The Week that was.

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Last updated: 05/06/2011 12:42 PM
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Football
The Week That Was
By Tony Gerdeman

I hope you know that you just overpaid for this. Grossly.

============================================

The biggest news of the week was that the Pac 10 price-gouged their way to the richest conference broadcast deal ever.

The deal is reportedly worth $3 billion over twelve years, which comes out to $250 million annually split between the twelve teams and the conference.

Like the Big Ten's deal, the Pac 10 will also be allowed to create their own network. Unlike the Big Ten, who owns 51% of the network while FOX owns 49%, the Pac 10 will own 100% of their network.

The deal came about because of a bidding war between FOX, ESPN and NBC, and sometimes in a bidding war you forget about what you're bidding on and focus more on whom you're bidding against.

For the product they're getting, the price is outrageous.

As I've mentioned before, the last best place for advertising is live sports because viewers can't fast-forward through commercials, so sporting events now command a premium, but three billion dollars for a conference that people in western America don't even pay attention to is hard to swallow.

Unfortunately for all of us, however, we will have to swallow it.

Networks don't pay that kind of money for a product and then leave it to starve in a 10:30 pm Eastern time slot.

ESPN's mantra is "If we air it, they'll watch it", and they're right. Just look at their radio programs. Why are they popular? Is it because they're entertaining? No, it's because they're on ESPN.

The product is growing to be secondary, and in many cases, already is.

But you have to commend Pac 10 commissioner Larry Scott. The guy hasn't made a misstep since taking the job less than two years ago.

This time last year he was this close to forming a super conference by adding Texas, Oklahoma, and a few others.

When that fell through, he still pushed forward with expansion and settled on Utah and Colorado, two decent markets, though the Buffs seem more like a marriage of convenience in order to get a conference championship game.

The Pac 10 will become the Pac 12 on July 1, and it's because of Scott's vision and determination to not settle for the present tense.

One year after expansion here we sit, watching as he orchestrates a $3 billion deal that makes everybody else wish their existing deals were up so that they could renegotiate.

Don't think Scott is done with expansion, and now he finally has a legitimate draw.

The tug of war between the Pac 12, the Big Ten and Notre Dame is going to be an all-out war, though don't be surprised if the Big East promises Notre Dame a Texas-sized share of their pie when the time comes.

============================================

Mark Emmert, the President of the NCAA was sent a letter this week from the U.S. Department of Justice wanting to know why the FBS doesn't have a playoff.

In the short letter, he is asked three questions by Assistant Attorney General Christine A. Varney. The questions are listed below, and as a favor to Dr. Emmert, I am going to answer those questions for him. I will send an invoice for my services at a later date.

Question One

"Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have NCAA-run playoffs or championships?"

Answer

The FBS has never had a playoff. Where were the complaints for the last century? The only reason some schools are upset now is because they're making more money than they ever have before and they want more. Your question can be thrown away. The issue is not about all teams being given a chance to win a championship, because they all have that opportunity. Instead, they simply want more pie, that's all. Basically, your question has nothing to do with the real issue at hand.

Question Two

"What steps, if any, has the NCAA taken to create a playoff among Football Bowl Subdivision programs before or during your tenure? To the extent any steps were taken, why were they not successful? What steps does the NCAA plan to take to create a playoff at this time?"

Answer

Well, the BCS was created to pit the two best teams against each other, which is exactly the purpose of a playoff. However, the BCS simply cut out the middleman in an effort to keep these student-athletes from missing too much school. The steps have been successful for the most part, and at least as successful as any tournament in selecting the best team. There are no steps planned to create a playoff at this time because the BCS contract is still valid, and we wouldn't want to get the Department of Justice involved by violating it.

Question Three

"Have you determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve the interests of fans, colleges, universities, and players? To what extent could an alternative system better serve those interests?"

Answer

Who wrote that question for you? If this were a court room I'd object because the question is leading. As to your second question, I'm much too busy to deal in the land of make believe and wishery. Maybe one day we can spend an afternoon having a picnic in a prairie and we can pour our innermost thoughts out to eachother. Maybe then we can talk about some alternative system that would make everybody happy, but only after we spend a good portion of that picnic solving world peace and childhood brattiness.

You're welcome, Mr. Emmert.

=============================================

Lest you believe I am against a playoff, I am not. I'd simply like to see better arguments made by those who think better arguments can be made.

Likewise, I'd like to hear BCS proponents make better arguments as to why the BCS is the way to go.

While listening to Jack Arute and Mike Leach's radio show on Sirius this week, I heard them play a portion of an interview with BCS executive Bill Hancock.

One of the reasons that Hancock gave as to why a playoff is not the answer is because it would rob college football players of the bowl experience, and would instead turn postseason games into business trips.

For one, it would only affect a small minority of football teams, because those teams not in a playoff can still go to their bowl games and have their wonderful bowl experiences.

People want to say that a playoff would kill bowl games, but there's simply no evidence of that. Will the Liberty Bowl suddenly stop being unimportant because there's now a playoff? Of course not. The Liberty Bowl was always unimportant. Nothing will have changed.

A handful of schools will miss out on the traditional bowl experience. They will likely miss out on all of the citrus-squeezing and pie-eating contests, but those are things they can do in their spare time if they really miss it.

If the BCS is really worried about football players missing the bowl experience, why not ask the players themselves if they'd rather take part in a playoff, or play in a bowl game that will instead keep them out of the national title hunt.

Seems like an easy answer to me.

Citing the "bowl experience" as a reason for not having a playoff is like citing "the taste of water" as a reason for not having a beer.

And if a football playoff would be a "business trip", why are business trips only frowned upon in the FBS?

When you can't come up with good reasons to keep things a certain way, it leads me to believe that those reasons don't exist.

=============================================

Lastly, I'm only mentioning Boise State's NCAA infractions briefly because they're so ridiculous.

Basically, over the years, current players have at times provided car rides (gasp!), a couch to sleep on (OMG!) and even meals (NOT MEALS!?!?) to incoming players.

These violations ranged from $2.34 all the way up to $417.55.

Boise State acted quickly and self-imposed a reduction of practices from 29 to 26 this summer. They also docked themselves three scholarships over the next two seasons.

Don't weep for the Broncos though. As far as the practice time, 26 will be plenty. They'll likely have the players do more stuff on their own to minimize time lost.

The loss of scholarships is also a throwaway penalty. They'll have to play with three fewer scholarship players than they're allowed for two seasons. Tons of schools do that anyway--even Alabama, if you believe Nick Saban.

I applaud Boise State for acting quickly--wait, what's that? The NCAA requested that Boise State begin an internal investigation back in March of 2009, and then they self-reported infractions through May of 2010 and never told the media?

Whatever. That's not important.

I'm just glad, in this instance, that the self-imposed "punishments" fit the "infractions".


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