Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:44 am

BCS Blows it again

The BCS had the opportunity to host a real national championship game this year, but they blew it.  By every measuring stick out there, LSU certainly deserves to be in the National Championship game.  They are the only undefeated team, and they won their conference. 

The question is:  which team, if they beat LSU, could deserve to be national champion?  There are 5 1-loss teams, all of which if they beat LSU could boast of a 1-loss season, same as LSU.  These are Oklahoma State, Stanford, Alabama, Boise State and Houston.  Of all these, only one is a conference champion:  Oklahoma State.  For all the rest, how can you be #2 in your conference and #1 in the nation?  So Oklahoma State/LSU is the only match up that can produce a national champion regardless of which team wins.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:46 pm

Replace Conf. Championships with Bowl Qualifiers

The BCS is unfair - we all know it.  A playoff will never happen - we all know it.  So here's a middle ground solution that could actually work.  Let's replace the dismal FBS conference championship games with bowl qualifier games.  On the first weekend in December, instead of playing conference championship games, let's have the best teams play each other for spots in the BCS bowls.  This would be a mini-playoff for a national championship, would preserve the bowl system, and would allow the best teams places in the best bowls.  Here's how it would work:

After the regular season, 20 teams would be selected for the BCS qualifiers, which would take place the first weekend in December.  The six AQ conferences would each get two teams, and the remaining five conferences would get one team.   There would be three at large picks, which independents would get with 10+ wins.  Teams would need at least 9 wins to get in - otherwise their spot would go to an at-large team with 9 wins.

The top 4 teams would play for a spot in the national championship game: 1-4 and 2-3. The losers of those two games would get berths in other BCS bowls.

The remaining 16 teams would be paired and play for BCS bowl spots.  Usually the pairing would be the two teams from the same conference playing to represent their conference in the assigned bowl.  But this could be tweaked.  The non-AQ conference champs would play each other for BCS bowl spots.  Each winner would go to a BCS bowl.

The 6 BCS bowls (I added the Cotton Bowl) would then match up the qualified teams, and would be free to have traditional match ups where they want.  

Here's how this would work in 2011, using win/loss records to determine "Top 4" and BCS rankings the rest:

National Championship Qualifiers (using win-loss record):
LSU(SEC) vs. Oklahoma St. (B12)  &  Houston(CUSA) vs. Alabama(SEC)
Winners to Natl. Championship game, losers to other BCS bowls

                                  OR using BCS standings:
LSU(SEC) vs. Stanford(P12)  &  Oklahoma St.(B12) vs. Alabama(SEC)
Winners to Natl. Championship game, losers to other BCS bowls

                                    OR using BCS standings & only conf. champions
LSU(SEC) vs. Houston(CUSA) & Oklahoma St.(B12) vs. Virginia Tech(ACC)

Rose Bowl Qualifiers:
Michigan St.(B10) vs. Wisconsin(B10)  &  Oregon(P12) vs. Boise St.(MWC-at large)

Sugar Bowl Qualifiers:
Georgia(SEC-at large) vs. Arkansas(SEC-at large)   & LSU/OK State loser 

Orange Bowl Qualifiers:
Virginia Tech(ACC) vs. Clemson(ACC) & Michigan(B10-at large) vs. Stanford(P12-at large)

Fiesta Bowl Qualifers:
Kansas State(B12-at large) vs. Oklahoma(B12) vs.  Houston/Alabama loser

Cotton Bowl Qualifiers:
 South Carolina(SEC) vs. Arkansas St.(SB) & Northern Illinois(MidA) vs. TCU(MWC)

The highest ranked team left out would be #16 Baylor at 8-3.

Notice I got rid of the lame Oregon-UCLA match up and put Stanford in without a rematch with Oregon.  If Oregon lost but Stanford won, we'd move Stanford to the Rose Bowl and Boise St. to the Sugar Bowl.  Likewise, if Georgia wins and LSU loses, we'd shuffle LSU to the Orange Bowl and a Big East team to the Sugar to avoid and SEC vs. SEC Sugar Bowl.

The Big East and WAC would be left out because no team had 9+ wins.

The advantages:
(1)  You get a 4-team playoff for the national championship. Thus the debate is between who should be #4 and #5, not #2 and #3.  You are much more likely to get a "fair" championship game.
(2)  The best teams get in the best bowls by winning games.
(3)  The bowl match ups end up pretty good.  Worst case would be Northern Illinois (unranked) vs. South Carolina (#12).  But Northern Illinois would have to pull off the upset of #19 TCU to get there - good luck.  Otherwise a #12 vs. #19 match up in the Cotton Bowl is a good game.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 31, 2011 11:12 pm

Replace Conf. Tourneys with National Qualifiers?

Another March Madness has come, and again we hear cries to change the 68-team format.  Some are begging for a 96 team field, more wild cards, or other changes.  Frankly, I think March Madness is one of the best tournament systems in existence, and doesn't really need fixing.  Nevertheless, some point out a few weaknesses:
(1)  Some teams that are left out are clearly better than some teams that get in.  No matter what format, some team will see its bubble burst.  That's life.  With a 68-team format, if you don't get in, it's your fault:  win more games.  However, if you added just one more team to the tournament, they would probably get a 12 or 13 seed.  What does that say about all the 14-16 seeds who do get in?
(2)   Many first round (er - excuse me, second round) match ups are not very compelling.  No 16 seed has ever won a single game.  Only four 15 seeds have.  14 seeds aren't much better off.  So you basically worked all year for a chance to go to the NCAA, and you are doomed from the start.  
(3)  Almost half the field goes home after playing just one game.  About 3/4's go home after two.  Your season is over quickly.  Teams that do lose don't even have a chance to go on to play in the NIT, CBI, CTI or other tournament.
In addition, the conference tournaments before the NCAA's are a joke.  You've battled all year to be at the top of your conference, now you have to play the 8th place 8-21 team that you've already pummeled twice for the "real" conference championship?  Give me a break.  We know the only purpose for the tournaments is to get an upset so you can get both your regular season and tournament champion in the brackets.  This is the only place I know where you can win your conference and still not be recognized as the winner - go figure.
Here's a proposal to address all these issues:  replace the lame conference tournaments with a national qualifying tournament.  Here's how it could work:
(1) At the end of the regular season, the top 128 teams would be selected for the qualifiers.  This would include at least two teams from every confrence, plus a bunch of at-larges.  This would include all the teams who would have a legitimate shot of winning the tournaments anyway.  If your bubble bursts on this one, you definitely deserve to be popped.
(2) The 128 teams would be divided into 16 different 8-team brackets.  Teams from the same conference would be in different brackets.
(3)  Each bracket would play off in typical 8-4-2-1 fashion.  The winner of each bracket would go to the NCAA tournament and get a first round bye (1-4 seed).  The runner up also would go the tournament, but not get a first round bye (5-12 seed).
(4)  The losers in each bracket would play off in a consolation bracket.  The winner of the consolation bracket would also go to the NCAA tournament with a 5-12 seed.
(5)  The NCAA tournament would be reduced to a 48-team format, with 32 teams playing the first round, with first round winners playing the top 16 teams.
(6)  The 16 runner ups in the consolation brackets, plus the first round losers in the NCAA tournament would play in the NIT tournament.
So, how does this address the weaknesses?
(1)  Good teams left out: 128 teams would have a chance to EARN their way into the NCAA tournament.  Good teams would be left out only if they lost two games.  
(2)  Bad first round match ups:  First round NCAA tourney games would feature at worst a 5-12 seed match up.  These would all be good compelling games.
(3)  Go home too soon:  The qualifying tournament would be a chance for every selected team to play at least two games.  First round NCAA tourney losers could still play in the NIT. 
(4)  Terrible conference tournaments:  These would be replaced with a compelling qualifying tournament.  With a first round NCAA bye on the line, every team will be doing its best to win.  Losing teams will be scrapping for the precious consolation bracket win.  Plus, you'd get to see interconference match ups against the "big boys," not just the cream of the Southland Conference.  There'd be plenty of Cinderella stories.  Each conference would have a chance to send a bunch of teams to the tournament IF they win - putting a lot of bragging rights on the line.
Sounds like it would work to me - far better than a stupid 96 team tournament. 
Posted on: January 16, 2011 12:58 am

Bring the BCS to the Miss America Pageant!

It's time to bring the best playoff system ever, the BCS, to the best beauty pageant ever:  Miss America.  Here's how it would work:
(1) The country would be divided into 12 regions.  1 winning contestant would be selected from the states in that region.(2)    6 regions would be "automatic qualifying" regions.  The 6 Miss contestants from those regions would go to the semi-finals.(3) The figures of the six AQ Misses would be entered into a computer, and two finalist selected.(4) The two finalists would compete head to head, with the winner crowned Miss America.(5) The other 4 finalists would compete, along with the 2nd place Miss from the South, head to head for Miss Congeniality, Quality of Life, and other awards.  If the best Miss from a non-AQ region had a perfect figure, she could compete for Miss Congeniality.
This would make sure it's fair to all Misses!
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 28, 2010 11:06 pm

Play-ins instead of playoffs?

While a college football playoff is needed, the chances of getting one anytime soon is about the same as the chance of getting peace in Afghanistan.  Perhaps we could convince the football establishment to go for play-ins instead of playoffs.  With play-ins, each bowl eligible team would play in one game to determine which bowl game they play in.  Play-in games would happen the first week of December.  Here's how it would work:
Top 4 teams:  They would play each other (1 vs. 4 and 2 vs 3), with the winners playing in the National Championship game.  Losers would play in one of 4 BCS bowls.  This would allow 4 teams to compete for the championship, not just the current 2.

Next 12 teams:  They would play each other for the remaining 6 BCS spots.  In many cases this "play-in" game would simply be the conference championship game.  Non-BCS conference champions would fill in the remaining spots.  For example, the top 2 Big-12 teams would play for the Big-12 championship, with the winner going to the Fiesta Bowl.  If one of the Big-12 teams was in the Top 4, the Mountain West Conference Champion would play the 2nd place Big-12 team for a trip to the Fiesta.  This way, BCS conference teams could still get 2 BCS bowl games (if they win), and non-BCS conference teams could get in too (if they win).  
Losers would play in one of six 2nd tier bowl games (Cotton, Gator, Capital One, Outback, Holiday, Liberty?)

Teams 17-29:  Would play each other, with winners going to 2nd tier bowl games, and losers going to 3rd tier bowl games (Sun, Humanitarian, Poinsettia, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Champ Sports)

Team 30-42:  Would play each other, with winners going to 3rd tier bowl games, and losers going home.  I'd eliminate the rest of the meaningless bowl games.  The top 1/3 of teams would have a chance to go to a bowl game, giving the term "bowl game" real meaning.
This would give 19 semi-meaningful bowl games, with decent match ups in all of them, and distinct pecking order for them.  Going to a bowl game would be a reward for good play during the year, not a pat on the back for finishing 6-6 and 8th place in your conference.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 21, 2010 3:18 am

Best and worst playoff systems in sports

Here are my picks for the best and worst playoff systems in sports.


#1 NFL

This system is as close to perfect as you can get.  The #1-#6 seeding system insures that every team plays hard to the end (except in the rare case of 2009 Colts).  #1 is a big bonus:  home field through the playoffs.  No #2 wants to slip to #3 and lose that first round bye.  #4 gets a home game.  #5 and #6 are just happy to be there.  2/3rds the way through the season, most teams can still make the playoffs, which keeps it exciting.  You don't even need to run table to get there:  a 4-6 team can win 5 of 6, and maybe squeak in at 9-7.  On the other hand, an overconfident 7-3 team goes just under .500, and they wind up 9-7 too, just on the outside.  It all means almost every regular season game is critical. 6 weeks of games, ending up with your friends at your house eating Doritos and cheering for whoever - it doesn't get better than that.

The rap?  The playoff scenarios at the end of the season get way complicated.  But in fact they are pretty simple:  Win and good things happen, lose and bad things happen.   

#2  March Madness

Cinderellas, buzzer beaters, dominance, Final Fours, upsets:  It's all March Madness!  It's all about the Northern Iowas, George Masons, and other schools you've never heard of getting it done on the big stage.  No second chances or losers brackets - so get it done now!  Once you're in, it doesn't matter if you are from the Big East or the little west - win and move on/lose and go home.  It's as simple as that.  I also love that the whole tournament gets done in just three weeks - it doesn't drag on infinitely like some others (see "worst" list).

The rap?  Those bubble teams always cry fowl.  But come on, it's a 65 team field!  If you can't make that cut, it's because you failed to win - simple as that.  There is some talk of expanding the field - I say leave it alone.  Is there really any team left out that has a legitimate shot at #1?

#3  Major League Baseball

The two team per league format was a disaster: everyone else stopped caring in August.  Once they moved to four teams per league, it all became very interesting.  The list of teams with a chance at the wildcard spot grew, and the season kept interest for about half the teams.

I love the division series and world series - it means there is baseball on to watch every night.  Plenty of games come down to a single at bat.  Even if you don't watch the regular season, you can enjoy a couple weeks in October.

The rap?    The playoff races end up focusing solely on the wild card - Division races fade in interest.  I don't know a good solution:  adding more teams would just make the regular season less important.


#1:  NCAA Football (FBS)

The only two sports where the winner is determined by a biased set of judges instead of the play on the field are women's figure skating, and NCAA Football.  It's a travesty of justice that a team can win every single game, yet still not even have the opportunity to play for the championship.  This is just behind cancer and congress as one of the most unfair things on planet earth.  

The fix?  Every other NCAA division has a playoff.  That would work. 8 teams, 16 teams, 12 teams, whatever.   Even a Bowl + 1 would at least let 4 teams playoff.  Yes, you can keep the bowls - there are plenty of ideas out there that use some of them as part of a playoff system.

#2:  NBA

The NBA playoff system guarantees that at no point in the regular season does the outcome of any one game make a hill-o-beans of difference.  The only difference between a team that wins 84 percent of the games and one that wins 48 percent is, if the series goes to an odd number of games, where the last game is played.  That's it.  There's no real incentive for good teams to keep trying hard to the end, since they are guaranteed to be in the playoffs very early on.  For those bubble teams, there's no real point in getting to the playoffs, since the 7 game series means you are just about guaranteed a first round exit.  

Plus, the playoffs take so long!  March madness goes from 65 teams to 1 winner in three weeks, and is done first of April. The NBA playoffs start in April, and finish sometime before Thanksgiving.  By then I don't care anymore.

The fix?   Get down to 6 teams per conference.  That would mean you actually had to be good to make the playoffs, not just be 2 games below .500.  It also would mean that every team in the playoffs would be competitive, so it would all mean something.  I know 6 teams is an awkward number.  I suggest 3 team round robin play: #1, #4, #5 seeds, and the #2, #3, #6 seeds.  They would play each other until teams lost 4 games:  the last team standing would play in the conference finals.  That also would mean you wouldn't just see one team at your arena.  I'd shoot to get the whole thing done by Memorial Day.

#3:  NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

It's weird that one sport can have both one of the best systems and one of the worst.  The conference tournaments are a joke.  We all know the whole point is to get your best team knocked out so that you get more tournament bids.  The problem is:  are you really proud that you finished the regular season 6th, but are the "conference champion"?  I don't think so.  Some conferences invite every team in the conference to the tournament - what is the point of regular season play?

The fix?  Declare that conferences that have tournaments only get to send one team to the tournament.  After all, you just proved to us that your other teams aren't as good, right?  Do this and conference tournaments would disappear faster than a fly at a frog convention.  

Category: General
Posted on: March 7, 2010 1:27 am

Best and worst trophies in sports

So many sports championships out there.  Some give out great prizes that make you want to run faster, hit harder, or spin quickly in the air just for the opportunity to touch the thing.  Others are a complete waste.  Here is my list of best and worst trophies.
#1: The Olympic Gold Medal.  Nothing says "I am the best in the world" better than a pound of gold hanging around your neck.  This is not something you set on a shelf and forget about:  this is something meant to be worn so all the world can see.  Have two or three?  Wear them all!  Silver and Bronze are great too - 4th place just plain stinks.   (A subtle note: even though athletes compete as countries, the medals are personal).
#2:  The Stanley Cup.  No, I don't really know who "Lord Stanley" is; and I don't care.  Frankly, I don't even like hockey.  But that trophy is the best around:  It's instantly recognizable.  I love that it has names on it that go clear back to the ABA days (or whatever they called minor league hockey a hundred years ago).  And I love the fact that there is only one trophy, not a whole set of them in trophy cases all around the continent.  They don't even call it the NHL Playoffs - it's the "Stanley Cup."  And skating the cup? Priceless.
#3:  The Superbowl Ring.  I've always thought it was pretty lame that, after a group of guys hit, run, push, and crunch their way to one of sport's highest pinnacles, the Superbowl, that the owner, some guy sitting in the booth, gets to hoist the trophy - which presumably goes into his office never to be seen by anyone making less than $500K.  But the ring?  That belongs to the player.  He wears it for life.  When he's 90 and junior is sitting on his lap - he can show him the ring.  No other sport has that.  (And you've got plenty of fingers to try for another one.
#1:  The Green Jacket.  Of course, winning the Masters is the ultimate in golf.  You achieve that, and they give you - a blazer?  And a green one at that - something you'd laugh to find at Goodwill.  At best it says "we're part of a snobby country club that YOU will never be a part of."  Do they let "those" people in?  Century 21 Real Estate gives the "gold jacket," the Masters - the green.  I think the real estate agents get the better deal.
#2:  The NCAA "Plaque".  With as many a 256 teams competing, winning an NCAA Championship is one of the toughest things to acheive.  Have you ever seen a team tote around the trophy they get for winning an NCAA Championship?  It looks like the wooden plaque you ordered a "Joes Trophy Shop" down the street.  Ugh.  (And don't get me started on the trophy they DON'T give in football)
#3:  The World Series Trophy.  It's a bunch of flags in a circle.  Looks pretty delicate to me.  This one belongs lost in some manager's trophy case.
Category: General
Posted on: December 30, 2009 11:19 pm

Football helmet logos

As a young'un - I was first attracted to football by the most obvious symbol - those helmets.  We got plastic football helmets for Christmas, but had to paint on our own logos.  2nd grade art class always found me drawing teams battling it out on the field.  I found you could just bounce your pencil on the paper to make the crowd (though Mrs. West didn't approve of the noise).  Drawing those teams of helmets took a lot of art.  I came to enjoy the teams with simple logo designs.  Below is a list of my most favorite designs.

Easy to Draw

Dallas Cowboys
- that simple Star symbol - quick, easy.  I'd have a team full of Cowboys drawn in no time.  I always thought the star had something to do with the badge to the old west sheriff wore.  I just recently realized it probably has more to do with the "Lone Star State.

Los Angeles Rams - Those curly-que horns were great to drawn.  Mine always looked more like whirlpools.  Plus, having horns on your head just made sense.

Minnesota Vikings -  That simply horn design.  I'd have full teams of Vikings beating up on Cowboys in no time.  Again - horns on your head makes sense.

Philadelphia Eagles -  Drawing the wing was easy enough.   But why did you have wings on your head?

Kansas City Chiefs - An arrowhead with a KC. Took some practice, but I eventually got it.

Never could draw

New England Patriots - Plus, I doubt minutemen ever hiked footballs.

Miami Dolphins - Made sense - a dolphin on the helmet.  I'm not sure why the dolphin was wearing a helmet.  I of course thought the dolphin was wearing a Dolphins helmet - in a never ending design.  I was definitely disappointed to find it was just a darn M (see my rant about "M" helmets below.)

Teams I didn't like.

Cleveland Browns - If you were coloring in pencil, you simply did nothing.  Boring.

Category: NFL
Tags: Helmet logos
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or