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THE THREAD [05.19.08] :: Fallout

At the beginning of the weekend, everyone knew that the stakes would be high as the Gamecocks baseball team took the field. Win the Tennessee series and South Carolina would likely be headed to Hoover. (Yay small-town Alabama!!!)

And Reese Havens -- who else? -- clinched the trip to Hoover with a walk-off HR.

He probably couldn't stave off the end of the Sarge's days as South Carolina's home field.

There could still be another Gamecocks home game, but that seems unlikely. Barring a big turn of events, the late-season swoon will send them on the road for the NCAA tournament.

South Carolina could sweep through the SEC tourney and make a strong bid, but even then it's far from a lock.

Probably gone, but not forgotten.

On to LSU.

While we're on baseball, a quick nod to Justin Smoak, a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy.

Mission accomplished? Reactions and links to A Modest Proposal Parts I and II have come in from across the blogosphere. A couple C&F wanted to note in particular follow.

First, from Brian at mgoblog, who reacts here and here.

One piece:

His BCS conference-champs only version will never fly -- not that my version would -- since the little guys and Notre Dame will block it, and I don't like it because sometimes it's clear two of the top six teams are in the same conference.

Fair enough. C&F thought about some sort of hybrid system -- the top four conference champs and the two highest-ranked teams as at-large bids -- but it seems easier to him to go with either the six highest-ranked teams or put in the conference champs sans those below Top 10. But then you get a situation like Ohio State-Michigan 2006 or LSU-Georgia 2007 and it probably isn't fair.

C&F would also like to note that he does often read mgoblog, but must have missed or buried in his memory banks this post that mentions a six-team playoff. Either way, it's clear Brian had a six-team playoff idea out there before C&F, so credit where credit is due.

Meanwhile, The Mayor comes at it from (surprise) the anti-playoff angle -- in particular C&F's observation/opinion that the BCS doesn't work.

Every B.C.S. national champion has had a plausible argument for being the best team in college football that year. Even if another team also had an argument, that argument boiled down to "we deserved it, too" (or, more likely, as in the case of Oregon in 2001 or Auburn in 2004, "we deserved our shot") rather than "they didn't deserve it." ...

Other sports---playoff sports---are a different story, however. No one honestly could claim that the 1997 Florida Marlins or the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals were the best team in major league baseball, that the 2007 Oregon State Beavers were the best team in college baseball, that the 2007-08 New York Giants were the best team in the N.F.L., or that the 2007-08 Georgia Bulldogs were the best basketball team in the S.E.C. ... but, by golly, those are the incongruous, cognitively-dissonant results each of those tournaments turned out, leaving playoff proponents in a very shaky glass house from which to hurl stones at the Bowl Championship Series.

All good examples, though one could argue that the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals were actually a championship caliber team (as much as it pains my Cub-loving heart to admit it) that had a subpar regular season record because the club was hobbled by injuries and other problems.

But, yes, those are teams that probably shouldn't have made it into their leagues' postseason.

That's the beauty of the six-team playoff, though: Those teams wouldn't make it. In MLB, 26.7 percent of teams make the playoffs. In the NFL, that number is 37.5 percent. In the SEC basketball tournament, 100 percent of teams make the playoffs. Under A Modest Proposal, about 5 percent of the teams in college football would make the playoffs -- a field more selective than any other in sports. (Granted, "playoff creep" could change that, but this is assuming everything stays in the six-team format.)

In 2007, the field would have been Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Georgia and Missouri. Does anyone want to say that any of those teams wouldn't be a deserving national champion for the sport if they won it all?

Again, C&F put forward A Modest Proposal at least in part because of a concern that the evolving consensus for a playoff would lead to some sort of monstrous idea like this:

The president of Florida State not only believes a playoff is coming, he thinks it'll start with four teams, then grow to eight and eventually 16.

"The bottom line is the money, unfortunately, is going to drive the train," FSU's T.K. Wetherell said. "The 12th game, right now, is solving the problem. The reason there is a 12th game in football is the money. People may not want to admit that, but that's the facts of the matter." [Emphasis, of course, belongs to C&F]

For those of us not crazy about a playoff, this is the nightmare scenario. Starting with a six-team field might be enough to slow the creep toward eight, which would inevitably lead to 16 teams. Maybe, maybe not.

There was also a note somewhere, which C&F can't find right now, that said it was wrong to label playoffs as "relatively new creations" because the NCAA basketball tourney has been around since 1939. Two points: First, that the NCAA tourney didn't crown a champion until much later -- "the NIT was considered a more prestigious tournament." Second, the tournament was rare. In fact, a college basketball fan at the time could have said "We're the only major sport that crowns a champion this way," which sounds oddly like what pro-playoff proponents in college football now say.

In any case, let the respectful debate continue.

Speaking of basketball, Dave Odom is going to the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. No, not because he bought a ticket; he's getting a lifetime achievement award. Apparently, recruiting Tim Duncan to a N.C. school, winning two NIT championships -- not, notably, when it was the "more prestigious tournament" -- and getting one NCAA berth towers over every other lifetime of achievement the hall could have recognized.

In the meantime, the team Odom retired from could see its schedule shuffled thanks to ESPN.

Understatement of the month. And a strong contender for the annual award. It doesn't come from the article on Webcam recruiting -- shouldn't Urban Meyer have come up with this? -- but from a sports-page graphic:

Somehow, C&F also doubts Spurrier will be using a Webcam anytime soon. But if he does, it's a pretty sure bet he'll open every conversation with "Click-clack."