Monday, January 14, 2008

The Wicked Warlock of the West (SEC that is)

A responder to my initial post inquired as to my position on, what seems to be, the raison d'etre for Saurian Sagacity and perhaps the justification for the smug name....namely that the NC is a myth, and always has been. During the blog's first trip around the sun, I noted intriguing efforts to, alternatively, tweak the BCS system or craft a working playoff that would grant more equitable results.

Well, I can't give an immediate answer, and I may grant myself the luxury of arguing both sides at different times. To me the question is complicated, having moral and practical components implicating the constant balancing act between self interest and equity, competition and community...David v. Goliath......Management v. Organized Labor, you get my drift.

And it is true, there is no formal, NCAA national champion and no formal, NCAA championship game. This appears to gall this blog and many of it's readers. What does it matter if the acronym preceding the "National Champion" is BCS or NCAA?

But, are Mergz and Mr. Gomez the residents of the glass house at which they throw stones? Are they leading a revolt against themselves? More importantly, are those bastards throwing stones at MY HOUSE?

No one profits more from the current system than the SEC. And, because the bowl money is doled out on an equal share basis, we have all profited richly.

It's good to be the King!!!!


Roy Kramer, SEC commissioner from 1990-2002 burrowed into the conference offices in Birmingham, AL and became the architect of the now 10 year old BCS system. Kramer was a money making whiz who gave the SEC the nation's first conference championship game, raised the SEC annual revenue from $16M in 1990 to $78M in 2002. He reveled in his own vilification, crowing in an interview close to his retirement that he had been, "blamed for everything from El Nino to the terrorist attacks." Even our own financial whiz kid, Jeremy Foley, gave Kramer the nod, "He elevated this conference from a very fine conference to, in my opinion, the nation's finest."

No fool, Kramer embedded the SEC into the BCS and the secondary bowls through an insidiously clever system of so-called "tie in" contracts. In fact, an examination shows that the SEC is guaranteed $33.85M(16%) of the $212.15M bowl dollars available outside the BCS NC game through tie-ins with the Outback, Capital One, Chic-Fil-A, Cotton, Liberty, Independence and Music City Bowls. In comparison, the Big 12 is guaranteed $31.6M (14.8%), the Big 10 is guaranteed $30.65M (14.4%), the ACC $27.95M (13.1%) and the Pac-10 $24.25 (11.4%) and Big East $23.4 (11%).

Now add on the $17M per team payoff to each BCS NC participant AND the $4.5M kicker ON TOP of the $17M BCS payday for placing a second team in the BCS series.

This year, the SEC stands to collect $55.35M for the bowl season from the BCS and tie-ins.


If traveling costs average $1.5M per team, there will be a little over $40M in bowl money to divide between the member schools.

We just paid Urban Meyer's salary! Alabama just paid (almost) Nick Saban's salary!

Is it coincidence that the Top 3 earning conferences are the three deepest? That's fodder for anther post or perhaps a full chapter in Dr. Leavitt's followup to Freakonomics, if he's planning one.

But, as a practical matter, why would we give up all this guaranteed dough? Certainly, it's dubious to give it up for an 8 team playoff....which would basically be the major conference winners + 2 at-large?


Henry Gomez said...

The biggest canard about the current Bowls and Polls system is the false dichotomy that's peddled in its defense, namely that because the Bowls make a lot of money that true playoff for a National Championship could not earn more.

People follow college football in spite of the unsatisfactory manner in which it determines it's "champion" not because of it.

We understand that there was a time when things were simpler and crowning a national champion wasn't important. But those times are long gone.

Do you think adding two more games to the post season (We have 5 BCS bowls now and would need two more games to make an 8-team playoff) will lower the amount of available dollars? Not likely.

Leave the Gaylord Music City bowl intact if you want. I don't care. Just give me a real playoff.

jimmyj said...

Exactly the point I was telling these goofs about three weeks ago, be thankful for what you already have. Consider right here in Florida we have these northerners coming down spending their loot on SEC turf while we enjoy home field advantage about every time. For example the Big Ten and SEC play two bowl games against each other every year in Orlando and Tampa where each conference send their top two non-BCS teams. In the BCS-era, the Big Ten has sent 17 teams to BCS games, the SEC has sent 15 teams. Three times, the Big Ten sent it's 3rd & 4th place teams to play in Florida against 2nd & 3rd place SEC teams. The SEC has only had to deal with that once and yet the Big Ten has won 11 of those games to the SEC's 9. The Gators have only won once out of 5 against the Big Ten at those bowls. Can you imagine the dominance the Big Ten would have enjoyed at neutral playoff venues over those years?
Point is the clever system Roy Kramer created helped the SEC in many way by enabling them to lure the best young coaches out of the Ohio valley with huge salaries to help bring the level of our competition up to the point we enjoy today.

Anonymous said...

SEC teams habitually underachieve in bowl games when they feel slighted by placement in a "lesser" bowl. I think this is a problem for top teams regardless of conference -- look at Michigan against USC last year, UM wasn't the obvious #2 team in the nation that Herbie claimed, but they weren't as bad as the ass-whooping indicated. The problem for the SEC is that there are so many teams that have a legitimate shot at the national title, there's a lot of demoralized teams during bowl season.

In a playoff system, where the teams have something meaningful to play for, I think we'd see more SEC teams winning like UF and LSU over OSU than losing like UF to Michigan.

Gator KGB said...

I'm not sure why anyone besides the Gators underachieves in bowls. But, with the Gators, it was pretty easy to understand, Spurrier openly admitted he didn't emphasize bowl games, especially if we hadn't won the SEC.

The Zook era was, well, the Zook era.

Not too bad so far with Meyer. Personally, I though a healthy Michigan was a very good team. It was difficult to believe they lost their first two games. At any rate, that was a mature team at their apex while the Gators were a young team, so I'm not particularly concerned.

I was not defending the current system, as I indicated, I'm not 100% positive of whether or not I'm a proponent or opponent of a playoff system. However, it's important to fully understand the forces of inertia and the values associated with change.

If one implements an 8 game playoff system, there's no guarantee the results are any more valid. Who do you leave out this year....Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, USC, Hawaii?

Obviously, we've 20/20 hindsight on Hawaii, but why would mid-majors support that? They are guaranteed to get squeezed out. Does one take the top 8 BCS ranked teams? Won't you still end up with the same gerrymandering in the final week or so of the season as was seen this year?

But I think I want to candidly examine the economics of the current system and the economics of proposed changes. Like it or not, economics will be a key driver of change or stasis, it always is.

Henry Gomez said...

I think any playoff system with as few as 8 teams would have to be limited to conference champions. If the argument is that the current system makes every game count then there's no way you could have a 2nd place team get in ahead of a champion.

KG said...

Damn KGB, you nailed it right out of the park. I guess I keep assuming that everyone realizes that the reason we don't have a playoff is because the major conferences don't want one. It's not about the money, it's about the SHARES!!! In case anyone isn't familiar with the NCAA tournament but that money is spread out to teams equally. Well guess what . . . the BCS bowl money IS NOT!!!

The 6 power conferences retain the Lions share of that cash. If a playoff system were implemented there would be more money but instead of 90% of it going to the power conferences it could go to ANYBODY!!!

What kind of retarded school president or AD in the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Pac 10 or Big 12 would give up control of the purse strings.

Man . . . I can't believe that control of the money is that hard to grasp. The people getting screwed are the WAC, MAC, MWC, etc, etc. Not the SEC. And that's why there won't be a playoff anytime soon. Duhhhhh.

A plus one might happen. That will still leave the power and money in the control of the SEC and its cronies.

Good job KGB!

peachy said...

Er, actually basketball tournament money isn't shared equally. Half is allotted to the schools directly, based on the number of sports played and scholarships offered - which clearly benefits the heavy-weights, who can afford non-revenue sports. The other half goes to the conferences, based on their performance in immediately preceding tournaments, which benefits them even more, as they get more bids and their teams are more likely to advance - after the last tournament, the Big East received as much as the thirteen weakest conferences combined.

One would expect the revenue gap in football to be even wider, since a much smaller field would presumably include only legitimate challengers, which would be drawn overwhelmingly from the BCS conferences. (Whereas more than a third of the basketball slots are allotted to non-BCS conferences.)

Gator KGB said...

Peachy, please see this evening's post.

Andrew said...

I think a plus one is the answer. How many teams outside the top 4 really deserve a shot? This year we had VT in the BCS top 4 who got slaughtered by LSU by 41 points. I don't want them to win a NC after that loss. Or what about USC who lost to 41 pt. underdog Stanford! No thanks! Or UGA who lost by 21 to Tennessee and didn't even show up! Be careful what you wish for...

Gator KGB said...

Andrew, I will address the plus one in the next portion of this series.

it will still leave us with an MNC as it does not solve any of the credibility problems currently plaguing the BCS.

Also, it will negatively impact the financial viability of the some of the bowls.

Plan ventilating more of my half-baked opinions next week.

Andrew said...

How many teams outside the top 4 could deserve a shot at a NC? I personally don't want to see a 8 or 16 team playoff. It waters down the competition too much. Yes, you could argue #5 was more deserving than #4, but why couldn't they prove it in the regular season?

Henry Gomez said...

Who is to say who the top 4 are? The problem with college football in its present state is that it's a judged sport. There's 6 BCS conferences. I don't think you can have a legitimate system until all 6 conference champions are included. And you could make arguments for the other conferences which you can't legitimately keep out. I say a tournament of conference champions is necessary to crown a true champion. Until then the national championship is horseshit, and that includes the two the Gators won.

Gator KGB said...

The beauty of the NCAA Hoops tourney is that enough teams are included that there is never a question.

However, why do there need to be so many at-large invites?

$$$, see the money formulas that have been outlined. Why not have conference winners only?