BCS Threatens Us With the Old System

Found an interview with Harvey Perlman who is the new chairman in the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This interview is chalk full of amazing answers, so I will interject my own commentary within Perlman’s answers and you have been warned this is lengthy. Questions are in bold with Perlman answers not in bold.

The best line threat of the interview is at the end, “The alternative is not a playoff. The alternative is to go back to the system we had. That’s fine. Many of us would think that’s not a bad outcome.”

The one’s who would like that system would be the same leagues that are part of the BCS, because they would still get their money.

And now onto the circus, that this interview was:

Q: The BCS has its share of critics. I know you recently considered and rejected the Mountain West’s proposal for an eight-team playoff, and I wanted to read you the statement from Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun.

I’m sure you’re aware of it, but I’ll read it anyway: “We basically have a system for college football that too closely resembles the old Soviet Presidium. You have a seven-member politburo that’s decided if you aren’t one of those party members, then you’re unable to participate.”

Why is that statement inaccurate?

HP: It’s unfortunate that we have to have this kind of dialogue. There’s a reason why the oversight committee consists of who it consists of.

There are six automatic qualifying conferences and Notre Dame that currently comprise that body. The six automatic qualifying conferences are conferences that had contractual relationships with bowls prior to the BCS.

First off that is not true because the Big East was not partnered in any of the currently BCS bowl games. They were affiliated with the Gator Bowl as their top bowl prior to the BCS or the Bowl Collation.  The only reason they are in is because Miami, FL joined the Big East in 1991, which also was the first year the league started playing football.

HP: The Big 12 had a contract with the Fiesta Bowl, the Pac 10 and Big Ten had the Rose Bowl and the SEC had the Sugar Bowl and The ACC had the Orange Bowl.

What we agreed to do was modify those agreements to allow a No. 1 and No. 2 team to play each other for the national championship. But we weren’t going to give up those contractual rights without having control over what the system was. That’s why it’s that way.

I understand about keeping the conference ties together because that is how all the bowls are set up. Having  ‘control’ over the system is the same thing Coach Troy Calhoun of Air Force mentioned how the BCS is like the former Soviet Union.

Also, ‘contractual rights equals the bling which is something the BCS does not want to share.  Oh, and good job in not answering the question, because the opposite of the former USSR is a democratic system which allows everyone to have a voice which is not the case.

Q: Do you think that, somewhere along the way, the BCS failed to make this argument to coaches? You’re right, the dialogue tends to be pretty negative. Has the BCS failed to get down to the coaching ranks and explain this in terms they can appreciate? Is there a communication that needs to improve?

HP: Obviously we haven’t convinced everybody that what we’re doing is the right thing, so maybe more communication is in order. But there are a lot of reasons people want to attack the Bowl Championship Series, and I recognize that.

It pretty tracks to be the third team instead of the first two, or which conferences think they should have had a better chance of playing in the national championship game. That’s all part of the environment that we’re in.

So he agrees there is a problem! Being the third place team is out of luck. In 2008 Texas, Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Alabama, and a few others were all had legit chances to be considered for the national title.

All — except for Florida and Oklahoma — were penalized for either playing in a perceived lower league or for a single loss, but if you are Texas that  Big XII tie-breaker rule left you out and that rule still has not been changed.

Q: You talked about Dave Frohmayer. He released a statement turning down the eight-team playoff because “disrespects our academic calendars and it utterly lacks a business plan.” While the business plan may be one issue…if at least some coaches – and possibly a majority – are in favor of a playoff, don’t you think they’ve at least considered the academic impact on their athletes, and don’t you think they know better than, say, administrators how much or how little their athletes can handle in the classroom?

HP: Everybody has said they’d be willing to consider the Mountain West proposals at the time they could be implemented. President Frohmayer was reflecting the view of most of the presidents I talked to, that, when you think about a playoff, that we have not seen a proposal that doesn’t implicate the academic success of student athletes. Now, coaches and players will always want to play as many games as possible.

And I respect them for that, but I don’t think any of us are prepared to adopt a playoff system that interferes with exams in the fall semester, that extends into the spring semester any more than we have to. What I think most people don’t understand is that the alternative to the current system is not a playoff. The alternative to the BCS is going back to our traditional relationship with our bowl partners.

Since when did the business known as NCAA football care about the academic success of their student-athletes.  The NCAA pretends to care by having the APR that has the possibility to dock scholarships and post season play.

The exam issue is easily solved and not extending the season too far into the spring is an easy fix as well.  Make the season end the first Saturday in December, which most teams are done anyways, and then start the playoffs the following weekend.

If the playoff is 16 teams the opening round could be on the next Saturday and Sunday and then take a week off for finals, and then start back up for the fourth week in December, New Years week, and then the week after New Years.

That is when the season ends as of now, and since the players play games on the weekend professors would help accommodate the finals schedule.  That would not be hard to adjust a students finals schedule, because unless the final is on a Thursday or Friday that is when they need to re-schedule.

Baseball players, and basketball players miss a ton of time traveling mid week for games, so adjusting a test by one day is not that hard.

Q: Why is a playoff not a viable alternative? Is it because it would cut too many teams out of postseason play?

HP: It would diminish the bowl structure and it would reduce the number of opportunities for student-athletes to play in the postseason and that’s not a good thing. If you look at college football now, it’s the greatest sporting event spread over September, October, November, December and a little bit of January that the country has.

I do agree that college football has the best regular season, but they have the worst post-season with any sport, and why would this reduce the number of teams to play in the post season.

Again, the lower-tier bowls that are all ready poorly attended can still be around. Currently in the NCAA hoops there are four post season tournaments, and while the NCAA tourney gets the most pub that would still be the same in football with the playoff games.

HP: A playoff would seriously diminish the regular season, as it has in college basketball. I don’t think it’s good for college football, I don’t think it’s good for student-athletes and I don’t think it’s good for fans. I don’t see fans traveling around the country three weeks in succession between December and January following their team.

Hmm… the NCAA basketball tournament seems to not have a problem selling out arenas with the different fan base.  Also, having a playoff would not ruin the regular season anymore then the current practice of teams playing FCS cupcakes in the preseason.  That has ruined the non-conference season which is why ESPN tried to get Texas and Wisconsin to play each other this season.

The regular season would be even better by making the playoff exclusive to conference champs and only five at large to make a 16 team field.  Currently ten teams get in the BCS so there would only be six more spots, and if it goes by my plan with conference champs; every conference race would be important and teams who do not win their league would still need to be near perfect to get in.

If they are worried about not filling out stadiums, there could be games played on artificial turf and have double headers to help ensure the stadium is full and not what the ACC title game looks like.

HP: So you’re either going to have to play at home sites – which I’m sure everybody will want to play in Nebraska in December and January – or you’re gonna have to travel, which means that bowls will cease being intercollegiate events, but will become corporate events, where everybody in, you name the city, will be there except the fans of the teams.

This isn’t basketball. This isn’t March Madness. Football’s a different game, different environment. We have different traditions. It’s hard to see why a playoff is a good idea.

Corporate events the bowl system is made off of the corporate system, and why does he think Nebraska will be in the playoffs, they have not been at that type of level since the early nineties.

Also, the weather does not seem to keep people away in the NFL when games are at New England, Buffalo, Chicago, Green Bay, and every other cold weather city.

ESPN owns six bowls, FedEx, Citi, Chic-Fi-La, and others plaster their name on the bowl.  The World Wide Leader now owns the rights to the BCS games, so the corporate.

Could Mr.Perlman define how tradition effects a potential playoff.  The reason it is hard to see a playoff is because we have yet to find out a way to give us more money, or actually they do not want to spread the wealth even if the BCS leagues get more money.

Q: One sore point with fans is that Notre Dame has an automatic bid if it meets certain qualifying standards, while non-automatic league essentially get cut off if more than one team qualifies. Notre Dame can get an automatic bid, whereas Boise State can’t, even if it’s ranked in the same place, if Utah already had one. Why does Notre Dame still have a chance at an automatic bid?

HP: You have to go back and remember the tradition here. The agreements with the bowls were by conference. Now, Notre Dame is not in a conference, but they had significant relationship and they had their own television contract. At one point in time, Notre Dame was pretty much in a bowl every year.

Ah tradition, why should that have an impact on how a team qualifies for the big money game, if that is the case then Navy, Army, SMU, TCU, and the Ivy League would have the same treatment as Notre Dame, because way back in the day they were the national powers.

Wow! money comes into play since Notre Dame has their own TV deal, and I like this quote “Notre Dame was pretty much in a bowl every year” not in this decade, and it can be easily argued that they did not deserve the two BCS bids were they were smoked by Oregon State and Ohio State.

Q: Long-term, do you think it’s a good idea to put the entirety of the BCS in the hands of ESPN, which already wields a great deal of power in college football to begin with? I go back to 2001, when ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit was announcing on the air that he would call coaches and ask them not to vote for Nebraska over Colorado Given the bully pulpit the network already has, do you think the BCS poll gets bent in a direction that favors ESPN’s preferred schools, like USC, the SEC, and the Big Ten, or are there safeguards to prevent against ESPN using its on-air talent to lobby for certain programs?

HP: The ranking system that we have has a diversity of ways to rank teams. I suspect you can’t influence the computers, for one thing. And I’d be very surprised – notwithstanding some efforts – that voters in polls are influenced by what ESPN wants. We were with FOX, we took bids, ESPN made us a very attractive offer, they are good football partners, and we’ll see where it goes.

What! voters not influenced by ESPN that is the biggest lie every.  ESPN shows top teams in their highlights and teams from smaller leagues are not always on their highlight shows.

Look at the Mountain West who is no longer on ESPN and now on Versus, CBS College, and The Mtn; they hardly get any looks on the network.  ESPN would love to have USC in the title game every year, and while the talking heads may not say ESPN wants USC they will do their analysis and say they are ‘my’ best team.

In a time when coaches do not have time to watch other teams film to accurately rank the teams; they look at the highlight shows to see what they are saying and vote directly.

How often does a MAC team get mentioned on the air, and when they do it is probably once they are 8-0 and that could be too late for them to make a run at the BCS.

Q: The state of Utah intends to pursue this antitrust lawsuit against the BCS. Do you think that this is just a process the BCS is going to have to withstand before emerging the winner? Is there a way to resolve this without years of litigation? Is there a chance the BCS will lose?

HP: I’m not an antitrust lawyer, but I do find the general claim that this is an anti-competitive market difficult to understand. If you go back before the BCS and look at how many times schools in the group of five played in any of the major bowls.

I think you’re gonna find that the BCS has broadened their access to national markets rather than narrowed it, and I think if you look at how much income they got from postseason intercollegiate football before the BCS and look at how much income they’re now getting out of the BCS, I think you have to conclude that the BCS has given them more access and given them more income.

And it’s hard to see what the endgame is for this attack on the BCS on antitrust grounds. As I said: The alternative is not a playoff. The alternative is to go back to the system we had. That’s fine. Many of us would think that’s not a bad outcome.

The reason no non-BCS schools were invited to the big money games we have today is because of bowl tie-ins with conferences; also do not forget those backroom deals that had games set up in mid October.

Plus, look back at the old Bowl Coalition back in 1996 where BYU was ranked fifth in the final week of the poll and was passed over the current BCS bowls and were sent to the Cotton Bowl.  By current standards today BYU would have been in one of the BCS bowl games.

The income thing is tricky, because one can just go by dollar amount which increases because of inflation each year.  The only way money is more is when a non-BCS gets into a game, and even then that money spread among all of the non-BCS leagues and not just to the league that made it to the BCS.

This interview was a joke where Perlman was taking the BCS stance strictly and giving bogus half answers, and the best was using tradition to explain why Notre Dame gets its own rules within the BCS.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I guess that I have never seen anyone so narrow minded as this BCS rep who gives such shallow and meaninless arguments that have no basis in fact. It came through very clearly that what they want is the money and they will not share it unless forced to do so. It makes a mockery out of the so called national championship. It is time that we get together and boycott watching any BCS games during the season or in the bowls. If we hurt ESPN in the pocketbook, they might not be so wrapped up in the BCS.

    • Very true, and the ‘tradition’ card was great about Notre Dame, also saying they are included for making a bowl game nearly every year. Well, Boise State, Fresno, Utah, BYU, and many other non-BCS league schools have gone to more bowls since the BCS since Notre Dame

  3. [...] Utah Attorney Genral Mark Shurtleff pretending to care about the BCS, and then most recently an interview with Harvey Perlman who threatens to turn around this [...]

  4. [...] Down the Facts of the BCS Posted on July 9, 2009 by Jeremy This is similar to the write up with Harve Perlman, but this time it is with Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Tony Barnhart.  Now before we get [...]

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