Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Why There's No College Football Playoff

Phil Miller, a professor of Economics at Minnesota State University, Mankato, put together a nice post at The Sports Economist about the game theory strategies of Boise State at the end of last night's Fiesta Bowl. At the end, he squeezed in a couple paragraphs explaining why, even though last night's game proves (again) that the little guys can beat the big boys, we're not going to see a playoff system anytime soon.

Miller writes, "There are too many schools in D1 that have little shot in a reasonable playoff format who have a better shot at some kind of recognition (and cash) in the current bowl system. Their presidents can out-vote the presidents of the OU's and Texas's in the NCAA."

Here's how I responded in the comments of that blog:

I agree that a playoff is not forthcoming, but not for the reason you mentioned. This WSJ article described how, last year, 26 lower-tiered bowls distributed $64.36 million, for an average of $1.24 million per team.

Compare this to the following quote from the article: "BCS means money. The big BCS conferences get $14 million to $17 million if they have one team in one of the five bowls; a second team, an additional $4.5 million. Last year, the six conferences and Notre Dame received a total of $118 million."

It's clear that the conferences most likely to make a BCS bowl are the ones with the most to lose by going to a playoff, not the Boise States. Think about the recognition and money that George Mason University gained from its success in last year's NCAA basketball tournament. Imagine if Boise State beat not just Oklahoma, but also USC, Notre Dame and Ohio State to take the national championship. That is where the real money is.

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