Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Enough about the SEC scheduling FCS “cupcakes,” already

clip_image001Kirk Herbstreit et al went after Southeastern Conference schools for scheduling FCS teams last Saturday on ESPN Gameday. As Herbstreit put it, it’s “the worst thing that goes on in college football.” His cohorts Desmond Howard and Chris Fowler dutifully nodded along.

Only Lee Corso(!) dissented with a voice of logic and reason. When you have Lee Corso on your side… well…

Look, enough already. The SEC schools that scheduled FCS opponents this late in the season did so for two simple reasons: Economics, and finance. Optics be damned—optics don’t pay the bills. Let’s face some cold hard facts, shall we?

No major school wants to give up a home game. Ever.

Home games are too important to the home team program, the community and the fans. To even play a home-away rotation with another major school means both teams lose a home game every other year. It's simply not in anyone's financial interest to do so, especially this late in the season.

It is however, in the financial interest of schools like WCU, who collected a hefty paycheck that they will use to further develop what appears to be a up-and-coming program. And so, we eschew a late season non-conference matchup. We maximize home game revenues, the opponent is better off financially, and everybody is set.

This is what some people in the media fail to wrap their heads around: It’s a voluntary exchange. When you look at things from a center-left point of view, voluntary exchanges are bad things. How can these dupes hope to do well by society by making their own damned decisions that work towards their own damned interests?

It’s not about doing well by society. It’s about the bottom line for the schools involved, the community involved and the fans.

The University of Alabama is a good institutional citizen of Tuscaloosa and the entire state. It's just not in their interest to agree to play a major non-conference opponent if that opponent insists on a home-away rotation. It’s fine to schedule an early season game at a neutral location, like Alabama has endeavored to do since Mike Dubose clapped his way into oblivion.

Also, any prospective major non-conference, late-in-the-season opponent faces the same financial calculus that UA does. Why should they not maximize home game revenues by scheduling cupcakes? Giving up millions (potentially) to assuage the politically correct talking heads is bad economics, bad finance and frankly, it steps close to a breach of fiduciary trust.

The community where these games take place spend enormous resources in providing security, traffic control, first responder capability and God knows what else. They do so in the knowledge that the economic impact of such events is tremendous to the local economy and vastly exceeds the costs.

That’s as true in Tuscaloosa as it is in Tallahassee, Columbus, Norman, Lincoln and Ann Arbor.

And what happens if (when?) the SEC goes to a nine-game conference schedule? Well, every SEC team gives up at least one home game per year, and all the revenue and impact associated with it. That means even more patsies scheduled as non-con opponents.

People, beware of the Law of Unintended Consequences. It always—always—comes back and bites you in the ass.

A similar example exists here in Mobile. Every late winter/early spring, the City of Mobile expends tremendous resources to provide security and first responder services during the annual Mardi Gras celebration. That runs for weeks, and the total public attendance for the carnival season dwarfs the attendance at any home game played in any SEC venue.

If the City of Mobile told the carnival crewes to go find their own security, first responder and other services, Mardi Gras in Mobile would cease to exist. That impact would be devastating. The impacts and economic devastation go up by an order of magnitude in New Orleans.

No one wants to see any of that take place, especially if the only reason to do so is to keep people like Kirk, Desmond and Chris happy. And let’s be honest, here. That would be the only reason to penalize schools and/or force major conference schools to eschew these kinds of matchups. They don’t care about (or they’re ignorant of) the economic and financial realities of college football. All they care about are the politically correct optics of bitching about big boys playing little boys.

There’s another angle to this, brought up by my friend TIDE-HSV over on the forum. When lesser schools are on the field with bigger schools, the incentive to make up the gap in talent is dangerous.

The  targeting rules are also running into the Law of Unintended Consequences. If you can't lead with your head or target an opponent from the shoulders up, then a lesser opponent has little choice but to go low. How many people got helped off of the field in the Alabama – Western Carolina game? You need two hands to count them, and they were all starters.The rules in place now could actually cause more injuries rather than fewer, although those injuries are much less life-threatening than head/neck injuries.

That's another thing that these politically correct talking heads completely miss. The argument for avoiding scheduling vastly inferior opponents because of increased injury risk is much more convincing than the one of optics made by the talking heads. That argument also plays right into their politically correct narrative that football is too violent and that it needs to be more thoroughly regulated.

"Well," they could say, "if you want fewer injuries, then don't allow little boys to play on the same field with big boys because the little boys have to find some way to compensate for the lack of speed, size and talent. The only way to avoid that is to keep big boys playing big boys and little boys playing little boys."

They don't make that argument because it makes too much sense.

But, when was the last time an argument was made by the mainstream media that made sense?

Western Carolina Head Coach Mark Speir made a lot of sense Saturday night. "Guys get an education and we battled our butts off, playing games like this.It sends people who wouldn't have an opportunity to go to college and have great memories. Then a guy like Troy sets a record. You tell me that ain't special. I'll get off my soapbox."

You know what’s special about college football and scheduling during the regular season? I’ll yell it at ya: It’s about the voluntary exchange. That’s something that people in the media don’t understand or simply can’t stand.