Posted on: August 8, 2011 2:05 pm

College Football: 5 Things I Would Change

5) AQ Status: I would eliminate AQ status.  A D-1 football team or conference is either FBS or FCS.  The voters and computers take SOS into account, so there is no need to further segregate the lesser conferences.

4) Preseason Polls: I would eliminate preseason polls for any institution that participates in determining the national champion (Coaches, Harris).  Furthermore, I would ban any participant in either of those polls from releasing their own set of rankings prior to the first official poll.  The first official poll would not be released until the last week of October.  Whether it is politics or sports voters are always inclined to defend their decisions...this often means that pollsters are hesitant to move deserving teams up and undeserving teams down in the rankings despite performance on the field.

3) Schedule: I would enforce the current 12 game regular season schedule.  I would make 9 conference games the standard for all conferences.  Teams that do not play 9 games in conference would only be eligible compete for an at-large berth to the playoffs.  This ensures a full round robin for the 10 team conferences and ensures that all conferences are playing an even number of OOC games.

2) FCS Games: As long as a school has 12 FBS opponents on the schedule I would allow them to play a 13th regular season game against an FCS team.  However, this would be at the risk of the FBS team, since a loss could make an otherwise 6-6 team inelegible for a bowl.

1) Postseason System: Everyone wants a playoff...the question is how big of a playoff?  There is no perfect number.  8 teams would be enough most years, but there is the occasional 2009 where so many teams from "outside the establishment" bust into the top 10...Leaving out an undefeated Boise State, 1-loss Florida, or ACC champ would be a tough call.  12 teams should capture all of the deserving teams, but adds an extra week of football to the schedule.  16 teams is more even, but a team that is in the running for the NC should be better than #13-#16.  Overall I prefer the 12 team playoff.  As for the bowls, let them eat cake.  Even though they mean very little, everyone enjoys a good OOC matchup...I think it would be enjoyable to watch them between the playoff games.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 8, 2010 5:04 pm

The FBS vs. FCS Mismatch Problem

In 1978 the NCAA split Division 1 into 1-A (now FBS) and 1-AA (now FCS) to provide a line of separation primarily based on the number of athletic scholarships that each school offers.  Since that split all but four FBS football teams have played down against an FCS opponent.  Only Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, and Washington have taken the high road and scheduled strictly FBS competition. 

Unfortunately my Washington Huskies are taking the plunge in 2011 and 2012 with games against Eastern Washington and Portland State.  The UW staff defended the decision as an opportunity to establish "new regional rivalries"...which is a convenient excuse for a lighter schedule.  Obviously the hope is that we can give the team more confidence and time to gel before going into the 9-game Pac-12 schedule, but to me it just makes UW part of a trend in college football that takes away from the competition that we love.   

If any school deserves an easier schedule it is Washington, as their OOC schedule has been as brutal as any team in the nation has played over the past 5 years...54 out of 61 total games were against AQ opponents...the 7 non-AQs included Fresno State, Boise State, Hawaii, and BYU (2x).  Only Idaho and San Jose State from the WAC could be considered cupcakes...most teams play 2-3 cupcakes each year.

2006: San Jose State, @Oklahoma, Fresno State, and 9 Pac-10 games
2007: @Syracuse, Boise State, Ohio State, @Hawaii, and 9 Pac-10 games
2008: BYU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and 9 Pac-10 games
2009: LSU, Idaho, @Notre Dame, and 9 Pac-10 games
2010: @BYU, Syracuse, Nebraska, and 9 Pac-10 games

Even with the cupcakes in '11 and '12 the Huskies still have better than average OOC schedules over the next few years (1 cupcake, 1 respectable non-AQ, 1 major AQ).  Consider that they play a 9-game conference schedule and they will still be playing 10 AQs a year, which is more than most can say. 

2011: Eastern Washington, Hawaii, @Nebraska, and 9 Pac-12 games
2012: Portland State, Nevada, @LSU, and 9 Pac-12 games

Part of me is glad that we slightly eased up on the schedule.  We are going to our first bowl since 2002.  We will not be competing for a BCS bowl for a few more years, so SoS is not a critical issue.  Honestly we just need a few winning seasons and bowl appearances to boost recruiting and restore the culture of winning in Seattle.  I can understand where the UW staff is coming from in wanting to ease up on the schedule by playing FCS teams...I just don't agree with it.

As a relatively objective college football fan (if there is such a thing) I think the FBS vs. FCS matchups are horrible for the spirit of competition.  ESPN and CBSSports would have us believe that the gap between FBS and FCS has narrowed over the last few years.  They use games like App St vs. Michigan and JMU vs. Virginia Tech to illustrate their point.  But if they were to step back and look at the bigger picture they would clearly see that if anything the gap has become progressively larger over the past 15 years.

FBS vs. FCS (Source: Stats Inc)

Number of Games:
1996-2000: 236
2001-2005: 303
2006-2010*: 407

1996-2000: 82.6%
2001-2005: 88.8%
2006-2010*: 93.0%

FBS Average Point Differential
1996-2000: +20.1
2001-2005: +23.3
2006-2010*: +27.6

*Through Sep 2010

The numbers tell the story.  For the most part the games are non-competitive "scheduled wins".  Look at how each conference has faired against FCS since 1996.  Consider that the 3 traditional powers in the Pac-10 (USC, UCLA, and Washington) haven't played FCS teams and the Pac-10's 95% winning percentage is probably artificially low. 

SEC      78-2  .975
Big 12   87-3  .967
WAC      74-3  .961
Pac-10   37-2  .949
Mtn West 48-3  .941
Big East 64-4  .941
C-USA    68-5  .932
ACC      82-7  .921
Big Ten  52-5  .912
Ind.     93-16 .853
MAC      95-27 .779
Big West 32-10 .762
Sun Belt 32-17 .653

The Sun Belt's struggles are understandable...only Louisiana-Lafayette played D-1A football prior to the 90's...FAU and FIU didn't even have football teams until the 00's.  The MAC is really the only other weak sister as the Big West is now defunct and most of the losses by Independents were by teams that later joined the Sun Belt and MAC.  Every other conference wins over 90% of the games played vs. FCS competition.  Why does the NCAA allow these games count toward bowl eligibility? 

Let's look at the current 2010 W-L records and see the effect that this policy has had on bowl eligibility.

6-win AQ Teams that are bowl eligible only because they beat an FCS team:
-Georgia Tech

5-win AQ Teams that have not played a FCS team:
-Oregon State

Why are Tennessee and Georgia bowl-eligible instead of Oregon State?  Tennessee and Georgia combined for zero wins over teams with winning records, while Oregon State by themselves beat 2 AQs teams with winning records.  While Tennessee was playing Tennessee-Martin, Oregon State was playing TCU.  While Georgia was playing Idaho State, Oregon State was playing Boise State.  I'm not saying that Oregon State should be in a bowl (I think the NCAA should reduce the number of bowls), but they are certainly more deserving than a lot of the 6-6 teams out there that only qualified because they scheduled an FCS opponent.

My solution: The NCAA require that all FBS schools play 12 regular season games against FBS opponents.  Schools would be authorized to schedule a 13th regular season game against an FCS opponent at their own risk...a loss against the FCS team would make an otherwise 6-6 team ineligible for bowls.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 2, 2010 11:04 am

BCS 1998: Humans vs. Computers

A look back at the BCS in 1998 and the subjective human vote vs. the objective computers

Final Regular Season Rankings
Average Human
1 - Tennessee
2 - Florida State
3 - Ohio State
4 - Kansas State
5.5 - UCLA
5.5 - Arizona
7 - Florida
8.5 - Texas A&M
8.5 - Wisconsin
10 - Tulane

Average Computer
1.67 - Tennessee
1.75 - Florida State
3.00 - Kansas State
4.08 - UCLA
5.00 - Texas A&M
5.25 - Ohio State
7.67 - Arizona
9.67 - Florida
9.67 - Wisconsin
10.50 - Nebraska

The BCS appeared to be heading for disaster in its first year as UCLA, Kansas State, and Tennessee all entered championship weekend undefeated.  UCLA lost a makeup game in Miami, while Kansas State fell to Texas A&M in 2OT in the Big-12 championship.  Only Tennessee remained undefeated and Florida State benefited from the losses above them.  The fallout from the final weekend was significant.  Kansas State fell all the way to the Alamo Bowl.  UCLA fell to the Rose Bowl, which dropped Arizona to the Holiday Bowl and prevented the Wildcats from securing their 1st Rose Bowl berth.

The BCS championship game selection was free of controversy.  Kansas State's loss dropped them to only #3 in the BCS rankings, but more traditional powers #4 Ohio State and #8 Florida were chosen over KSU as the BCS at-large teams.  This snub eventually resulted in the "Kansas State Rule", which guarantees #3 and #4 teams a BCS bowl even if they are not conference champions.  Tulane was the only other undefeated team in 1998.  However, they were largely overlooked and Coach Tommy Bowden left for Clemson before the the bowls were played.

Significant Bowl Results
Fiesta - Tennessee 23, Florida State 16
Orange - Florida 31, Syracuse 10
Sugar - Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14
Rose - Wisconsin 38, UCLA 31
Alamo - Purdue 37, Kansas State 34
Holiday - Arizona 23, Nebraska 20
Liberty - Tulane 41, BYU 27

Human vs. Computer Ranking Analysis
The only major difference between humans and computers that we can evaluate is the ranking of Ohio State and Texas A&M.  Humans had Ohio State much higher, while computers had Texas A&M barely higher.  Advantage humans...but just barely.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 24, 2010 7:14 pm

The most grueling sporting event ever?

Isner's five set victory over Mahut in 11 hours was easily the longest tennis event ever played.  It shattered the previous record by a whopping 4.5 hours.  The final line of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 just blows my mind.  I was curious how this stacked up against the longest events in the other major sports.  I present to you the most grueling events in sports in order from least to most.

#8 PGA: The longest playoff ever lasted 11 sudden death holes.  I've played 72 holes in a day...11 extra is nothing.

#7 NFL: The longest game was a 27-24 Kansas City victory over Miami in 1971.  It lasted 7 minutes into 2OT for a grand total of 82 minutes of timed play.  Due to sudden death and tie rules the NFL can't really compete for the more grueling event ever. 

#6 NBA: In 1951 the Rochester Royals beat the Indianapolis Olympians 75-73 in 6OT.  Only 23 total shots were taken in the 6 overtimes.  This along with a 19-18 game by other teams the same year helped to pave the way for the shot clock.  Probably the most boring game ever, but definitely not the most grueling unless you were watching it.

#5 NCAA Basketball: In 1981 Cincinnati beat Bradley 75-73 in 7OT.  More recently the 6OT thriller with Syracuse edging out UConn was a classic marathon game.

#4 NHL: Detroit beat Montreal (Maroons) 1-0 in 6OT in 1936.  That's 116 minutes of OT!!!

#3 NCAA Football: Arkansas owns victories over Kentucky (71-63) and Ole Miss (58-56) in 7OT.  North Texas also beat FIU 25-22 in 7OT.  It is unlikely that we will ever again see a 7OT game as the NCAA changed the rules to force teams to go for 2-pts starting in 3OT.

#2 MLB: The Braves and Dodgers played to a 1-1 tie in 26 innings in 1920.  The White Sox beat the Brewers 7-6 in 25 innings in 1984.  The Cardinals beat the Mets 4-3 in 25 innings in 1974.  The reason I have baseball #2 is the pitching.  When you get into the 15th and 16th innings your bullpen starts to get really thin.  When you get into the 20th inning you have no choice but to go to a starter.

#1 ATP: How can you top Isner and Mahut?  It was all individual effort.  I can't see this ever being topped.
Category: Tennis
Posted on: June 8, 2010 11:13 am

Pac-16: The Conference of EVEN MORE Champions

The Pac-10 has a proud history of producing more NCAA championships than every other conference, hence the slogan "Conference of Champions".  I asked myself this morning, "how would the six Big-12 schools fit in?"  The following numbers are courtesy of the NCAA.  Keep in mind that the NCAA does not crown a national champion in football.

Top 15 Schools in Team Championships:

2) Stanford
3) USC
4) Oklahoma State
8) Texas
12) Cal

Top 15 Schools in Individual Championships:

1) Stanford
2) USC
3) Texas
8) Cal
10) Oklahoma State
14) Arizona

Total Team Championships by School:

105 - UCLA
99 - Stanford
91 - USC
49 - Oklahoma State
40 - Texas
28 - Cal
22 - Arizona State
21 - Colorado
19 - Oklahoma
17 - Arizona
16 - Oregon
6 - Washington
5 - Texas A&M
3 - Oregon State
2 - Washington State
1 - Texas Tech

Football - Recognized National Championships (courtesy of cfbdatawarehouse):

10 - USC
7 - Oklahoma
4 - Cal
4 - Texas
2 - Texas A&M
1 - Colorado
1 - Stanford
1 - UCLA
1 - Washington

Overall Assessment: by bringing in the six Big-12 schools the Pac-10 will only boost its reputation as the "Conference of Champions".  Texas and Oklahoma State are clearly stellar athletic programs across the board.  Oklahoma and Colorado are not far behind.  Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado have each been recognized as national champions in the modern football era, compared to only USC and Washington in the current Pac-10 (modern era for me starts in 1974, the year that both final polls were taken after the bowls).  Texas A&M does not bring as many championships, but still has plenty of tradition and a strong program.  Texas Tech clearly brings the least to the table, but they have been on the rise in football and considering all that the others bring they are not a major liability.

Posted on: June 7, 2010 4:31 pm

Pac-10 Megaconference: Good or Bad?

The latest news out of the Pac-10 is that they are mulling the possibility of a 16 team megaconference stretching from Seattle to Austin. 
West (Traditional):
Oregon State
Washington State

Arizona State
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M
Texas Tech

There are rumors that there will be pressure to replace Colorado with Baylor, but I'll go on the assumption that Colorado would be chosen as they are certainly the better fit.

Is this megaconference a good for football?  It probably depends who you ask.

Pac-10 Conference: Awesome for football.
+Gives the conference leverage for their own TV network.
+Increases national interest in west coast football.
+Adds Top 50 TV markets of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Denver, and Oklahoma City.
+Brings in two power football schools (Texas and OU).
+Expands the conference's recruiting shadow to Texas.
+Maintains the traditional feel of the Pac-10 in the western division.
+Adds CCG that may "out hype" the SEC.  (USC vs. Texas, Oregon vs. Oklahoma) 

Traditional Pac-8 Schools: Mostly good.
+Maintains traditional rivalries.
+Maintains balence of power.
+Increases east coast viewership and recruiting shadow.
-USC no longer the only "big dog" in conference.
-All others must beat out USC, then beat Texas or Oklahoma in the CCG to win the title.

Arizona Schools: Mostly bad.
+Increases east coast viewership and recruiting shadow.
-Exposes as the stepchildren of the Pac-10.
-Places in the east division (improved version of the Big-12 South).

Texas & Co: Mostly Good.
+Maintains familiarity with division foes.  Like the Big-12 South, Texas or Oklahoma will win this division 80% of the time.
+Joins a more stable conference.
+Increases east coast viewership and recruiting shadow.

Big-12 Conference: Very bad.
-No longer exists if Texas & Co leave.

BCS & BCS Schools: Remains to be seen.
=Restructures the BCS system.  If the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC go to megaconference status the most likely solution would be a 4 team playoff. 
=As long as the current BCS schools remain in a BCS conference they should be okay.

Non-BCS Schools: Bad.
-This type of move virtually guarantees that non-BCS schools in the Pac-10 footprint will be left out of future BCS conference discussions.

In my opinion as a Husky fan this will be a good move.  It virtually guarantees that the conference winner will be a player in the NC discussion.  The only losers are the Arizona schools, but they are rarely relivent in football on a national level.  The road to the NC may be a little bit harder, but at least you know that if you win the conference you will be in the discussion.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 7, 2010 5:44 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2010 3:11 pm

96 Team Tourney & Health Care Reform

Today I will be interviewing two very special guests about their ideas on reforming America.  Please welcome the NCAA and President Obama. (applause)

Me: NCAA, you are proposing to expand the field from 65 to 96.  Why?

NCAA: Because we have bubble teams.  If we open up 31 more slots then all of the bubble teams could play for a championship.  Under the current system there are very few opportunities for at-large teams from the mid-major conferences to make the tourney.

Me: Is it possible that a 96 team field will still produce bubble teams?


Me: By adding 31 slots isn't it more likely that teams like Murray State and Cornell who made the tourney as #12 and #13 seeds would be pushed down closer to #16 or #17 seeds?

NCAA: No this will help the little guys.

Me: I think it is fair to assume that the NIT is a good indicator of the types of teams that would get the 31 additional slots.  I find it interesting that all of the #1 seeds in the NIT were from the BCS conferences.  If those teams were pulled into the NCAA tourney wouldn't you be likely to seed them in the #12 range? 

NCAA: You caught me.

Me: This would seem to indicate that the bubble teams that you are so concerned about are not truly the little guys.  Is this about the money?

Obama: Not at all.  This will actually cut taxes for 95% of Americans. (95% applause)

Me: Thank you for jumping in Mr. President.  I see that you are back in campaign form.  Speaking of lowering taxes, how is it possible to cut taxes on 95% of America when over 47% of Americans pay no income tax at all?  Do you really think it is healthy for America that 47% of the voting population does not feel the financial impact of their votes in their paychecks?

Obama: They feel the impact in the checks that we send them.  They think it's great. (Confused clapping...Joe Biden walking aimlessly in background)

Me: Moving on.  Since 47% do not pay income tax, your promise to cut taxes on 95% of Americans does not seem achievable.  Did you have something else in mind?  Are you thinking of proposing cuts to FICA?

Obama: Of course not.  FICA is critical to ensuring that the social security, medicaid, and medicare programs meet the needs of Americans.

Me: Speaking of social security, the big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will be paying out more than it takes in this year for the first time ever.  Currently the fund is projected to run out in the year 2037.  That's only 25 years away.  What is your plan to make sure that people like me who are paying into social security recieve the promised paycheck when we turn 65?

Obama: Um...? (applause?)

Me: Because right now social security looks a lot like a ponzi scheme.  Younger Americans paying into a system that they will never benefit from.

Obama: We should raise FICA on the rich.

Me: This redistribution of wealth appears to be a common theme, but I'll play along for now.  By the way, I meant to congratulate you on the passage of health care.  What were the primary reasons for the health care legislation?

Obama: Saving money for taxpayers.  (applause)

Me: Wow.  That sounds great.  When you say taxpayers I will assume that you include the other 47% that don't pay income tax.  How do you propose to save everyone money?

Obama: Tax the rich

Me: Anything else you would like to add?

Obama: We are also going to be taxing the tanning beds.

Me: So that's whay John Boehner doesn't like health reform?

Obama: I like to call him John Boner. (Laughter)

Me: Hilarious!  I also noticed that you are taxing health insurance, drug companies, and medical device makers.  Aren't you worried that raising taxes on those industries will drive up cost for the American people?

Obama: No.  Because if they try that then we will fine them.

Me: Right.  Let's talk medicare.  You are cutting costs in medicare while adding more people to it.  How does that work?

Obama: We are getting rid of all of the fraud, waste, and abuse by putting governement organization in charge of overseeing all of this.

Me: I'm all about getting rid of FWA, but didn't we already have a government organization overseeing medicare and medicaid?  Don't you think you should have tested your ideas with that organization first to make sure that the ideas would work before adding another TRILLION in spending?

Obama: We will make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered by insurance companies.

Me: Doesn't that go against the definition of insurance?  I thought insurance was something that you pay for before you need it?

Obama: I know.  Isn't it great.  Now you only have to pay for it if you need it.

Me: But I thought I heard that you were going to make it manditory.  Is that true?

Obama: Yes, unless you pay a fee to get out of it.  Then you only have to buy into insurance when you need it.

Me: Asside from the issue of fining the young and healthy for services that they don't use, don't you think that your idea might drive up the cost of health insurance for those who do decide to pay for it?

Obama: We are extending coverage to millions of Americans that cannot afford it.

Me: You are very good at misdirecting questions aren't you?

Obama: Yes.

Me: This extension of coverage that you mentioned, how is this being paid for again?

Obama: Taxing the rich.

Me: So it is redistribution of wealth?

NCAA: No.  It's not about the money.

Me: It looks like our time is up.  Thank you both for sharing your horrible ideas.  Please come back soon.

Posted on: March 30, 2010 5:00 pm

Random thoughts on the Nike U coaching search

Since dismissing Ernie Kent the Ducks have been looking to land a big name in Eugene to turn the program around.  Tom Izzo is one of the names being thrown around for the job.  Of course the handmappers will tell us that there is no way that Izzo would ever leave East Lansing, but then again they didn't see the implosion of the auto industry coming either.  While no one can question Izzo's dedication, MSU fans have cause to be concerned.  The economic plight of the mitten has hit rock bottom.  The union bosses in their ivory towers have slowy squeezed the life out of a once proud state.  Enter Phil Knight and his $10B.  The man is rich enough to buy the mitten and the UP, but that's not what he wants.  He wants Izzo.  He could buy MSU and make it an annex of UO.  Heck, he already owns the uniforms that MSU plays in.  Right now Phil Knight wants Izzo and Phil always gets his way.

It doesn't have to be that way though.  There is another name out there that has not been mentioned.  A name so obscurely obvious that Phil has already overlooked it.  GORDON BOMBAY!!!  He misses coaching, but more than anything the guy is looking for a new challenge.  He has already accomplished everything possible on ice.  They said he couldn't beat the Hawks, but he did.  They said he couldn't beat Iceland, but he did.  I never saw D3, but I'm pretty sure he coached the Ducks to an improbable win in that movie too.  It has been 14 years since his last coaching gig and not once has his name surfaced.  I think that this may be the opportunity that he has been waiting for.  He would be a natural fit as the head coach of the Oregon Ducks.  Nobody is better at in-game coaching decisions.  When his best players go down with injury he never fails to select an unlikely hero from the bench.  His "Flying V" revolutionized hockey in the same way that Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense did football.  While I have never seen it in action, I have no doubt that the V would be magic on the hardwood.  Bombay's grit and determination blazed the trail for future DUI comeback stories such as Bob Huggins.  While his jimmy crack corn and I don't care attitude would occasionally clash with Phil Knight, I believe that the performance of Bombay's team on the court would be worth it's weight in gold.  Went you read about it in the papers just remember that you heard it here first.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or