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Tuesday
Aug292006

Brief Tuesday Roundup

Just some items I've saved over the last few days...

---The New York Times' Pete Thamel has a good story about the money angle of the many lopsided OOC games that are scheduled annually.

I wonder if teams would schedule more equitably if there were a mandatory $1,000,000 fee to schedule the Buffalo's of the world?

---Redshirt Freshman Mike Kafka will be the starter at quarterback for Northwestern this year, as sophomore C.J. Bacher has nagging leg problems.  Hopefully he can continue the offensive success established by forebears Zak Kustok and Brett Basanez.

---The Sports Frog talks a little about the amazing transformation with Stanford's stadium.  The school was able to demolish its old stadium (work beginning literally minutes after the Cardinal's season finale against Notre Dame) and build a new one within a single year.

---Rivals.com ($) has put together some fancy Heisman candidate highlight videos.

---Many more videos available from this link at FoxSports

---More from Rivals.com.  Here's a cool story about the round-trip travel mileage logged by D-I teams for road games this year.  Topping the list?  Florida Atlantic, with 15,064 total miles traveled.  The least-traveled team?  That would be Purdue with just 1,994 travel miles to be logged this year.  The most-traveled SEC team, the Arkansas Razorbacks, check in at No. 68 with 5,832 total miles.

---Hurricane turned tropical storm Ernesto continues to drag its way towards the Keys and South Florida after getting roughed up pretty bad after passing through Cuba.  It is unclear whether/how much it will strengthen as it heads towards the U.S.

---Yeah, the NCAA doesn't get it.  Callous fools sometimes.

---How much is Marshawn Lynch worth, according to the San Jose Mercury News?  $800,000.  Interesting read.

I really hate the word "exploitative" because it's often abused and thrown around as a weapon in public debate.  I'll ignore that angle of this story to simply say the following: the NCAA can do better by its athletes.  I'm not really in favor of free-market salaries or compensation for college players, but the NCAA desperately needs to find a way to be such poverty mongers.  There will be a point some time down the road where either the NCAA will collapse and the system will turn to chaos unless concessions start being made to take a stronger interest in athlete welfare and economic freedom not tied to eligibility.

---Oh, and here's a little more about Lynch from CBS Sportsline's Dennis Dodd.  Turns out the man can toss the rock a little.  And about that unusual running style (I don't know how else to describe it other than herky-jerky)?  Turns out it's from years of riding a bike that way through the streets of East Oakland.

---College Football News has moved to Scout.com.

---Now, where have we seen this argument before?  "Power rankings?"  "Prediction vs. relative strength?".  I love my readers.

I was watching SunSports' college football show last night and there was a segment discussion this topic almost verbatim from the Mandel column.  Good to see people are starting to wake up to the methodology arguments about college football's poll system.

Don't get me wrong, I love the polls, but there's a better way to do them, expressed many times on here.  It's simply encouraging to see that discussion trickle out into the mainstream.

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Reader Comments (10)

The $1 million fee is a dumb idea to be frank. First, most schools already pay smaller schools to play them. Also how on Earth would you determine equity in schedules? There isn't really anything wrong with playing the Buffalo or the Arkansas State... its only when you only play Buffalo, Arkansas State, Florida International, and UNLV when it becomes an issue.
August 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Also the SEC schools probably travel a lot less because, you know... the schools aren't that far away. Its not like the ACC or the Pac 10 where the schools are strung out along the coasts, and its not like the Big 12 where the schools are scattered all over the Midwest... for the most part SEC schools are fairly close and clustered. And I know what you are thinking... SEC schools don't play non-conference away games. But that isn't the whole explanation...
August 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
The Pac-10 and other Western teams are more spread out, I agree.

But clearly something's amiss when the first SEC team comes in at No. 68. Even Big Ten, ACC and B-East teams are logging better travel miles. Many of them have schools in close proximity to each other but still log extensive travel miles.

$1 million is more than they're paying right now, if you'd read the article that is clear.

So if you want three cupcakes it won't cost you say, $900,000 to $1.5 million, it will cost you $3 million minimum. Down the road, such a fee would also make smaller schools be able to set their fees at a premium as games against them dry up. Smaller supply meeting continued demand, prices go up, thus another disincentive to cynical future schedule maneuvers.

Equity... well how about most games with a BCS conference team against a non-BCS conference team, for starters? Exceptions can be made for longstanding rivalries or state pride type deals such as GA-Ga. Southern or ASU/Northern Arizona.

Keep in mind it was purely a hypothetical, but clearly driving the price up for such games will weaken the cash incentive for major powers to schedule in such a manner.

I don't intend to dry up all BCS/Non-BCS games, as D-I games should be spread out amongst all members, but right now the way the system is used is to add 2-3 layup games for many of the better teams out there and that's completely bogus.
August 29, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
By the way, I didn't read the article, I was just responding to some of the points you mentioned. In the end I think it's all relative. For instance it doesn't make any sense for LSU to schedule a potentially difficult non-conference road game when we are already playing Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, and Arkansas on the road.I'm not using LSU's schedule to justify the rest of the SEC whether the other schools schedule appropriately or not, I'm just talking about LSU. More later...
August 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Had to run a minute ago... but back to what I was saying, just off the top of my head the only conference that has the proximity that the SEC has is the Big 10. I mean ACC teams play in Miami and Boston, the Big East is Tampa (USF?) all the way to Connecticut and Syracuse, Big 12 goes from south Texas into Nebraska and Iowa, the Pac 10 stretches from Seattle to Arizona. The farthest SEC trip is what? Fayetteville to Columbia?
August 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Ryan's point has merit. The in-conference games make up the majority of the miles traveled (3/4ths of the season are in-conference games). I think if you wanted to prove the point you're hinting at, CFR, you would use the OOC miles traveled alone. Because in-conference games aren't exactly ones the individual schools have any power to schedule differently. Maybe the SEC would still be way down the list (probably so - more in a second), but this stat alone doesn't prove much of anything.

Consider Vanderbilt and Arizona State. Vandy plays 2 OOC road games (travel to Michigan and to Duke). Vandy's OOC road travel is farther than Arizona State's road OOC travel (to Colorado). Both play 6 home games, both play 6 road games. But because Arizona State plays 9 conference games and the Pac-10 is spread out way more than the SEC, Arizona State's "total miles traveled" is more than twice that of Vandy. These stats are the result first and foremost of simply the geographic locations of schools within a conference (the most spread out conferences have teams that travel the farthest - WAC< MWC, Pac-10, Independents). The OOC scheduling isn't even secondary. I'd argue that location within a conference is the secondary factor (Arkansas is the farthest from all the other schools in the SEC, so they're highest among the SEC; Minnesota farthest from other Big 10, so they're highest; same with BC in the ACC, La Tech in the WAC, SDSU in the MWC, WSU in the Pac 10, FAU in the Sun Belt).

Inferring much about scheduling OOC based on these numbers is kind of a stretch, I'd say. Though I would say that some set of numbers might say something (and probably would indict the SEC), these numbers aren't specific enough.

The other thing worth talking about is how money and OOC scheduling work together. There's definitely a market here, and there should be. Simply stated, it isn't in Buffalo's best interest to schedule home games now, and it is in Buffalo's interest to take the check on the road. If Auburn brings in $4M for each home game they play (regardless of the opponent), it's in Auburn's interest to play home games. If Buffalo can only make $500,000 on a home game (and I'd argue that to be a liberal estimate), and a portion of that would have to go to the traveling team (say they bring in a 1-AA team for $200,000). Well, if you can get $600,000 for showing up somewhere else but only $300,000 for staying at home, of course you're going to travel.

Is it equitable that some teams are constantly on the road while others aren't? No. But you have to consider what is in the interest of those teams. If Directional Louisiana could charge $1M for an appearance fee, I'm sure they would. But they can't because teams know that Directional Louisiana can't afford to take on home games.

There are basically two kinds of teams: teams that make money at home games and teams that lose money at home games. When two teams that make money matchup, the payoff is a return game (like the article says). But when a team that makes money matches up against a team that loses money, there isn't a reason for there to be a high payout. The losing-money travelling team has no bargaining position.

Now, were the NCAA or some governing body to impose specific scheduling requirements (everyone plays a certain amount of road games and a set number for all appearance fees is set, regardless of the team), you'd see about 20-30 teams go bankrupt and have to drop down - simply because they couldn't afford the home games. Maybe Division 1 could use those teams, but it's a more complex argument than simply, hey, let's raise the prices on OOC creampuff matchups. The creampuffs can't raise the price too much because they really can't afford to get turned down.
August 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLD
Fair rebuttals both.

The economic incentives argument is a good one, but it's disastrous in the long run for the smaller schools and the game as fans get cynical or agitated at the whole scheduling game.

The fact that there are big schools continuing to make the effort with scheduling, however, is heartening and also a bit damning to the schools like Auburn etc. who obviously aren't all that civic-minded in how they go about their business.

If Louisiana Monroe and similar teams cannot make money with a home game, they probably shouldn't be playing D-I football, instead dropping down a level and playing more winnable games before home crowds that will boost their revenues and competitiveness.

I like having a LARGE number of teams in D-I, but it's bloated at this point and a few teams should be skimmed from the rolls, perhaps.
August 30, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
A school that drops down from D-1 might boost competitiveness, but not revenues. If you're D-2, it doesn't matter whether you win, you're still not going to make much money.

Maybe you're right about increasing the cost of playing small crap teams as a way to discourage the practice. But the question is, what teams would fall under the $1 million minimum rule? It's not fair to the good Non-BCS teams to make a blanket "$1 million minimum for scheduling Non-BCS teams." I think in the end, the only way to fix the problem is for the polls to come around on this idea, and punish the teams that do continually schedule cupcakes. Of course, that will probably never happen, sans BCS strength of schedule quotient.
August 30, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterg-man's homeboy
D-II etc. schools get by somehow :o\
August 30, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Is there a correlation between geographic proximity and perceived tradition (however that may be defined)? One of the reasons Florida is handcuffed from being more proactive in out of conference scheduling is the Georgia game in Jax - a tradition that UF & UGA (short term W/L bias aside) don't want to trade for, well, any other matchup. SEC & Big 10 are largely lauded for their "tradition," because they make an effort to maintain the intensity and rivalries with their neighbors. Florida has strong rivalries with almost half the conference (UGA, UTenn, LSU, Auburn (historically), Bama, and now So.Car.)(both more recently), (and not taking into account the geographic proximate rivalries with FSU and Miami); Arizona has Arizona State and ? Not to say more proactive OOC scheduling can't/shouldn't occur, but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
August 31, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLtrain

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