Wednesday, January 07, 2009

John Feinstein Says Vote For Utah? Bah.
Voting Out Of Spite Is Worse Than The BCS

John Feinstein used his substantial platform of the Washington Post to urge the AP voters to pick Utah at No. 1 -- entirely out of sheer spite.

I can think of no more crassly cynical thing to do or to ask for. One might even question whether it is the sports journalism equivalent of tanking a game or shaving points.

There should be a single consideration in any voter's mind: Which team do you think is No. 1? It doesn't have to be the Florida-Oklahoma winner.

It merely has to be the team you ACTUALLY THINK IS NO. 1. I can see sense in the argument that Utah is No. 1. If I truly believed it, I would vote for them as No. 1.

However, if you vote for Utah not because you think they are No. 1, but because you want to stick it to the BCS, you -- yes, you: Feinstein -- are more corrupted than the system you seek to ruin.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: The argument is not HOW people are voting, but with WHO gets to vote -- if a voter is picking the BCS game winner because they have never seen Utah play, that is just as bad as picking Utah just to spite the BCS. Generally, we do a terrible job of qualifying voters -- the Coaches are a mess of conflicts; the Harris pollsters are a joke; the computers are opaque; the AP doesn't deserve its power. Maybe we're better off with a small Selection Committee.

What gets lost in the criticism of the current system is that no system (including a playoff) removes the inclusion problem. Four-team playoff? Utah wouldn't have been invited. 8-team playoff? Only if you abandon conference auto-bids and limits and go off of Top 8 (and, again, who picks the Top 8, and how on Earth do you decide between 6-7-8 and 9-10-11-et al?) Even a 16-team playoff would be problematic; how do you account for conference auto-bids? Do you let in all conferences? If that's the case, I'm quitting the SEC and joining the Sun Belt.)

UPDATE 2: Dammit. Orson always says these things the way I would like to say them. And he takes on Reilly's screed about Utah, though he throws in a hell of a kicker about Feinstein at the end.


Steve said...

What's wrong with quitting the SEC and joining the Sun Belt? That's capitalism at its finest. Once enough good teams joined the Sun Belt, the returns on joining that conference would diminish and teams would join other conferences. It'd be a truly level playing field. I would think you of all people would LOVE the very idea of that happening.

Don said...

I've never liked your argument, and the argument of others, that an 8 team or 16 team playoff wouldn't resolve the problem (I prefer 16). I understand that there are issues with conference champions getting automatic bids, and some people thinking that's unfair. But that would still mean that the regular season, and winning the conference is very important - and all those games in October and November will still be high drama for the top teams like they are now.

I would actually like a selection committee similar to the basketball tournament (which the BCS standings, currently really function as that already).

A 16 team playoff would exclude some teams. But similar to the Basketball tournament, those not in are usually quickly forgotten. And more importantly, at least that way every team would theoretically have a chance to win the national championship. In college basketball, Gonzaga, even though they are from a non-BCS conference, can win the whole thing. They win their conference, they get into the tournament, they can win. Same with Davidson, Butler, and countless others.

In college football, Utah was eliminated from national championship consideration before the season started, simply due to the fact of their conference. They, and all other teams outside of 5 conferences or so, have no shot. Until that changes, in whatever fashion, college football remains a joke...because while it provides a great regular season, year after year of dissatisfying resolutions to the season, tons of meaningless "post-season" games, and no confidence in the "true" national champion, will begin to leave people disenchanted.