Part II – A Modest Proposal Posted – 12/16/01 at InsideCarolina.com
Part III – A Modest Proposal Posted – 12/21/01 at InsideCarolina.com
Part IV – A Modest Proposal Posted – 1/4/02 at InsideCarolina.com
The First Round Schedule
The first 16 games will be played over the Christmas- New Years weekends. Play begins the Friday night of the Christmas weekend, with two night games, at 7 and 9:30. The late game will come from the west coast and mountain time zones whenever possible, so they do not have to actually play the game too late into the night.
After the matchups are made, the primary goal of the selection committee is to move seeded teams into the closest regional site. A key issue will be to try to get the highest seeded teams into the first four days of scheduling so there are enough good teams to schedule a full slate of four New Years Day games just a week later.
A second scheduling goal is to avoid head to head competition with the pro football play-offs being played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons wherever possible. This accounts for spreading the games across the weeknight schedule, during prime time, since so many people are off throughout the holiday week, and they are an eager and ready audience for prime time programming in an event of this magnitude. It also is designed to allow fans to travel to the playoff locations during a week most people traditionally take off as vacation.
Broadcast schedules would by necessity have to be shared between two or even three major networks. No one network could afford to shut off their prime time programming for an entire week to carry the playoffs, so a shared schedule makes perfect sense.
This illustrative schedule laid out is for the 2001 Christmas season. It uses the BCS rankings to determine the top 15 teams. The AP top 25 rankings (including the unranked teams which drew votes in the category "Others receiving votes" determine a pool of the next 17 ranked teams. Assuming the role of the NCAA Playoff Committee, I took the liberty of creating the first round contests that would result from applying the Non-Seeded Matchup process, using the principles of creating the most interesting matchups regardless of where the schools were ranked.
For fairness, I did try to match teams in the bottom eight of the field of 32 with teams in the top eight to avoid too wide a disparity in first round fairness to the top seeded teams. However, there does not appear to be a huge difference in the qualities of the teams grouped in categories 17-24 and 25-32 regarding their potential for matchups. Other scheduling requirements were to not match teams from the same conference or out of conference teams that had played previously during the season, until that was necessitated by the final rounds.
Friday, Dec. 21st
#1 Miami (11-0) vs. #31 Texas A&M (7-4)
9:30 (Eastern Standard Time) Florida Field, Gainesville (83,000), FL
Big East - Big12 matchup should draw decent television interest in a first round event because of A&M's solid historical reputation, and the location in Florida should draw a reasonable crowd.
#16 South Carolina (8-3) vs. #28 North Carolina (7-5)
7:00 (Eastern Standard Time) Ericsson Stadium, Charlotte (72,250), NC
This is a perfect example of the type of creative scheduling that will fill stadiums for first round games, stir high fan interest in the otherwise quiet period in which there would be little football news, and create television ratings because of rivalry or human interest angles on first round games. Playing the game in Charlotte guarantees easy access, and a virtual sellout because of the nearby fan base. While a middle of the pack seed like South Carolina would typically play a much higher seed, how much difference is there really between #28 UNC and #18 Syracuse or #19 Marshall? Scheduling for emotional, colorful match ups benefits everyone in the process, providing higher fan interest and better value for the fan's entertainment dollar.
Saturday, Dec. 22nd
#2 Florida (11-1) vs. #29 NC State (7-4)
9:30 (EST) Sugar Bowl (79,280), New Orleans, LA
An ACC vs. SEC matchup which always stirs interest in the South, and will draw a strong crowd from both schools in a great party town, which is a plus to encourage the fans from both schools to make the road trip, especially those folks from Florida who are jaded by playing in the national championship game every couple of years. A major angle here is the rival match up of long time Florida State assistant, and now Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato, against golden boy Steve Spurrier. The fact that Amato recruits Florida so heavily gives the game extra importance.
#15 Georgia (8-3) vs. #17 Michigan (8-3)
7:00 (EST) Citrus Bowl Stadium (70,188), Orlando, FL
The tourist destination site Orlando will draw a large number of Michigan fans, and Georgia is a short drive away. Orlando will likely be a play off site in several rounds each year because of the draw of Disney World to bring in fans who will travel there, and the stadium capacity can be increased to 100,000 with that kind of guarantee for three games a year.
Sunday, Dec. 23rd – No Games Because of Pro Football Play-offs
Monday, Dec 24th
#3 Texas (10-1) vs. #30 Boston College (7-4)
7:00 (EST) Alamo Dome (65,000) San Antonio, Tx.
Boston College brings the northeast television market to the table, and the stadium should be easily filled by the Longhorn faithful. San Antonio is a great tourist destination Christmas week.
#14 Washington (8-3) vs. #22 Louisiana State (8-3)
9:30 (EST) Stanford Stadium (85,500), CA
The fact that virtually all the West coast play off teams are from the same conference limits the ability to try and schedule a location where both fan bases can travel easily to the game, therefore this match up is for television, and weighs in the traveling ability of the Washington fan base on a short trip for the higher ranked team as a reward for a higher ranking.
This is a terrific match up of two historical football programs that will draw great television numbers nationally because of the reputations.
Tuesday, Dec 25th
#4 Nebraska (11-1) vs. #26 Arkansas (7-4)
7:00 (EST) Trans World Dome (66,000), St. Louis, MO
A good match up between major conferences in a central location that will assure a good fan representation from both schools. This should be a solid television draw for a first round game.
#13 Washington State (9-2) vs. #18 Syracuse (9-3)
9:30 (EST) 3 Com Park (70,140), San Francisco, CA
East vs. West to pull in television audiences from both coasts on two well regarded teams. The proximity of Washington State to the stadium and the attractiveness of Frisco as a Christmas holiday destination should fill the stadium.
Wednesday, Dec 26th
#5 Oregon (10-1) vs. #32 Fresno State (10-2)
7:00 (EST) Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA (72,500)
Fresno State has established itself as the team you love to hate, populated by academic exceptions, with the kamikaze kick off bomber who has hospitalized two players with dirty hits, it is football's version of the Taliban. This could be marketed very effectively for both television and for stadium attendance,
#12 Brigham Young (11-0) vs. #27 Georgia Tech (7-4)
7:00 (EST) Alltel Stadium (73,000), Jacksonville, FL
Footballs will fill the air as two high-powered offenses clash in a contest of East vs. West style offenses. The Florida location is an attempt to offset weakness in the BYU traveling base, and a lack of West coast teams ranked below them to match them against in a West coast location.
Thursday, Dec 27th
#6 Tennessee (9-2) vs. #24 Virginia Tech (8-3)
9:30 (EST) Ericsson Stadium, Charlotte (72,250), NC
A solid match up of two regional rivals who have not played in years despite their close geographical proximity. The close proximity of both schools to Charlotte and large fan bases make a ticket to Ericsson Stadium the hottest ticket in the Carolinas for the second week in a row. The recent football successes of these two programs will create a big draw for television as well.
#11 Maryland (10-1) vs. #20 Auburn (8-3)
7:00 (EST) Georgia Dome (71,228), Atlanta, GA
Not every first round game can have a gimmick story to sell the game, but this one has Ralph Friedgen's "Miracle on 34th Street" story, which makes it a prime time Christmas special. Add to that a house packed with the hordes from the City on the Plains just up the road and you have a special event.
Friday, Dec 28th
#7 Colorado vs. (9-2) vs. #23 Ohio State (7-4)
9:30 (EST) Qualcomm Stadium (73,400), San Diego, CA
Colorado is not near any domed or good weather stadiums, so if they have to travel, make it a good tourist destination. The Ohio State fans should travel well to the West coast for a Christmas trip out of the cold. This makes for a great television matchup, two high profile programs that draw well, especially when marketed on the springboard of their season ending huge upsets against heavily favored opponents.
7:00 (EST) California Stadium (74,909), Berkley, CA
Louisville is a tough sell, therefore it is prudent to put the game in Stanford's back yard and hope it draws well for the Cardinal.
Saturday, Dec 29th
#8 Illinois (10-1) vs. #19 Marshall (10-1)
7:00 (EST) Silverdome (80,311), Pontiac, MI
David vs. Goliath hook for television, the little MAC champ that never gets any respect vs. the perennial Big 10 power, played in a domed stadium within a reasonable enough trip of both schools to assure a sell out, as Marshall fans demonstrate that hope continues to triumph over reality, at least in early December. The RCA Dome in Indianapolis would be closer but is 20,000 seats ($1 million dollars in revenue) short.
#9 Oklahoma (9-2) vs. # 21 Florida State (7-4)
9:30 (EST) Superdome (70,200), New Orleans, LA
Rematch of last year's national championship game, it should play very well on television as a big draw for a first round game, and the central location in a big party town will be a big draw for a fan base known to be big party people. They arrive a week after the Gator fans held their first round party.
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The Games - The Sweet Sixteen Posted – 1/8/02 at InsideCarolina.com