Slay The Beast

By Johnny Ginter on February 7, 2012 at 2:00p

"I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin."

In an office on the outskirts of Chicago sits the most clever man in the world. He has the power to move mountains, to fell demons with a stroke of his terrible pen, to create vast networks out of thin air. And despite the fact that he looks and sounds like a cross between Adrian Toomes and Willard Scott, he is in reality the singular man who holds the fate of the college football world in his wrinkly, arthritic hands. Per the Chicago Tribune:

The Big Ten is not only ready to listen to proposals regarding a national four-team football playoff, league and school officials are kicking around an intriguing idea.

Sources told the Tribune that a Big Ten plan would remove the top four teams from the BCS bowl pool and have semifinal games played on the college campus of the higher seed.

This is the weapon that kills the BCS. A four team playoff will be extremely popular, especially with any element of home games, and will likely lead to an expansion of up to 8 teams or more. The dumbest, most ass-backwards system that any sport, even pogs, has for determining a champion will be laid to waste as fans flock to a playoff and visit a terrible vengeance against Harris polls and computers and Bill Hancock's big stupid face.

This shall be done, and through it all, keep in mind that Big Ten were the ones who for years fought against any idea of a playoff or a so-called plus one system. Keep in mind that Mike Slive and the SEC actually introduced the idea of a plus one system in 2008, but was completely ignored. Keep in mind that now, in 2012, 12 universities, led by the cleverest of men, once again finds themselves in a position to benefit from the mistakes of others (and their own). All they need is the will.

Again, what the Big Ten is apparently suggesting here isn't revolutionary at all. Not only was Mike Slive's 2008 plan for a plus one system in college football ignored, no other conference outside of the ACC even was willing to discuss any details of what that might look like whatsoever. And let's be honest, getting only the ACC to listen to your playoff proposal is like getting your mom to put your C- math test on the fridge.

So what happened? Well, four years happened. Not that the BCS has ever been particularly popular, but the last four years have been particularly harsh to the BCS in terms of public perception. The ratings for this years' BCS championship game were the lowest in the 14 seasons that it has hung over college football like a fatuous, slimy blimp of a monster. Though those ratings can probably be attributed to A) the game being on cable, B) a matchup between two very geographically similar teams, C) an awful, awful game, and D) there being maybe 20 total tv sets in the state of Alabama, people like Slive, Hancock, and Delany don't really care about the whys as much as they care about the whats. As in, "what do we need to do to fix this?"

What's really funny about all of this is that in the past five years, Jim Delany has become possibly the single most important man in college football. His creation of the Big Ten Network turned college football broadcasting on its ear, raking in huge profits and becoming a model for at least four more similarly themed college sports channels. The Big Ten's aggressive stance towards expansion in late 2009 kickstarted nationwide conference realignment, which ended in the Big Ten adding only making one perfect addition but the rest of the country reenacting Lord of the Flies with the Mountain West Conference playing the part of Piggy. At this point if Delany is on board with a playoff, things will happen.

The look of a champion

With that said, as reported by Teddy Greenstein, there are four (dumb) criteria that the Big Ten will use when internally evaluating any sort of playoff system. First, is the system fair to the student-athlete who already play 12-13 games?

Well no, it wouldn't be. But neither is a 12-13 game season, and adding a 4 team playoff wouldn't be any more distracting or disruptive to athletes that already devote almost every waking hour to football to begin with anyway. If colleges were really so concerned about student-athletes being "students first," they would've never consented to delaying the New Years' Day bowl games for NFL football and have the BCS championship game take place on January 9th. But they did, because they aren't.

Secondly, would the proposed system undermine the regular season, which has to be some kind of weird exercise in rhetoric since this years' national champion was 11-1 and didn't even win its own conference. If the regular season really is so "critical," then why was Ohio State able to lose its final home game in 2007 and then back its way into the championship? Why does one conference get the equivalent of an automatic bid to the NC as long as they finish the season with less than two losses? Undefeated teams haven't been shut out of the NC game because the season is critical, they've been shut out because it's always been about attitude and perception and not objective results.

The third item that concerns Delany and company is the concept of competitive balance, but frankly this is more or less a smokescreen for the real issue at hand: the Rose Bowl. Preserving the sanctity of the Rose Bowl is fourth on the list but more than likely priority number one for the Big Ten, even though it's a bit like trying to preserve the sanctity of a Star Wars movie. Whatever majesty and splendor that's been traditionally associated with the Rose Bowl left when the BCS itself was created, and each year has seen a more and more desperate Big Ten attempting to maintain a status quo that's already gone.

Fact is, a playoff won't hurt the Rose Bowl "tradition" any more than the BCS and conference realignment already has. A Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup isn't guaranteed (and doesn't even really exist considering a Nebraska/Colorado matchup is now among the possibilities), and this is something that the people running the Big Ten need to let go.

There are a few real stumbling blocks, one being the Presidents and Athletic Directors of the Big Ten. E. Gordon Gee has always been a staunch defender of the bowl system and will likely shake his tiny fist in anger everytime a playoff is brought up. But Gee and others like him are still subject to the court of public opinion, and given the internal and external pressure that the NCAA is facing to make a change, something will give once such a proposal is introduced.

And that's why Jim Delany, for now, is the most clever man in the world. Having rejected the sensible and correct proposal from a hated enemy years ago, he now has the opportunity to take that same proposal, submit it as his own, and in doing so deal a mortal blow to the BCS. Millions will rejoice. Wine will flow freely. Homeless men on High Street will rap the praises of Prudent Jim, Wise Old Delany, who saw football fans crying out for change and delivered it to them with a fierce justice. It will work, and Delany would have all the support from the fans and likely the media he would need to see it done.

But only if he chooses do to so. To pick up that sword. To slay the beast.


Comments Show All Comments

DallasTheologian's picture

What poll determines the top 4 teams?

Northbrook's picture

No media outlet should have undue influence on who gets in the playoff. I'm looking at you ESPN & I'm scowling. Grrrr.

addman1405's picture

ಠ_ಠ -------> ESPN

btalbert25's picture

Do they really though?  Sure they have talking heads who keep talking about certain teams, but do those guys really impact the Harris Voters who follow the game too?  The coaches are going to vote along conference lines in their poll because that's what they always do.  The Harris voters much like the Heisman voters vote for teams and people from their region.  Look at the final Harris poll votes last season.  It wasn't southern bias because of ESPN that kept Oklahoma State out of the national title game.

Urban Ohio's picture

I think the coaches poll should be eliminated. As busy as they are, how do they know how good teams are outside their conference? I don't think they actually do the voting anyway.

Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

unknownmusketeer's picture

Posted this on the blog poll (slighlty altered):

Preserving Bowl games and creating a playoff are incompatible ideas in my opinion.


I think EVERY team should have week 10, 11 open (play 2 less non-conference games at the start of the year).  After week 8, teams are paired with an appropriate non-conference foe based on rankings.  Top 8 teams play each other.  After the 12/13 game season, the best 2 teams of the 8 play each other after the season.

I call it Flex Scheduling.  Perfect?  Closer than the system we have now.

onetwentyeight's picture

For those actually concerned about a longer schedule 'hurting' student athletes, here's an idea: eliminate the 2-3 cupcake games EVERY single team plays. I, for one, will not miss the annual meaningless showdowns with Akron, Toledo, or Ohio. 



luckynewman13's picture

And then what happens to Akron, Toledo, or Ohio?

We don't play these teams to pad our schedule necessarily, we play them to financially help other schools in the state...this is a good thing.

Removing regular season games to make room for more playoff rounds is a non-starter because less than 10% of the Universities would benefit each year. There's a reason the NCAA allowed teams to schedule more regular season games: because having a football team usually costs a school more money than it makes. An easy way to recoup these losses is by scheduling more regular season games, but you also have to balance the number of games with the health of the student-athletes.

Removing guaranteed games only makes the already rich programs even richer, which would be good for the Buckeyes until the entire NCAA looks like the Big 12 does now.

onetwentyeight's picture

Those teams would have no business playing big-time D-1 football anyways. Your point about how most schools spend more on their football team than they earn back is completely valid. And it's EXACTLY why schools like akron, toledo, FIU, Marshall, etc etc should NOT have a football team that attempts to compete on the field with behemoths like (us), Texas, Florida, etc. 

Let those schools return to the student-athlete football experience the way it was intended to be, before everyone got seduced by chasing the golden calf of football $. By paying them off and giving them the false, 1 in a billion hope that they might "Boise-State" their program, all we're doing is feeding into the corrupt power-money-sports complex of the NCAA and making education and students a sham for profit. I took a class on this at our lovely alma mater (one of the phy ed/sports classes offered; forgot which one) and the guy teaching it said, as an example, that even Miami (oh), during their best season ever in school history, when they had Big Ben, still LOST money in the end. The vast majority of these schools don't ever make money off their teams. 

The few big time schools who DO make a profit off their teams can consolidate into a couple of mega-conferences, and the message will be sent to the little guys who throw money down the drain at their football teams that this is a lost cause and their money is better spent on things like newer classrooms, better professors, etc that a university should have as its first priority. 

Maestro's picture

Home games, are a must.  Only way I can get on board with a playoff-Final Four.

vacuuming sucks

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Great point Johnny about the NCAA caring about student athletes being "students first" - they care only when it's not advantageou$ to their wallet$.

And big props for the LOTR reference!

Irricoir's picture

Yes + points for LotR label. I wasn't sure what I was looking at for the longest and then it all came into focus. Pretty seemless.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

zosima's picture

1) Alabama didn't win its DIVISION this year, let lone its conference

2) Lets go back to the bowl system.  I hate to give credit to ESECPN, but as Rece Davis (one of their competent reporters) points out: NY Giants, UConn, STL Cardinals, and Packers all won championships after mediocre seasons.... I am not opposed to having 1 sport (especially my favorite sport) award a championship to the best team of the YEAR, not the hottest at the end of the year who was at least kinda mediocre during the regular season.  BTW, I am a big Cardinals fan that got to go to game 6 & 7, and yes it was the best sports experience I have ever had.  However, at the end of it I am honest enough to say that maybe they weren't the best team in MLB last year.  I still celebrate the championship because they won it, but maybe the system should be in place to have the best team win the championship.

btalbert25's picture

NCAA basketball, NFL, and MLB can't be compared to FBS college football in terms of Mediocre teams winning a national title.  UConn played in 3 tournaments last year, and lost 0 games.  Yes they went 8-8 in conference play, but it was by far the toughest conference in America.  What they had though, was one electric player who could take the game over in a tournament setting for his team.  College football, can player really carry a team to a championship they way 1 player can in college basketball?  I don't think so.  Just sheer number of players football has makes it impossible fora team to have a run like UConn did based on 1 player alone.

The Cardinals won 90 games last year, they were hardly mediocre.  In a short series in baseball, pitching is all that matters, and they got the pitching.  Carpenter flat out beat the Phillies on his own.  I hate the Cardinals, but the notion that they were somehow, not very good is absurd.  They did have the fewest wins among playoff teams, but they won 90 games in a divsion where 90 is usually good enough to win it.

The NFL is loaded with parity.  It's set up for equality.  Salary cap and revenue sharing are set up for teams to be on pretty even footing.  Some organizations like the Bengals have a history of terrible ownership which has impacted their years of bad football, but the difference between a 9-7 team and a 14-2 team really isn't that great. The Packers showed before the playoffs that they had a lot of weaknesses.  Everyone acted like the 49'ers upset the Saints, yet the Saints were the lower seed between the 2.  I don't know, there are rarely complete teams in the NFL because the league itself has a lot of parity.

College football has no real parity.  You can look at the national landscape and say most years there are about 10 teams who really have a shot to run the table and win the title.  By week 7, that number is probably much lower.  With Special teams, Defense, and Offense there is no way you can get one guy hot to make a run and win a title.  An RB can have 200 yards and 3 TD's and his team will still lose if the Defense doesn't get the job done, or there are blown plays on special teams.  I just hate when people say well an average team wins in this sport or that sport so it's going to happen in college football.  How often does a mediocre team win it all in the NBA?  NEVER and they let half the damn league into their playoffs.

ih8rolltyde's picture

I agree, although scam newton and vince young may have come closest to singlehandedly winning titles.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

rdubs's picture

The NBA has the perfect playoff system, that is why a mediocre team never wins.  If we had a series decide college football, we would be more likely to pick the "right" team as the champion.  This is obviously impossible in football (not even the NFL could pull it off).  In no sport with maybe the exception of the NBA (to a degree baseball), is the champion the best team in the league.  Occasionally it happens that way, but only the NBA is set up to capture who is most likely the best team.

At the end of the day there needs to be a consensus about what we are trying to do when picking a champion.  If we want to attempt to find the best team, then it should be limited to just a small number of teams to reward the regular season (a plus one system, or a 4 team system).  If we want excitement to be the main purpose, then we should open it up to 8 or 16+ teams.  

Irricoir's picture

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

carence's picture

I love the idea of an SEC team having to come to Columbus in December! 

Idot08bojangles's picture

Go bucks! Michigan sucks!

Scarlet and Grey until the day I die.
idotter: September 27, 2008. OSU vs. Minnesota

bahamamaui's picture

Everyone has their own playoff plan, here is mine:

- Current BCS formula is used to generate team rankings
- Except:  winners of the 11 conferences (however they are determined)
are seeded 1-11
- 5 "at large" teams fill the remaining 5 slots (as seeds 12-16, based
on highest BCS ratings)  -- limit 1 "at large" team per conference
- "At large" team in the same half of the bracket as their conference
winner will be moved down in seed until the team is isn't in the half
as the winner.

My raw seeding:
LSU, Oklahoma St, Oregon, Wisconsin, Clemson, TCU, S. Miss, WVU, Louisiana Tech, N Illinois, Arkansas St, Alabama, Stanford, Boise State, Kansas St, Va Tech

Modified seeding:
LSU, Oklahoma St, Oregon, Wisconsin, Clemson, TCU, S. Miss, WVU, Louisiana Tech, N Illinois, Arkansas St, Stanford, Boise State, Alabama, Va Tech, Kansas St

- some interesting games in round 1:
Alabama at Oregon
Boise at Wisconsin
- some duds
Ark St at TCU
N. ILL at So Miss

Let's consider bowls (assuming that we want to keep them)
- Playoff round 1, happens at campus sites (higher seed) in early December
- Lets assume that the remaining 7 playoff games will be assigned to a
bowl (can be auctioned by the NCAA).  Let's assume Cotton, Capital
One, Sugar, Chick-fil-A, Fiesta, Orange, Rose at locked into the
playoff bracket.
- The only risk is that fans won't follow their teams multiple weeks
in a row (not a problem for basketball - 3 trips in 3 weekends)
- Bowl assignments for the other bowls can happen with the 8 losers +
all other bowl eligible teams.
- How would the bowls look:  Lets assume that in my scenario all the
higher seed wins every game:

Playoff Round 1 winners:
LSU, Oklahoma St, Oregon, Wisconsin, Clemson, TCU, S. Miss, WVU

Related Bowls:
Playoff Round 2:
Cotton:  LSU vs. WVU
CapOne: OK State vs S. Miss
Chick-Fil-A: Oregon vs. TCU
Sugar: Wisconsin vs. Clemson

Playoff Round 3:
Fiesta:  LSU vs Wisconsin
Orange:  OK State vs. Oregon

Rose:  LSU vs. OK State

Playoff Round 1 Losers:
Louisiana Tech, N Illinois, Arkansas St, Stanford, Boise State, Alabama, Va Tech, Kansas St

Related Bowls:
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl:  Wake Forest vs. SDSU
AutoZone Liberty Bowl:  Houston vs. Georgia
BBVA Compass Bowl:  Rutgers vs. Auburn
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl:  Pittsburgh vs. C-USA #5
Belk Bowl:  UVA vs. Cincinnati
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl:  SMU vs. BYU
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl:  Oklahoma vs. Washington
Champs Sports Bowl:  VA Tech vs. Notre Dame
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:  Ohio vs. Utah State
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl:  GA Tech vs. South Carolina
Gator Bowl:  Michigan vs. Arkansas Bowl:  N. ILL vs. WKU
Hyundai Sun Bowl:  Florida State vs. Cal
Insight Bowl:  Baylor vs. Penn State
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:  Pac-12 #7 vs. Utah
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl:  Iowa vs. Toledo
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas:  Boise State vs. Arizona State
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas:  Missouri vs. Nebraska
Military Bowl:  NC State vs. Temple
New Era Pinstripe Bowl:  Texas vs. Louisville
New Mexico Bowl:  Air Force vs. Pac-12 #8
Outback Bowl:  Michigan State vs. Alabama
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl:  Marshall vs. Arkansas St
SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl:  Wyoming vs. LA Tech
Sheraton Hawaiʻi Bowl:  Tulsa vs. Hawaii
TicketCity Bowl:  Purdue vs. Texas A&M
Valero Alamo Bowl:  Kansas State vs. Stanford

Fun games of note:
TSUN vs. Arkansas
Sparty vs. Alabama
Houston vs. Georgia -- I'd love to see Houston run it up :)
Big 12 rematch:  Nebraska vs. Missouri

Notice: no Florida, OSU


BED's picture

This.  I've called for a 16 team playoff while keeping the bowls intact before.  The bowls are like the NIT.  Consolation prize.

Though, I'd personally seed the 16 based on a BCS/RPI style formula.  The winner of the Sun Belt probably isn't going to be a true 11 seed, make them 16th.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Maestro's picture

Tony Gerdeman @GerdOzone  Reply  Retweeted  Favorite · Open
I enjoyed the part where the caller asked if they had domed stadiums in the north and Finebaum said he didn't know.

vacuuming sucks

Johnny Ginter's picture

we don't! you're all going to die a horrible, agonizing death in the cold and snow! AHAHAHAAHAHAHH

funky123's picture

Finebaum has a cromdome!! Wonder how much Tennessee fans hate him since he is a UT grad?

funky123's picture

Is there some way to send Gee back to Vandy?

ocalabuckeye63's picture

16 team playoff is too much.  Let's look at what IS possible.  A four team playoff is a good start, but the two highest CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS should get the automatic home games, two weeks after the conference championships.  They would host the next two highest ranked BCS teams regardless of conference.  Last season we would have had:

Stanford (4) at LSU (1) and Alabama (3) at Oklahoma State (2)

Let this kick off the bowl season and play the championship in one of the five BCS Bowls (add Cotton)  and they can rotate who gets the NC game like in the past.  

Buckeye living in Gatornation... It feels GREAT!

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Not bad on the surface, but there's still the issue of Stanford. They do not deserve to be in over Oregon. The conference champ rule must be implemented if you want to end that debate before it even starts as well as neutralize voter bias. If it were just the Top 4 teams, make no mistake, the voters with Southern biases would have done everything in their power to slide Arkansas up a little higher, just like some of them absurdly voted Oklahoma State 4th/5th on some of their ballots so that Alabama could slide into the BCS title game.

nickma71's picture

If it isn't a 16 team only playofff, no more, no less, ever, I am not interested. 4 is designed to keep OSU and USC out. So is 8 for that matter, it would just be harder to do.

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Four is designed to keep OSU and USC out?


I'm sorry, but it's comments like this that make OSU fans seem like idiots. OSU has finished in the Top 4 of the BCS rankings five times. There were a few other times where they finished at 5th and 6th, but with the addition of a Big Ten Championship game, there's a pretty good chance OSU would have cracked the Top 4 in those years with another win over a ranked team.

VestedInterest's picture

4 is designed to keep the current coin going where it's going and to those currently receiving it. They don't give a rats rear who's in it.

Maestro's picture

I hate when pro sports are used in this argument.  College football is unique and special, don't f*&k it up by making it NFL-lite.

vacuuming sucks

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

^This... so much this...

Please don't make college football the NFL.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Same sentiment but replace pro sports with college basketball. Please don't f*&k up college football by trying to recreate the "magic" of the sweet sixteen, cinderella teams, blah, blah, blah.

The first time sports reporters make reference to a regular season champion vs the playoff champion... I don't even want to think of the level of hate I would have for that system.

Portland Buckeye's picture

Leave it to the playoff talk to push a long time reader to make his first comment. (Love what you guys are doing with the site.)

I love the idea of southern teams coming up north to play. If you don't want the top seeded schools to host, I wouldn't mind if NYC and Chicago were in the site rotation. I can already see Wisconsin fans spelling out 'Deal With It' in the stadium if they make it one year.

Why can't the Rose or Sugar bowl (or other BCS bowls) be the semi-final games? Seems like you can have your bowls and playoffs at the same time that way. Old money's happy because they keep their cash cows in place; fans are happy to have a playoff.

I'm also  surprised the 8 team playoff idea hasn't gotten any love yet in the comments. 5 or 6 BCS conference champions + 2 or 3 at large bids. Most teams could lose one game max to be in the picture in most years.