Saturday, October 31, 2009

10 comments Dave Dameshek Wants Progress, In the Form of Using an Old Bowl System

I had heard something about Dave Dameshek prior to writing this post. All I remember is that somone wrote Dave Dameshek was either a great writer or a crappy writer. I can't remember which description about his writing I heard and I don't even remember where I heard this. I don't know whether to hold his affiliation with ESPN against him in determining this or not. All I have to judge him upon is this article about how bad the BCS bowl system is. I know, what a novel concept for a column, I am not sure "bashing the BCS by suggesting another system" has ever been done before.

It's been a whole week since I have semi-defended the BCS system that I neither care for nor hate, so I figured why not have another go at making it look like I like the current system in place? I spent so much time defending Aaron Rodgers when talking about Brett Favre two summers ago it seemed like I was firmly in Rodgers corner, even I didn't give a damn. Why not paint myself in a corner again with an opinion I don't hold very strongly, even though it seems like I do?

I wouldn't be surprised if I'm named Father of the Year.

It's never a positive sign when a column starts off with talking about a person's family. Ok, maybe not "never" but it is not a very positive sign in general.

This Sunday, I skipped watching my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers host the undefeated Minnesota Vikings so that I could go to a Halloween carnival with my 2½-year-old daughter.

On Sunday October 25 you went to a Halloween carnival? A full 6 days before the actual date of Halloween? Oh God, it's Halloween Creep, someone better call Gregg Easterbrook immediately and have him include this example in his upcoming TMQ when he talks about holidays that "creep" up on us!

If I do win an award, though, I'll have to share it with TiVo. See, TiVo allowed me to record the game and watch it -- without commercials! -- when we got back from the shindig.

It's the latest example of why I'm in favor of progress.

So Dave Dameshek favors progress because it means he doesn't have to make a choice between spending time with his daughter or watching a Steelers game? Without progress would this have been a difficult choice for him I wonder? I am against progress because I want to know if Dave Dameshek would have chosen watching the Steelers game over going to a Halloween carnival with his daughter.

Point is, progress is good.

Yes it is. Without progress I am just a very pale guy accosting strangers on the street to see what their opinion on the latest sports news is and complaining to them about the lousy article that appeared in the newspaper that day. Essentially I would be jailed at some point. Progress has allowed me to avoid jail.

Sometimes, though, through trial and error, it becomes clear that well enough should've been left alone.

Bruce Jenner's face proves that.

I wish we could get some progress through this article because it just feels like we are killing time at this point until we get to the actual purpose of this column.

So does Jay Leno's 10 p.m. show.

And we are killing time now... Jay Leno was essentially kicked off "The Tonight Show" in order for Conan O' Brien to take over "The Tonight Show" and the only reason Leno got his 10pm show every night is because he would have gone to ABC to do a late night show, which would have been the same show he does now at 10pm on NBC. NBC didn't want him to compete with Conan, so they let him have a nightly talk show. If we think this one through, progress would have caused the exact same Jay Leno show to air, just at a later time in the night.

Sometimes progress means more of the same.

And so do the AFL throwback uniforms we're seeing this season. Anyone with two eyes and an ounce of fashion sense knows the more modern unis are inferior to the retro getups.

Really? Some of those uniforms were just incredibly ugly. I feel fortunate my favorite team didn't form until 1995 because I don't know if I could handle watching a game with either team wearing those ugly uniforms from the AFL or even two decades ago. I guess I don't have fashion sense because a good many of those uniforms were just one solid, ugly color...and it is pretty hard on the eyes to look at.

Now, it's time for college football to acknowledge its computers are evil and in the process of destroying things. The old-school approach worked just fine.

Here we go. Essentially what Dameshek is saying is that progress is good, unless there is too much progress, in which case progress can be bad because good things start to change(isn't this the same "progress principle" those who are racist/sexist believe to show why minorities or woman suck? I am not saying Dave Dameshek is either of those, I am just saying...). He believes the BCS bowl system represents too much progress over the previous bowl system, which was so memorable and worked so well it is creatively called "the old system."

The old system is not that much different from the BCS system. I realize they are actually different, but the differences in the systems aren't so vast that to change from one to the other will turn college football and the sports loving public on their respective heads.

Sorry, I'm not going to argue here for a playoff system. For all the greed-based reasons that have been detailed ad nauseam, it ain't gonna happen any time soon. We're stuck with the polls.

I think this represents progress in the discussion of a college football bowl system...realizing the futility of suggesting a playoff system. It's a money thing and won't happen soon.

Until the powers that be "fixed" things, Jan. 1 was the crown jewel on my sports calendar. Five games, perfectly distributed throughout the day, played by arguably the 10 best college football teams in the country. No dead weight anywhere on the schedule.

I actually can not disagree with this principle. The bowl games are too spread out for my tastes now. I feel like all of the momentum is sucked out of the season when the "important" bowl games are played at a slow bleed throughout the new year.

The Fiesta Bowl served as a zesty appetizer, two potent teams shooting it out in the desert.

As opposed to super exciting Oklahoma-Boise State Fiesta Bowl in 2007, the exciting Texas-Ohio State game in 2009, or the controversial 2 OT National Championship game between Miami and USC in 2003?

Look at the Fiesta Bowls prior to the BCS? Do the scores look omore exciting than the scores AFTER the BCS? I say no.

An hour or so later, the Cotton Bowl kicked off in Dallas, pitting the Southwest Conference champ (was it always Texas, or did it just seem that way?) against another top-quality foe.

Again, I ask you the reader whether the Cotton Bowl games now seem less exciting than the hyped up games that Dameshek envisioned in his head? Again, I say no. It's not like the quality of this game took a huge dive when the BCS started. The BCS puts different teams in the game, but the game quality hasn't seem to dip at all.

Next came the Rose Bowl. Big Ten champ versus Pac-10 champ. Midwest versus West Coast. Corn-fed brawn versus suntanned flash. More often than not, it was USC, UCLA or Washington versus Ohio State or Michigan.

Absolutely nothing has changed with this. It is still Big Ten champ versus Pac-10 champ. Dave Dameshek is longing for the days of fast times and fast cars of 1995 while currently living in the days of fast times and fast cars in 2009. Nothing has really changed. The date of the game has changed, while the Rose Bowl games hasn't changed that much.

And then it was time for a prime-time doubleheader.

I can get behind the January 1 should be the big day for football idea. That I can get behind. What I can't get behind is the idea the quality of these bowl games has declined or the BCS system has caused a massive difference in whether these games were exciting or not. I also can't get behind the idea the BCS has let undeserving teams into the Rose Bowl. The scores really don't look that different for these bowl games before and after the BCS and the decision on what teams should play in the game is the same for the Rose Bowl.

When those five games were finished and you put your head on the pillow, you always knew who the national champion was.

Except for the fact this isn't a completely true statement. There are tons of polls that decide for themselves the National Champion every single year. Obviously the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll are the most popular and generally reflect the consensus National Champion, but there are other polls which can show unanimous or non-unanimous agreement with what the BCS decided.

The BCS was originated in 1998. Check out this chart of National Champions and teams that received votes as the National Champion since 1869. Let's see how easy it is has been to determine a National Champion before and after the BCS came into effect. I am only using 15 years before the BCS for comparisons sake.

Before the BCS, the 1997, 1994, 1991, 1990, 1986, 1984, and 1983 seasons all had legitimate splits on who the actual National Champion was for that year. That's 7 seasons in the last 15 years of the "old bowl system." I wouldn't say this comes close to always knowing who the National Champion is at the end of January 1.

After the BCS, the 2008 and 2003 seasons were the only two times when the polls couldn't seem to agree in the majority on a National Champion.

This may have something to do with the fact the polls may have contracts to agree with the BCS or it may not. Honestly, I didn't have time to investigate if each poll followed the BCS...but I really doubt that many polls just follow the BCS. What would the point be of having your own poll if you just piggyback the BCS at the end of the year?

What I do feel confident saying is that the BCS has made it neither harder or easier for sure to name a National Champion every year. If I was forced to choose at gunpoint, I would say it has actually made it easier to choose a National Champion compared to the old system. As I said a couple weeks ago in the Mike Celizic post I did, there are ties at the top of the polls at the end of the year sometimes and the world tends to move on. Everyone is looking for certain answers and the old system doesn't provide those.

Well, almost always. Once a decade or so, two teams would share the title. So what? The BCS system hasn't silenced those teams that think they got jobbed. At least with the old system, it was all wrapped up in one day.

Basically the old system sucked too but it just got teams complaining over with in one day. What an unconvincing reason to move back to the old system.

Please just give me back the old system. If you do, I promise Jan. 1 will be a treat for every college football fan.

All the games in one day would be a wonderful thing, but the old bowl system does not represent progress and won't solve the crucial problems with the BCS at all. It's nearly the same as the BCS in many ways. Having all the football games in one day would be great but the old system won't improve the quality of the games. That's all I care about as a sports fan. I want the games to be good games between two good teams and I don't care what system is used to make this happen.

Here's how it would look this year:

Let's see how screwed up it would be this year. Let's note what teams will be left out, unfairly included or snubbed in some fashion.

FIESTA BOWL: (Note: No sponsorship names will sully the lovely simplicity of the bowls' monikers here.) LSU vs. loser of USC-Oregon

COTTON BOWL: (Because I'm going back to the old way, the conferences will return to their old constructs, too.) Texas vs. loser of Florida-Alabama

ROSE BOWL: Winner of USC-Oregon vs. Iowa

ORANGE BOWL: Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati

SUGAR BOWL: Winner of Florida-Alabama vs. TCU

Notice what team gets completely and utterly snubbed by the old system? That would be a potentially undefeated Boise State team. What has TCU done that Boise State or an undefeated Texas team hasn't done? What in the hell has Oklahoma done to deserve to be in the Orange Bowl? They are arguably lucky to even be ranked in the Top 25 at this point. I am not saying they don't deserve to be in the Top 25 because they have only lost to Top 25 teams, but they don't deserve the Orange Bowl no matter what system is being used. Based on how they are playing now, any bowl projection that has Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl while leaving out the ACC Champion and Boise State is a flawed system.

Compare these projections to the bowl projections for the BCS found here. I know these may not be the sexiest matchups but the BCS bowl projections at least have teams who deserve to be in a "Big 5" bowl game. I don't know if Oklahoma or LSU has deserved that right from Dameshek's old system projections.

All right, so maybe you're underwhelmed by the prospect of seeing the Gators go up against the Horned Frogs. Think of it this way, though -- TCU is a school with zero recruiting clout and no recent winning track record, but they'd be getting a shot at the national title against one of the big boys.

TCU actually has a pretty good recent winning track record. Granted, they haven't made any BCS bowl games but TCU has been a consistently good team over the past couple of years. Since 1998 they have been 98-37. The fact they have no recruiting clout doesn't mean they deserve a shot at the National Championship. Only proving it on the field like an undefeated Boise State, Texas, Cincinnati, Alabama or Iowa (and maybe TCU if they stay undefeated but I think they should be behind at least 4 of these teams) team have done shows they deserve this National Championship shot.

Now that's progress.

No, leaving out an undefeated Boise State team for an LSU or Oklahoma team is pure lunacy. The bottom line is that the old system is not that different from the BCS system and it certainly isn't a guaranteed improvement.


Martin said...

Dameshak is such a moron they had to pull his show off the air in LA cause it was getting it's ass handed to it so bad. He rambles on, makes no sense, has his facts wrong half the time, and is just terrible on a daily basis. the only comment I have about that article is in agreeing with you...WTF is Oklahoma doing in there??

Bengoodfella said...

I...don't...know. I have no clue what the hell have they done to deserve to be in any type of major bowl game...besides name recognition. I had heard something about Dameshek and it may have been that he was getting his ass handed to him but I really can't remember. I found this article to be pointless.

Go said...

There were two good things about the old bowl system. One, of course, was having all the bowls on New Years Day. As a kid it was incredible to watch bowls from noon until 11 pm or so and the last one was usually the Sugar, Fiesta (when it became a bowl) or Orange Bowl for the National Championship. Sometimes a Big Ten or PAC Ten team would play in the Rose and still be going for the title. At noon you'd get The Cotton Bowl, Gator, and maybe Citrus or some other. Then the Rose at 4pm, and the biggies at 7 or 8pm. All the best teams in one day. It was insane. I always wanted New Years to be on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday so I could stay up and watch the endings and not worry about school the next day.
The second thing is that it excluded crap teams who win their conferences from playing on New Years. If Miami or VT win the ACC, they wouldn't play on New Years in the old system. Maryland won the conference three straight years in the early to mid eighties but had two or three losses and never played on New Years and they didn't deserve to, except for the one team with Frank Reich, they were awesome.
The golden years of sports.

Bengoodfella said...

Yes, I do like the idea of having all the major bowl games in one day. I think that is fantastic and to leave out a team in a crappy conference is also a benefit but I still don't think the old bowl system was a huge improvement over the BCS, which doesn't say much for either system.

I don't like automatic bids for teams that deserve to make it but that's really the only major improvement the old bowl system has over the BCS. The BCS can be a mess at times, but I don't think the old bowl system chose the National Champion with any more clarity than the current system. Really isn't that what a good bowl system is all about? Choosing good and deserving teams to play each other and hopefully come out with a consensus National Champion?

I miss the old bowl games but I don't know if I miss them enough to go back to the old system as of yet.

KentAllard said...

I had never heard of this Dameshak before this. What an awful column. The actual content would have fit in one post on Twitter.

Here in Alabama, Crimson Tide fans went to sleep on January 1st from 1960 -1994 confident they would be #1 in the polls the next day. With a few exceptions, they spent the rest of the year railing at the conspiracy that cheated them out of the title.*

There's a Bama fan in the office who is steadfast in his belief they were the 2008 National Champions. His rationale? They were #1 after the final poll of the regular season, therefore they are the defending national champs.

Michael said...

I am a longtime Penn State fan. Here's a case where the old system sucked:

In 1994, the 6-0 #1 ranked Penn State squad BEATS Indiana 35-29 (the game was not that close, after allowing Indiana to somewhat comeback and score two touchdowns in the closing minutes of the game with a bunch of third-stringers playing) and drops to #2 in the polls where they would finish the season as an undefeated #2 who never had the chance to play in a "title game"

Under the current system, they'd get a chance to play the #1 ranked team.

How many voters voted based purely on seeing the score and didn't actually watch the game? Do we really want a national champion chosen based purely on the opinions of sportswriters who don't actually get to watch every single football game?

Is the new system flawed? Absolutely. Is it better than the old system? Absolutely. Will they come up with something better in the future? Maybe, who knows?

Go said...

I don't want to go back to the way the old system chose a champion. I only liked watching all the bowls on New Years day and how it kept garbage teams away from prominent bowls.
What was Miami ranked in 1984 going into the Orange Bowl? #4 or #5? They leapfrogged everyone and won it after beating Nebraska (and was helped by others losing). That was ridiculous.

Bengoodfella said...

I had never heard of him either. It wasn't great was it?

I think Alabama still thinks they should just be given the #1 spot in the poll this year as well.

I can't believe that guy doesn't understand that Alabama in no way deserves to be #1 in the country at the end of last year. They lost to Florida and Utah. It amazes me how some people are so blinded by loyalty they can't see the truth.

Bengoodfella said...

Michael, I remember when that happened. I would bet a lot of the voters just looked at the score and assumed PSU had a tough time in the game and dropped them. No, I don't want rankings based on what sportswriters who can't watch every game think. I think each system has it's faults but the one you showed was another potential flaw in the old system.

I also believe your last paragraph wrapped it up for me pretty well. I could have just written that and not spend 2,500 words on what I was trying to say.

Go, I would like to go back to keeping automatic bids out of the bowls, which is not going to happen. I did like all the games in one day. I could spend all day watching football. Now it is just so spread out it is just sort of annoying.

The one thing lost in the 1984 championship game, which isn't a big deal because they did beat Nebraska, but Miami was a pretty controversial pick if I have read correctly for the championship bowl game. Go, I like the same things you do, but I am not sure about either system to choose a national champion, so I just try to deal with it the best I can.

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