’s all that teams need to strive to obtain.  Sure, a team will always want to go undefeated, but the pressure to do so will no longer be there.   At that point, college football will cease to be what it has been for all these decades.  All the Confidential can say is be careful what you wish for–sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

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