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College Football’s Game: BCS Brokers Iron Fist a Stacked Deck

So the word on the street is that the BCS will soon be a shell of its former grotesque, non-redeeming self. That Lord Titlesque Automatic Qualifier (AQ) title, too, will be no more.

OK…so it’s a bit of a tirade.

Hmmm…interest is peaked.

And…the history-packed bowl games (you know the ones) will continue to operate and teams will continue to be ranked by a combination of too-intellectually-lofty computer calibrations for me to understand and there will be a miniature college football tourney at the end of the year to decide a champion.

Heyyyy…this sounds good.

And all that is left, is for the current BCS power brokers to agree on the plans.

This awesome comic says it all, IMO.

Screeeeeeeeech…BS detectors up and sensing waves of it heading our way.

Look, let’s follow the KISS principle and keep it simple here. The packaging may change some, and there may be some seemingly drastic shifts made, but at the end of the day, the one constant is that the power brokers who are making all the money will continue to hold the power and the money when it is all implemented. Just a fact.

And, speaking of facts, I will do my best to be accurate in this piece, but caveat this sentiment with the acknowledgment that facts don’t seem to matter on this topic anyway…the BCS powerbrokers re-write history, non-AQ university presidents change their tune when they join an AQ conference and the media distorts pretty much every facet of this story. So, what you are really getting from me on this one is my understanding of the facts and my reaction to them. It’s not pretty.

While I am sure history will show cases of when an extremely powerful or wealthy individual has chucked it all in the name of doing what is right over self-benefiting, but I assure you those are rare cases. The BCS brokers are following a tried and true script and the climax will be the same, their pockets stuffed, their turfs protected, and more folks crowding the outside to watch them all comfy on the inside. You know the drill…you have friends who will start a conversation with, “Look, it’s not about the money…” Wink, wink, clear throat, put straight face on…its ALWAYS about the money when you hear that phrase.

So, let’s do as a good investigator will do and follow that money a little to discover if anything at all is going to get better for ECU and our ilk.

Currently, the haves are dipping into some $180+ million annually. So with projections for a playoff looking at upwards of a $ billion or more per year, does it make any sense that the BCS cartel – I mean decision makers – would be motivated by anything like competition, a true national champion, the betterment of NCAA member schools, or the fans? No, it’s about the money…ultimately that they stuff in their OWN PERSONAL POCKETS and then of course what they can generate for their members schools (so they can stay where they are).

The corruption of the bowls has been well-documented, the sheer amount of cheating at BCS schools in the last decade, the full-on BCS political lobby industry, and insanity of the conference realignments give plenty of evidence of the value of this monster and being part of it.

Follow those dineros.. Anyone who thinks that the BCS power brokers are going to give up anything in all of this is seriously deluded. Change the name, call it something else, but still make bank. When they dodged the government, they cleared the only thing that could have stopped them. SWAG is the best type of booty to get…and they do it in plain sight of an inept NCAA, a disinterested legal system, and a divided fan base and they fortify their means in collusion with an equally unchecked and corrupt sports broadcasting industry.

We watch the commissioners from the self-appointed Big Six conferences self-congratulate themselves for giving the fans what they want, harkening back to circa 1998’s gelling of the BCS calling it a watershed moment where college football answered the fans deep desire to know a true champion each year all the while conveniently leaving out that that groundswell also included a full playoff system…which the BCS partners in crime – the bowls – would never allow under any circumstances. Remember, making the money is easy, the product sells itself, so all the decisions are about WHO gets that money. With a true playoff system where higher seeds play at home and TV monies are distributed evenly and broadly, the schools actually would get the money. But then what would all the self-appointed college middle men get. For a bunch of highly educated university presidents, not many of them seem to get that while they do have more money coming in now, they could have many times what the BCS provides if they all got together and negotiated as a full collective and directly with TV…cut out the middle men who profit so much for so little.

So where does that leave ECU…

We’re still very much on the outside with a crowd that I suspect will only get bigger. The Big East will be sacrificed – now that it really is just a collection of BCS short-timers – and those schools will be sent back to the previously known as Non-AQ pool. This is a good thing for the BCS powerbrokers – fewer mouths to feed.

The bowls – with so many of them now – will continue to be the only form of championship we will experience…which is fun and good for the fans.

The pathway to a national championship just got straighter for the haves and more windy for the have nots. And lest anyone believe that winning solves everything…forget that theory as well. It doesn’t matter. Only 7 BCS games have featured a non-AQ team – none of those were the championship by the way – and despite the non-AQ team winning 6 of 7 of those games, the reaction was only to tweak the computer models again (to make it harder for a non-AQ to get back) and to pit non-AQs against each other to keep the breach wider. Now, with this new plan proposed, there will be no non-AQs in the final four…bet on that.

But…there is some fun to be had. The SEC will likely get its way and we will see a four team playoff with 2, 3, and maybe even 4 SEC teams. A few years of that and the other big dogs will start grumbling and then the infighting will resume and a new change will come – maybe expanding the playoffs or limiting to conference champs only – whatever. At the end of the day, money will be pocketing and so much of it, the haves will shut up and be happy.

Here’s hoping that Notre Dame – the independent with the voting power of an entire BCS conference (funny what a billion dollars can buy you when you are mediocre on the field) – rises up again and goes undefeated. Imagine that fat cat starting to throw its weight around with the SEC…holy cow, that would be some infighting worth tuning in for. Maybe ESPN would televise it.

Please…some of my more optimistic Pirate fans…please chime in…make me feel better about this.

12 comments on “College Football’s Game: BCS Brokers Iron Fist a Stacked Deck

  1. OK Ed…you kindly asked for my thoughts on this one…I only feel better for getting them out. Otherwise, just another example of how powerless the powerless are. Looking forward to your and others opinions on this topic.

  2. (A) It’s still obsurd that the NCAA and the BCS are seperate entities for practical purposes. That’s eventually where this thing will crash several years down the road.

    (B) I’m Ok with the proposed change only if there are no other or very, very limited bowl tie- ins (especially for the BCS conference). Open bowl market. That would be a step in the right direction. Let’s face it – the top 4 teams will be the likes of Alabama, Florida, Texas, etc. They can have their incestous National Championship tournament. If we can win our conference, only lose 1 or 2 games a year and crack the top 20 or 15, and get into an open bowl market; then that’s really the best we can ask for. That would be no different than pre-BCS (sans the playoff). Hopefully the playoff gets expanded and the other bowls become more and more open. Trying to take the bird in hand is better than two in bush approach. Could be totally wrong however…wouldn’t be the first time that happened, nor will it be the last!

    • Hi pirater…thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Totally agree on point A…and the ones I am most starting to dislike are the university presidents who have the ultimate power here.

      I so hate the BCS makers and want it to continue to fail, but I also am not happy with what is doing directly to ECU…I am working on a post on my thoughts about this new conference but it is hard for me to complete as it keeps going to very dark places. An open bowl system – as you suggest – is at least a good thing for us on paper, but that is based on pre-CUSA shake up. If CUSA starts to be seen as a glorified Southern Conference, our attendance figures may not be enough for us to get into a decent bowl if we are not 2-2 or 3-1 against our OOC each year regardless if we win CUSA year in and year out.

      Thanks again pirater…love to hear your thoughts any time.

  3. Blackbeard'sGhost

    Good stuff as always RC! I do love the “cartel” analogy. Until there is a shift in power…same ‘ol, same ‘ol for us.
    Do you get the idea that ECU is that kid standing outside of the Candy Store with his face planted against the window pane. He can see it…he can smell it…he can even taste it..but he just can’t have it.

    • BG…you hit it on the head…nice analogy and it is so painful because you can tell what a powderkeg ECU could be if we could just get access to the cashcow and get “in” with the eastern based name teams.

      Keep sawing, keep fighting, keep eyeing that candy…we will figure a way forward in this cess pool that is now college football!

      As always…thanks for sharing your thoughts BG!

  4. I think we will continue to be on the outside until we manage to get into one of the power conferences (SEC, ACC?). As that seems remote at this point, I think we will, realistically, have to content ourselves with Pirater’s point in para b) win a lot of games, including a few OOCs, keep working the TV markets and otherwise make a splash for a lot of years in a row. That’s the TCU and BSU model. I’m not too concerned with the playoff itself; realistically, it only affects ~20 teams at best.

    • Thanks for dropping in Ed.

      Hopefully, the wins will follow. We all talk about it but going 8-4 every year with 1 OOC win and a loss to Southern Miss or Marshall really isn’t going to get us very far, IMO. We have to find a way to dominate our league, meaning every game in C-USA needs to be a shocker if we were to lose. We are in competition with USM for that, IMO.

      It helps that we will have an O and D that should be senior laden (2013) heading into that schedule, but if the wins don’t follow, I fear that this new Conference is a step toward a level of play that may take us in the opposite direction we all – and many before- have been fighting for for so many years.

      • You are right about the new conference. With the weakening competition, we will have to run the table to make a splash. The MWC merger needs to happen for long-term viability.

  5. Mike in Durham

    I am bit more optimistic than some, I wont to point out a few things that will help us as far as TV$$ & our on field product (sorry a bit long):
    1. Regarding changes to BCS playoff, all 11 conferences (including the 5 non-AQs) are involved in the decision making on this. The new playoff revenue estimate is at least $350M, close to twice the current BCS $$. To gain potential access to BCS games, the non-AQs had to accept a miniscule % payout before (approx 9%,to be split among all the non-AQs, with the AQs getting 91%). The Non-AQs (5 votes out of 11) are now working strongly together to ensure a much more equitable distribution, yes the Lions share will go to the big boys & they will get a much bigger %. Let’s say the non-AQs end up with 20% total, which is low (only 4% per league). With double the pie & double the %, the payout will go up 400% (from about $600k per school to well over $2M per school). Yes, the gap will grow as the larger schools will easily get 4-5 times that amount, but the non-AQs (like ECU) will end up with significantly more $$ in our athletic budget (see pt #2 below also).
    2. The same net effect will happen when the allied MtnWest & CUSA get open market bidding on a new TV contract in 2-3 yrs, with the markets we’ll both have teams in, & competitive bidding (demand for games on NBC Sports, Fox, Comcast & other cable providers), all result in vastly increased Conference TV$$. The BE will end up getting ~$5M per school when their new TV deal is negotiated. Ours will improve from the current $1+M/yr, to close to $3M/yr. The net result is we’ll have easily $2-3M to add to our budget to help us survive & thrive.
    3. We’ve all seen the outstanding recruiting/rebuilding that Ruff & Co have done. Our talent level this yr will be vastly improved over 2010 or 2011. With more talent, experience (both players & coaches), and a somewhat easier schedule now, our team is primed to make a major step up in on-field results.
    4. Now let’s consider the health of the Big East, the line to get out includes, UC, UL, UConn, & Rutgers. Should that cookie crumble, we’ll be saying hello to some old friends (Memphis, USF, UCF, etc.). Also, there’s likely to be further conference shuffling / expansion….IMO, we’ll be a top candidate primed & ready to take a large step in the right direction.

    Ron, the future’s so bright, we’re gonna need shades, purple shades that is.

    • Greetings Mike. Thanks so much for taking the time to drop a comment. This analysis is thought provoking for me as I have taken a short-term view of the situation rather than a bit longer in my post.

      I see a lot of good for ECU in the thoughts you have shared, I hate to think that our future hangs on a failure of the Big East, but in many ways, as you point in #4, it sort of does. The new revenues will only serve to help us survive during the next all-important 3-5 years so we need to #3 and #4 to materialize as the fat cats take bloat to a new level.

      What I worry about is that we have all strived for an end-game at ECU that puts our Pirates in a meaty conference – whatever it is called – playing against the best competition with revenues that allow us to recruit, maintain facilities, and grow in the same world as the ACC, SEC, and others. I worry that the next 5 years, even with wins, could see us relegated to 2nd tier status despite our efforts. And with the gap between the haves and have nots only looking to increase, we might be in a position where we cannot catch up if the opportunity even afforded itself. Although the BE should crumble, I fear that since it was part of the BCS founding fathers, it will continue to receive waivers and exceptions and whatever that allow it – despite its membership – to maintain a status above the former/current Non-AQs which to me puts us at greater risk since it sends the message that we are in a caste system rather than one that allows for the stronger (both on field and off) to find a seat at the table.

      That said, I am going to adopt your optimism because it could very well go that way too.

      Thanks for this analysis, it is really appreciated. I may end up posting this as a separate entry to stoke further comment.

  6. Mike in Durham

    Thanks Ron, feel free to do so…and just today, Meathead is forced to resign from BE…what a shame [it didn’t happen sooner]…

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