Tuesday, February 16, 2010

13 comments Gregg Doyel Loves Change For No Good Reason

I love the NCAA Tournament. It is my favorite three weeks of the year in the sports year honestly. I try to watch as many games as possible and fill out a bracket (yes, just one bracket because filling out multiple brackets feels like cheating to me). There has been talk about the NCAA Tournament expanding to 96 teams and I am not against it, I just see no reason for it. Gregg Doyel likes the idea and wants us to all think about it. Of course he never tells us a benefit of changing the NCAA Tournament around, but who really cares if there is no obvious benefit shown? Let's just do it anyway.

As I may have mentioned before, I like Gregg Doyel, and I like how he can state his opinion that I may not agree with and write a decent column about his opinion. I don't think he really proved his point here, at least not to me. Actually, I think it is borderline dumb that he just writes a column telling us to think about why we don't want the NCAA Tournament expanded but never takes the chance to mention why we SHOULD want the tournament expanded.

(Please ignore the font from when I copy and paste Doyel's comments into this blog. I couldn't get it changed to the original font I use. I think it is just The Man's way of trying to keep me down and prevent me from giving my opinion. Obviously this repression of my opinion through a font I don't like isn't going to work.)

Never in my 20 years as a sports writer have I seen an idea so repulsive that it unified the masses in opposition.

The idea? Jay Mariotti wins a journalism award of any kind for anything related to the crap that puts out on a weekly basis.

Doesn't matter who you are -- conservative or liberal, Duck or Beaver, Tim Tebow or Nittany Lion -- you hate the idea that the NCAA is considering expanding the 65-team men's basketball tournament to 96 teams.

I do not hate the idea. I just don't think the field should be expanded. I like the NCAA Tournament how it is. I believe it works well over a 3 week period. I like seeing a #1 seed play a #16 seed because at some point a #16 seed is going to defeat a #1 seed and it is going to be wonderful to watch...as long as that #1 seed is not my favorite team of course.

3 weeks of the NCAA Tournament is fine. If it lasted any more than that, I believe it would be a bit saturated and lose some of it's annual March luster.

The media hates it as well. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it "lunacy." The Washington Post said it's "the worst idea in the history of sports ideas."

That may be overstating the case against tournament expansion, but I don't like the idea personally. I like how Gregg says "the media" like he isn't a part of the media as well.

It's unanimous.

That is two newspapers out of the hundreds in America that don't like the idea. It is not exactly unanimous.

I haven't pined for expansion. I haven't thought about it at all, one way or the other, until last week -- when the NCAA let it leak that it was considering making the move to 96 teams. And then I thought about it.

That's it. He thought about it. Normally I would expect to hear some benefit of expanding the field to 96 teams, but Gregg Doyel doesn't provide us with any of those small little details. What does it matter there may be no initial benefit to expanding the field? YOU AREN'T THINKING ABOUT IT! Think about it and then just keep thinking about it, then you will see...something that Gregg Doyel has seen.

I wonder if this "think about it" idea would work outside of sports?

(Husband speaking to his wife) "What if we added another woman into our marriage?"

(Wife) "Absolutely not. You are sleeping on the couch tonight, you stupid asshole. Why in the world would you want to add another woman to our marriage?"

(Husband) "Clearly, you are against the idea, but I don't think I am. Just think about it."

(Wife) "No."

(Husband) "But you haven't thought about it...because I have. I haven't ever really wanted another wife, until last week, but then I thought about it."

(Wife) "I want a divorce. What would the benefits of having another wife be?"

(Husband) "I don't know the benefits, but you aren't thinking about it. Think. About. It. Then the brilliance will come to you."

(Wife slams front door as she leaves house to immediately go to her attorney's office)

Which makes me the only one.

No. I have thought about the idea and I just don't like it. I think the NCAA Tournament works well the way it is right now. It's exciting the way the tournament is. I don't like the idea of a team getting a bye and I think an expanded field doesn't interest me.

The hatred for this idea is almost universal, yet there appears to be no concrete reason for that hatred, unless you consider tradition a concrete concept.

I don't consider the tradition a concrete concept. I remember when teams got byes in the NCAA Tournament (ok, I have heard about it, but I wasn't alive) and I just don't like the idea. Sometimes in sports, there can be a concept that works so well it probably shouldn't be changed. This is possible. Also, it is weird that Gregg Doyel considers the hatred to have no concrete reasoning considering he isn't giving us concrete reasoning for changing the number of teams who make the NCAA Tournament.

I wasn't against the Wild Card in Major League Baseball because I thought out of 20-something teams only 4 teams playing in the postseason seemed a bit too few teams. I was against the expansion of the NBA Playoffs to a 7 game series in every round because I thought the NBA Playoffs lasted too long anyway and a 5 games series in the opening round was sufficient. I like the movement towards postseason college basketball tournaments because the ACC Tournament takes place in Greensboro sometimes and I can go watch my favorite team play. I see no compelling reason to expand the NCAA Tournament...other than money of course.

You don't want the NCAA tournament to expand because you're used to it the way it is.

You don't have a reason for the NCAA Tournament to expand to 96 teams because you are so busy focusing on the fact you believe no one wants the tournament expanded. It's foolish to take an idea you believe everyone is against and list the reasons why that line of thinking is wrong, but provide no benefits of the opposite line of thinking.

I think I could be convinced, you know, if Gregg Doyel would actually give me a compelling reason to change my mind. But that compelling reason doesn't exist in this column. He just wants us to "think about it."

Never mind that the NCAA tournament has been at 65 teams only since 2001. And that before that, it was at 64 teams for 16 years.

That was a difference in 1 team when the field went from 65 to 64 and the tournament merely added a play-in game which didn't change the overall format of the NCAA Tournament. Adding 32 extra teams would change the overall format of the NCAA Tournament, which I am against until I am given a reason to not be against it.

Before that? It was 53 teams for one year. After being 52 teams for one year.

Again, those were play-in games that didn't change the overall makeup of the NCAA Tournament. Yes, when the field expanded to 64 teams the overall makeup was changed, but in a good way. I believe 64 teams is a good number where quality teams still get in the NCAA Tournament. Raising this number by 32 will result in teams with losing conference records and overall weak resumes being able to enter the NCAA Tournament field. Fine, maybe I am a little bit of an NCAA Tournament elitist, but I don't care.

Sure, this isn't the end of the world, but I want to see 2-3 quality teams left out of the NCAA Tournament because there is a cap on the number of teams that can be selected at 65. I would rather the NCAA Tournament leave out 2-3 good teams then let in 10-12 teams that aren't worthy of selection. Call me an elitist, that's fine, but it is how I feel. For example, this year UNC Tar Heels would probably make the NCAA Tournament if the field expanded to 96 teams. They don't currently deserve to make the NCAA Tournament.

I know percentage wise the NCAA Tournament takes fewer teams than the NBA Playoffs, the NFL Playoffs, and the MLB Playoffs, but this doesn't bother me. Like I said, I could be convinced, but Gregg Doyel is currently doing a poor job of convincing.

And 48 teams for three years. And 40 teams for one year. And that takes us back to just 1979.

Much of the reason for this expansion is because the number of teams that were Division I has increased over this time as well. So there were more teams available to be chosen and the field was opened up even more to include these teams.

You follow? Expansion won't hurt the tradition of the NCAA tournament -- expansion is the tradition of the NCAA tournament. So if tradition is your biggest concern here, I'm sorry, but you just lost.

Screw tradition. I am worried about quality. I went to a Division I school that wasn't bad for its conference but couldn't even come close to competing in the ACC on a regular basis, Appalachian State University. App State would not have a chance against many of the teams in the ACC and are currently 15-10. If they finish 20-11 and make it to the championship game of the Southern Conference Tournament, they would have a reasonable chance to make the NCAA Tournament if the field expanded to 96 teams. (Of course most of the bids would probably go to teams in the major conferences, which is a whole other problem I have with expanding the field.)

Sure, I would love to see this, but I don't know if I would like to watch them get beaten in the 1st round. I think they would get beaten, maybe I am wrong. I am not going to quit watching college basketball if the field expands, I may enjoy it, but I still like the field at 64 teams.

There's not a single valid argument against the NCAA tournament growing to 96 teams.

There hasn't been a single benefit of expanding the NCAA Tournament given by Gregg.

But it'll water down the regular season and conference tournaments!

I think conference tournaments are already watered down. For me, they are there just to have a tournament between teams in the same conference for bragging rights. I like going to them and they are entertaining, that's the only reason for their existence I need.

You mean more than those things already are watered down? George Mason beat nobody of national stature during the 2005-06 regular season, then lost in the semifinal of the unsung Colonial Athletic Association tournament, and just barely made it into the 2006 NCAA tournament, probably as the last at-large team into the field

This is the typical effort by a writer to use the outlier to try and prove the point that this type of thing happens all the time. It doesn't. George Mason's run in the NCAA Tournament was a unprecedented run that I am not sure will be replicated in my lifetime. It was an outlier in a tournament where runs by teams like George Mason rarely happen.

George Mason went to the Final Four, thereby demonstrating the impotence of the regular season and the conference tournament.

Again, this one example doesn't in itself demonstrate the impotence of the regular season and the conference tournament. There are plenty of teams that win their conference tournament and have good records in the regular season that advance far in the NCAA Tournament. There is a reason a seed higher than #8 has never won the NCAA Tournament. Generally, good teams win the NCAA Tournament, not mid-major conference teams that don't win their win conference.

And you'll continue to do so if the NCAA tournament grows to 96 teams. And you know it.

Absolutely. I would watch the NCAA Tournament if the field grew to 128 teams. I just like to watch it. That's not the point. The point is the NCAA needs to figure out how many teams are the optimal amount of teams to include in the NCAA Tournament to maximize competition and not allow inferior teams into the tournament. I am just not sure that number is 96.

The tournament is three weeks as it is. Last thing I want is for it to grow to four weeks.

I have to admit, this is part of my reasoning. I start to get a little weary of the NCAA Tournament talk after the Elite Eight. At that point, my favorite team (lately) has been out of the tournament and the games are going to be good, but I have watched and talked about college basketball for three weeks (including the conference tournament). I don't know if I could do another week. It takes so much of my focus to watch the games and follow the games, I don't know if I could do it for 4 straight weeks.

And why is that? If you love March Madness at three weeks -- and you do -- what's wrong with four?

The coverage could become saturated and the excitement for the tournament may end up being a little muted. I feel this way during the NBA Playoffs, at a certain point, I just want to know who will be in the NBA Finals. I think there reaches a limit of college basketball and three weeks is the perfect limit.

Maybe I would end up really liking 4 weeks of coverage, I don't know, but I do know once the NCAA allows 96 teams in the NCAA Tournament, there is no going back. The NCAA can't make the field smaller. We've seen this in every sport. Once major sports expand the number of teams in the league it is hard as hell to contract teams. I realize these are two different things, but once the NCAA Tournament goes to 96 teams, regardless of whether that works or not, it will be stuck there for a while. I am not against change, I just don't always mess with a good thing.

But the No. 1 seeds will get a first-round bye. That's not fair.

This is absolutely not fair. I would rather watch 200 straight 108-69 #1 seed versus #16 seed games than give the #1 seeds a bye in the NCAA Tournament. This is just how I feel and I am not sure anyone can change my mind about this. I like that no team gets a bye or gets a chance to rest because they had a good record during the regular season.

Don't tell anyone, but the top seeds have had byes before. You know how UCLA won 10 NCAA titles in 12 years from 1964-75? The Bruins received a first-round bye for each of the first nine championship runs.

I absolutely know this and I absolutely hate this. Simply because top seeds had byes in the past doesn't mean they should have byes in the future. Those UCLA teams were loaded and they were good teams, but they only had to win 4 basketball games to win the National Championship. I don't like that, I think they should have had to play the 1st round game as well.

So as much as I respect those UCLA teams, they were playing during a team when there wasn't much college basketball parity and they didn't have to win as many games as a current NCAA college basketball team does to win the NCAA Tournament. I don't like the fact those #1 seeds used to receive byes.

But 96 teams? I don't want to see those crappy teams in the tournament!

There you go. This may be my biggest problem with the expanded NCAA Tournament proposal. The other 32 teams the tournament would add probably aren't terrible, but they are also not great either.

You won't for long. The crappiest teams will be gone after one game, two tops.

So what's the point of having them in the NCAA Tournament then? Isn't the tournament supposed to determine the best college basketball teams in the country? So if a team clearly isn't one of the best college basketball teams in the country and didn't win their conference tournament, why should that team be invited?

But those games will have that same do-or-die feel that defines March Madness and makes us watch. George Mason, Davidson, Valparaiso, Kent State, UW-Milwaukee, Bucknell, Vermont are just some of the "crappy" teams -- those are your words, not mine --

Clearly this is tongue-in-cheek because "crappy" was Gregg's word and he is being funny here...so I won't rip into it, but it goes against everything I feel in the 5% chance he isn't trying to be funny.

that turned out to be not so crappy in recent years. Crappy teams are what make the NCAA tournament memorable. The more crappy teams, the better.

I don't think I would have a problem with the expansion of the NCAA Tournament if there weren't byes. I hate byes. I love to watch basketball, so I would be satisfied with a 96 team field, I just don't want the NCAA to mess with a good thing.

But I'm against expanding the tournament to 96 teams. I just am.

I know you are. My initial reaction was the same as yours: The NCAA tournament wants to go to 96 teams? That's ridiculous.

But, I wonder what caused Gregg Doyel to change his mind about this? Let's find out...

But then I thought about it. Actually, really thought about it.

I can't help but wonder why Gregg Doyel thought about it he couldn't find and express one benefit of expanding the field to 96 teams? If you really want to convince someone this is a good idea, wouldn't it be an even better idea to include a benefit of expanding the field? Rather than just telling everyone to "think about it?"

So here I am, asking you to do the same thing.

I tell you what. I will think about it as soon as Gregg Doyel gives me one good benefit that would come from expanding the 65 team field. He can't do it. So the mysterious notion of "thinking about it" and coming up with some unnamed (at least by Gregg Doyel) realization that would change my mind doesn't seem likely. When Gregg was thinking about it, what made him realize a 96 team tournament was a good idea? That's what I want to know.

What kind of writing tries to convince an audience of a point of view by not listing the benefits of that point of view...and is a persuasive article? Definitely not this one.

Here is another decent, but brief, discussion of this topic.

-Ray Ratto thinks John Wall should stay in college to avoid the New Jersey Nets. I happen to be one of the few people on the planet who think New Jersey would be a good fit in this offseason for a marquee free agent and John Wall if he gets drafted by them. Sure they suck but look at this way:

If the Nets could draft Wall, they could trade Devin Harris for another player or try to keep Harris on the team and have him play a hybrid shooting/point guard position he probably wouldn't excel at. Doesn't the thought of Harris, Wall and Brook Lopez on the same team feel like a good core overall though? I am sure they could try to work out the logistics to make it work, but if they couldn't...

Now imagine the Nets are able to lure a big name free agent and trade Devin Harris for another decent player. Now look at the lineup with say Joe Johnson and this trade (I don't think the 76ers would go for this, but I am trying to make a point, not a 100% realistic trade, though this trade could be realistic):


John Wall
Joe Johnson
Andre Iguodala
Brook Lopez
Yi Jianlian


Courtney Lee
Terrence Williams
Jason Smith

Sure it's not the strongest team in the NBA, my point is that the Nets are going to have cap room and if they get Wall, they have an asset other teams will want in Devin Harris. Oh yeah, they also now have a billionaire Russian owner, which can only be a good thing. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to get drafted by the Nets if you are John Wall.


KentAllard said...

I don't have deep emotions one way or another, but saying expansion to 96 teams is the worst idea in sports history. Here are a few that are worse, IMO:

1. The DH
2. Artificial turf
3. Interleague play in MLB
4. OT losers in hockey receiving a pity point in the standings
5. The shootout in hockey
6. Getting rid of the sectional system in Indiana high school basketball, which destroyed something special.
7. The replay system in football, which is so slow it sucks the excitement out of close games (I'm not against replay per se, they just need to speed up.
8. The changes in the NBA to make it more a sport of individuals.

ivn said...

I'm opposed to expansion brcause it won't mean adding some of the midmajors that regularly get hosed. We'll be seeing the 11th best team in the Big East playing the 7th best team in the Pac 10. I can barely contain my excitement.

While we're rattling off bad sports ideas I don't know exactly when and why FIFA got rid of the Golden Goal in the World Cup but I don't like that they did it.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, I don't really care either, but Gregg Doyel has to give us a reason doesn't he? Thinking about it isn't very helpful to me.

I like a couple ideas for bad changes. I don't like the DH, but I am not against it. I hate artificial turf and I am not a huge interleague play fan. I also think the replay should be sped up and they should change some of the rules in the NBA, or at least officiate better throughout basketball.

OT losers in hockey shouldn't receive any points.

Ivn, you hit the nail on the head for me. If the tournament expands then teams that are in the major conferences are going to be the ones that get the bids. It won't be the mid-majors. It will happen that way and I don't doubt it. I am not against it, but I do need a reason to expand since I think it will just be an excuse to let more major teams from major conferences in the tourney.

I don't think it is the worst, but I hate how the NBA made the playoffs longer. I do like the instant replay rule in baseball, I think it doesn't slow the game down that much...or no more than a guy like Andy Pettitte throwing to first 854 times and hiding behind his glove while deciding on what pitch to throw does.

rich said...

Expansion would be a good idea iff (cracking out the math terminology woo!) there were that many good teams.

The fact that the tournament has expanded in the past is a stupid argument in that the difference between 65 and 96 is vastly different than going from 53 to 64 teams (the largest increase in the number of teams in the tourny). When there were 53 teams you could find another 11 teams (especially with some of the "mid" level teams coming into their own) to add to the tournament. Now? Who exactly do you add to the tournament? You could probably make the case for maybe a handful of teams, but 31?

If this happens, in 5 years the debate becomes "Is the Ivy League a two bid conference?"

In other news, I wonder what TMQs take on Olympic timing is. Hundredths of a second?!?! Oh wait, he already railed about it during the summer games. Just round everyone up to the nearest second and give the 10 people tied for first gold medals.

Dylan Murphy said...

If the NCAA tournament moves to 96 teams, the only problem I would have is only the winners of the conference tournaments receiving an automatic bid. It's unfair for mid-majors if they win the conference in the regular season, then don't win their conference tournament and do not receive an NCAA bid. Automatic bids should be given to the regular season conference winner AND the conference tournament winner. I think this would prevent a flood of poor major conference teams making it and give more of a chance to mid-majors.

rich said...

As a huge hockey fan, I have mixed feelings about the OT point. On the one hand, it seems stupid to "reward" a team for losing and none of the other league's do it.

On the other hand, no other league goes by a point system and it's actually practical in sorting out the last few playoff seeds. For example if a team that's 45-35-2 is battling a team that's 45-27-10 for the last playoff spot (90 points pretty much guarantees they wouldn't, but bare with me), those 8 extra trips to OT indicate that they played teams tougher than the team with 7 more losses and would be a better matchup for teams in the playoffs.

If you get rid of the OT point, then both teams are essentially 45-37 and it comes down to tie breakers.

Especially when a game is decided by a shootout (which is stupid), hammering a team with a full out loss because they lost a glorified skills competition isn't a good way of deciding who is better.

Honestly if I'm the NHL, every game is worth 4 (4 points regulation win, 1 point OT loss, 3 points OT win) points and I bring back the regulation tie (2 points for each team) OR you do the sensible thing and you do what every other league does: Winning percentage...

Gary Bettman sucks.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that's how I feel too. I am maybe a little bit of an elitist, but I would rather keep some good teams out than let bad teams into the tournament. The current "bad" teams usually have made it based on winning their conference, which is merit-based in my mind. I just don't know if there are 31 other quality teams in the nation to add to the field. Major conference teams that have losing records in conference will start to make it and other teams may be a reach also.

Gregg Easterbrook doesn't even mention the Olympics in this TMQ.

Dylan, that is not a bad idea. I would support that idea in some ways, but I would be interested to see how it would play out in real life. I think it would work, but then it could also let a team in a mid-major relax a bit in the conference tournament knowing they already have a bid. Not that it would be a huge problem, but it could end up being a problem at some point if they lay down against an inferior team to allow the conference two bids.

This is why I shouldn't talk too much about hockey. I don't like the 1 point for an OT point, but the way you stated it, it makes sense. I need to become less of a playoff follower of hockey if I am going to talk about it. I can see how the point would make a difference when comparing two teams with similar records.

Interesting point how a team will get a loss because of a glorified skills competition. I still don't know how I feel about the 1 point pity point for an OT loss, but it makes sense in the way you said it.

KentAllard said...

Rich, I like your system much better.

And the one thing that unites fans of all hockey teams is "Gary Bettman sucks."

rich said...


I believe that Gary Bettman has done more to destroy the game of hockey than the lockout ever could.

Knee jerk, inconsistent suspensions? Check!

An idea even worse than "this time it counts?" Check!

Trying to stop NHL players from playing in the Olympics? Check!

Turning down less money and the exposure of ESPN to get on a fringe network when hockey games are sandwiched between bull riding and hunting? Check!

New uniform design that butchered classic uniforms (RIP old Flyers uniforms)? Check!

Preventing third party jerseys to keep merchandise prices insanely high? Check!

Expansion diluting the talent and creating a horrible imbalance in the standings? Check!

I could go on forever, but ya, Bettman may be the worst sports commissioner in the past 50 years.

The NHL points system is a relic of a bygone era that will never be changed due to "tradition," but boy does it tragically fail on multiple levels now. How can some games be worth 2 points, but others be worth 3? My head hurts just thinking about it.

The only good things that have happened under Bettman: abolished the two line pass and touch up offsides. Everything else he touched has hurt the sport.

KentAllard said...

I agree on every point. have you ever met a single hockey fan who didn't think Bettman was a joke? I haven't

rich said...

Once, but they also thought the glowing puck was a good idea ::shakes head::.

Chris W said...

"as long as that #1 seed is not my favorite team of course."

Don't worry Ben--Duke will never again be a #1 seed :)

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, you say that, but then when Duke wins 27 games and the ACC Tournament and they sneak a #1 seed over a superior team which lost in the semi-finals of their conference tournament, they will somehow end up with a #1 seed. I can feel it. The selection committee will be blinded by the amount of wins they have, the name, Coach K's name and completely ignore the fact they can't beat a good team on the road, the fact they live and die by the three point shot and just hand them a #1 seed.

I am rambling, but I would actually prefer not to get a #1 seed.

Good joke though, I actually laughed.