Time to Move The Belmont Stakes to Sunday?

That is a question I have asked before in other places.

2014 marked the first time in eight years that there was racing the day after The Belmont Stakes after not having such from 2007-’13.  Part of that I believe was besides the handle that day, politics were a big part of it, in particular for people who can’t go on Saturday due to mainly the Jewish Sabbath who would be able to go on Sunday (parts of Brooklyn have between them the largest population of Orthodox Jews in the world outside of Israel).  The card that day after the Belmont went on in spite of there being huge piles of trash all over the places that had yet to be cleaned out from Belmont Stakes Day.  While there was a time when The New York Racing Association not only raced the Sunday, but also the Monday after The Belmont Stakes (in the days of six-day-a-week racing), that was before all of the security concerns and other things and the crowds we have on Belmont Stakes day now and Belmont Day itself if you include the post-race concert afterwards now runs well into Saturday night.

This led me to think then and even more so now: Especially with what happens Triple Crown chance or not on Belmont Stakes Day and given NYRA is likely under both business and political pressure to race that Sunday as usual, I (again) say it’s time to move The Belmont Stakes from Saturday to Sunday.  Many traditionalists won’t like it and some who travel in for The Belmont might not like having to stay through Sunday into the start of a new workweek in many cases, but making The Belmont a Sunday race would eliminate the need for having a program the day after (as Monday is a normal dark day now except for Saratoga and certain holidays) as there would not likely be the same pressure to do that as there is now.  While there is the threat of having an NBA Finals game tip not too long after The Belmont Stakes in that scenario, that is no longer as much the case given except in a limited number of situations, the NBA and NHL both like to give teams two days off between games in their respective Finals, especially if there is a travel day involved.  In 2018, had The Belmont Stakes been on Sunday instead of Saturday, it would have potentially been a lead-in for NBC to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals assuming that series got to that point, something NBC actually had done in recent years with Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals when that was on the Saturday of The Belmont Stakes.  In addition, it gives those who can’t come on Saturday for religious reasons the chance to do so for a Sunday Belmont Stakes.  It would be the first time Orthodox Jews would ever have a chance to see a Triple Crown race in person, something that I think is overlooked by many.

Moving The Belmont Stakes to Sunday also has other advantages that more than offset those for whom it may be more difficult to go because of not being able to as easily take the Monday after The Belmont off as opposed to the Thursday and Friday before: The weekend can truly become TWO big days of racing and the stakes festival can actually be expanded to four days: Thursday and Friday can be normal days with a stakes or three added to such while Saturday can become a true “Ladies Day” with ALL races on Saturday for fillies and mares or simply fillies.  This would including swapping out the Acorn for the Coaching Club American Oaks, returning what used to be the most important race in the sport (and what used to be America’s only Classic race) for fillies back to its former status as I would also return the CCA Oaks to its former distance of 1 ½ miles for the same $1.5 Million purse the boys run for in The Belmont Stakes (also possibly working with Churchill Downs and Maryland Racing officials to make the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan and CCA Oaks an official Triple Tiara for Fillies with all three races one day before those for their male counterparts).   This also would be part of a further overhaul of the NYRA stakes schedule with some stakes currently on Belmont Day moved to other points on the schedule, including most notably returning The Metropolitan Handicap to its traditional Memorial Day spot (that many real fans have been clamoring for) and The Brooklyn to the final Saturday of the Spring meeting at Belmont Park while moving the Suburban to 3-4 weeks before the Brooklyn depending on the calendar to revive the old New York Handicap Triple Crown with all three of those races worth $1 Million each (and a bonus for sweeping the three races and additional bonus money for horses who race in all three).   The Met Mile can be replaced by the Nassau County Handicap for older horses that used to actually be run as part of Belmont Stakes Day (the last time that incarnation of the race was run in 1993 was actually a Grade 1 and is not be confused with another race of the same name for three year old fillies that was did become a Grade 2 before being discontinued) while the Brooklyn can be replaced on Belmont Days by a revival of The Gallant Fox, which I would bring back in this scenario as a 1 ¾ Mile event that would start at the top of the stretch.

This would be the proposed stakes schedule for a four-day version of The Belmont Stakes Festival, running Thursday through Sunday:


Wonder Again (Grade 3, $200,000) 3YOF 1 1/4 Miles on Turf (increased in distance, part of special four-day Pick Four wager with Penine Ridge, Coaching Club American Oaks and Belmont Stakes)

Astarita ($150,000) 2YOF 7 Furlongs on Turf (revival of stake last run in 2005 as a grass race, two year olds in Europe are already racing that long on grass).

Astoria ($150,000) 2YOF 5 ½ Furlongs (no change from 2017)



Penine Ridge (Grade 3, $200,000) 3YO 1 1/4 Miles on Turf (moved from Saturday before Belmont and increased in distance, part of special three-day Pick Three wager with Coaching Club American Oaks and Belmont Stakes)

Cowdin ($150,000) 2YO 7 Furlongs on Turf (revival of race last run in 2005, returning as a grass race)

Tremont ($150,000) 2YO 5 ½ Furlongs



Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade 1, $1,500,000) 3YOF 1 ½ Miles (moved from Saratoga and returned to its former distance with the Acorn moved to most likely the Wood Memorial program in April, the Mother Goose replacing the CCA Oaks at Saratoga and the Gazelle either moved up to March or returned to its former spot of opening weekend of the Belmont Park fall season in September)

Jersey Girl ($150,000) 3YOF 6 Furlongs (moved from day after The Belmont Stakes)

Rare Perfume ($150,000) 3YOF 1 1/16 Miles (revival of race last run in 1990 and increased in distance from that time)

Ruffian (Grade 2, $250,000) F&M 3+ 1 1/16 Miles (increased in distance and replacing the Odgen Phipps, which moves in this to most likely late June to be a female counterpart to the Suburban)

Bed o’Roses (Grade 3, $250,000) F&M 3+ 6F (shortened in distance)

Just A Game (Grade 1, $700,000) F&M 3+ 1 Mile on Turf

New York (Grade 2, $600,000) F&M 3+ 1 ½ Miles on Turf (increased in distance)

Belmont Coronation ($200,000) F&M 4+ 2 Miles on Turf (last run in 2016 and increased in distance from then)

Ladies Handicap ($250,000) F&M 3+ 1 ¾ Miles (moved from earlier in the year and increased to a distance more fitting for the oldest stakes event in the sport for females)

New Stake (unnamed for now, $150,000) F&M 3+ 6 Furlongs on Turf



Belmont Stakes (Grade 1, $1,500,000) 3YO 1 ½ Miles

Easy Goer ($150,000) 3YO 1 1/16 Miles

Woody Stephens (Grade 2, $400,000) 3YO 7 Furlongs

True North (Grade 2, $250,000) 3+ 6 Furlongs

Jaipur (Grade 2, $400,000) 3+ 6 Furlongs on Turf

Poker (Grade 3, $300,000) 3+ 1 Mile on Turf (moved from week after The Belmont Stakes)

Sword Dancer (Grade 1, $1,000,000) 3+ 1 ½ Miles on Turf (moved from Travers Day at Saratoga as part of a swap that moves The Manhattan to the week between the Derby and Preakness in May and the Man o’War back to its former spot on opening weekend of the fall meet at Belmont with the Sword Dancer no longer having to compete with the Arlington Million for Horses).

Belmont Gold Cup (Grade 2, $400,000) 3+ 2 Miles on Turf (moved from the day before The Belmont Stakes)

Nassau County Handicap ($300,000) 3+ 1 1/8 Miles (last run in 1993 as a Grade 1)

Gallant Fox ($300,000) 3+ 1 ¾ Miles (last run in 2009, increased in distance and replacing the Brooklyn, which would be moved to the final Saturday of the spring meet at Belmont Park.

This might not be quite the monster card Belmont Stakes day is, but basically in this format you would have 10 stakes (including the CCA Oaks on Saturday and Belmont on Sunday) on TWO days in this while NYRA also is able to create a few more big days on other days during the year.   Such days would still attract lots of horses for all of the stakes (26 in all!) over the four-day stretch this would encompass as owners likely will want to have horses in races on these days.  At the same time, it creates a second big day for NYRA they can likely package with The Belmont Stakes for people looking to attend Belmont Stakes day and as noted allow those unable to be at Belmont on Saturday for religious reasons to be there and in most cases see a Triple Crown race in person for the first time in their lives.

I suspect NBC would love having the Belmont Stakes on a Sunday with most likely on Sunday such having a 7:00 PM or so post time to lead directly into prime time that night (plus the Belmont Stakes itself qualifying for normal prime time since on Sundays prime time begins at 7:00 PM Eastern Time rather than 8:00 PM ET).   It might also lead NBC to have telecasts on Saturday and Sunday since the CCA Oaks could headline a two-hour Saturday broadcast on NBC from 4:00-6:00 PM or 5:00-7:00 PM ET in addition to The Belmont on Sunday most likely airing from 4:00-7:30 or 8:00 PM ET (depending on when Belmont Stakes post time would be).

This is a move to me that should have been done a few years ago.  It would eliminate the headache of having to run a racing program the day after The Belmont Stakes while at the same time as noted creating a second really big day of racing that can stand out on its own.  As I would do such:

Thursday and Friday: 8 or 9 races with first post at 3:00 PM both days.

Saturday (CCA Oaks Day): 13 Races with first post at Noon or 12:30 PM

Sunday (Belmont Day): 13 Races with first post at 11:35 AM

The early start on Sunday might be of concern to some but I think would be acceptable.  It just seems time to make the move of The Belmont Stakes to Sunday, traditionalists be dammed.

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Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. (Possibly Without Realizing It) Looking to Repeat Mistakes Of 2015 BC By Going With All-Daytime BC In 2018 At Churchill Downs

On Thursday (May 10), Breeders’ Cup Ltd. announced the 2018 BC schedule that included one thing that should have been done years ago: Make Friday “Future Stars Friday” as they are calling it by having ALL of the two year old races on Friday, hopefully patterned at Churchill Downs’s “Stars of Tomorrow” programs that take place at the bookends of the fall season of the meet (actually the first and next-to-last days now as the fall meet extends to the Sunday after Thanksgiving).  That is a good thing, but the other, was straight out of seemingly kowtowing to individuals who seem to be totally clueless on how much our society has changed in the past three decades.

BC Ltd. Also noted the post times for the Juvenile on Friday would be 6:05 PM ET and the Classic on Saturday will be 5:44 PM ET.  While I’m sure some are happy about this, going all-daytime shows one of two things: BC Ltd. is clueless or seems to be kowtowing to elderly owners, bettors and so forth who have in recent years complained when the BC (which five of the last six years has been in the Pacific Time Zone at Santa Anita or Del Mar) has run into the evening (and prime time in the east) by going entirely in the afternoon.  This decision to likely kowtow to them as well as Europe is likely going to cost BC Ltd. at least $20 Million in handle from Hong Kong alone as it did at Keeneland when it hosted the 2015 BC.  This alone should have been good enough not to repeat the mistakes of the past that are killing the Sport of Kings, something I noted in a blog I wrote a couple of weeks after the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland and I noted again when it first was expected Churchill Downs would be awarded this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

A big reason I wrote what I did then are the Millennials, considered to be those born after 1980 who in this case make up a key demographic with advertisers, those 18-34 who are the most desirable and in many cases, ad buyers will go out of their way to pay more to advertise on shows that get lower overall TV ratings just because they are more easily influenced by ads.  Millennials have grown accustomed to championship events always being in prime time (east coast time) dating all the way back to Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the last such event in any of the “Big Four” pro sports (in the US, Baseball, Basketball, (American) Football and Hockey) to take place in the daytime.  Every such event in the “Big Four” sports in the US since June 2, 1991 has started after 6:00 PM Eastern (New York) time.  Anyone turning 30 in 2018 was two or three years old when the 1991 NBA Finals took place, and many other Millennials likely either never saw a Finals game in any of the “big four” sports in the afternoon or don’t remember ever seeing such because they were too young to remember such (the last such daytime Championship game in Baseball was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series while in Football it was Super Bowl XXIII in January 1989 and as far as I know, the last time it happened in Hockey was Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals).  Even if they don’t state it out loud, actions over the past two decades have repeatedly shown that many under 35 consider any championship event in any sport (except for Golf) that isn’t at night not to be relevant because that is what they are accustomed to.

If it had been me, this BC would have been almost entirely at night, extending to 11:00 PM ET both days with post time for the Juvenile on Friday and Classic on Saturday at 10:35 PM locally, with telecasts as follows, paying enough money to Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. to make it worth it to do so:

Friday on NBCSN from 8:00-10:00 PM ET (Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile Turf in that order)

Friday on NBC from 10:00-11:00 PM ET (Juvenile)

Saturday on NBC from 4:30-11:00 PM ET with all nine Saturday races.

If I’m at NBC, I’m willing to do that because the Breeders’ Cup will do better than anything else NBC can likely put on in prime time on both Friday and Saturday Night, and especially Saturday even opposite multiple college football games on the ESPN Network (plus ABC), the FOX Networks (including FOX itself) and possibly CBS.  The Friday telecast would be split as it is so NBC stations in the west would get the hour of local programming they would lose at 7:00 PM Pacific for the BC Juvenile back at 10:00 PM locally.

It seems the lessons from the 2015 BC were NOT learned by BC Ltd., who seems more concerned with kowtowing to European interests and a group of those over 65 who hate being out at night or up late and refuse to understand they are part of the problem in this case.  I would simply make it clear to them going to 11:00 PM ET is about catering to those 18-49, and especially the 18-34 demo who are the future fans of the sport.  Those younger matter WAY more in this case and the only way this sport is going to matter to many under 50 (and under 35 in particular) is by joining the rest of the sports world and always having the Breeders’ Cup at night, even if it offends owners and owners threaten not to run their horses because of it being at night (which I seriously doubt would happen, especially since the one of the sport’s biggest International events, the Dubai World Cup has always been at night in Dubai dating back to its inaugural edition in 1996.  Any post-BC parties would simply need to be pushed back even if it means they run well into the next morning if that is a concern.

BC Ltd. has seeming shown its true colors, seeming looking to willfully ignore the fact that many under 35 only consider championship events those contested at night to cater to a group of those older who don’t understand their selfishness in many cases is why the sport will never gain a foothold in the US outside of the Triple Crown events (and especially the Kentucky Derby) in the eyes of many under 35 unless its big events are at night like the rest of the sports world.  Those mistakes are just one reason why this sport has many problems bringing those younger in and until those in charge understand this and adjust, the sport will continue to have problems with bring in new audiences that are needed for the sport’s future.

This, by the way is one reason I have changed my focus for the most part from the Horses to Daily Fantasy Sports as computer bettors have made it extremely difficult outside of a handful of big days each year to make money at Horse Racing, even as some I know have had some success.  Having top events at night is an important first step to showing the Sport of Kings is in line with the rest of the sports world in the US by having its championship events at night.  THAT is an important first step to bring those younger into the sport, as having the championship events at night lends the sport as a whole credibility with those younger.

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Could Saturday Night Live’s actually airing live everywhere cause the Kentucky Derby to move to Prime Time in 2018?

On March 16, it was noted that NBC made an announcement that likely didn’t make too many waves (and was overshadowed entirely by the beginning of that event known as the NCAA Tournament, aka “March Madness”), however, it’s something that may see a big change with Horse Racing’s single biggest event as early as 2018:

For the first time ever, Saturday Night Live will actually be live throughout the US, including the west coast where it will be airing in prime time (as noted in an article in The Comeback at: http://thecomeback.com/pop-culture/saturday-night-live-will-actually-be-live-for-west-coast-for-last-four-episodes-of-season.html)

For this four-episode run this spring, I’m suspecting NBC has Stanley Cup Playoff games that will be airing all of the Saturdays noted in prime time (April 15, May 6, 13 and 20), which makes it easier for NBC to air SNL live on the west coast since it would be after such games conclude.

While that won’t affect the Kentucky Derby this year, officials at Churchill Downs and people involved in Horse Racing may not realize that should this prove to be successful (and if it is, NBC is planning to do this with ALL editions of Saturday Night Live next year, airing in the west at 8:30 PM Pacific Time), it could force a change that I think has been needing to happen anyway for other reasons, namely being able to get hundreds of millions of dollars in new handle from the Asia-Pacific region.

Local officials in Louisville have not been happy with the prospect of the Kentucky Derby eventually being run under the lights at Churchill Downs. While Churchill has had permanent lights installed since 2010 (which were needed for a variety of other reasons, mainly to allow workouts to start earlier in the morning during the spring and fall months when sunrise can be as late as 8:00 AM and to allow for a handful of night cards each year that in 2018 could include the Breeders’ Cup if NBC wants that to go to 11:00 PM Eastern Time), Saturday Night Live actually airing live in the entire country could be the push Comcast (parent company of NBC) needs to make Churchill Downs move the Kentucky Derby back a few hours so NBC can have their telecast run entirely in prime time from 8:00-11:00 PM Eastern Time, likely with the Derby itself going off around 10:15 PM Eastern Time to allow for post-race coverage to wrap up at 11:00 PM ET so NBC stations can air local news ahead of SNL that usually starts at 11:29 PM ET. Traditionalists and locals may not like the prospect of the Derby being run in prime time and with post time after 10:00 PM locally (and if so, the Oaks on Friday likely also moved to prime time in a telecast on NBC from 10:00-11:00 PM ET with Oaks post time that Friday at 10:35 PM ET), but the fact is, with SNL airing live everywhere, it gives Comcast/NBC, especially when there is a big telecast like the Derby (which in recent years would have been the top-rated show of the week it aired had it aired in prime time) to do a blockbuster SNL with even bigger stars hosting the show than have in recent years and NBC likely doing heavy cross-promotion of the Derby and Saturday Night Live that week, making for a potential of an even bigger crossover between the two events.

The prospect of bringing in the Asia-Pacific region may force this move anyway since if post time for the Derby were 10:15 PM Eastern Time, that would translate to it being Sunday at 10:15 AM in Hong Kong, 11:15 AM in Tokyo and 12:15 or 1:15 PM locally in Melbourne and Sydney. Foreign interests likely would force this move anyway, but the prospect of Comcast/NBC being able to make it a huge night with the Derby in prime time and Saturday Night Live airing live everywhere afterwards could be what moves the Derby to prime time.

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Churchill Downs to get 2018 Breeders’ Cup: Has BC Ltd. learned its lesson?

The Wall Street Journal reported early Monday (April 25) that Churchill Downs is expected to land the 2018 Breeders’ Cup.

In my opinion, this could potentially be the first of several Breeders’ Cups in a row that is hosted by Churchill Downs for one simple reason: lights. Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., in my opinion may have learned their lesson with last year’s BC that while Keeneland is a great venue, the lack of lights there likely cost BC Ltd. tens of millions in handle as noted in a blog I did last November, with NBC likely wanting the BC telecast to on Saturday be 8:00-11:00 PM Eastern Time with an hour on Friday as well from 10:00-11:00 PM Eastern Time.

While on-track handle at Keeneland itself was actually up 2.5% compared to Santa Anita a year ago, overall handle was DOWN 2.4% in a year handle should have been up substantially, as much as 20% that would have returned handle on the BC to 2010 levels. While one big factor in that was the Mets being in the World Series and basically in New York making BC talk with very limited exceptions nonexistent, that could easily have been worked around by having the BC one week later from November 6-7, getting it away from the World Series (when Keeneland was awarded last year’s BC, it was widely believed the entire MLB season was going to start and finish a week earlier than it did but apparently the Pope’s visit at the end of last September forced MLB to move everything back one week because Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia would have been unavailable for either a rainout makeup or one-game playoff last Sept. 28). With the BC a week later and at night, handle on the 2015 BC is likely up 20% from 2014  because it’s not taking place when people are still at work in the east (on Friday) or (on Saturday) when many in the west are still asleep. Add in Hong Kong and perhaps the rest of the Asia-Pacific region and handle on the BC has the potential to skyrocket by having the BC Distaff (Friday) and Classic (Saturday) going off at 10:40 PM ET (Saturday and Sunday morning in Japan and Hong Kong and Saturday and Sunday afternoon in Australia).

Then there is the matter of those under 30 in many cases being conditioned to believe championship events must be at night to matter, mainly due to the fact the “big four” pro sports have had ALL of their championship events at night for the past 25 years (if you turn 30 in 2016, you would have been no older than FIVE when Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the last such championship event to be in the daytime took place). If Horse Racing is to have credibility outside of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown with this audience, the BC has to be at night with Horse Racing joining the rest of the mainstream sports world in that regard. Too many people in Horse Racing seem to be too stubborn to realize the mentality younger people have that has been ingrained in them over the last quarter-century.

While the TV rating for last year’s BC Classic on NBC was up 53% over 2014, that to me is totally misleading because that entire TV rating increase as I understood it was those 50 and older who do not matter to most ad buyers. The rating for 18-49 who matter to advertisers was likely up far less than 53% if at all as what time of day an event takes place DOES MATTER to many under 30, especially those for whom Saturday is the only day then can do certain things in the daytime and don’t have then for events like the Breeders’ Cup. It would not surprise me if the 2016 BC Classic, even without a TC winner like last year gets a higher rating with 18-49 solely because of it airing in prime time when younger viewers can more easily watch. Had American Pharoah’s BC Classic gone off at 10:40 PM ET on November 7 instead of 5:50 PM ET on October 31, the rating, especially with 18-49 would have been considerably higher if for no other reason than the fact that Donald Trump was hosting Saturday Night Live last November 7, which drew its best rating in four years and many would have tuned into NBC early for the BC Classic ahead of that.

Hopefully, BC Ltd. and the sport learned its lesson and now must make clear to traditionalists that there is no way the BC can be entirely in the daytime like it was a year ago at Keeneland ever again. Between the potential for handle from the Asia-Pacific region and the fact many under 30 only consider championship events to be those contested at night, Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. needs to make it clear the old way will no longer work in the long run and you have to have events when those who are younger want them to be if you want to bring them in.

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My Final Bracketology of the 2015-’16 College Basketball season

My Final Bracketology of 2016 that can be found at: http://toosmarttofail.com/bracketology.html

Let’s just say there are TREMENDOUS differences from what the NCAA Selection Committee in many cases:

The #1 seeds in MY final Bracketology are Kansas (overall #1 seed, South), Michigan State (overall #2, Midwest), North Carolina (overall #3, East) and Oregon (overall #4 seed, West)
Some I’m sure are thinking committee was favoring the ACC, but this was a case of WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??! Michigan State should have been overall #2 seed. With Villanova falling, Oregon on virtue of winning both regular season and Pac-12 tourney titles gets edge for last #1 seed. Have to wonder if Kansas was put in the South Region so they would not have to play on Good Friday and Easter Sunday (March 25 & 27).

#2 seeds are Virginia (#5, South), Villanova (#6, East), West Virginia (#7, West) and Utah (#8, Midwest)
Virginia’s failure to win regular season or conference tourney is why they SHOULD have been a 2 seed. Villanova seeded correctly but I think was put in South region because committee did not want scenario where North Carolina was playing regional final against Villanova on what essentially was a home floor for Nova with their fans dominating the Wells Fargo Center (while Nova could have played in Philly as it’s not their home floor, this to me was a consideration).

#3 seeds are Kentucky (#9, Midwest), Oklahoma (#10, West), Xavier (#11, South) and Seton Hall (#12, East)
Kentucky and Xavier switch spots in seed order on final bracket. Seton Hall seeded MUCH higher here and probably closer to where they should have been. John Callapari’s point about mis-seeding teams applies heavily to both Seton Hall and Gonzaga.

#4 seeds are Purdue (#13, Midwest), Arizona (#14, West), Miami-FL (#15, East) and California (#16, South)
California moved up one seed line here as it would have keet several schools in mine closer to home for sub-regionals. Arizona (another mis-seeded school) can play Oregon in regional semis because they only met twice in regular season.

#5 seeds are Texas A & M (#17, South), Duke (#18, West), Gonzaga (#19, Midwest) and Indiana (#20, East)
Texas A&M was dropped one seed spot in here as it would have kept several schools closer to home. Software I use completely disagreed with committee on Gonzaga, which is MUCH higher (#5 seed vs. actual #11 seed) here. Guessing bottom of West Coast Conference really hurt Gonzaga and St. Mary’s.

#6 seeds are Butler (#21, Midwest), Providence (#22, West), Baylor (#23, South) and Iowa State (#24, East)
Butler and Providence two more mis-seeded schools as Big East is MUCH tougher than many think (Providence could be North Carolina’s worst nightmare in Round 3). Iowa State one seed line higher than I actually have them because they have to play Friday-Sunday.

#7 seeds are Saint Mary’s (#25, South), Vanderbilt (#26, West), Maryland (#27, Midwest) and St. Joseph’s (#28, East)
St. Mary’s one seed line lower here than they actually are in my rankings so they would have stayed closer to home (and I think the Gales would have been happy with that). The two regular season losses to Pepperdine likely did in St. Mary’s and other bad losses within the conference as a whole by others. St. Mary’s should be favored to win NIT. St. Joe’s had wild week, going from second four out after bad loss at home to Duquesne to last 7 seed on this (actual 8 seed) after winning A-10 tourney. Vanderbilt yet another badly mis-seeded school that if they get by Wichita State could be big trouble for equally mis-seeded Arizona.

#8 seeds are VCU (#29, East), Wisconsin (#30, South), UConn (#31, Midwest) and Colorado (#32, West)
UConn’s miracle shot at end of 3rd OT against Cinncinnati vaulted Huskies to American championship and actual 9 seed. UConn should have been only AAC team in the field.

#9 seeds are Fresno State (#33, West), Texas (#34, Midwest), Pittsburgh (#35, South) and Dayton (#36, East)
Fresno State yet ANOTHER BADLY mis-seeded school (actual #14 seed) and probably is Utah’s worst nightmare in Round 2. Could see biggest upset of the tournament with that matchup.

#10 seeds are George Washington (#37, Midwest), San Diego State (#38, South), Northern Iowa (#39, East) and Wichita State (#40, West)
GW and San Diego State should have been in the field (SDSU in particular after winning regular season title in Mountain West). Wichita State would have escaped play-in round in mine.

#11 seeds are St. Bonaventure (#41, East), Notre Dame (#42, Midwest), Georgia (#43, South) and Georgia Tech (#44, West) and Oregon State (#45, West)
This line full of snubs. Committee being slammed by Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade over St. Bonaventure’s snub, Georgia and Georgia Tech also snubbed. Oregon State yet another bad mis-seed (shocked they are on 7 line).

#12 seeds are NC-Wilmington (#46, South), Texas Tech (#47, West) vs Michigan (#48, West), Yale (#49, East) and South Dakota State (#50, Midwest)
Can’t really consider Texas Tech a mis-seed given they were a nine seed as late as Sunday morning here. Michigan deserved to make it.

#13 seeds are Arkansas-Little Rock (#51, South), Hawaii (#52, Midwest), Stephen F. Austin (#53, West) and Iona (#54, East)

#14 seeds are Chattanooga (#55, South), Buffalo (#56, East), Green Bay (#57, Midwest) and Weber State (#58, West)

#15 seeds are Middle Tennessee (#59, West), Stony Brook (#60, East), NC-Ashville (#61, Midwest) and CS-Bakersfield (#62, South)

#16 seeds are Hampton (#63, East), Florida Gulf Coast (#64, Midwest), Austin Peay (#65, South) vs Holy Cross (#68, South) and Southern (#66, West) vs Fairleigh Dickinson (#67, West)

Last four in MY final Bracketology: Georgia Tech, Oregon State, Texas Tech and Michigan
Texas Tech took major fall in my last Bracketology, Michigan did deserve to make the field.

First four out: South Carolina, Valparaiso, Cincinnati and Ole Miss
Cincinnati yet another mis-seeded school (should NOT have been in field at all).

Second four out: Virginia Tech, Davidson, Marquette and Hofstra

Schools NOT in my Bracketolgy that ARE in the NCAA Tournament: Cincinnati, Iowa, Syracuse, Temple, Tulsa and USC
NCAA Committee VERY Charitable with American conference, which got FOUR schools in the field (including likely a make-up bid for Temple that was the first school out last year due to Wyoming winning Mountain West last year). Tulsa did NOT deserve to get in. USC also did not deserve to make field (they are ranked 63rd in the final rankings I do), let alone be a #8 seed. Cincinnati should not have been a #9 seed.

Schools in my Bracketology that are NOT in the NCAA Tournament: Saint Mary’s (#7 seed in my Bracketology), George Washington (#10 seed in mine), San Diego State (#10 seed in mine), St. Bonaventure (#11 seed in mine), Georgia (#11 seed), Georgia Tech (#11 play-in seed)
Saint Mary’s has to be the BIGGEST snub I have seen in the four years I have done this. Noted some of the others on the 10 and 11 lines.

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We Need a 32-Team Playoff in College Football!!

A playoff is something most fans have wanted for years in some way, shape or form to decide the national championship in college football!! While there was four-team playoff in 2014 and will be in 2015, is four teams really sufficient for a playoff?

A four-team playoff finally arrived in 2014, but such has its roots going back a number of years. There is considerable evidence that suggests you could actually need more than that, however:

2009 presented what at the time was the most compelling argument as to why a playoff in college football was needed. That season, were five unbeaten schools (Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinatti and Boise State) at the end of the regular season, along with a sixth (Florida) that as the #1 ranked school in the BCS going into its conference title game had to in that game play the school that was ranked #2 in the BCS (Alabama) going in, losing that game and finishing with one loss (the only school that didn’t finish unbeaten to do so). The problem is, of course is that back then, there was not a playoff. Although there were two unbeaten schools that did play for the national championship on January 7, 2010 at the Rose Bowl, will Alabama ever be truly considered the national champion for 2009 (and for that matter, did Texas have a legitimate claim on the #2 spot that season)? What about the other schools that finished 2009 unbeaten and perhaps even Florida, who was #1 for much of the 2009 season before suffering their only loss against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Didn’t they deserve a shot at proving they should be the national champion?

Even if you had a four-team playoff in 2009, it almost certainly would not have been enough to quell matters. One, if not two of Boise State, Cincinnati and TCU would have been likely left out of the playoff and a one-loss Florida team also might have not made it.

While 2010 didn’t have the controversy of 2009, there still was one big question left unanswered: Did TCU deserve a shot at playing for the national championship, even with unbeaten Auburn and Oregon squads? Then there were the one-loss schools like Stanford (only loss was at Oregon), Boise State (only loss was in overtime via two missed field goals to a Nevada squad that would have finished unbeaten themselves and would have been in the argument that they deserved to go to the Rose Bowl over TCU were it not for a loss at Hawaii), or the three Big 10 co-champions in Wisconsin (only loss was at Michigan State), Ohio State (only loss was at Wisconsin) and Michigan State (only loss was at Iowa), especially since Ohio State and Michigan State did not play each other in the regular season.

While TCU would have almost certainly been in a four-team playoff in 2010, who would have joined them? Stanford would have been the most likely based on the fact their ONLY loss was at Oregon, however, there serveral other compelling arguments. Even with an eight-team playoff in that scenario, one of Boise State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Nevada and Wisconsin would NOT have made the field of eight. That by itself makes the argument for a field of at least 16.

2011 had the argument of whether Alabama should have been allowed to play in the BCS Title Game against fellow SEC West member LSU, whom they lost to at home in overtime by a 9-6 score on November 5. There are those who feel Alabama should never have been allowed to play against LSU in the title game, especially as Oklahoma State finished third because Oklahoma State’s only loss (at Iowa State on November 19) came on the day the team found out about the death of the Women’s Basketball coach and an assistant in a plane crash and because LSU had to play an extra game, the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta where they defeated Georgia that December 3. A four-team playoff probably would have settled that as LSU and Oklahoma State would have played each other in one of two semi-finals.

2012 did leave us with one eligible unbeaten in Notre Dame, plus an Ohio State squad that also finished unbeaten but was on probation and not eligible for postseason play. Georgia, however, took a one-loss Alabama squad to the wire in the SEC Championship Game and you also had a one-loss Florida squad in the SEC East that some feel is just as good as both Alabama and Georgia. Meanwhile, out west, the argument could be made that Pac-12 champion Stanford (whose only losses were on the road to Washington and in overtime to Notre Dame) and Pac-12 North runner-up Oregon (whose only loss was to Stanford, also in overtime) also deserve a chance to prove they are champions. There, you would have needed at least an eight team playoff.

2013 had the controversy of whether or not a one-loss team in the SEC Champion deserved to jump over an Ohio State team that had not lost in two years for the right to play in the BCS Championship game prior to Michigan State beating the Buckeyes, and then the argument by some that Michigan State was “Golden Domed” in their only loss of the year at Notre Dame with questionable calls by the officials in the eyes of some. There also could have been the argument of whether or not Alabama would have deserved to play Florida State in the BCS Championship game if Missouri had defeated Auburn in the SEC Championship game because of what many still consider a freak play that did in the Crimson Tide against Auburn. Again, you would likely have needed an eight-team playoff.

2014 had the situation where The Big 12 named Baylor and TCU co-champions when both in all reality deserved to make the playoff. There not being a conference championship game in the Big 12 hurt them, especially in the eyes of many because the Big 12 in quite a few opinions was too scared to simply name Baylor the champion.

While we now have a four-team playoff, even that in many years likely is not enough to settle most, if not all of these arguments, especially if like in 2009 we wound up with five unbeatens and a sixth that for all intents and purposes could have been considered unbeaten.

This is why we need a 32-team playoff in college football!!

As most people who follow college football know, the college Presidents were in the way of there being any form of a real playoff in what is now the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly Division 1-A) for varying reasons, and until allowing a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 continued to be. While most believe it has been about money and the fear of dividing it up between schools that currently don’t get to take in the lions share of the Bowl revenue (other than the “BCS Busters” in the days before the top “non-power five” school was guaranteed a berth in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game), what is not often said is there is a very small, but in some cases extremely vocal group of professors who are completely anti-sports in some instances that the same Presidents may very well be concerned about making very angry if a playoff beyond the four-school playoff now in place ever happened in the FBS division of college football, and if so perhaps concerned that such in academia would attempt to stage protests with others who are not exactly fond of big-time college sports and have no understanding of the importance of such. This is why even getting a four-team playoff for now is very important, although it is far from perfect and will eventually need to be expanded.

Those in charge in late 2009 went as far as to launch a website called Playoff Problem (that site no longer exists), showing in their minds WHY a playoff would not work, ranging from scheduling to hurting what had been the existing bowl system. A 32-team playoff can easily be overcome with the existing bowl system only having some tweaking, the exact method of which will come up as this moves along.

There already was tweaking for a playoff this season in College Football that began in 2014. Most notably, this now has the “New Years Six” bowl games, the four former Bowl Championship Series games in the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls plus the Cotton Bowl and Peach (known for years as the Chick-Fil-A) Bowl, among what were long considered the top non-BCS Bowl games now added. Three of the games that are not part of the playoff in 2014-’15 (in this case the Fiesta, Rose and Orange Bowls) will be played on New Year’s Day while the Peach Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve with the two playoff games (Cotton and Orange Bowls) also being played New Year’s Eve (even though such games could have been played on Saturday, January 2) because of the Rose Bowl’s likely refusal to either move off its traditional date or at least be pushed back to a night game (most likely a 6:00-6:30 PM local time kickoff) to accommodate the playoff games being played on New Year’s Day.

One noticible change that occurred with last year’s four-team playoff and was continuing this year was talk of strength of schedule playing into who deserves the four spots. While that may be good for college football right now, if we get a year like 2009 where we have multiple unbeatens, you could easily have one of more not make it, especially in years you have the SEC as strong as it is for example where multiple teams deserve to make it. And then there were schools like Houston, who were it not for a loss at Connecticuit on November 21 would have finished 2015 unbeaten but may not have had any chance to make a playoff because of a weak schedule. What do you have done if Houston had gone unbeaten?

It’s another reason why a playoff in college football involving 32 teams would be best. Such a playoff would require further tweaking with the schedule, with most notably the regular season for FBS schools would begin one week earlier than it currently does (meaning the season would begin in most years on the last full weekend in August) and in most years also end one week earlier than it usually does, with in those years that being Thanksgiving week. While in most years this would force some traditional Thanksgiving rivalry games to other parts of the season where the team(s) involved are in conferences that would have to move (in most years) their conference championship games up to Thanksgiving week, it is a trade-off that would be well worth it, especially since in those years it would also mean there would be an additional week of College Football at the beginning of the season where it only has to compete with NFL Preseason games and Baseball, and in most years the first weekend of college football also not having to compete with the US Open Tennis Championships. It should be noted that in years where Thanksgiving is not on the last Thursday in November, that would not be the case and the schedule would remain as it is now.

The following are questions were originally asked in late 2009 on playoffproblem.com (again, the site no longer exists) concerning a playoff, with answers immediately following the questions:

1. Who would participate?
As proposed here, a field of 32 schools, mainly using then-existing BCS and now the College Football Playoff formula (with limited exceptions). In this proposal, the College Football Playoff Top 25 would be expanded to a College Football Playoff Top 40 to as best possible assure at least one school in all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences has a ranking.

The question you may ask is why a 32-team playoff, when many have suggested an eight or 16-team playoff? There is a simple reason that 32 looks to be the right number:

A 32-team playoff gives everyone who even remotely deserves a shot at the national championship the chance to play for it!!

That is the overriding factor of this proposal! While a 32-team field will allow some four-loss teams and sometimes even a five-loss team (that has played a very difficult schedule) into the field, it does give the top teams some early round tests that as long as they pass allow them to advance and play in what would be four regional finals, in this case rotated between what are now the “New Years Six” bowl games, while at the same time allow schools to may have had a key injury to their squads early on the chance to redeem themselves and earn their way up the ladder the hard way, by playing on the road in the first two rounds if they get that far.

  1. How many automatic qualifiers?

    The 10 FBS conference champions would receive automatic bids. With those automatic bids also comes a guarantee of no lower than a #4 seed and with that, the guarantee of playing at least a first round game at home. With allowances for special circumstances (i.e.: an extremely strong conference or where conference co-champions did not play each other in the regular season), the top five conference champions (who would be seeded #1 or #2 in each of four regions, this was top six conference champions prior to 2014) would usually be guaranteed to play first and second round games at home (provided they advance to the second round). There would also be criteria that would guarantee any independents (Army, BYU, Navy, and Notre Dame) who, as long as they meet such critieria getting in with the treatment of a conference champion (that will be explained in greater detail in the next segment).

  2. What would be the criteria to qualify?
    The criteria would be, as noted to win your conference and not only be guaranteed a berth in a 32-playoff, but the right to host at least a first round game if not a second round game (provided you win your first-round game) in addition. There would also be 22 at-large bids, however, the independent schools could turn an at-large bid into an automatic one by doing any of the following:

    1. Win a minimum of nine games and have at least a .750 win percentage and not be in the final College Football Playoff Top 40. This simply guarantees a berth into the field, which can be the lowest overall seed and having to play at the overall #1 seed in the first round.

    2. Win at least eight games, have at least a .650 win percentage and also be in the College Football Playoff Top 40. The same rules as #1 would apply otherwise, however.

    3. Home field advantage for a first-round game for an independent would be given for winning at least 10 games, have at least an .800 win percentage and finish in the College Football Playoff Top 25.

    4. Home field advantage for first and second-round games for an independent that wins at least 11 games, has at least a .900 win percentage and finishing in the College Football Playoff Top 12 OR finishing unbeaten (for at least an 11 game season) and in the College Football Playoff Top 20. If more than two independents meet this criteria, then the top two independents in the College Football Playoff standings would be guaranteed the second home game, should they advance past the first round.

    Excluding independents who meet any of the above criteria, the at-large bids to fill out the field of 32 would solely be determined by the final College Football Playoff Standings, which would again be expanded to a Top 40 for that purpose.

  3. What would be the criteria for seedings?
    The seedings would be determined in the following manner:

    1. The top BCS ranked school would be the overall #1 seed, with the remaining three of four #1 seeds (as there would be four regions) then determined, with preference given to a conference champion in the College Football Playoff Top 10, although there would be limited exceptions to allow for a very strong conference, especially where teams in the College Football Playoff Top 5 have to play each other in a conference title game before any playoff began. The four #2 seeds would then be determined in a similar manner, usually set up to where if the #1 and #2 seeds meet in any of the four College Football Playoff games (that in this case would serve as quarterfinals/regional finals), again, now in a rotation of the new “New Years Six” Bowl games. It would be set up so the overall #1 seed would face the weakest of the four #2 seeds, the next strongest #1 seed faces the next weakest #2 seed, etc. (Note: In years where it is part of the playoff, the Rose Bowl when realistically possible would be set up so the Big 10 and Pac-12 Champions would play in the game should their respective champions win their first and second round games unless both conference champions are worthy of a #1 seed).

    2. The four #1 and four #2 seeds would be guaranteed to host first and second-round playoff games, provided they win their first round games. Schools with a #3 seed would be guaranteed to host a first round playoff game, with the chance to host a second round game should either the #1 or #2 seed be upset in the first round, while schools with a #4 seed would also host a first round game with the opportunity to play at home in the second round should both the #1 and #2 OR one of the top two seeds and the #3 seed be upset in the first round.

    3. Conference champions that finish in the College Football Playoff Standings between 16-25 would be guaranteed at worst a #3 seed and a first-round home game (unless multiple independents and at-large schools that meet criteria noted above make it in on such and would be seeded ahead of such a conference champion to where such a school would have to drop to a #4 seed, but still be guaranteed a home game).

    4. Conference champions that finish between 26-32 would be guaranteed a higher #4 seed and a first-round home game, while such champions that finish outside the College Football Playoff Top 32 would only be guaranteed a #4 seed that can be the #16 overall seed and the first round home game that comes with it.

    Note on seeding: Schools from the same conference would not be allowed to play each other before the second round except for where the overall #1 seed is playing the overall #32 seed AND then if two such instances are necessary, the overall #2 seed playing the overall #31 seed OR its a situation where the schools are in the same conference BUT DID NOT play each other in the regular season (whether they are in different divisions or otherwise) NOR did they play each other in the conference championship game OR it’s a situation where nine or more schools from the same conference have made the field of 32.

  4. Where would the games be played?
  5. When would the games be played?

    These will be answered together:

    In this format, the first two rounds would be played at home sites.

    In most years, the first round would be played on the week after Thanksgiving, most likely with at least two games on Thursday, two on Friday and the others all on Saturday. The earliest starting date for the first round of the playoffs, however, would be where December 1 falls on a Thursday, meaning in years where Thanksgiving falls on November 22 or 23, the week after Thanksgiving would still be regular season and conference championship games with the following week (beginning with December 6 or 7) being the first round of the playoffs. This would be done to best assure there would not be playoff games during finals at most schools, or if there are, there would be minimal impact on finals at worst.

    After in most years a one-week break (in part to account for finals and in part to allow for schools to more easily make arrangements) the second round would be played on the week after the Heisman Trophy presentation. This most likely would have at least one game on Thursday, two on Friday and the rest on Saturday. For the second round, the lowest remaining seed in a region would play the highest remaining seed, while the two other seeds would simply play each other (for example, if the #1, #3 and #4 seeds all win their first-round games in a region, but a #2 seed is upset by a #7 seed in the first round, for the second round the #1 seed would play the #7 seed while the #3 seed would host the #4 seed).

    The existing bowls would still be played in this format, but as noted above with some tweaking:

    First round losers along with schools that failed to make the 32-team playoff field would play in the lower tier bowls (provided they are eligible), with the higher-seeded first round losers getting the better of those bowl games. This would include the four of the six non-“New Years Six” Bowl Games listed as being in the rotation for “second round loser” games (below) when they are not hosting such games. These would usually get the highest eight overall seeds that lost first-round games (though adjusted to reflect true seedings since conference champions are guaranteed no worse than a #4 seed in the playoff). The other four games that would host the rest of the first round losers would usually be the Belk, Pinstripe, San Francisco and Sun Bowls.

    Second round losers would play in ONE of the two “New Years Six” Bowl games NOT being used for playoff games in this incarnation OR in one of the top two non-College Football Playoff Bowl games. The other two games hosting second round losers would be rotated among what are considered to be the top six non-“New Years Six” Bowl games after the Cotton and Peach Bowl became part of the “New Years Six” Bowl games. The likely rotation of the non-CFB Playoff Bowl games that would be used for second-round losers:

    Year 1: Citrus (formerly Capital One) Bowl and Alamo Bowl (with the Sugar and Rose Bowls the other “second round loser” Bowl Games)

    Year 2:
    Liberty Bowl and Holiday Bowl (with the Cotton and Orange Bowls the other “second round loser” Bowl Games)

    Year 3:
    Outback Bowl and Indepenence Bowl (with the Fiesta and Peach Bowls the other “second round loser” Bowl Games)

    (Note: When the Rose Bowl is a “second round loser” Bowl game, that game whenever possible would pit a Big 10 against a Pac-12 school as long as both are in the top four ranked of the “second round losers”)

    Meanwhile, the second round winners would move on to what are the current College Football Playoff/”New Years Six” Bowl games, which would be played as they are now over the New Year’s period. The only significant difference for the existing College Football Playoff Bowl games is that there would now be essentially be two four-team mini-tournaments (making up the first two rounds) that would determine each of the participants for what would now be considered regional finals, with the regions broken up as follows in the following rotation:

    Year 1: East — Orange Bowl, South — Peach Bowl, Midwest — Cotton Bowl, West — Fiesta Bowl (Sites of Sugar and Rose Bowls host semifinal games)

    Year 2:
    East — Peach Bowl, South — Sugar Bowl, Midwest — Fiesta Bowl, West — Rose Bowl (Sites of Cotton and Orange Bowls host semifinal games)

    Year 3:
    East — Orange Bowl, South — Sugar Bowl, Midwest — Cotton Bowl, West — Rose Bowl (Sites of Fiesta and Peach Bowls host semifinal games)

    The Championship Game would be rotated between the “New Years Six” sites, designed so each “New Years Six” site would host two semifinal games and one championship game in a six-year span. Years when “New Years Six” Bowl Games are for the top second round losers are when the sites of those games host the national semifinals.

Using what were the College Football Playoffs and adding in Conference Champions not in the final College Football Playoff Top 25, below is what the first-round games would look like if such were in effect following the final Top 25 being released:

Peach Bowl Region (East)
#8 Georgia (31) at #1 Clemson (1)
#7 Utah (26) at #2 Houston (8)
#6 LSU (24) at #3 Ohio State (9)
#5 Ole Miss (17) at #4 Arkansas State (16)

Sugar Bowl Region (South)
#8 BYU (31) at #1 Alabama (2)
#7 Tennessee (25) at #2 Notre Dame (7)
#6 Baylor (22) at #3 Florida State (10)
#5 Northwestern (18) at #4 San Diego State (15)

Rose Bowl Region (West)
#8 Wisconsin (29) at #1 Michigan State (3)
#7 Navy (25) at #2 Stanford (6)
#6 Oklahoma State (21) at #3 North Carolina (11)
#5 Michigan (19) at #4 Bowling Green (14)

Fiesta Bowl Region (Midwest)
#8 USC (29) at #1 Oklahoma (4)
#7 Temple (28) at #2 Iowa (5)
#6 Florida (23) at #3 Western Kentucky (12)
#5 Oregon (20) at #4 TCU (13)

(Note: Since the sites of the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl would serve as the sites of the national semifinal games, the actual bowl games would in this case play host between them the top four second round losers as noted in the rotation above)

Notes concerning the seedings and other things for 2015-’16

1. After the College Football Playoff Top 25 is exhausted, in this case the rankings in the various polls (dipping into “others receiving votes” if necessary) are used to determine the remaining schools.

2. Houston is a #2 seed as the top “Group of Five” conference champion, taking into account their only loss at UConn was when they had key injuries and UConn needed that win to become bowl eligible.

3. Western Kentucky is the lowest of the #3 seeds based on being ranked #25 in the final AP poll, with TCU as a result dropped to a #4 seed. The other three “Group of Five” champions are the other #4 seeds as such are guaranteed a home game for winning their conference championships. Those overall seedings are based on their rankings (in order “others receiving votes”).

4. Florida is jumped ahead of Oklahoma State and Baylor in the seeding order because the latter two can not play TCU in the first round.

5. Navy is dropped two spots in the seeding order because they can not play Houston in the first round AND Navy already played at Notre Dame this season (such return trips in the first round are avoided whenever possible). As a result, Utah and Tennessee each move up one spot in the seeding order.

6. BYU is an automatic qualifier as an independent with nine wins and a .750 win percentage. They are actually the lowest overall seed in the field.

7. Georgia is the last school in the field of 32. The are playing the overall #1 seed in Clemson even though they are actually seeded ahead of BYU due to the fact Georgia can not play Alabama in the first round.

8. Navy’s spot is tentative as the Midshipmen still have to play Army on December 12. If they lose that game, they would fall out and Washington State would replace Navy in the field. Washington State would become the lowest seed in the field in that scenario and play Clemson in the first round (BYU would stay where they are as BYU is ranked overall ahead of Washington State) and other seeds would move up.

The breakdown of teams in the field by conference:
Big 10: 6 (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin)
6 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee)
Big 12:
4 (Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU)
4 (Oregon, Stanford, USC and Utah)
3 (Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina)
American Athletic Conference:
3 (Houston, Navy and Temple)
2 (Notre Dame and BYU)
Mountain West:
1 (San Diego State)
Conference USA:
1 (Western Kentucky)
1 (Bowling Green)
Sun Belt:
1 (Arkansas State)

The “New Years Six” Bowl (Regional Final) winners would advance to the national semifinals. The two national semifinal games would as noted be hosted by the “New Years Six” Bowl Games whose actual games in those years are “second round loser” Bowl Games. In most years, the two semifinal games would be in prime time during the week in between the NFL Wild Card and Divisional Playoffs (though in 2015 it would be the Monday and Tuesday between the Divisional Playoffs and NFL Conference Championship games), with exact dates depending on the calendar and when the BCS Bowls are actually played. One seminal would have the lowest remaining overall seed playing the highest remaining overall seed, with the other two schools remaining playing in the other semifinal (as will be the case in the actual playoff in January 2015). The exact dates of each game would be determined based on when the current BCS bowl games are played. For this purpose for January 2015, assuming the top seed in each region wins their respective BCS Bowl game, The first national semifinal would be played on Monday, January 12 with the second national semifinal played the next night, Tuesday, January 13.

The winners of the two national semifinal games would then play for the national championship, which in most years would be scheduled in this format for the Saturday night preceding the NFL conference championship games, however, because of how the calendar falls, in 2015 only the championship game would be played on the Sunday night between the NFL Conference Championship games and Super Bowl (in this case, on Sunday, January 25). As noted above, the national championship game (and possibly a third place game between the semifinal losers the night before) would be rotated between the sites of the “Big Six” Bowl Games to where each game hosts two semifinal and one championship game during a six-year period.

This is likely the most fair way to decide the national championship in college football. The fact that the “Power Five” conferences would be (in most years) guaranteed of at least their conference champions getting two extra home games (provided such win their first round game) would be enough of an incentive to overcome opposition from the college Presidents, especially since it would still be set up where in most years, the “Power Five” would get a massive percentage of what likely would be a much bigger revenue pie than even now with a four-team playoff in place. This would be especially since most, if not all of the existing bowl games would still be played as in this format, all 32 playoff participants would also be guaranteed a bowl game (and a “Big Six” Bowl if they win their first and second round matcups or even in some cases if they lose their second round game) in addition to at least one playoff game, with the chance to advance to play for the national title if they continue to win games.

While there would be the risk of a three or four-loss team winning the championship, they would still likely have to beat the overall #1 seed on the road in one of the first two rounds. That risk is well worth taking because any school that pulled that off would in all likelihood have to do the hard way in winning (in most years) first and second round games on the road before reaching a “New Years Six” Bowl game. Especially in a year like 2009 that saw the regular season end with five unbeaten schools (and a sixth with only one loss that came in a conference title game where the top two teams in the former Bowl Championship Series standings that were both undefeated going in met), a 32-team playoff would be the best way in all likelihood to give most fans what they really want:

A TRUE national champion!!

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While Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. considers Lexington “The New Standard” of being a Breeders’ Cup host, why that is not good enough

As we officially move into the Holiday season for 2015, some more thoughts on what happened at the end of last month at Keeneland as a Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 25) article at The Paulick Report noted Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. considers Lexington the new standard for host cities:

That part is no surprise, given Lexington and Keeneland went to great lengths to make this Breeders’ Cup as positive an experience as possible.  The problems, as previously noted in three different blogs (Nov. 1, Nov. 2, and Nov. 19) were heavily masked by this Breeders’ Cup including the final start for American Pharoah in the Classic.  Lexington may have turned out to be a great host city and Keeneland may be a great place to host the Breeders’ Cup, but as clearly noted in the last of the three earlier blogs linked to, there are things BC Ltd. and Keeneland failed to realize have changed with our society in general.  The biggest is the fact many under 30 in particular have grown accustomed to championship events being at night.

While many older (especially baseball fans) long for the days we had World Series games and other championship events in the daytime, the fact is, people are busier than ever and if they are up in the daytime on a weekend, it often is for organized activities and other things that can’t be done during the week.  That is just one reason why every championship event in the “Big Four” pro sports starting with Game 2 of the 1991 NBA Finals has been at night (Game 1 of the ’91 Finals was the last to this day in the daytime). A lot of it, however, can be traced to a Supreme Court decision in 1984.

That decision, which ended the NCAA’s monopoly on College Football broadcasts would have a massive ripple effect few have ever realized on all of sports.  Except for Game 6 in 1987, that would wind up being the last year a World Series game played outside the Pacific Time Zone started in the afternoon, with every World Series game since played at night.  This was in part because of the sudden explosion of college football broadcasts that began with the 1984 season making it so the sheer number of games airing made it difficult for even the World Series to gain traction in many cases, especially in areas where especially today college football is actually bigger than the NFL, for many years now considered to be the 800-pound gorilla of sports.  From there, the other major pro sports leagues and even college sports in the US followed suit if they hadn’t already.  It’s at the point where if you turn(ed) 30 years old in the second half of 2015 or in the first half of 2016, you were no older than five in most cases when we last had a championship game in any of the major US sports in the daytime.

This is where Keeneland and Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. failed with what otherwise was especially for those actually at Keeneland in most cases a highly successful Breeders’ Cup.  As noted in all three blogs, overall handle wound up being down on this BC by 2.4% from 2014, which as noted in my November 19 blog should have been up given factors noted in prior blogs.  The facts that Friday’s BC Races were when many were still at work, Saturday’s BC Races started when many were still asleep or otherwise having stuff that can only be done on Saturday afternoon in many cases and the loss of wagering from Hong Kong due to the BC being in the daytime in the US were the three major contributing factors.  Another was that even NFL discussion in many cases was drowned out by the fact the Mets were in the World Series, which especially in New York dominated sports talk radio to the point where it was difficult for other sports to get anything in and Breeders’ Cup with very limited exceptions was nonexistent.

Part of the problem was when Keeneland was awarded the 2015 BC, the World Series was expected to be one week earlier (with the 2015 MLB season likely beginning March 30-31 and the regular season ending on September 27) given Major League Baseball being adamant in the past about not wanting World Series games in November.   The entire season (except for the All-Star Game) likely wound up one week later due to Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia the week the MLB season would have ended if it had been like it were expected in all likelihood for the same reasons NFL Commissioner Roger Godell was specifically asked by the Archbishop of Philadelphia to not have the Eagles play at home the week of the Pope’s visit.   That led to the scenario we wound up having and why once it was known the World Series was on the same days as the Breeders’ Cup, the BC should have been moved back one week, especially given races major races in Japan are later on the calendar this year than in years past.   If Keeneland had lights, the Breeders’ Cup could easily have been pushed back one week, which would have worked better for everyone involved.

Given all the factors at play noted in earlier blogs, even with shorter fields and heavy favorites in a few BC races, overall handle on this Breeders’ Cup should not only have been up (it actually was up 2.5% on track), it should have been up substantially and most likely by double-digit percentage points.  While there are those who argue for instance the scratch of Beholder from the Breeders’ Cup Classic cost some handle that is true to some extent, even if that had not happened and every race drew a full field of 14, handle likely at best would only have been even with last year because of the other factors at play.

The TV rating also when looking beyond the headline showed where things went wrong.  Regardless of the time of day this BC took place, American Pharoah being in the BC Classic was going to result in a sharp ratings increase.  The rating in fact was up 53% from 2014 because of this, however, that in this case was likely misleading as most, if not all of that increase likely came from those 50 and over who do not matter to advertisers.  Advertisers care about those 18-49, and that rating likely at best was only up slightly from 2014 (when the BC telecast was in prime time at Santa Anita).  Had this BC been both in a week later (November 6-7) and in prime time, preferably to 11:00 PM Eastern Time, the overall TV rating for this BC would likely have been at least double what it actually was even airing opposite LSU-Alabama on CBS (the 2011 meeting between the schools actually set precedents that allow Comcast to actually force a track that doesn’t have lights to install such so the BC can air well into prime time).  18-49 would likely have seen its number jump substantially and 18-34 likely would have rocketed up even more given Millennials (who make up the entire 18-34 demo) in most cases have grown up with championship events being exclusively at night.  Add to that the fact the November 7 edition of Saturday Night Live that was hosted by Donald Trump brought NBC nine million viewers, the most for “SNL” since January 7, 2012 (when it was following an NFL Playoff doubleheader) and the overall rating for the Breeders’ Cup on NBC likely would have been up at least triple what it was (or approximately 160%), especially with American Pharoah’s BC Classic start likely in that scenario going off around 10:40 PM Eastern Time.  Those numbers could have been even higher with key demographics that likely would have tuned in earlier to NBC to see American Pharoah in the BC Classic if it were less than an hour before Mr. Trump hosted “SNL” that Saturday night.

The fact there was no thought given by BC Ltd. to insist Keeneland install lights so the BC could have been a week later nor considering if necessary moving the event once it was known in September 2014 the World Series was going to be the same week as the BC shows how in my view Breeders’ Cup, Ltd. was short-sighted in that regard.  Not being flexible in this case cost BC Ltd. a chance to link the BC Classic to Mr. Trump hosting “SNL,” as I suspect with both events being less than an hour apart, NBC would likely in my opinion have been looking at doing some serious cross-promotion that easily could have included “SNL” cast members promoting American Pharoah’s final start.  That was a blown opportunity for a sport that needs to make its own breaks if it wants to be relevant outside of the Triple Crown events in the mainstream.  It’s also why the Breeders’ Cup needs to join the rest of the sports world that has its major events at night and do the same, no matter how many (especially those older) want everything to stay as it is.

Lexington, KY and Keeneland may want to host the Breeders’ Cup again, but to do so, it has to be made clear lights will have to be installed so the BC can go to 11:00 PM Eastern Time if Keeneland is hosting the events.  Traditionalists may not want lights at Keeneland, but the fact is, societal changes as a whole coupled with many other factors are why this will have to be done, with BC Ltd. having to require any BC host have lights for racing at night in the future no matter how many scream and moan about it.

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