Thursday, June 21, 2012
Playoffs? Don't talk to me about playoffs.
Oh, we're talking playoffs. The entire issue has been debated ad nauseum for years, and extensively by the Senator for the last several months. So now we get it, a four team playoff, that allows for multiple (probably 2 at most, and then only in years where they are a clear 2 of the top 3) SEC teams. It's an interesting change, and one that will develop over time to either be good or bad, or indifferent. Our opinion on a playoff used to be very pro-playoff. Over time, we've adapted to seeing the benefits of having a more impactful regular season (it's not a regular season playoff, or an every game matters regular season, but it's definitely more meaningful from start to finish than any other major American sport). There's positives and negatives to playoffs, old bowls and polls, the BCS, among other systems that have been used, so that neither is better or worse than the others. It's all a matter of personal preference in our opinion, as you make some gains, but have some losses, no matter which format you choose. The question now comes in the details. That the big game is going to the highest bidder is no surprise, cause this has always been about maximizing money. But what forms the committee, is it conference commissioners, old coaches, media members, who? That will be a significant detail to be determined. And the other comes in the form of the eventual expansion. This has come about also because bowl games, with the help of ESPN, so oversaturated their market that they became less and less profitable, especially as the BCS left only one with any real impact so that it wasn't an exhibition and vacation excuse (whereas in the old bowls and polls system, a much wider range of games had impact on the champion). Making a playoff adds 2 more "bowls" as mattering, but continues rendering the rest little more than TV shows for entertainment only. As their profitability goes down, they pay less, and a greater profit margin comes from an expanded playoffs. Expansion is a question of when, not if. So how long does that take? 5 years? 10 years? 20? And how deep does it eventually go? I'd say we're at a minimum of an 8 team playoff by 2020, and perhaps 16 teams by then, or 2025. Contract length with ESPN (or Fox, maybe NBC or CBS but most likely ESPN/ABC) probably play a role in the timing of any expansions. Of course, the playoffs will also create a byproduct, or sideproduct, in continued reshuffling of the major conferences seperating big boys from smaller revenue schools. But while everyone rejoices today (not everyone, but most media sheep), watch out. Because the devil will be in the details, and we can only hope the playoff expansion push stops at 24. This is only the beginning my friends, not the finale, and no one knows where the rabbit hole ends.