Is Mark Cuban persuasive enough to kill the BCS?

The heart of Death to the BCS is the numbers, the ones that nauseate college football fans, the millions of dollars universities forfeit to the thieves who run bowls and the hundreds of millions more they deny by obstructing against a playoff system. These numbers had a different effect on Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and foremost entrepreneurial spirit in American sports.

They sparked a business idea.

It was only a matter of time before somebody with a brilliant mind and a hefty bank account looked at the Bowl Championship Series and proposed to blow it up. Cuban is reading Death to the BCS these days, and his public proclamations over the last 24 hours that he wants to run his own college football playoff has set afire the hearts and minds of fans ravenous for anything other than the current system.

I am not sure if Mark Cuban is college football’s savior, which is to say I’m not certain anybody can do the job single-handedly. The political minefields on the road to college football playoff Valhalla are laced with IEDs. Jim Delany, already battening down the hatches with his not-so-veiled threat that the BCS is going nowhere, will double, triple and quadruple down if necessary. If the BCS dies, it will do so surrounded by a pile of shell casings.

I am sure that Cuban has latched onto a salient point in any potential overthrow of the BCS: The business model makes as much sense as directions from Ikea. Time and again, the Cartel has failed to answer why it funnels more than 50 percent of the revenue from its most profitable product — its postseason — to the middle men who run bowl games. When 106 of 120 athletic departments lose money, as they did last season, turning down any sum of money — let alone Cuban’s proposed offer of $500 million per year — is criminal.

“If there’s something everybody hates and there’s all kind of inefficiencies and there’s a lack of transparency,” Cuban told the Dan Patrick Show today, “somewhere in there is the business opportunity.”

Sooner than later, the victims of the racket — the universities getting fleeced by the arrangement — are going to seek something better. For the second time in three years, Virginia Tech is preparing to get stuck with a massive load of unsold tickets to a BCS game that will set the school back a seven-figure sum. UConn is bleeding like a stuck pig, ready to eat $2.5 million in Fiesta Bowl tickets, according to the New Haven Register. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples pointed out that more than a quarter of Connecticut’s athletic budget comes from the university, which is funded by taxes. Surely, given a choice, Connecticut taxpayers would spend the $2.5 million on something of benefit to their state rather than an exhibition football game 2,500 miles away.

If Cuban, or any independent businessperson, can build a playoff, it’s not going to be a situation where everybody jumps in the pool simultaneously. There will need to be a brave, forward-thinking commissioner to rip his schools away from the traditional power structure. That, and someone who is willing to sell out his supposed business partners. As we know from the conference-realignment shenanigans last offseason, the conference commissioners ultimately look out for themselves. And if Cuban offers, say, the SEC $150 million for its participation, surely the 12 university presidents aren’t so wedded to the bowl system that they would pass up such an opportunity.

The rest of college football would join soon enough out of fear that a moneyed SEC would turn into even more of a superpower than it already is. Six of the 10 best ratings on college football games this year were from the SEC, even as overall viewership plummeted. It’s not a stretch to blame it on the BCS. The Big Ten and Big 12 lost any shot at a national championship by Halloween. With a playoff, three Big Ten teams and at least one from the Big 12 would’ve been relevant into November, through December and perhaps January.

Instead, we look forward to 35 bowl games, the first of which starts Saturday. Some will be great. Some will be duds. All will end the season of the participating teams, keeping us from latching onto players, onto stories, onto the sort of things so desperately lacking in this system. Athletic directors should recognize this, but they’re too compromised. Presidents should, too, only most listen to their ADs and conference commissioners. Cuban’s idea to hit schools in the checkbook by urging boosters to cut off donations until the school supports a playoff is novel and could work.

The simple fact that Cuban has given this as much thought as he has bodes well for college football. Amid a sea of partisan bickering, he is an impartial voice, one whose stake is entirely personal. Such a moment can serve as a flashpoint, another tick mark on the timeline toward the demise of the BCS. Patrick asked Cuban whether he’d prefer to own a baseball team or run a college football playoff. He chuckled, the answer so obvious.

“With the BCS,” he said, “you go down in history and make a lot of people happy.”

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9 Responses to Is Mark Cuban persuasive enough to kill the BCS?

  1. Jeffrey August says:

    I am afraid Cubano has pissed too may people off to make it work. That said, more power to him. Fuck the BCS

  2. FIREMedic619 says:

    Finally, an update! I hope Mark Cuban makes something happen. Even if it’s just opening up the eyes of ADs and university presidents.

  3. SKOHR says:

    I hope he does it.

    A playoff would be so much more exciting. I wrote up a 1st Round Playoff scenario based on the system that DTTBCS uses on my website if anyone is interested in seeing what this year’s version would look like. There are some pretty good 1st round match-ups in there that we would be watching this weekend if it was real. I have to say that Michigan St. vs. Arkansas would be more exciting to watch rather than games like BYU vs UTEP this weekend.

    Hopefully Cuban can grab enough publicity where it matters. With the College Presidents. I think he really has to appeal to their purse strings to make it work. He has to show them that the university’s stand to make far more money in a playoff than they do with the current system. Because the BCS guys who run the post season for the NCAA are very good with the status quo and don’t care so much about earning more money so much as they care about keeping the winnings ratio between the haves and have-nots the same. In my opinion the difference in objective between the conference commissioners and the college presidents who entrust them to run their sports is where Mark’s opportunity lies.

    Go check out the 1st round playoff on SKOHRboard though and let me know what you think.

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  5. Stone says:

    It’s about time someone beats the BCS cartel at it’s own crooked game. Good luck Mark the whole nation supports you……Death to the good ‘ole boy bowl system!

  6. Brian says:

    As far as UConn is concerned - it’s a bowl invite. If they can’t meet the ticket requirements & it’s going to lose them a lot of money, they don’t have to accept the invite. If they can’t handle the commitment to be in a BCS school, perhaps they should go back to the FCS.

    • Phil says:

      Looks like someone needs to ready teh Death to the BCS book. Just about no one ‘wins’ when it come to bowl games. Virginia Tech lost @ 2.2 Millions in 2009 over the Orange bowl. A home play off game at VT would be a windfall for VT and the ACC. Not sure why this is so hard for people to figure out…….

  7. Jason says:

    Hey Big 10: How’s that strength of schedule/little sisters of the poor thing working out now? LMAO!!!!! Big 10 my arse. How about Little POS 10. Ohio St has frauded the National Championship for years. Now look at yourself. Not one team worthy of Top 10 in the country. Its too bad a TCU or Boise St didnt come play one of you supposed top teams this year and EXPOSE you sooner than late December, early January. Who’s the president of Ohio State again? He can STFU now and disappear. Here’s to hoping Ohio St loses its bowl fraud game as well. I wonder how much money they sent/spent getting their guys eligible for the game but not eligible for the first 5 games next year? What a train wreck the NCAA has become. Are there written down rules or do they just make stuff up on the fly?

  8. Dr Opsimath says:

    Here’s what I like about the whole Death the the BCS discussion: even though it’s an emotional issue, with passionate people on both sides, you guys stay focused on measurables, on data, and on logical, rational cause-and-effect and if-this, then-that arguments.

    Seems like everything these days has to be polarized, and that both sides only want to see the data that supports their side of the argument.

    I heard Hancock on some interview, and he reminded me of a Boondocks cartoon. Riley asked his granddad for something silly, and granddad said, “It doesn’t both me that you’re stupid. What bothers me is that you think I’m stupid, too.” That’s what I wanted to say to the chucklehead as he kept spouting one inane argument after another.

    I can’t remember … is this point in your book? Pick any team sport out there, and look at the ratio of the number of teams to the number of games played. Just to keep it apples and apples, look at pro football. Thirty-two teams and sixteen games, for a ratio of 2:1. (Most sports play more games than they have teams, but football is special.) Now look at college football: 120 teams, and a 10-12 game season, for a ratio of at least 10:1. Given that there are so many more teams than games to be played, you just cannot rank them, by vote or by computer, with any mathematical meaning to it. Basically, we have no idea who the best team ever was, going back 110 years. It’s been a SWAG each and every year. A playoff is the only way to give any credibility to this system. The only way.

    Cheers and best to you this new year.

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