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Monday
May052008

Wetzel Logic

Twisted, obviously.

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel, on last week's BCS meetings that smartly shelved a proposal for a 4-team playoff:

In the end it was too much. The commissioners believed that just the taste of something that exciting would lead to demands to rewrite the rules and create more.

"Even though we could construct barriers at this time, we felt like there could be easily an erosion of that; more pressure to add more teams with an ability to get to the national championship game as we went over time," Dan Beebe of the Big 12 said.

Fear of success was enough for some to scream for silence.

This is so incredibly dishonest.  The people in charge aren't afraid of "success".  What they realize is something that I've harped on here (and initially expressed by Get The Picture): mission creep.  The four-team playoff proposal is a Trojan Horse and everyone knows it.  It's an entry into the gates from where you can never go back.  A four-team playoff would never stay at four teams.  In essence, if the conference commissioners had approved of the SEC's proposal, they wouldn't so much be agreeing to a "modest" four-team playoff but an ever-expanding playoff.

This was quite intelligent on their part.

Wetzel is an unabashed playoff supporter.  That's fine, but he's also incredibly insulting and demeaning to those who stand against it.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose a playoff in college football (start here and then go here).  He refuses to acknowledge them in his zeal to change the game, which makes him a dishonest broker in all of this.

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Reader Comments (7)

I know you disagree with him on playoffs, but does Dan Wetzel really have to put disclaimers on every column he writes?

I also find it ironic that you're ripping someone for not recognizing the pros of his non-favored side of a college football playoff argument. Pot, kettle, etc.
May 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGatorDave
The difference is I'm not so snide about the other side. I've got my argument, they've got theirs.

I've run across several Wetzel columns recently and each time I find myself more irritated than the last. He tries to be cute with things, which is the real bother with me perhaps. He praised the hell out of the SEC Commissioner, and he wouldn't have done that if Slive had an educated but opposite opinion on this playoff issue. That's low in my book. It's a rhetorical trick, not honest intellectual debate. That kind of stuff drives me nuts, because I don't think he's being an honest broker in this.

I can recognize most of the playoff proponent arguments. I get them. I disagree, but off the top of my head I don't think I'm so clearly dismissive if downright mean about how the other side thinks.
May 5, 2008 | Registered CommenterCFR
No, you're not as mean as Wetzel has been being. There's a difference, though, between criticizing someone's tone and calling someone a "dishonest broker."

I can't think of a situation off the top of my head where I've seen you acknowledge that playoff proponents have a good point about anything. If you can show me that, then I am wrong about this and will acknowledge it. If not though, you're just a more polite version of Wetzel from the other side of the argument.
May 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGatorDave
I probably haven't outright acknowledged particular points from the playoff proponent end. I have no problem doing so, at some level.

I mean it's not like I'm not curious about what a made-for-TV tournament of a small number of elite teams would look like. That's cool. That's exciting. But I don't think it really answers anyone's questions. It's pure entertainment, which is where maybe I sometimes sound dismissive. I want a championship to be meaningful, but part of the responsibility of that is to control for a superior team having a bad day. College football simply isn't configured for something like that, playing a series of games between teams. NCAA basketball doesn't even do it and they have that ability to turn around a day later and play a 2nd and 3rd game between schools.

And of course there's that whole preservation of the meaningful regular season issue, which I think Brian at MGoBlog said something important about recently on his site. He's a playoff guy, but I can appreciate what he's proposed (I'd still reject it, obviously), I think it's got the right things in mind and isn't in this reckless, to hell with how we've had our game this last century type spirit.

Stuff like saying "it's inevitable" is annoying. Basically it's saying "resistance is futile, submit to my argument now or later". No, no I won't. I don't think anything other than death and taxes is truly inevitable, ya know? That's just an attempt to demoralize instead of have a healthy discussion. Again, a rhetorical trick is at work instead of a well-meaning injection into the playoff debate. That kind of stuff drives me through the roof.

What I think is interesting is that someone who had that attitude of "it's inevitable" Spencer at EDSBS, has turned around and changed his mind on the issue. Majority opinion doesn't confer upon an argument finality. I could be wrong but that might be one of those logical errors people always point to.

Anyway, hopefully I've explained myself a little better here. Just reading Wetzel I don't see a very fair or honest argument being made most of the time. Clearly he's frustrated, but just because some of the Conference Commissioners' arguments are silly (academics, etc., which I agree are silly!), doesn't negate the fact that there are realistic, very solid counter-arguments to be made against a playoff. My reasons are generally different from theirs, although their embrace of mission creep makes me think they've started to evolve in the reasoning behind why they take the stance they do and their argument is the better for it.
May 5, 2008 | Registered CommenterCFR
Thanks for the clarification.

I would also agree that nothing is inevitable. Having a playoff is not inevitable. But then again, neither is keeping the BCS, having a playoff, or a plus one expanding to have more teams. If people want to keep a system in place, they'll find a way.

And though Orson at EDSBS has renounced a pure playoff, he has come out in favor of a plus one system: http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/2008/05/01/rollerskatagatorpig-lives/
May 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGatorDave
(delete the second "having a playoff" there in the second paragraph)
May 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGatorDave
the difference is that all 119 teams do not play each other home and away (as a soccer league might). when three or four top teams finish the season with a similar record BUT YET DID NOT ALL PLAY EACH OTHER how can it be determined which two teams should have the right to play for the mythical (non-NCAA!) championship?
May 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTHEsidewalkfan

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