Posted on: January 10, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 9:02 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
We expected fireworks and points, so naturally the game began slowed by injury and with a pair of punts. The field looks like it might be a bit of an issue, claiming Auburn's Chris Davis on the opening kick. Both defenses look extremely well-prepared for the opposing offense, and both opening drives were stuffed. Just when Oregon was starting to get some momentum thanks to a couple of first downs and a 21 yard reception from LaMichael James, Darron Thomas overthrew Kenjon Barner and Auburn's Demond Washington came through with the interception.
When Auburn reclaimed the ball with the best field position of the game, Cam Newton was picked off by Oregon's Cliff Harris on the drive's second play. It looks like it just might be that type of game.
Posted on: December 18, 2010 3:08 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
As reported yesterday, Mark Cuban has set his sights on the deeply unpopular BCS postseason in college football, and that he in the exploratory stages of establishing and funding a playoff system with the intent of competing against the BCS. BCS spokesperson Bill Hancock expressed considerable doubt that Cuban would be able to accomplish that goal. Of course, if Hancock didn't say that he'd be fired on the spot, but that doesn't make his doubts entirely invalid. Cuban does, in fact, face a series of major challenges from the NCAA establishment in making this playoff system happen.
As Cuban wrote today, however, he faces another hurdle -- namely, that he's not the first person to have this idea, and those before him aim to profit off a playoff plan one way or another. Here's part of an e-mail Cuban received from someone reportedly represented by a major law firm:
In his post, Cuban then rues the fact that people can be issued patents for this system without ever having the means or intent of actually implementing it, and that the patent system effectively acts as a roadblock to real progress on the football postseason front. He's right. For as pro-business as the USA is, its draconian approach to copyright and trademark law (and the sheer volume of professionals trained to exploit it) means that innovation is effectively bottlenecked by lawyers and patent filers in this day and age.
But read that e-mail carefully; there are (purportedly) "three perfected alternatives to the BCS" already owned, but according to both the e-mail and CBSSports.com's research, there's only one actual patent issued for a postseason playoff system. It's unclear what the other two patents address, and as of right now we do not know how CBS is actually involved in this patent situation, but insofar as issuing playoff bids goes, there's one system on the books. For Cuban, that's good news.
The patent in question is here, and it's pretty thorough -- as all good patents should be, really. It's owned by Marc Mathews of Chandler, AZ (presumably this is the "guy in Arizona" Cuban's unnamed e-mailer mentions), and it was issued 12 years ago. It's long, but here's the abstract, with one particular portion emphasized by us:
A method for conducting a championship playoff includes the steps of ranking participating teams after a regular season by adding the ranks of each team based upon at least two different polls, and assigning a final rank for each team based upon the summation of these polls. A championship tournament is then conducted with a plurality of rounds of events to reduce the initial number of teams to a single champion. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, one poll is a poll of sports writers, a second poll is a poll of coaches, and a third poll is an objective poll, with the first and second polls being weighted more heavily than the objective poll. Each round of events in the championship playoff would be played at different site locations. A secondary tournament would be conducted utilizing the highest ranked teams below those which are utilized in the championship tournament. The secondary tournament would include a plurality of rounds of events to narrow the teams to a single champion of the secondary tournament. The secondary tournament rounds are played at different locations than the championship tournament rounds, and are played on different days than the championship rounds.
This, of course, is the method by which the BCS selects its national championship participants, and it was every bit the canon in 1998 as it remains today. Therein lies the problem for Mathews and his patent. If Cuban doesn't use at least two polls, he's got a leisurely stroll past this patent. Here's the first method patented by Mathews, and the method upon which every single other method in his patent is based (again, emphasis ours):
1. A method for conducting a championship playoff among at least three participating teams, each team playing a plurality of games during a "regular" season, comprising the steps of:
Again, this type of redundancy is typically seen as a strength of the BCS, but if Cuban, say, uses one formula to determine his postseason participants, even if it's a formula agreed on by several different participants, he violates neither this method nor any of the others in the patent (which, again, are all based on this founding premise).
All of which is to say, there is almost certainly a way for Cuban to get around the restrictions laid out by this patent (the existence of which is most certainly ethically dubious but generally accepted as "smart business" all the same), and opponents of Cuban's plan would be wise not to see this as an actual roadblock to a playoff but rather a weakness in the BCS's armor.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 3:36 am
Edited on: December 16, 2010 3:43 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The BCS cannot catch a break these days. It's been only days since it finally shed the label of "most reviled aspect of collegiate sports" (the new winner being the Big Ten's "Legends" and "Leaders" division name change, of course), and already the BCS faces its toughest obstacle yet: Mark Cuban.
Cuban, the irascible and opinionated owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and various other holdings, proposed funding a playoff system during an interview earlier today:
And how, precisely, would Cuban make these changes? Why, throw an unholy amount of money at the problem, of course:
Our colleague Ben Golliver expressed doubt that Cuban would be able to make any headway in spite of a theoretical playoff's overwhelming popularity, but I'm not so pessimistic. The one thing the BCS has always been able to (literally) capitalize upon was that it operates essentially out of the purview of the NCAA. Sure, the bowl game committees don't break any NCAA rules when it comes to giving players gifts or anything, but that's likely due in some part to the fact that paying players doesn't advance the bowls' financial agenda nearly as much as paying the schools and conferences, which they do in insane amounts. In return, the bowl system -- which is ludicrously tilted in the financial favor of the six BCS member conferences -- gets to hand-select its participants with only the most basic of guidelines. People complain, but it's what works because it's what makes the most money.
But if Cuban comes along and suggests a playoff system that makes more money for the NCAA and its schools and conferences, well, the BCS finds itself in a spot of trouble, because it can't exactly come running to the NCAA to enforce any pro-BCS rules; again, the BCS is a separate institution, and one that generally relies on a postseason monopoly -- you either go to a bowl or you don't. There is very little to suggest that conferences like the Mountain West would pass on an opportunity to play for an opt-in title when its teams are going 12-0 in the regular season, only to be told those teams aren't allowed to play for the BCS Championship. Efforts by the power conferences to shame and intimidate the non-AQ conferences only serve to deepen the divide, and that's a power play that could backfire hilariously if the BCS isn't the only postseason game in town anymore.
Obviously, Cuban's plan isn't fully cooked yet, so it's impossible to judge the plan on its merits until we know what they specifically are. Further, opting out of the BCS entirely has never been attempted by a school or a conference (and really, why would anybody do that without a viable alternative?), so it's going to take a lot of contractual research to figure out exactly what that would entail. It may very well be the case that this playoff idea never gets off the ground for whatever reason. You really think Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive are going to let their BCS baby roll over at the first sign of a fight? Please.
Nonetheless, Cuban's insertion of himself into the BCS debate isn't a gamechanger; it's even better. That's because the game's always going to be the same, and that game is money. If Cuban can bring more money to the table and win the PR debate to boot, then it won't matter how many rich men in blazers the BCS bowls send to top schools; Cuban's going to win that game every time.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 3:36 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
It's no surprise that Ohio State has been one of the NCAA's largest benefactors of the BCS system. The Buckeyes have made three title games in the BCS's short history, and considering the shellacking two of those teams received, it's not unfair to think those teams wouldn't have reached the championship game in a playoff system. The same could even be argued (fairly or not) of OSU's 2002-03 title-winning squad, who did take the BCS Championship but was a massive underdog to Miami and likely would have been so against other contenders that year.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has made several BCS bowls (Rose and otherwise) without qualifying for the title game, but not between the BCS' first iteration in 1998 until this year, when the No. 6 Buckeyes were invited to the Sugar Bowl at 11-1, did Ohio State ever make a BCS bowl with only one loss on its record; in all of the other seasons, the Buckeyes had two regular-season losses but were granted a BCS bowl bid anyway because, c'mon, it's Ohio State. In other words, never in the last 12 years have the Buckeyes been eligible for an and-one playoff bid but haven't made the title game.
It would make sense, then, that the OSU players from those teams wouldn't exactly be clamoring for a move to a playoff system, when such a playoff would have never benefited the Buckeyes and their title hopes. And yet, ask several former Buckeyes about what the best postseason system would be, and their answer is the same: playoffs.
The entire article is full of solid arguments from the players and, curiously, a particularly weak one by the author, Rob Oller. Oller argues that the former Buckeyes' statements and the 62% of polled players who support a playoff carry extra weight, because the players' opinions are "the most important" in the sport. This is only true if one ignores basically the entire history of the NCAA and its guidelines, which are almost uniformly crafted without expressly consulting its student-athletes.
That fact isn't necessarily as nefarious as it sounds, mainly because it's logistically impossible to gather the opinions of so many hundreds of thousands of constituents and cull a meaningful consensus on a consistent basis. And even if the NCAA were to start balloting its athletes on major issues, there's no guarantee that the entire exercise doesn't devolve into mere majoritarianism.
If only there were some way, then, to organize these athletes into a body that represents them and only them and speaks on their behalf with a unified voice. Something like a ... yes, a union. The NCAA's athletes should form a union, so we can avoid disparities in athlete opinion and NCAA rule like this in the future. $urely, there'$ no rea$on why any of the NCAA'$ $chool$ would oppo$e $uch organization effort$.