Johnny Football Should Stick Around

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is going pro:

“This was an extremely difficult decision for me,” Bridgewater said in a statement released by the school. “I can’t express how much my time at Louisville has meant to me. These past three years have allowed me to mature as a person and leave the university as a better person and with my degree in hand, which was one of my goals. I will cherish every moment on the field and off the field, and every bond I built.

We’re at that point in the season where these decisions start being made. The big teams complete their bowls and their stars have the opportunity to go to the next level or return to college. It wasn’t that long ago when everyone talked about how they should stay and finish school, though more recently commentators have taken a more sober view.

I am personally, increasingly of the mind that for the players that we find ourselves talking about – the Bridgewaters, Leinarts, and so on – going pro is very often going to be the right call to make. Especially if they are at a high watermark. They make so much in those first couple of years that if something happens they can always go back to college if that’s important to them. Matt Leinart chose to go back to USC for one more year, had a less stellar season, and the decision cost him a lot of money. Which, since his professional football career is likely over and he has child support payments to make, turns out to matter a great deal.

While as far as I can gather, Bridgewater is making the right decision by going pro, I am skeptical that other contender Johnny “Football” Manziel would be making the right decision to do the same. I’m not going to pretend it has anything to do with graduating, though.

While Bridgewater is a certain first-round pick and possibly a first draft overall, Manziel may or may not be. Johnny has a height problem that makes sustained success in the NFL difficult but has enough raw talent that it’s rather unlikely that he would do poorly next season to cost him a relatively high pick. In other words, the NFL will still be there, but another amazing year at A&M is a certainty barring injury. (If you’re wondering what happens if he does get injured, players can insure against that.)

Once he leaves A&M, Johnny Football may or may not make it to the big show. He will likely have a few seasons where he gets paid a whole lot of money (true whether he goes pro now or a year from now), but it’s relatively unlikely that he will have another year in front of 80,000 screaming fans and the experience he’s getting now. This is quite possibly true of any QB that goes pro, but unlike Bridgewater, Manziel has only been a star for a couple seasons. And unlike Leinart circa 2005, he is unlikely to be the first or second QB draft pick or one of the top picks overall.

What it ultimately comes down to me is a suspicion that Manziel is going to wash out of the NFL pretty quickly and that he should milk his current situation for as long as he can. Of course, it’s unlikely that’s what Manziel wants to hear. He’s also a guy who believes that college athletes should get paid. I suspect he’s about to find out that he’s not really a good enough athlete to be paid as much as he thinks. Or achieve the stardom he presently enjoys.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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98 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    One mitigating factor and then I will likely bow out of the conversation because I can’t talk about Manziel without wondering “How would we respond to Manziel if he were black?” and I don’t think we need to start off the year with that rabbit hole…

    It is my understanding that Manziel is not wanting for money nor will he ever be. I don’t know exactly how his family has structured their financials with regards to his access, but I don’t think the money itself is the motivating factor. It seems to me that he is motivated more by the idea of being told what to do by authority (the university, his coach, the NCAA) that he doesn’t have much respect for. He didn’t need the few thousand dollars he made signing autographs; he just wasn’t about to be told not to do it. Plus his main lackey (whose name is escaping me) presumably took a cut and I doubt is as well-positioned financially as the Manziels.

    From what I’ve seen of him (which isn’t a ton), I agree that he doesn’t look to have an NFL pedigree. The easy comparison is Tebow, but I don’t know if I buy it because of some obvious differences, both on and off the field. The issue is going to be how he can parlay his fame, NCAA experience, and NFL experience (whatever it may be) into his own gigs. He strikes me as a guy who won’t mind spending the family money (not that there is anything wrong with that ) but who isn’t primed to go sit in an office in a building with his family’s name on it.

    • Will Truman says:

      If I recall, we traded some emails about the race factor in the difference in treatment between Manziel and Cam Newton. I think you’re right that it’s probably for the best not to take it in that direction.

      I’d thought about going into his financial situation and pointing to the lack of need of money making his situation distinct from those who come from families that need to be supported. But I’m sure an argument could be made that his financial situation means he should go pro. Either way, it does likely mean that Manziel is unlikely to end up in the situation that Vince Young is in. Not just because of the money Manziel’s family has, but also because of the culture that surrounds it. His family and social network are less likely to view his eventual NFL money (which there will undoubtedly be some) as something worth protecting rather than something that they need or could personally make really good use of. This is a stark example of something that has broader social implications… which we also probably shouldn’t explore so early in the New Year :).

      I think you’re dead on about his attitude towards authority – which I think makes him more problematic than Tebow was. It’s honestly hard for me to look at Manziel and not think “self-entitled.” He gets away with a lot, for a few reasons. It’s part of why I just don’t think the kid has all that bright a future ahead of him and why he should hold on to the moment. Of course, his “not bright future” is a lot better than his counterparts from different backgrounds.

      I’m not doing a very good job of avoiding broader social issues here, am I?

      • Kazzy says:

        The “expose” done over the summer tells me he’s a kid largely insulated from the consequences of his actions. That is rarely a recipe for success.

        I don’t know how the financial situation impacts his draft decision… I only offer it as a factor.

        Supposedly his teammates love him and he has a fierceness to his leadership that is also different than Tebow. I think he could carve out a future as a mid-level assistant… someone hands on with players but not trusted with major responsibility. I imagine the “Johnny Football Football Camp” being a thing. And he might just call it that because he doesn’t strike me as the sharpest bulb in the box.

    • Michael Drew says:

      How would respond to what if Manziel were black?

      • Michael Drew says:


      • Kazzy says:

        How would we respond to Manziel — an authority-defying, rule-breaking, self-involved-and-proud-of-it, substance-abusing jerk — if he were black. I doubt it would be nearly as sympathetic as what we’ve seen thus far.

    • Notme says:


      Don’t tease us, please inform us all about the race card.

  2. Kolohe says:

    I think Manziel could add 10-15 kilos and play in the NFL as a tight end. (tebow possibly could have done the same, but wouldn’t have needed to add as much weight)

    I also think that Manziel has no problem with authority, as long as he is in charge. (I mean really, his teammates seem to like and respect him enough)

    • Will Truman says:

      He’d be awfully short to be a TE, I’d think.

      • Kolohe says:

        Perhaps a role like Wes Welker’s then?

      • Will Truman says:

        I could see that. He might fit into a niche somewhere. Heck, he could even prove me wrong and be a great NFL quarterback.

      • Kazzy says:

        What Wes Welker does is much harder than most realize. Why would we assume Manziel can run perfect routes?

      • Kolohe says:

        Because unlike height or speed, you probably *can* teach that? And the man jukes and dekes like he’s an EA sports avatar.

        (though if the consensus is that he just won’t listen to others, he may not be able to learn no skills.)

      • Kazzy says:

        There are WR in the NFL who came up through high school and college at the position and have been coached by the best in the business in the nuances of the position at the NFL level who still can’t run routes. I’m sure it is more learnable than height and speed.

        Off the top of my head, I can think of Julian Edelman, Antwaan Randle-El, and Matt Jones as college QBs who transitioned to WR. Jones was a total bust, Randle-El had a solid career as a third WR and kick/punt returner, and Edelman didn’t do much until he got 150 targets from an elite QB and most of them relatively close to the line of scrimmage.

      • Michael Cain says:

        What Wes Welker does is much harder than most realize.

        Watching him with the Broncos this year I’ve just been amazed at what he seems to be able to do. He’s short, he’s slow, and in a tough situation, everyone knows that he’s a primary target for Manning. But he still gets open at a point where Manning can deliver the ball. And unlike so many receivers, he gets open two yards past the first down marker instead of two yards short.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        Freddie Solomon, WR for the 49ers when they won their first two Super Bowls, was also a QB in college. It was a pretty common transition back then, if you were black.

      • Kazzy says:

        Thanks, @mike-schilling . I didn’t know about that. Were colleges ahead of the NFL in terms of accepting blacks in QB roles? Or were they limited to offenses in which they were “just” running the ball?

        @michael-cain , continuing with a theme here, I think Welker’s race factors into the perception that what he does is easily doable. I mean, if a short, slow white guy can do it… anyone can do it, right? Of course, there is much more to being a WR than being tall and fast. Welker may not have straight line speed, but he is incredibly quick. Watch him in and out of his breaks and he’s a blur. He can shake defenders in the open field and runs routes so precisely that defenders need superhuman reaction time to break them up. And despite his stature, he’s a pretty strong guy.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        That’s a good question. I’d always assumed Freddie played at an HBCU, but looking it up I see he was at Tampa, which is a Division-II school.

      • Michael Cain says:

        @kazzy — And we can toss in the obligatory “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” bit. Combine a QB who can see the pattern and deliver the ball to a spot in space/time where the receiver will be open, and a receiver who can be open at that spot in space/time… I think there are a lot of QBs in the league who wouldn’t get nearly as much out of Welker’s ability. Watching the last two seasons, Manning seems to have trained up a rather remarkable receiving corps; I’m not sure how good they would be with a less capable QB.

  3. Mike Dwyer says:

    Obviously as a Cards fan I am sad to see Bridgewater go but it was probably the right call for him. The level of competition is going to a lot harder next year in the ACC (Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame just to name a few) which means he could have a much tougher year. Most importantly, he has an unfortunately-typical story at home. Single mother, low income. This allows him to take care of his family. That trumps everything else.

    • Will Truman says:

      I almost mentioned hearing about another player with a family financial situation that made going pro the right thing to do. Maybe it was Bridgewater. Certainly couldn’t fault him for that.

  4. Jesse Ewiak says:

    Why is that star collegiate athletes are literally the only people in modern capitalistic America told that they shouldn’t attempt to make as much money as possible. Well, OK, teacher’s too, but that’s at least understandable as teacher unions are the sole reason why we don’t have the best education system in the world.

    But, seriously, imagine making that same pitch to say, a kid who got a full ride scholarship to MIT, regardless of his families financial position, but a Wall Street firm is offering them an investment banking job today. Would you really say, “well, ya’ know, there’s a decent shot you’re not really made for this, so in the long run, you should just stay here and make nothing because there’s a chance you could only making more than what 1% of the population will ever make for only one or two years.”

    • Trumwill says:

      Nobody is saying that they should stay in college forever. Just another year, usually. At the end of which, the job is still going to be there. I could easily see that as advice I give to my daughter. “Yes, you can make a lot of money by dropping out of MIT, but that will be there next year but the college thing will likely never be the same after you leave.”

      Depends on a number of factors, such as whether the job will be there next year and whether or not they are in fact enjoying college. How much money there is and how much total earning potential there is. It would vary from circumstance to circumstance (much like my “advice” to college athletes).

      • Jesse Ewiak says:

        …and if there was say, a massive recession that caused chaos on Wall Street and as a result, your daughter had to take a much lower paying job as a result, what would you tell her then? Because for a football player, every play is a possible massive recession causing event. Bluntly, I think any college football player should leave college when they can possibly make the most money to recoup the multiple years they’ve been used by the NCAA.

      • Will Truman says:

        You can insure against injury. If he couldn’t, or if his family couldn’t afford it, my advice would be different.

      • Pyre says:

        I gotta go with Jesse on this one. When I started college, accounting was hot. By the time I finished college …. not so much. If I had been able to start earlier at what was then a Big 6 firm, maybe I would have washed out completely or been caught up in the Enron debacle or been cut as part of the Price WaterHouse/Coopers & Lybrand merger

        or maybe I would have gone with one of the Big 4 or been able to leverage my experience with the other two into maintaining a good level in my career. As it is, I’ve had to bounce from Accounting to IT back to Accounting and I may have to bounce back again.

        If he is being given the opportunity to jump on early before his star begins to fade, he should take it. Whether or not he is able to capitalize on it is up to him. Maybe he will succeed or maybe he will fail. However, passing up this opportunity just increases his chances of overall failure. Maybe he won’t have “the Experience” but his Cabo pics and screaming fans will become memories regardless. The smart man takes the opportunities when they come and makes solid gains on them. Even if he does wash out in a year or two, he will still have both the memories and the financial gains afterwards.

      • Will Truman says:

        What you’re describing fits Vince Young to a tee, and is exactly why I thought he was making the right call by getting out when he did. With Manziel, though, this isn’t so much the highwater mark for him to leave as with Young. It’s just the first year he’s eligible. With a lot of competition at his position (he’s projected to be the fourth quarterback selected, though that could change).

      • Michael Cain says:

        Out of curiosity, how does the injury coverage work? Say I’m projected to be “only” the fourth QB taken with an estimated signing bonus of $3M. What’s the premium for a policy against a career-ending injury? Does it pay out if, post injury, I make a team as a very late round draftee or a non-drafted free agent and have a long career as a backup QB who seldom plays?

      • Mo says:

        The insurance is typically for a set dollar amount (Teddy Bridgewater got one for $10M that will cost him $60K and Clowney got a $5M one). The amounts are well under what they would get for the first contract. For example, last year, the top 13 picks all made more than $10M on their rookie contracts and the top 6 got more in their signing bonus. So insurance definitely softens the blow, but doesn’t make up for the potential loss.

    • Brandon Berg says:

      CEOs, owners of businesses that employ low-wage workers, owners of non-union businesses, lawyers, doctors, and owners of record labels come to mind. Or are we only counting things said by people who disagree with you?

      • Brandon Berg says:

        Oh, and just yesterday I was treated to a rant about how ISPs should pour money into upgrading bandwidth regardless of whether their customers are willing to pay the rate hikes needed to recoup the investment. So there’s that, too.

      • Jesse Ewiak says:

        Note I said modern capitalistic America, not asshole leftwing activists named Jesse Ewiak.

        Yes, a small chunk of American society says they shouldn’t make as money as possible, but the modern culture is tilted toward “make as much money as possible.” I disagree with that, but I also understand I’m in the minority. Hell, even the mainstream of the Democratic Party just wants CEO’s to be taxed a little more, not their pay to be limited in any real way.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        Note also that pro football players’ salaries are limited by a salary cap imposed by the NFL cartel. (College football players are limited much more severely by the NCAA cartel.) All of the ones you mention are free to earn as much as they can get.

      • Herb says:

        “Oh, and just yesterday I was treated to a rant about how ISPs should pour money into upgrading bandwidth regardless of whether their customers are willing to pay the rate hikes needed to recoup the investment.”

        Poor you. Too bad you can’t even get your facts straight.

        Obviously you’ve never heard of the Universal Service Fund, nor have you done the proper accounting of what Americans are paying for broadband and the speeds we are actually getting.

        Anyone with a cell phone is WAY over-paying for data services. How is it that I’m paying MORE for crappy data-limited 4G than I ever paid for a DSL line? Is it the two-year contract I had to sign? Think so…..

        Telecom firms spent most of the 90s ripping people off by slamming their long distance carriers and loading their bills with usurious hidden fees, then they spent the 00s defrauding their investors and going to jail.

        But yes, you’re right. The real problem with the US’s broadband system is that customers refuse to pay for it. It’s not all the dark fiber lying that’s been lying in the ground for ten years. It’s not Comcast’s desire to throttle Netflix customers. (I bet you’re not a fan of net neutrality.) Nope. It’s those cheap entitled Americans dropping $600 on a phone and paying $80 a month for “unlimited” data.

        What a load of horse puckey.

        On topic, Johnny Football should go pro as soon as possible. He did not go to college to become a veterinarian or a lawyer or an accountant. He went to college become an NFL quarterback, so jump at the first opportunity to do that, Johnny.

      • J@m3z Aitch says:

        Note I said modern capitalistic America, not asshole leftwing activists named Jesse Ewiak.

        You can’t wiggle your way out with cheap definitiobal tricks. Here you are encouraging athletes to set aside other values of education and focus on making as money as possible as soon as possible, and you don’t think you’re part of “modern capitalist America”?

        More broadly, the left–except, perhaps, for those who are truly socialist or communst–is part of modern capitalist America.

        Yes, a small chunk of American society says they shouldn’t make as money as possible, but the modern culture is tilted toward “make as much money as possible.” I disagree with that, but I also understand I’m in the minority. Hell, even the mainstream of the Democratic Party just wants CEO’s to be taxed a little more, not their pay to be limited in any real way.

      • Michael Drew says:

        He also said “the only people *in* modern capitalistic America told that they shouldn’t attempt to make as much money as possible,” not “the only people *told by* modern capitalistic America that they shouldn’t attempt to make as much money as possible.”

        So even if somehow he could place himself outside of modern capitalistic America, he’d still just be factually wrong that there aren’t lots of people “*in* modern capitalistic America” who are told by various people (lots of whom are themselves in modern capitalistic America, since damn near everyone in America is in modern capitalistic America) to at least make a little less money than they otherwise could in pursuit of more worthy goals.

        that being said, we’re being too literal. By and large, people don’t tell college students other than big-time student athletes who have really great opportunities in their chosen fields come along before they graduate not to pursue them. I’m thinking of precocious computer innovators and the like. Generally they’re told to go do their thing: if industry is after you like that, college is probably only holding you back at this point; in any case you can always come back. I think we should take the same approach with highly talented student-athletes who can excel in their sport’s pros right now. Those who value college highly enough will stay despite that advice, and that’s for the best because then we’ll have fewer people pretending to be students who don’t even really want to be on campus. I think that’s more or less the point Jesse was making using a bit of colloquial exaggeration. We could chill out about it a bit.

      • Kim says:

        “Modern Capitalistic America”
        … since when does capitalism accommodate monopsonies so readily?

      • Michael Cain says:

        On topic, Johnny Football should go pro as soon as possible. He did not go to college to become a veterinarian or a lawyer or an accountant. He went to college become an NFL quarterback…

        This. NCAA Division I football is several conflicting things, and one of them is the farm system for the NFL. It provides an opportunity for potential NFL players to continue to grow physically and to hone their skills under expert guidance. At least IMO, another year at A&M would be much more beneficial for A&M than it would be for young Mr. Manziel. The coaching staff is not going to force him to be, first and foremost, a disciplined component of an overall system; he’s not going to face better defenses than he did this year; it’s unlikely that he’ll be any more NFL-ready than he is now. A&M, OTOH, gets more advertising and recruiting opportunities. Does he owe A&M? Not particularly, IMO, as he was highly recruited and could have gone to any number of other Division I schools.

      • Will Truman says:

        I agree that Manziel doesn’t owe A&M anything, but he actually wasn’t particularly highly recruited. Oregon was the only other “big name” that offered.

        I think the “going to college to be an accountant” vs “going to college to be a professional football player” is that one can reasonably expect, after getting a degree in accounting, that they will be an accountant. Very few college football players can expect to get a career in football.

        Which also makes it different than minor league baseball, where a bulk of the players are there with the intent of making the big leagues, whereas most college football players do what they do for other reasons.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        Another difference is that you can work as an accountant while you’re still in school and get paid whatever you’re worth. (Paid exactly the marginal value of your labor, some would say.) The school even has programs to help you find a job. Likewise if you’re a computer scientist, or a mathematician, an actor, or a musician, etc. But if you’re an athlete, the school will penalize you for any attempt to monetize your skills or notoriety. Come to think of it, the only two groups forbidden from capitalizing on whatever fame they’ve managed to achieve are college athletes and convicted criminals.

      • Stillwater says:

        the only two groups forbidden from capitalizing on whatever fame they’ve managed to achieve are college athletes and convicted criminals.

        Come on, Mike. Oliver North has made quite a nice career for himself.

    • Kim says:

      You’ve never met anyone who’s quit banking, have you?
      I suggest you meet a few before you even THINK of going there.

  5. Michael Drew says:

    Ain’t. Happenin’.

    And nor do I want it to. I don’t care what happens to Johnny Manziel for his sake; he’s got plenty of talent that he’ll be all right whatever his decision turns out to be. I just think he’s gotten too big for the game. If an FBS playoff is going to be too much glitz for college football, then Manziel definitely is. and he definitely is. From what I’ve seen, I like the way Jameis Winston relates to his team and leads it much better than how Football does. (Insert appropriate personal conduct caveat here.) To me college football is about team leadership in exactly the way that the NFL is about skilled excellence or overwhelming power at key positions. And when I say “is,” I mean should be. Fits best (not to say it fits well) into the overall mission of the university that way. When guys like Manziel and Winston reach the point where their skills are so surpassing that the NFL is drooling all over their eggs benedict (or shrimp cocktail in the case of last night) to draft these students, as I believe it was in the second half last (Tues.) night, I say let them go. Let the next group of students cycle forth and get a chance to develop themselves at university. Ideally collegiate football wouldn’t b e an outsourced development league for the NFL, and many of these athletes would be going straight from high school to the NFDL anyway, and the guys who currently are four-year back-ups are the guys we’d actually sly get to see step up and go through a four-year football learning process, in many cases largely for its own sake, with pro prospects being far more remote than the ones that the likes of Manziel and Winston have to negotiate while pretending to be amateurs.

    That being said, if John Football wants to come back to A&M, he absolutely should, by all means.

    • Will Truman says:

      When guys like Manziel and Winston reach the point where their skills are so surpassing that the NFL is drooling all over their eggs benedict (or shrimp cocktail in the case of last night) to draft these students, as I believe it was in the second half last (Tues.) night, I say let them go.

      If I were more confident in his future NFL career, I would agree with this. In the case you describe, I’d actually probably agree. We will probably be of a similar mind when it comes to Winston. I think Manziel – somewhat like Tebow and Young – is the sort of great that doesn’t necessarily translate into success at the professional level.

      • greginak says:

        There will also be the pressure to be the savior who turns around his team well nigh immediately. I’m not really sure he has the mentality to handle that level of pressure and the likely struggles with being a rookie qb.

      • Michael Drew says:

        I guess it’s all the same to me when the stature and notoriety has gotten to be such that he’s treated as having that amount of talent. If it turns out he doesn’t, so much the more woe for him, POSER! But as I say, by all means, he should come back if he takes another look at things and comes back feeling about his talent/skill level the way you feel about it. He should do what he thinks right for him. But for my part I want him out, and I hope he concludes that’s going pro now.

      • Michael Drew says:

        …But actually, on Manziel I’m sure I disagree with you that strongly. I didn’t read your should as being so much strictly about giving him advice, but a broader “should” about what should happen in this situation. I just think his college career has run its course, for better or worse for him. I understand the doubt about the transferability of his talent to the NFL, but honestly I see enough there for it to make sense for it to be given a full tryout in the NFL. I guess where we differ is that I don’t think there’s that much another year of college football will add to his game at this point. He’s not gonna get taller, and it’s just another year of not learning NFL offenses & defenses. And as to maturity, I think the shock-value of being low man on the totem pole is what he needs (STAT, in fact), not another year of being the Biggest MOC (though sort of looking over his shoulder at winston as he would be next year). I just see every reason to get up there and meet make his fate at this point. I guess I talked my way back through to disagreeing again. I guess I just think he’ll be what he’ll be, whether star QB or utility man, and another year of college football isn’t going to be the difference in his case. I could be wrong; we’ll never know.

      • Will Truman says:

        Actually, I do agree that another year won’t improve his prospects. Or rather, I think the odds are even enough that I don’t know you can really make a decision on that basis. On the one hand, next year there will probably be fewer quality quarterbacks up for the draft. On the other, there may be less need. On the one hand, next year A&M has a shot at taking the division title which obviously didn’t happen this year. On the other hand, they may end up next season exactly where they did this season.

        Truthfully, it’s less advice as to what he should do (I have less information than he does, though I may be more objective) or what should happen (very incomplete information on that, seeing as how I don’t know how things will go for him in the NFL), but rather a look at what I would be looking at if I were in his shoes. I would be looking around me at what I have and would be really, really cautious about tossing that away early for a risky opportunity for something better when that opportunity will likely be there in a similar capacity (maybe a bit better, maybe a bit worse) a year from now.

        Based on what information I have, of course. It’s hard to be proven right or wrong without counterfactuals, but I will take having been proven wrong if, for instance three years from now, he’s a starter (or has been a starter) for an NFL team and his Johnny Football brand is making him bajillions.

      • Michael Drew says:

        See, and for me he’s damaged my sense that he actually values what he has now all (other than a great life look forward) that much. The off-field stuff gave me the impression that he doesn’t really have that much time or love for college football and it’s stupid… rules (a reasonable position, as they are stupid) anyway. So based on what I’m perceiving from him, it’s obvious that he should move on, because he doesn’t seem to really value or respect what he’s involved in all that much anyway (it doesn’t pay him, after all, and he can’t even profit off his name or likeness!). In any case, as I’ve said, I certainly want him to.

        (And if Johnny Football reads this and takes offense at the perceptions I’ve voiced, I’d be delighted to have him jump in and and tell just how wrong I am, and how he loves everything about college football and intends to use up every second of his eligibility.)

      • Mike Schilling says:

        This would never occur to Manziel, but I’d love to see a college athlete sign a whole passel of jerseys and helmets, sell them, donate all of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society, and then say “Fish you NCAA, go ahead and suspend me for my contributions to charity.”

  6. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Johnny has a height problem that makes sustained success in the NFL difficult

    That’s what they said about Drew Brees, and why San Diego was never high on him.

    • Mike Schilling says:

      That’s also what they said about Doug Flutie, who had to go to Canada to get his chance to shine.

  7. Burt Likko says:

    Is the metric why which we measure “the right thing to do” strictly monetary? Are there non monetary benefits to declaring pro eligibility before taking a bachelor’s degree like, happiness or integrity?

    After becoming a pro, Steve Young got a J.D. which he’s never used in a courtroom so far as I know. Was that a waste of his time or effort? An exercise In vanity?

    • Kolohe says:

      The J.D. has helped him go from rich to wealthy* as part of the Huntsman Gay team.

      *”Shaq is rich, the white man who signs his checks is wealthy

      • Stillwater says:

        Isn’t he one of The Youngs? I mean, you know … The Youngs. Being part owner of a huge religion *must* pay better than being a Walton, no? At least, when you include ancillary benefits and all.

      • Burt Likko says:

        Steve Young is one of an immunerable quantity of of Brigham Young’s great-great-great-grandsons. (The man had 55 wives, after all; in 1902 the New York Times numbered his direct descendants at over 1,000. That was over a century ago.) So that lineage is pretty dilute and I doubt many descendents of Young today would attach much importance to their ancestor, other perhaps than personal pride.

        And he is indeed a partner in Huntsman Gay Global Capital. Which is part of why I don’t think he’s ever practiced law — why should he take the pay cut?

        Still, you inspired me to do some checking. There’s at least five Mormon churches out there; it seems the hierarchy of the faith suffered a rather nasty schism after Brigham Young died. One of those factions has become quite dominant and is the LDS church that the rest of us Gentiles commonly equate with “the Mormon Church”. That church’s elite governing councils consist of three old white guys, in a group called the First Presidency, and another group of twelve middle-aged-to-old white guys, called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As best I can tell, only one member of the Quorum is a descendant of Joseph Smith, and none of these fifteen LDS elites are descendants of Brigham Young.

        Of course, the LDS church itself is a 501(c)(3), which means that legally, no one “owns” it — which doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t a non-democratically self-selected control group that might benefit from the entity’s existence. But no one “owns” the LDS church any more than anyone “owns” the Catholic church (which, as a matter of corporate law, is not a unified entity, either).

      • Will Truman says:

        As it happens, I am relatively sure Alex Smith (of the KC Chiefs, formerly of the SF 49ers) is of Mormon stock.

      • Kazzy says:

        You’re damn straight no one owns the Church. Jesus Christ most certainly can hit a curve ball.

      • Stillwater says:

        Burt, thanks for all the history. But can I just say that this:

        That church’s elite governing councils consist of three old white guys, in a group called the First Presidency, and another group of twelve middle-aged-to-old white guys,

        reminds me of why I’m so stinkin tired of Old White Guys?

      • Kolohe says:

        @burt-likko yeah, but what I’m saying is that you only get into that line of work – venture capitalist – with a J.D. or an MBA (or like Mitt R-money, both).

      • Mike Schilling says:

        Alex is a Mormon, but not, as far as I know, one of those Smiths.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        Jesus Christ most certainly can hit a curve ball.

        I think of Him as a relief pitcher, because He saves.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        For a while, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and Harris Barton were running a VC firm, and AFAIK none of them have advanced degrees.

    • Kolohe says:

      And to cross the streams with the various religion & culture threads, going back to school and going into business after a football career is a very Mormon thing to do.

    • Notme says:

      Young’s father was an attorney. Not to mention that that the Mormons value education, which is an unappreciated part of their faith.

  8. Mo says:

    Manziel is currently projected to be a 1st round pick and all of the top five teams drafting have a big need for a QB*. Not only could Manziel get hurt (yes, there’s insurance, but I don’t believe it comes within or play poorly next year, he also has a ten cent head problem. Another year before going pro means there’s a whole year for him to do another dumb thing and hurt his draft status.

    * My friend who is a Rams fine insists that Bradford still deserves a chance, but he was outplayed by Kellen fishin Clemens this year.

    • Will Truman says:

      If I’m wrong, it’s for one of a few reasons. The need at QB this draft would be one of them. Another would be my skepticism of Manziel as an NFL QB. I struggle to think of many system QB’s that have really made it at the next level and a lot who did some amazing things in college who washed out.

      A third reason I could be wrong is that, as Drew says, he isn’t actually enjoying himself at the college level. Which I think is right and wrong. I don’t there is a lot that he doesn’t like, but I think a lot of the stuff he does like is dependent on him being a star at Texas A&M and not a backup in Cleveland or Minnesota.

      • Kazzy says:

        I also wonder how much he’ll like the NFL. He got sent home for the Peyton Manning camp for showing up hungover. The NFL is going to demand more of him than anything has previously in his life. His ability to commit to anything beyond his own interests is highly suspect. He might see the glamour of the NFL life and assume its for him. But when he realizes it is a full time job without the restrictions on practice and workout time that the NCAA has and that he’s going to be expected to work and learn and earn his money, I can see some issues arising.

        I could be wrong. Motivation might be a huge thing for him. Starring in the NFL and making mega bucks may motivate him in a way that nothing in college could. But, again, this is a kid who hasn’t show much tolerance for adversity. I’m not confident in his ability to excel in the face of it.

      • Stillwater says:

        I don’t worry about Johnny Football, and I certainly have no advice for him, but I tend to agree with you, kazzy, that known (or perceived) “character issues” might play a role in his success at the next level.

      • greginak says:

        Regarding the work level it takes to be a successful NFL QB there has been a lot of chatter in Pittsburgh that Rothlesburger hasn’t always put in the work off field and he really needs to commit more. Think about that, a super bowl winning qb with great physical gifts who plays through massive pain and he, likely correctly of not working hard enough. The qb’s who make it in the NFL are typically massive workaholics, it really seems to be a job requirement.

      • Kazzy says:


        The question is, will Manziel get the Cam Newton/RG3/Geno Smith treatment?

  9. Michael Drew says:

    Briefly hijacking this for general CFB/bowl commentary.

    Holy cripes, that Sugar Bowl was a-MAY-ziiiiing. That was just an unbelieveable game. Everything you want in a bowl game.

    Had to get that out of my system. Go…. erm, don’t really care about the outcomes much at this point. I guess go Buckeyes (that’s hard to say); maybe the Big Ten can semi-not embarrass ourselves in bowls this year.

    Go college football, though!

    • Kazzy says:

      And THIS is why I hate the current incarnation of the BCS: every non-championship game is, at best, a bronze medal contest. Who watches bronze medal contests? It never even occurred to me to watch the Sugar Bowl this year.

      I think I once wrote a post on how i can get sucked in to damn near any competitive endeavor provided there is something at stake. I’m more likely to watch a darts championship than game 162 between the Mets and the Marlins because the former matters in a way the latter doesn’t. I’m sure the Sugar Bowl mattered to the players and to the fans of the team, but why did it matter beyond that? Had I known it would be a super compelling game, I would have tuned in. But I’m not inclined to watch in a vacuum.

      • Michael Drew says:

        It mattered if you’d managed to whip your souffle’ of hatred for Nick Saban to a sufficient smoothness over the last five years. The end-season ‘Bama collapse was a beautiful thing to watch.

        Also, I’ve always kind of liked Bob Stoops; he trashed talked the SEC this year and got fool-laughed at for it all year, but in the end he was right. OU also had a freshman QB put in an absolute out-of-nowhere gem. If there’s a one-man highlight reel from this *bowl* season that rivals what Jared Trevor Wright put together tonight, I’ll… admit it. But I doubt there will be one. Also, the OU front seven is ridiculous. They sacked McCarron 7 times tonight, ending the night on a strip-sack-TD on the first play of Alabama’s would-be tying (or winning) TD drive down seven with :48 left. He’d been sacked 10 times all year before tonight. Fuhggedaboudit.

      • Michael Drew says:

        …But to your point, thinking of @will-truman as I was watching, I found myself asking… myself, “Would you like this as much if it were part of a larger playoff system?” And my answer to myself was, “Hell no. You’d like way, way more.”

      • Kazzy says:

        How much do you think it mattered to Saban? As an LSU fan, I hae the guy. But I’m tempted to think he focused less on this year’s bowl game than last year’s. He was probably already looking ahead to the off-season or next season. I don’t think he gets a cut of the money for winning… Not that he needs it.

      • Michael Drew says:

        Oh, I definitely think that’s the case, Kazzy. He’s 4-0 in BCS Championship games and 1-2 in other BCS bowls. It’s still pretty sweet to watch his team get stomped like they did, and the slide from favorites to threepeat in the last week of the regular season to here was quite something. It also doesn’t speak well of his if he doesn’t really try to win bowls that aren’t the national championship game, and i think it’s good for people to see that laid bare.

        All that being said, sure looked like he cared & was trying hard to coach a win.

      • Will Truman says:

        Saban was intense as always. I think it did matter to him, though, as there was still talk of the Stupor Bowl of 2009. Given that this is indeed the second time this has happened, it might well be that while he is as intense as always, he has trouble getting the same from his players in this case (who mostly weren’t playing on the team in 2009). Maybe he spends too much time rallying his troops during the season by being all intense-like for the game against Kentucky?

        No surprise, but I disagree with Kazzy pretty strongly here. This game mattered because it mattered, as far as I’m concerned. Alabama is humiliated for a reason. Oklahoma is ecstatic for a reason. For Alabama, it buries any claim they had about being the “best team in the country, really” which I actually agreed with two days ago.

        This isn’t the Boise game where I felt like Oklahoma was particularly well-served by the fact that this was a one-and-done affair, but I also don’t think that it was particularly diminished, either. Where the lack of playoff really mattered this year, in my opinion, is the added importance it gave to the Alabama-Auburn game. In a playoff scenario, they’d hate losing (because it’s Auburn) but could shrug it off because they’d still probably be the fourth seed in the playoffs (being the best team in the country and all). The current system allots little or no forgiveness most years, where once you lose even a single game you’re waiting on pins and needles or you have to adjust your expectations to a bowl game, which you still really want your team to win (and, Alabama notwithstanding, most schools really want to win), because it’s the game you have.

      • Kazzy says:


        I prefer either a 4- or 8-team playoff OR the old system. I just don’t like the current system one bit. It results in one bowl game really mattering and the rest not. Sure, some folks will watch them and care. But I think you have far fewer who do than would otherwise. I don’t think MORE people tune in to the current structure than they did to the prior structure with the exception of the National Championship game itself.

        I think the idea that ANY system can definitively determine the best team in the nation with a one-game playoff is foolish.

        I’m not the biggest college football fan. So I’m not sure if that makes my opinion matter more or less. But I’m up to watch big college football games that matter in one way or another. The NCAA would love to get someone like me to watch. Yet I didn’t watch a game I might otherwise have been interested in because the current structure made it uninteresting to me. That seems like a failure on their part to me. You watched. But you probably would have watched anyway. So the extent to which the BCS is intended to make more people interested in college football, I’m not sure it does that. It might achieve that during the regular season when the “every game is a playoff game” nature ramps everything up to a fever pitch. But at this point, we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that these bowl games have zero bearing on the National Championship.

      • Will Truman says:

        I have some objections to the current system, though in general I would prefer a coordinated bowl effort rather than the private side-deal system that existed before it. I may write a post on what my bowl system would look like.

        I will point out that while in the NFL started are getting benched because late-season games don’t matter, nobody gets benched from a bowl game ever unless they did something wrong.

        I actually didn’t watch most of the game because my internet connection has been on the spritz. But I do watch as many of them as I can. You should do as I do and play a bowl challenge. Then all of the games matter to you, if you are competitively-minded. I found myself rooting really hard for UNLV (losers)!

        It’s entirely possible that the NCAA is losing money by not having a playoff system at the highest level. Of course, then the question becomes… why don’t they do it? I am of a split mind. I can see reasons why such a playoff would actually lead to less interest in the games preceding the final four. On the other reason, I can think of non-monetary reasons why they don’t do it. I have a theory that they’re waiting to whittle down FBS to fewer teams to share the money with. The 120+ teams represents a real problem. One I am not sure there is a solution to.

      • Mike Schilling says:

        I dunno. Cal had a chance to play in the Rose Bowl about ten years ago (losing it only because Mack Brown’s shameless lobbying for votes boosted Texas in the BCS standings). That would have ben so much cooler than playing in whatever stadium happened to host the number five seed in that year’s tournament.

      • J@m3z Aitch says:

        It mattered if you’d managed to whip your souffle’ of hatred for Nick Saban to a sufficient smoothness over the last five years. The end-season ‘Bama collapse was a beautiful thing to watch.

        Best comment I’ve seen about the Sugar Bowl is, “everytime an SEC team loses a bowl game an angel gets its wings.”

      • Anne says:

        @michael-drew ahem Trevor Knight

        Boomer Sooner!!!!!!

      • Michael Drew says:

        Dang, yes, that guy. Thanks, Anne! 😉

      • Michael Drew says:

        For Alabama, it buries any claim they had about being the “best team in the country, really” which I actually agreed with two days ago.

        I don’t know why I didn’t include this in the disquisition about why the game mattered. that’s actually most of what I had in mind. I think I didn’t want to vocalize it, because I didn’t even want to give such claims the veneer of legitimacy. Though, as Will points out, in this system there is always a potential latent legitimacy to them under some circumstances, such as a crazy turn of events like the one in the Iron Bowl.

        That’s why I want a playoff so much. if you have a playoff with enough teams to give any with a quasi-serious claim to maybe be the best in the country (which I think would be done with eight or ten teams), and the whole college-football world buys into it, then you know you shouldn’t get these kinds of sub-rosa undermining of the system through such claims, at least not as much. All teams will know that, if you can get into that tournament, you will have a fair shot at winning the championship, and you had better show up in every game in the post seasons you are afforded, because it will still be a part of the path to a Championship. Yes, there will always be some grumbling about this team or that team maybe being better than their showing in the tournament. But the broader interest in who wins it will drown that out.

        The discussion, IOW, will turn from one about who’s the *best team* to who *wins the tournament*, which is just what we should have wanted and had all along. It’s how every other major sport structures its competition. It’s not about “being good,” it’s about winning. To a large extent, the discussion about being good then largely becomes about winning. There are always fluke outcomes, so these don’t become exactly the same discussion. But the result of having a substantial tournament with real legitimacy is that, where they diverge, the discussion of who’s the best falls to the side in favor the one about who wins. And that’s what we should want.

      • Will Truman says:

        To a large extent, the discussion about being good then largely becomes about winning.

        Well, not just winning. Where and when you win matters as much as winning, which is why the New York Giants are the 2007 champions and none of the teams that won more games than them (many more games, in some cases) were not. You’re right that in just about every other sport – perhaps every other one – we lend legitimacy to the tournament in deciding who is The Champion. I think this is usually the best way of going about it. College football at the highest level, though, is different. I see value in preserving that exception. (Especially given that FBS is rather unique in multiple ways.

        Except in limited circumstances (circumstances there is a high likelihood would not actually be fully address in any playoff scheme short of 16 teams – which would create a separate set of problems) I simply don’t view the tournament as being inherently more legitimate (or less legitimate*) than alternative methods. Just different, assuming there is agreement beforehand.

        * – Which is to say that as much as I reject the NYG being the champions that season, it’s not illegitimate that they are so. I just think they are so as the product of a bad system. The same way many view the BCS as a bad system.

      • Michael Drew says:

        The Giants were 10-6 that year. As much as I hated that they won (the NFC Championship game was what sent the whole Brett Favre situation into a tailspin), I can’t understand any view that sees their run to a title that year as illegitimate. How good in the regular season does a team need to be to get your nod as a legitimate champion is they win the Super Bowl?

        The NFL playoffs are simply a tournament that has a winner; they don’t purport to determine who the best team is. And people care and talk about them on that basis. It’s pretty much the same in the NBA, <LB, NCAA basketball, etc. People talk about how good teams are just as a analytical tool for trying to figure out who is likely to win the highest honor in the sport. I think we should want that for college football; apparently that kind of clarity is exactly what you're looking to avoid. I'm not sure what you do want, but I guess it's just any system where you don't have to deal with a team who doesn't get your seal of "good team" approval having apath to winning a title (or maybe you're fine with such a system being in place, you just plan to not respect the results the system produces unless it ratifies your own personal quality assessment).

        Essentially, it seems to me, the pre-BCS system was best for you, since it didn't purport to produce any official result; all there was was more-or-less competing interpretations of the same more-or-less definitive set of unorganized matchups. My impression is that you want to preserve space for debate, though prefer situations where in your view there isn't really room for debate; there's pretty much a right answer and a wrong answer, it;s just on everyone individually to arrive at that view. Well, I prefer a tournament where there is a winner, and analysis of who is "good" simply flows from as assessment of who is likely to win. I guess these basic inclinations just aren't reconcilable through argument. I have to say that I don;t understand where you are coming from on yours at all, and I think you've made clear you do understand where all of us who share my view are coming from. At some point, I'm not sure what basis you are making an appeal to all of us for this inscrutable preference of yours to be satisfied upon that we should feel any need to address. What shared value among college football fans do you think you’re appealing to with this? Or are you just consciously presenting yourself as an oddball on the question?

      • Will Truman says:

        Everything is a spectrum. I consider the pre-BCS model to be a little too far off on that side of the spectrum. On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Leach’s 32-team playoff proposal. I am certainly much closer to the first end than the second end in my preference, though not infinitely so.

        I would actually prefer a 4-team playoff, or maybe an 8-team playoff, if not for the peculiarities of FBS football. If the Power Five were to break off, I’d consider a 4-team playoff to actually be ideal. If we had ten power conferences, I’d probably consider an 8-team playoff to be ideal. With what we have, five and five, I tend towards prefering a significant de-emphasizing of the playoffs but with an eye towards mildly more formality than the pre-BCS era (though I am open to supporting a compromise up to nine teams, if properly chosen).

        They not only were 10-6, but were closer to being 8-8 than 12-4. I don’t know where the cutoff is, but 10-6 champions? It’s legitimate insofar as those are the rules that were agreed upon ahead of time, rules that are consistently applied, and rules the system that people seem to prefer.

        I’m past the point where I am trying to bring people to my point of view. I’m mostly just registering my protest to the consensus (though every now and again I have gotten people to see the bright side of the current system). My first guest post at The League was on the subject and I think I got it out of my system then. For the most part.

      • Michael Drew says:

        I certainly do see the bright side of the current system; it’s just not anywhere near bright enough to not have a legitimate playoff.

        It seems to me that you need to clarify what it is you want before anyone can assess what they think of your inclinations. “With what we have, five and five, I tend towards prefering a significant de-emphasizing of the playoffs but with an eye towards mildly more formality than the pre-BCS era”? What does that mean? And why? You’re left just being a complainer who won’t actually endorse anything. Endorsing a system doesn’t mean saying it’s perfect. It just means saying that it’s the best we can do, or more likely even just that it’s good enough. “With what we have,” is an 8-team playoff good enough? Evidently not, since you affirmatively plan to undermine the results by continuing to emphasize the ways in which it does not identify the “best” team by your lights. If FBS football were set up differently, you’d see 4- or 8- team playoffs as ideal, but with it the way it actually is, no playoff is a good idea. This reminds me of conservatives of various stripes who will talk about different kinds of programs they’d endorse if society were constituted differently, but it’s not, so, sigh, we’re just not good enough to have nice things. I don’t really understand what it is about the existing set-up that makes a playoff go from ideal to something to be de-emphasized. I get why it makes it not perfect, just not why it makes it not to be desired.

      • Michael Drew says:

        And: yes. 10-6 Champions. Affirmatively. Every time, if that’s how it works out. That’s what they playoffs are for. Teams should respond to that by figuring out what it takes to strike the balance between making the playoffs and winning them. That’s the game.

      • Will Truman says:

        I endorse the current system, imperfect though it is. I could easily endorse a “+1” system where you add a single game selected from (presumably, though not necessarily) the premier five or so bowl games after they are picked. That’s imperfect, too. I can endorse an 8-team playoff or a 9-team playoff, albeit more reluctantly, with good choosing criteria. I would actually become such a system’s staunchest defender against the inevitable calls for a 16-team playoff.

        Talking about the importance of the season doesn’t necessarily undermine an 8-team playoff. I think with an 8-team playoff, most of the regular season would not be lost. While I like the all-importance of the Alabama-Auburn game and don’t particularly like that an 8-team playoff would obviate some of that, I could deal with it both as a compromise and that such a playoff – if properly composed – would have upsides.

        I am not immune from criticism, but a failure to support anything isn’t really one of them.

        What I mean by the comment that confuses you is that the disparity between conferences makes a playoff system much more difficult. I’d rather not do it than do it wrong, especially when the only way to correct it would be expansion into territory I cannot accept (16+ teams). (Which is not saying that I oppose everything. I am skeptical towards most things, but I’ve been clear about the things I could support if drafted well.)

      • Michael Drew says:

        I guess I meant endorse anything other than the current system, since the context is a discussion in which there is a near-consensus rejection of the current system. If your position is simply that we should stick with the status quo, then that’s perfectly clear, and I’ll stop asking what else you endorse. But I don’t think it clarifies anything to endorse lots of different things because it just muddies your communication of your point of view, unless the point of view you want to communicate really just is flexibility (which would be great). But that isn’t consistent with the voice of opposition you’ve been raising to going from where we are to where we’re going. And I don’t mean “X is okay if drafted just right.” There are obviously lots of ways to screw up any system after its basic outlines have been decided upon. There’s no way to tell where such demands for specific design put on the proposal, so it’s really not an endorsement. You either have to say, “I’d be for X unless they royally screwed up the drafting [not, “if drafted just the way I’d want it],” or take the actual proposals that are on the table as drafted and say up or down to have actually issued an endorsement.

        And you haven’t been any more substantively specific about ” With what we have, five and five, I tend towards prefering a significant de-emphasizing of the playoffs but with an eye towards mildly more formality than the pre-BCS era” with “What I mean by the comment that confuses you is that the disparity between conferences makes a playoff system much more difficult. I’d rather not do it than do it wrong, especially when the only way to correct it would be expansion into territory I cannot accept (16+ teams)” than you were with the original comment, so I still don’t understand. I get that you think it’s worse (bad?) given the current set-up. But why is it? And what is “a significant de-emphasizing of the playoffs”? What playoffs? Playoffs that exist? A good way to de-emphasize playoffs is not have them exist. So… do you want them to exist? If you do, what does de-emphasizing them mean? Why would we want to do that? And, again, why does the 5-and-5 set-up make a playoff worse? My expectation is that it would be pretty rare that a non-Power-5 team ended up participating in even an 8-team playoffs anyway. So we could forget about a 4-team. So for the purposes of a 4- or 8-team playoff, the Power-5 will effectively be broken off. So I don’t understand what your concern is there. And I don’t get otherwise why the current system makes a 4- or 8-team playoff less desirable, either. What would a true 10-power-conference system look like that it would make an 8-team system so good, that the current 5-and-5 makes so much worse as to not even be desirable? Why would an officially-Power-5-conference field for the tournament make a 4- (but I think an 😎 team so much more desirable than it would be in the 5-5? You’re just not explaining yourself; maybe you don’t care to.

      • Will Truman says:

        I said before that I would be completely on board with a 9-team playoff: Six conference champions and three at-large. The six conference champions would be chosen in part by the strength of the overall conference: The top three conferences, determined by mathematical formula over the preceding four or five season from top to bottom, would have their champion accepted pretty much no matter what. Could lead to mediocre teams getting in, but the conferences earned it so I can let that pass. The next two conference champions would be selected by overall conference strength within the season. I’d impose a 9 or 10 win (against FBS teams) requirement on those conferences. The sixth would be the highest ranked conference champion from the remaining conferences, with a similar 9 or 10 win requirement plus a ranking requirement (must be ranked within the top X, with X as 15 though I could budge on that.) The remaining teams would be chosen by ranking for their performance over the season.

        Is that sufficiently specific? It’s what I said last time we talked about it.

        I would also endorse a “+1” model wherein two teams are chosen after the bowl season. Unlike the imminent four-team system, though, it would be chosen from theoretically any bowl game although I would expect it to come from one of the 4-6 major bowls.

        When I talk about “if done right” I don’t mean that I am worried that they would do something really stupid and screw it up. I mean that I consider the likelihood that they would do it wrong. (Note, they do not have to do the above proposal to “do it right” but I would want something more inclusive to the lower conferences than the four-bowl BCS.

        The reason that the two tiers of conferences is a problem is because it makes selection criteria very difficult, increases the likelihood they would get it wrong, and the institution of a playoff would make the situation far worse for the lower five teams. Reason being that the bowls would be de-emphasized to the point that the Fiesta Bowl might as well be the New Mexico Bowl. When as it stands, the Fiesta Bowl (or one of the other major bowls) is the main thing that the lower conference teams have to play for.

        Or alternately, if a representative from those conferences were included, would increase the push for more teams because it’s so obvious (to many) that Oklahoma State is superior to Central Florida that you have to expand the playoffs to make room for both Oklahoma and Central Florida. So either way, the bifurcation complicates things and makes me more skeptical to playoff formations in general. But not uniformly or reflexively opposed to them, which is what I was trying to demonstrate by pointing out the playoff formations I would endorse.

        I would want to de-emphasize playoffs that would cut out half of the subdivision (which I believe an 8-team playoff would do, the 4-team almost certainly will except with very rare exception) or would significantly reduce the importance of the regular season (which a 16+ playoff system would do).

        There are a lot of considerations here, though, and there are degrees to which the subdivision is cut off or the regular season de-emphasized. There are also ways that the current system fails lower conference teams and ways that the regular season is currently de-emphasized. This is why the specific proposal of a playoff matters a great deal. A playoff is not inherently superior, or inferior, to the status quo. So I’m not going to endorse the concept without a very clear idea of what it’s going to look like.

        I usually state my position on playoffs as being “opposed” because I am suspicious of what they will come up with, and I am not amenable to “Let’s decide to have a playoff, then figure out selection criteria.” Sorry if that is the cause of confusion.

      • Michael Drew says:

        Will, the point of the “everyone says that they’re for something baring a complete cluster in the specifics” point wasn’t to say that you shouldn’t have that position; it was to say that you should. Everyone should have that caveat. The point was that there’s a problem with much more specific criteria. Saying “I’d be for a playoff so long as it has set S [a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, …. z]” ends up being pretty much not an endorsement of a playoff system. I realize that you’re setting forth your ideal there, and that’s great, but unless you’re willing to add to that how far you’d be willing to depart and still endorse something, then you’re not endorsing anything in the realm of the actual. So what I’m asking you to flesh out is not your ideal, though I appreciate having you lay it out again, but rather just what is necessary to satisfy you in this statement: “Note, they do not have to do the above proposal to “do it right” but I would want something more inclusive to the lower conferences than the four-bowl BCS.” What does a minimally inclusive system look like for you? That’s the important question.

        I also wonder about your position here: “I would want to de-emphasize playoffs that would cut out half of the subdivision (which I believe an 8-team playoff would do, the 4-team almost certainly will except with very rare exception)” Your last comment seems to suggest you would be okay with cutting out half the subdivision, if the Power Five conferences would just bite the bullet and break away formally But doesn’t a playoff system that will usually acknowledge that the best teams are in the top five conferences but occasionally recognizes deserving teams in the lower conferences have basically the same result? It seems to me that a committee tasked with recognizing those deserving teams would be likely to do a decent job of it. Is it that you think that if they did break away, then the higher-profile bowls would be left for the lower half of the subdivision to play for, and that they wouldn’t be as de-emphasized in that case? I don’t really see that happening.

        Or are you envisioning essentially another division being created, so there would essentially be another whole tournament for them? That would be something to play for… Maybe we can agree that really that would be the best outcome in that it would best reflect the reality of the competitive tiers that truly exist in FBS football right now.

      • Will Truman says:

        How far away from my ideal depends in large part on what the likely alternatives are. If I think I can hold on to the BCS, I would accept a “+1”. I wouldn’t throw up too much objection to an 8 or 9 team playoff so long as it included at least six conference champions (none determined by contract). Compared to the 4-team system we’re looking at next year? I would prefer or accept a +1 or an 8 or 9 team playoff so long as it included at least six conference champions (none determined by contract). I wouldn’t throw up too much objection to 10 with the same stipulations.

        What I mean by “none determined by contract” would mean that it wouldn’t specify which conferences get the automatic bid and would be determined by some strict formula. I would want at least one of those to be a “floating bid” which is to say that it is dependent entirely on the team’s performance that season and not on overall conference play. So they couldn’t, for instance, produce a formula that allowed in the champions of the B1G, B12, P12, ACC, SEC, and AAC while excluding the MWC every season (or switch the AAC and MWC, if that’s more likely).

        Also, when I say “Wouldn’t throw up too much objection to” I could actually be persuaded to support it, or could persuade myself to support it, given the time and thought I would devote to it if it were actually on the table. And this is a sufficiently gray area that it might depend on further particulars (how the conferences and conference champions are chosen). But if I came out opposed, it would very, very likely be a relatively weak opposition.

        Does that help?

      • Michael Drew says:

        Yes. Thanks, Will.

  10. Chris says:

    My opinion of his NFL prospects has risen after this season, but I do hope he comes back for another year, because I don’t know that there’s been a player as fun to watch as he is since Vick was at VT, and maybe not even then. However successful he is at the next level, he will not be this fun to watch there. If in the NFL he tries a play like the one against Duke in which he jumped failed to jump over a defensive player, pulled his leg free, backed up, and then threw a touchdown pass, he will be creamed.

  11. Will Truman says:

    While we’re talking about the NCAA in general, I wanted to point something out:

    With UCF’s victory over Baylor, the BCS-era ends with the Big East (slash American Athletic) Conference having a winning record in BCS games. The Pac-12 and SEC can also make that claim*, but the Big 12, Big Ten, and ACC cannot.

    * – Technically, the Mountain West Conference and WAC can also make that claim. However, those conferences only sent teams that were unusually good, which the Big East sent whichever team won their conference whether 11/12-0 or 7/8-4.