Friday, June 22, 2012

Conf's Agree & a Selection Committee

So this week will go down in the history of college football as a "landmark event" with the announcement that the Conference Commissioner's have reached an agreement on a Four Team Playoff.

Some details are still in the works, and this agreement still needs the vote & approval of the University Presidents before CFB fans can rejoice.

One of the key portions of this Playoff agreement is how the four teams are selected.  Similar to March Madness the Grand Pooba's have decided upon a "Selection Committee."  While few details have really been released, bits & pieces have.  It sounds like this committee will be larger than the hoops committee, and be represented equally by all conferences. Another part is that most, if not all, committee members will be former AD's, coaches, & players.

Hmmm, where have we read a very similar idea?  That's right, here:  read the last part of item #3.

"I think [a football committee] might be a little bit larger, just because you have a situation where there will be lot of recusals," said Delany. "Individuals that get appointed to a conference, if their conference is involved in the discussion process, will have to have a significant recusal process. I don't think you can be left after the recusal with too small a number. I don't know what the number is, but I don't think it's nine or 10."

To me, that is great news.  Due to how members will have to not participate in talks about schools from their conferences (AD's or Conf Commish) the size needs to be about 25 IMO. Fair & equal representation is the most important part of this committee idea.  And so is transparency, which has been mentioned.  Knowing how these power brokers work, I'm sure the committee won't be as big as I hope, but if the fans, coaches, AD's, and Univ Presidents can actually see who each member voted for (ie: ranked Top 4) it will give everyone more confidence that everything is done right.

Let's admit it, CFB fans currently have a distrust of "the system."  But you never hear too much complaining for March Madness, now with over 64 teams (with the silly multiple play-in games).  Of course, this leads me back to my premise that four teams is simply not enough.  Hopefully this is just 'Step 1" of a plan to expand a college football playoffs to 8 Teams.  Seriously, just wait for this system to be put in place and the listen for the uproar from team #5.  Granted, with my plan you can say the same thing with team #9, but at least we have doubled the amount of teams.  And how much difference is there between team #4 and 5, or #4 and 7?

I await the details of the Selection Committee to be released, because this is a very critical part of the entire playoff idea.

From SI's Stewart Mandel's column:  "The commissioners also intend to reward teams that schedule challenging nonconference games rather than playing eight home games and loading up on cupcakes.

And, as departing Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said Wednesday: "[What] we're going to do is reclaim New Year's Day and New Year's Eve for college football. These are [going to be] the games you can't miss."

Surely any right-minded college football fan will be elated about all of that."

Mandel is one of my Top 4 CFB writers. You can read his entire column here:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A CFB Playoff... More Talk

It has been five months since the BCS NCG and talks of a true college football playoff has picked up during the past few months. 

Currently, a four team playoff is the scenario with the best chance of becoming a reality.  However, the four "Power Conferences" (SEC, Pac12, BigXII, Big10) can not agree upon which format to select the four teams: a ranked top four, conference champions only, a selection committee (ala March Madness) which, etc.

Each conference has their own reason(s) for there stance. Obviously the SEC does not like the "Champions Only" idea because they traditionally have more than one team in the top four. The Big10 likes the that scenario because it guarantees them a spot in the playoffs.  Right now it looks like a power struggle between conference commissioners Mike Slive (SEC) & Jim Delany (B10).

In my opinion, this shows the problem with only a four team playoff.  Seriously, how much of a gap is there between the #3 & #5 teams?  Or #4 & #6?  With ony four teams the playoff is too narrow.  Imagine March Madness starting with only a "Sweet 16."  Where would be the Cinderella stories?  And don't tell me Butler would ever make the Top 16 before they made their two year run.

This is why I still believe college football needs an EIGHT TEAM PLAYOFF.  Let me review my brief idea:

1. Blow up the BCS. Reorganize & change the name. BCS has a bitter taste to most CFB fans.

2. With all of the recent & on-going realignment ALL conferences must play 9 conference games & only 3 OOC games. Only 1 OOC game can be a FCS school. This is called the Cupcake Rule. There are no AQ or non-AQ conferences. Schools like TCU, Boise, Houston, etc all have a fair shot at landing in the playoff no matter what conference.

3. Expand the AP voters to include more media members: national columnists, beat writers, CFB TV guys. Eliminate the Coaches Poll for two reasons: 1) most coaches don’t fill out their poll, & 2) there is too much politics in placing teams in your conference higher than a team which is obviously better. To replace the Coaches Poll create a new group consisting of former a wide variety of former coaches, ad’s, & maybe players. This is basically what former Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden talked about this past week. This group of 100 people could also be a paid group. Give this group access to online live streaming video of all games, and videos of all games played that weekend. This allows the person to watch games, review highlights, etc of all the games they would like to see.

4. At end of season use the AP, my new group, and the computer polls to set a final ranking of 1-25 to seed the Top 8 for a playoff.

5. Use the existing 4 big bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) as sites for playoff games of 1vs8, 2vs7, 3vs6, 4vs5. Seeding games will rotate between sites. Winners advance to 2 Semi Finals game (neutral site games), then winners advance to the undisputed National Championship Game. Another idea is to play the first round games at some of the other bowl's in mid-December, and use the 4 Big Bowls for the 2 semi games (rotate every other year), and then the NCG two weeks later.

Note that in this scenario that the two teams who play in the NCG will only play two additional games as teams do now. With 3-4 weeks off in December players bodies can handle this fine.

I know this is short, but hopefully simple enough to understand. I have taken what we have, tweaked it to improve it, and added a simple 8 team playoff using the four traditional bowl sites.

And let's not forget how much money can be made for universities athletic departments, conferences,etc.

ONLY 80 Days until Sept 1st and "Kickoff Saturday"!

     Nor-Cal Scott

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

California Memorial Stadium Tour

As a season ticket holder for Cal football I received an email about an upcoming preview tour of the "new & improved" California Memorial Stadium. I instantly shot back an email saying I'd like to RSVP. I attended on Wed 5/30.

Once at the new adjoining Simpson Center for Student Athlete High Performance we (about 25-30 guests) were brought to a large conference style room, I'd guess about 100 X 60. It was obvious this was not only a preview tour but an opportunity to upgrade to the fancy high roller ESP donor seats. I was pre-qualified very well by a staff member asking me “if I intended to upgrade." I laughed a bit and told her that my priorities were to get my two kids through college first.

The Athletic Department Sales Staff did a wonderful job presenting the material about ESP seats, dispelling many myths, and breaking down how the price structure was set (based on 2010 pricing basically). The ESP seating includes three sections: Field Club- standard stadium chairs in the lower levels, Stadium Club- a padded chair with an extra inch wide, and the University Club- a luxury seat, even wider, and leather. Alicia (a former Cal swimmer) & Justin were the two point people of the day, but I did have great conversations with Valerie (former Cal softball), and “my” rep Kevin who has assisted me over the years.

We had a chance to sample some of the food that will be offered at the new & improved concession stands. It was 4pm and I wasn't really that hungry but I did grab a half a Sausage-Dog of some sort, Waffle Fries, and a really yummy Tri-Tip appetizer type of thing. They will also be offering Sushi and more upscale food ala AT&T. They also had ice cream bars, and a slushy type of icee drink.

A pleasant surprise was a short chat with our beloved AD Sandy Barbour. I've seen her at games, heard her on TV, and we even swap tweets now and then, but Sandy really impressed me. She has a dynamic personality with a genuine feel. She talked about the need for getting the stadium remodeled upon her arrival in Berkeley. Sandy explained she had experience in fund raising, facilities management, etc. Then she deadpanned, "But the one thing I didn't have was experience with tree sitters." This statement received both laughs & applause from the guests.

The Tour:

My photos of the tour are available to look at here: They’re nothing great but I did want to share with fellow Bear fans.

Considering the stage of construction we had to really visualize what things will look like come September 1st and the first game vs. Nevada. Some areas, like the main concourse, were more completed than the three ESP levels & their respective private club rooms. One thing is for sure, it is going to be awesome. We were told that in the main concourse the area is 3 to 4 times as wide! And it looks like it! The concourse has bright blue (almost a royal hue) tile in the customer service areas like concessions & restrooms.

One area that has fascinated me is the grass plaza area that doubles as the roof for the Simpson Center, the Student-Athlete High Performance Center. We learned that on game days this will be a ticketed area so only ticket holders will have access to the plaza. It consists of lush green grass and what looked like a combination of pavers & concrete. I did not get to ask the question, but I wonder if ticket holders will be able to bring in food to basically picnic in the plaza.

For me the highlight of the tour was being in the University Club room area. We were taken to the backside and out to the new overlook area. This overlook area looks out over the campus with a great view of the Campanile. Views of downtown Oakland & San Francisco filled the horizon. It was breathtaking. The most unique thing we were told is that the floor will be made of tempered glass, allowing the Richie-Rich Donor to look down below.

We all know that with this major renovation CMS will lose about 10,000 seats, about 1/7th of its former capacity. We learned that with the expanded leg room and various seat widths of the three levels of ESP seating this is where most of the seats were lost. While a better explanation could not be given, some seats were lost in the other 2/3rds of the stadium where the renovations took place. Due to new wider concourse tunnels and new ADA seating accounted for this. Just by looking around it was fairly obvious to me that the new concourse tunnels have also been moved slightly in most areas, and they looked slightly higher too. These tunnels are also much wider, and no longer have steps but small ramps. The ramps double as entry to the ADA seats.

My Disappointment:

This tour could have been so much better. Yes, the main intent was to upsell season ticket holders to ESP seats, but even a quick 15 minutes through the Simpson Center would have been a nice added bonus. From the large room were we gathered and watched the power point, heard the sales pitch, and heard Sandy speak we could look through the glass wall down two floors into the expansive training facility. Tons of weight machines, racks, treadmills, etc etc. I've seen photos of this room via the Bear Blog and even on twitter from various current & former players, but this training area looked awesome! As a former jock myself I would have loved to walk through and see what else was there. Plus just to see other areas for the student-athletes: dining hall, trainer’s rooms, coaches offices. I want to see it all! If Cal wants alumni & donors to increase their annual giving they need to show off these new facilities. I’m sure it costs a pretty penny to run & maintain the new Simpson Center.

My Prediction:

Without a doubt Cal has done a complete 180 degree turn in the type of facilities our student-athletes have at their access. The stadium & Simpson Center now match the academic reputation of the University of California as the #1 public university in the world. I believe that these facilities will have a positive impact not only on recruiting for the future, but inspire current student-athletes to push a little harder, to do that extra set of reps, or even stay a little bit longer in a trainer’s room getting treatment simply because the facilities are inviting & beautiful. While it is hard to predict how the renovations will impact season ticket sales we were told that about 70% of the regular bench seating is sold. I did read a tweet yesterday (Mon 6/4) from one sales staffer saying that the phones were ringing off the hook for new season ticket sales.

A giant "THANK YOU" goes out to Sandy Barbour for her hard work & leadership. Kudos to the many behind the scenes staff members who solicited funds from alumni & boosters to make this dream a reality. And a special nod to the Judge who kicked out the damn tree sitters!