The Spelling BeeCS

Borrowed from here.

What If Everything Worked Like BCS: The Spelling Bee from sanjeev tandle on Vimeo.


  1. Yes, this will do nicely.

  2. Ugh. Hate these strawman hit pieces that ignore the most pertinent issues and questions. A spelling bee is a tournament; using it as a metaphor for the BCS is pandering. In other words, “we’re taking a tournament and asking you to ignore everything that undermines our point so that we may make a point about how this tournament is like the BCS.”

    Also… nothing about how the little girl Boise knew the rules of the spelling bee and joined volunarily, only to complain later when the rules didn’t benefit her.

    Flash back to pre-1998: little girl Boise is complaining about coming in first but having to share the spelling bee championship with one other because she couldn’t play against him.

    Flash foward to 2017: little girl Boise is complaining because she had the best overall performance of the year but was given the hardest tourney bracket while a weaker team cakewalked to the title.

    It’s always going to be something.

  3. If we’re going to talk technicalities, a spelling bee isn’t a tournament. It’s actually quite an appropriate comparison to CFB – miss one word and you’re OUT. Lose in September and (usually) you’re OUT.

    So she was the last entrant standing. She WON the spelling bee.

  4. @sM – You don’t like the video’s “straw man” argument but then hit us with “every system is problematic therefore the current problematic system is acceptable?”

    I also disagree that if given a shot in a true playoff, Boise would complain about the level of competition they faced if they didn’t win the whole thing. That’s their whole point right now, that they can compete at that level. What kind of argument could they possibly come up with if they were bounced early by Mississippi State?

  5. @eK – “So she was the last entrant standing. She WON the spelling bee.” Exactly… which is why for the analogy to be apples to apples, there needed to be a CFB tourney where a team played against and beat all other opponents, but was then awarded 4th place.

    @Jason – ” “every system is problematic therefore the current problematic system is acceptable?””

    I never said the current system was acceptable.

    I continue to argue that anyone who claims a tourney won’t have injustices of its own are fooling themselves, in the same way that folks in 1997 were fooling themselves when they felt that the BCS’s approach to matching up #1 and #2 would solve all the injustices present at that time.

    The problem is the POLLS, people. Until we either get rid of the polls or solve their weaknesses, fairness in CFB will continue to suffer, no matter what occurs in postseason.

    IMO, the hatred of the BCS should be refocused into hatred of the poll system. Everyone wailing for a tourney should STOP and first demand that the polls either go away or get fixed. It’s not about the BCS, bowl games, or tournaments. It’s about the polls – they are the root of 99% of the problem.

  6. @sM – I think you are misinterpreting the analogy or possibly how spelling bees work. In a spelling bee, kids don’t compete directly with each other, but against the words themselves. Every kid gets different words, some of which may be easier for an individual than another based on their own knowledge of how words are developed.

    This is actually quite similar to CFB on a national scale, because most teams that are “competing” against each other for one of two spots in the title game do not play any of the same teams, let alone each other.

    In this analogy, the words=your schedule, and that’s a pretty solid comparison (although there are minor differences).

    Now, on to the poll issue. You’re right, they’re a huge problem. But what is a fair way to compare teams that play vastly different schedules with vastly different gameplans and playbooks? There isn’t one; it’s just not possible.

    So the real answer is to eliminate ALL bias from the system, in all forms. The only way to do that is a playoff that includes all conference champions and only conference champions. They can be seeded by overall record (or conference record if you’d prefer).

    Does it suck that a MAC champion will be treated the same as an SEC champion? Yep, but who cares? If you’re better, beat them. Or join together and force a new split in IA where the BCS AQs are separate from the non-AQs.

    Now your playoff is totally fair and totally awesome.

  7. @Jason – since we’re beating this dead horse, let me say that spelling bees are notoriously controversial for their unfair aspects. So the vid’s use of them as the line of logic in an argument against the unfairness of CFB is just dumb.

    Just last year the Scripps bee had a big to-do when a bunch of kids who never even spelled a single word got into the finals because it made better TV:

    From this article alone, there are some major parallels with CFB:

    “I don’t think it’s fair that so many got out and some just whooshed along,” said 13-year old Elizabeth Platz, as audience members clapped and Kimble managed a frozen smile. “I’d rather have five finalists than five who didn’t deserve it. I think it was unfair.”

    “They’re competing in what ABC calls ‘The Championship Finals.’ They’re not officially championship finalists until they spell that final word.”

    “This is the time the nerds get saluted by the sports broadcast. And then some of them get treated like the play-in teams in the NCAA tournament.”

    “Is it just about making money?”

    Etc., etc., dead horse beaten dead again.

    I don’t claim to have a solution, I just think it’s foolish to say “a playoff is totally fair and totally awesome” two sentences after you admit that equating a MAC champion to an SEC champion sucks, and four paragraphs after you say that there has to be a way to compare different teams that don’t play each other. The facts are mutually exclusive.

    As an example: you can’t say “beat this MAC team to prove you’re better” because that’s apples-and-oranges with the teams that don’t get the pleasure of having a MAC team in the first round and a Sun Belt team in the 2nd.

    Anything is “fair” if it’s within the agreed-upon rules (even the current BCS system). If there was no cheating in that spelling bee, and the girl knew she could come in 4th, and still willigly signed up for it, then there was no unfairness (technically). However, our point is more refined and not so dumb and simplistic. I’m looking at a bigger picture, not “bcs always bad, tourney magical wonderland utopia of unicorns and rainbows where nothing ever controversial will ever happen and everyone will always agree that the last team standing is the best.”

    There is one solution – drop the crazy idea that we have to have a national champion in the first place. Where is it written that we have to have one? If having a “champion” is so important, then lets stay within conference. Do a round-robin in a 16-team Big10 and have a championship game. Can you compare the Big10 and SEC champs? No. But by the same logic, we really can’t compare the NFL super bowl winner with the CFL winner with the European league winner, and yet we seem to be fine with that, even calling the super bowl winner the “world champions.” Why the obsession? It’s a cultural weakness where we absolutelyfreakinghavetoknowwhothebestiseleventy!!1111!!

    Updated to add: The English Premier League does an absolutely-fair, round robin approach to determining who is the best: everybody (all 20 teams) plays everyone, and the highest scoring team wins. We don’t have to have a tourney to determine a champion… we can think outside of the box. What about a (much) longer season, even allowing for weeks on and off? What about redividing the teams and conferences into different leagues? Lots of options, we shouldn’t be limited to the slightly better of two crappy solutions.

  8. @sM – The point of the video is that a kid can’t spell every word right and lose a spelling bee. A team can go undefeated and not be the champions under the BCS. The absurd exclusivity is the primary flaw of the BCS.

    The “totally fair and totally awesome” statement also came just ONE sentence after I said to split the AQs and the non-AQs. That way, you wouldn’t have the MAC champ in the playoff at all!

    Your round-robin 16-team B1G is very close to what I actually want. I hope that the dream of 4 16-team megaconferences becomes a reality and those 64 teams either abandon the NCAA or the NCAA finally recognizes the obvious gap between those teams and the rest of IA and splits them up.

    From there, we play no more non-conference games. Why bother when Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, Maryland, Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, etc. etc. etc. are all in one conference anyway? Now we have 12 conference games to work with. If there are 4 divisions, you play the other 3 from your division and 3 teams each from the other divisions. Those can rotate every 2 years so you won’t go more than a couple years without playing any specific team.

    Then there’s the two-round conference championships followed by the two-round national championship playoff, essentially a 16 team playoff. Seeding for the nationals is by a combination of record, logical geography (when obvious), and if needed, coin toss (the ultimate fairness).

    A similar product is possible with current alignment, but it wouldn’t be as clean.

  9. Ah, I missed your AQ statement. Comprehension fail on my part.

    My main problem with the video is that the teacher was not named Ms. May. 🙂

    I would totally love a huge Big10 that had the teams that I care about beating the crap out of each other for half the year. Or fifteen teams beating the crap out of Michigan.

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