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What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

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  • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

    Note: I assume it's obvious, but my intent here is to think outside the box. … My many posts on this thread bear witness to the fact I think it's a big problem. Can't agree there's "no solution," nothing at all that could make things better; but it sure has been a difficult nut to crack.
    Yeah, I’d say that obvious, and I hope you understand by now that I appreciate the thought you give to this and really don’t like being as curmudgeonly toward your suggestions as I might seem. But a thought did occur to me. Suppose that there were a solution that ensured a good crowd, but which you couldn’t attend. Would you still favor it? Is your objection to the current system (1) the concept of regionals being played in front of sparse crowds regardless of who makes up the crowd, or (2) that your experience at the regionals isn’t what you’d like it to be?

    Specifically, suppose the college hockey games in Belfast are wildly successful, and the NCAA says “Hey! Why don’t we put the regionals in Belfast?” The Belfast regionals are played in front of rinks full of Irish locals, none of which is you, or any other US based fan of any participant team. That would be an extreme suggestion, but consistent with your latest suggestion. Would you call that “successful?”

    ...Think Williamsport, PA & Little League World Series. Think Akron, OH & the Soap Box Derby.
    Note though, that both of these events are the apex of the pyramid, and that’s part of the allure. Both have local and regional qualifying events that are attended mostly by participants, friends, and family. To see the difference between the top and the bottom of the pyramid, we have to look no further than the D1 men’s hockey tournament; it’s the difference between a sold-out NHL rink more than a thousand miles from any college hockey program and a mostly empty AHL rink.

    On further review, maybe Omaha is actually too big a city for this concept.
    … I'm thinking more along the lines of Northern Minnesota; The U.P.; Colorado Springs. Even Alaska. Not the large metro areas where there's already a ton to do with hockey dollars, and entertainment dollars generally.
    Pointing out the Goldilocksian difficulty of finding a location. Can’t be too big, but has to be big enough to produce a cadre of fans. Colorado Springs? Made both commutes many times and I can tell you Colorado Springs to Denver is far, far, easier than Boston to Worcester or Manchester.

    And note that you’re not only talking hockey dollars, you’re talking time spent watching hockey. Youth and High School hockey might use of all of that in Northern Minnesota, and I presume the Yoopers and Alaskans have cable TV.

    Suppose Worcester and Manchester became permanent hosts. In your view, would that have the potential to grow those regionals?
    No, because I think the logic is backwards. I could see Worcester and Manchester becoming permanent hosts because they are relatively successful. I couldn’t see Worcester and Manchester being more successful because they were permanent hosts.

    Comment


    • No, because I think the logic is backwards. I could see Worcester and Manchester becoming permanent hosts because they are relatively successful. I couldn’t see Worcester and Manchester being more successful because they were permanent hosts.[/QUOTE]

      Exactly, Worcester and Manchester are very safe choices due to the fact that at least several "local" teams will always be represented in those regionals.

      Comment


      • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

        Originally posted by CLS View Post
        Yeah, I’d say that obvious, and I hope you understand by now that I appreciate the thought you give to this and really don’t like being as curmudgeonly toward your suggestions as I might seem. But a thought did occur to me. Suppose that there were a solution that ensured a good crowd, but which you couldn’t attend. Would you still favor it? Is your objection to the current system (1) the concept of regionals being played in front of sparse crowds regardless of who makes up the crowd, or (2) that your experience at the regionals isn’t what you’d like it to be?
        It's not a "concept," it's the reality of the situation. But to answer your actual question, it truly is the former. I've followed college hockey all my life. It's absolutely heartbreaking to me that the regionals, as events, have become so mediocre -- and in many cases outright embarrassments.

        Throughout this lengthy conversation, I haven't really argued for any system based on self-interest. As I know you recall, I was in favor of the campus sites proposal. Going strictly off memory, I'm going to say that OSU would have qualified to host under that system exactly once -- in 1998. For me, the goal has been to "save the regionals," not benefit OSU.

        As for my personal experience at the regionals, I've pretty much given up on attending as neutral fan. (See Toledo story) If there was a plan that would restore some luster to the regionals, I'd be all for it -- even if it meant I'd only be watching on TV. That's what I'm doing now. Remember the brainstorm comment that all 4 regionals could be held in the East? While I highly doubt Western coaches would ever consent, I made that comment in sincerity. If the East could guarantee half full buildings and some semblance of a tournament atmosphere, it would be an upgrade from the status quo. An upgrade I could support.

        Specifically, suppose the college hockey games in Belfast are wildly successful, and the NCAA says “Hey! Why don’t we put the regionals in Belfast?” The Belfast regionals are played in front of rinks full of Irish locals, none of which is you, or any other US based fan of any participant team. That would be an extreme suggestion, but consistent with your latest suggestion. Would you call that “successful?”
        I wouldn't put NCAA games outside of the US. I recognize that a certain number of parents, best friends, fiancés, and so on would be precluded by that. While we're deep in the realm of creative solutions, the solutions can't be so creative they eliminate the people closest to the players.

        Beyond that, games held overseas would be attended mostly by curiosity seekers, even if they were financially successful. Not exactly the tournament atmosphere we're looking for.

        Note though, that both of these events are the apex of the pyramid, and that’s part of the allure. Both have local and regional qualifying events that are attended mostly by participants, friends, and family. To see the difference between the top and the bottom of the pyramid, we have to look no further than the D1 men’s hockey tournament; it’s the difference between a sold-out NHL rink more than a thousand miles from any college hockey program and a mostly empty AHL rink.
        Fair point. But consider that NCAA Hockey as a whole is a step down from the NHL on the hockey pyramid. Still, the games on campus do pretty well, even if there's an NHL team operating a few miles down the road.

        There's no denying that the casual fan is going to want to see the biggest game in town, be it regular season or post-season. But the secondary levels can (and do) find successful niches.

        Pointing out the Goldilocksian difficulty of finding a location. Can’t be too big, but has to be big enough to produce a cadre of fans. Colorado Springs? Made both commutes many times and I can tell you Colorado Springs to Denver is far, far, easier than Boston to Worcester or Manchester.
        Been down I-25 a few times myself. Even lived in Denver for a summer long ago.

        But why does an "easier commute" from Metro Denver somehow make the Springs a bad idea? If anything, you might pick up some Denver based fans to help out with the crowd. But my thought was that Colorado Springs has a separate identity from Denver, and it's a place with both a Winter Olympics heritage and an NCAA Hockey heritage. Locals just might embrace the idea of once again serving as an ongoing hockey host. Or maybe not. Keep reading...

        And note that you’re not only talking hockey dollars, you’re talking time spent watching hockey. Youth and High School hockey might use of all of that in Northern Minnesota, and I presume the Yoopers and Alaskans have cable TV.
        I'm not saying the skepticism is inappropriate. But suppose we carry this conversation all the way to a bitter end, and wind up concluding we simply can't find four suitable sites. What then? You may have won the argument but lost the war. If there are literally no neutral sites able to successfully host in the West; the East isn't willing host more than two regionals; and campus sites are precluded, what are you left with? Reducing the tournament field would seem to be the logical response. It would also be wildly unpopular.

        No, because I think the logic is backwards. I could see Worcester and Manchester becoming permanent hosts because they are relatively successful. I couldn’t see Worcester and Manchester being more successful because they were permanent hosts.
        While getting repeat customers isn't a gimme, it's at least a possibility if the event comes back year after year. So in that sense the logic isn't backwards. But creating a new tradition is easier said than done, of course. If what you're really saying is that you don't see any potential for establishing such a tradition in Worcester or Manchester, I'd have to defer to you on that.

        Comment


        • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

          But why does an "easier commute" from Metro Denver somehow make the Springs a bad idea? If anything, you might pick up some Denver based fans to help out with the crowd. But my thought was that Colorado Springs has a separate identity from Denver, and it's a place with both a Winter Olympics heritage and an NCAA Hockey heritage. Locals just might embrace the idea of once again serving as an ongoing hockey host. Or maybe not. Keep reading...
          I’m not saying Colorado Springs is a bad idea for a regional. I’m saying Colorado Springs doesn’t fit into your profile of “smaller communities that would embrace the regionals as a special event. Something they really look forward to every year, regardless of the teams. Something to circle on the calendar” and “Not the large metro areas where there's already a ton to do with hockey dollars, and entertainment dollars generally.” You suggested that Omaha is too large. Not only is Colorado Springs about the size of Omaha, but it’s got two D1 hockey teams, and it's within an easy commute of a much larger city with teams in all four major professional sports including NHL hockey. There’s a ton to do with hockey (and entertainment -- skiing anyone?) dollars and hours.

          And I’m not trying to nitpick your examples. With modern technology and communications even communities that are the right size and are relatively isolated geographically don’t lack for outlets for their entertainment dollars and hours.

          But suppose we carry this conversation all the way to a bitter end, and wind up concluding we simply can't find four suitable sites. What then? You may have won the argument but lost the war. If there are literally no neutral sites able to successfully host in the West; the East isn't willing host more than two regionals; and campus sites are precluded, what are you left with? Reducing the tournament field would seem to be the logical response. It would also be wildly unpopular.
          To me, the “bitter end” of this conversation is at most that the “Soapbox Derby” model isn’t a solution to the perceived problem of poor attendance at regionals. This isn’t about “winning an argument,” it’s about discussing a suggestion that you made, at least for me. I’m sorry if that’s not the way it came across.

          While getting repeat customers isn't a gimme, it's at least a possibility if the event comes back year after year. So in that sense the logic isn't backwards. But creating a new tradition is easier said than done, of course. If what you're really saying is that you don't see any potential for establishing such a tradition in Worcester or Manchester, I'd have to defer to you on that.
          I think that “repeat customers” has more to do with whether your team makes the regionals and is placed in Worcester/Manchester than it does with locals buying tickets. But in the spirit of thinking outside the box, perhaps more could be done to engage the local hockey community. For example, have an undercard of youth hockey and/or high school games and/or sell the upper bowl to youth hockey organizations really cheap, like say, $100 per team or even free.

          Comment


          • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

            It sounds like a big part of the problem arose when leagues changed from having the team that finished the regular season in first place get their autobid, over to having the team that wins the conference tournament get the autobid. While that isn't going to change, it does exacerbate the 'short notice' problem.
            "Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things."

            "Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -- Benjamin Franklin

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            Comment


            • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

              Originally posted by CLS View Post
              I’m not saying Colorado Springs is a bad idea for a regional.
              IMHO, a one-and-done regional in the Springs would like have the exact same problems it has everywhere else in the West. If CC, AF or DU made the field, you'd be financially OK. At the same time, that runs the risk of unearned home ice advantage. But without any of the three teams located within commuting distance, then you're back to all serenity, all weekend.

              The idea was that a five year commitment might give the event a chance to gain some traction locally. A one-and-done isn't a friendly amendment. Not that it's necessarily "hostile;" it's just a different idea.

              I’m saying Colorado Springs doesn’t fit into your profile of “smaller communities that would embrace the regionals as a special event... There’s a ton to do with hockey (and entertainment -- skiing anyone?) dollars and hours.
              Winter sports people from Colorado tend to participate more and spectate less than their counterparts elsewhere. If that's at least part of what you're saying, I'd have to concede the point. And it does make it less likely that the Springs could succeed as a long term host.

              But in the spirit of thinking outside the box, perhaps more could be done to engage the local hockey community. For example, have an undercard of youth hockey and/or high school games and/or sell the upper bowl to youth hockey organizations really cheap, like say, $100 per team or even free.
              Of course this should be done. It's a step in the right direction. A huge leap? Probably not. But something positive.

              Comment


              • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

                Originally posted by pgb-ohio View Post
                IMHO, a one-and-done regional in the Springs would like have the exact same problems it has everywhere else in the West. If CC, AF or DU made the field, you'd be financially OK. At the same time, that runs the risk of unearned home ice advantage. But without any of the three teams located within commuting distance, then you're back to all serenity, all weekend.

                The idea was that a five year commitment might give the event a chance to gain some traction locally. ...
                Of course your "permanent host" idea dovetails nicely with the "great eight" concept; in fact I think the permanent host idea came up when that was discussed. The difference now seems to be you're suggesting growing from the ground up as opposed to looking where the regionals have been most successful and putting them there permanently. I remain skeptical about the possibility of successfully picking a likely candidate in advance and there's a lot of practical considerations, like who foots the bill if it takes several years of losses with no assurance of success, but regardless of the approach direction, permanent regional sites is an interesting concept. I have no idea why Worcester and Manchester aren't de facto permanent sites now. Perhaps for some reason they don't bid every year, or perhaps the NCAA doesn't want to go to the same place every year because they want to keep options open for the future.


                Winter sports people from Colorado tend to participate more and spectate less than their counterparts elsewhere. If that's at least part of what you're saying, I'd have to concede the point. And it does make it less likely that the Springs could succeed as a long term host.
                Who knows? After all, Colorado Springs was once the "permanent" home of the Frozen Four before it was called the Frozen Four. And in a home rink, albeit not on-campus.

                Of course this [involving local high school and youth hockey teams] should be done. It's a step in the right direction. A huge leap? Probably not. But something positive.
                Once again, a chicken an egg thing. I suspect if there were permanent hosts, this would happen anyway.

                Comment


                • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

                  Originally posted by CLS View Post
                  Of course your "permanent host" idea dovetails nicely with the "great eight" concept; in fact I think the permanent host idea came up when that was discussed. The difference now seems to be you're suggesting growing from the ground up as opposed to looking where the regionals have most successful and putting them there permanently.
                  If the Great Eight format were adopted, I'd consider most any applicant as a permanent host. OK, there are some genuinely hopeless cases; and you know who you are. So let's define the applicant pool as past successes and future prospects. But for a Great Eight, I do believe you'd get some strong applications. It would be a much more attractive event, for host and fan alike.

                  To review, you'd have two hosts. One would stage a doubleheader on Saturday, the other on Sunday. All winners advance to the Frozen Four. The single day event means lower costs and a better product for the host. From the ticket buyer's point of view: Two outstanding games. No need to miss work. Lodging? For commuters none at all, to say nothing of one round trip rather than two. For travelers, a single hotel night could do the trick.

                  EDIT: My recollection failed me. The Great Eight idea, as originally brought up, was actually a single site for all 4 Quarterfinals. To be honest, I don't think that one permanent site is ideal for a Great Eight, now that my recollection is refreshed. At the very least, none of the advantages listed in the above paragraph apply.

                  Guess we've been at this too long.
                  ... I have no idea why Worcester and Manchester aren't de facto permanent sites now. Perhaps for some reason they don't bid every year, or perhaps the NCAA doesn't want to go to the same place every year because they want to keep options open for the future.
                  In a world where there are more aspiring hosts than available tournaments, fairness suggests moving the tournaments around. In other words, each new year should provide another opportunity to bid on the scarce item. But for quite a few years now, the NCAA hasn't really been allocating a scarce resource. In practical terms, the NCAA now recruits regional hosts. And yet the old system of year-by-year bidding persists. Could be it's just a matter of bureaucratic inertia. Because reform of any kind has been so difficult to accomplish in this regard, just muddling through with the old procedures is the path of least resistance.

                  Then, from the Worcester/Manchester point of view, it could be that taking some years off is seen as a way of reducing financial risk, or occasionally using the building for other events. (Since the current process gives them that option.)

                  Who knows? After all, Colorado Springs was once the "permanent" home of the Frozen Four before it was called the Frozen Four. And in a home rink, albeit not on-campus.
                  Which was one of the main reasons I suggested it.
                  Last edited by pgb-ohio; 09-16-2015, 11:06 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

                    I think the biggest pushback you'd see would be from the conferences themselves. Each league gears itself to try and maximize the amount of money it can from its conference tournament - which is a site set before the season with the premise that fans will be coming to the event anyway (best example is the previous incarnation of the WCHA Final Five). If the NCAA were to adopt the same sort of idea for the "Great 8" idea, that would almost certainly impact the leagues because people would be abandoning their trip to the conference tournament in lieu of the NCAA tournament.

                    In the modern realigned world, I think each league would accept that the Frozen Four is now the premier weekend of the playoff season. But relegating the conference tournaments to third behind the regionals is not going to sit well. I don't think there's any way you can get the leagues to give up their revenue producing playoffs, so the regional weekends are going to be a tough sell in this form.

                    Comment


                    • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

                      Originally posted by pgb-ohio View Post
                      ...

                      Guess we've been at this too long.
                      Don't know if that's a pluralis magistratis -- a "royal we" -- , or if you're including everyone. If it's the latter, I agree, bro.

                      Originally posted by John J. MacInnes View Post
                      I think the biggest pushback you'd see would be from the conferences themselves. Each league gears itself to try and maximize the amount of money it can from its conference tournament - which is a site set before the season with the premise that fans will be coming to the event anyway (best example is the previous incarnation of the WCHA Final Five). If the NCAA were to adopt the same sort of idea for the "Great 8" idea, that would almost certainly impact the leagues because people would be abandoning their trip to the conference tournament in lieu of the NCAA tournament.

                      In the modern realigned world, I think each league would accept that the Frozen Four is now the premier weekend of the playoff season. But relegating the conference tournaments to third behind the regionals is not going to sit well. I don't think there's any way you can get the leagues to give up their revenue producing playoffs, so the regional weekends are going to be a tough sell in this form.
                      Interesting point. Especially since two of the three premier tournaments (CCHA and WCHA) don't exist any more, the "replacements" are too small or the new rivalries haven't taken hold yet, and the third (HEA) seems to have lost a lot of its luster, IMO because UNH and Maine haven't been significant players recently, and there seems to have been a dropoff in the size and enthusiasm of their fan bases.

                      Comment


                      • Re: What if the Committee Decides to Makes Changes to the Tournament Design?

                        The MacInnes point is a good one, but I believe it only precludes one specific scenario:

                        If a single permanent site was chosen for all 4 NCAA Quarterfinals, AND that single site was in the same market as a conference tournament, then yes. The Great Eight in that form is a threat to the conference tournament. As an obvious example, if the Garden were to host the HEA tourney one weekend and a Great Eight a week later -- year after year -- then the two events would likely cannibalize each other.

                        Otherwise, I don't think an insurmountable problem is raised.

                        Sure, there would be some thorny operational questions to resolve. How far away does the second building have to be considered a separate market? Or, if the Great Eight rotates, how long does it have to stay away before it can return without doing harm? Not easy questions, to be sure. But not unprecedented questions either.

                        A Fundamental Choice: In contrast, if the argument is that ANY successful regional format, regardless of geography, is an unacceptable threat to the conference tourneys, then we have a basic choice to make. Option one is to tell the conference offices to start acting like grown-ups and do what it takes to improve their product. Option two is to capitulate to the complaint, and cut the NCAA field down to a number that's no longer a threat. Staging "designed to fail" regionals lacks all integrity and should not be an option.

                        Do I believe the powers-that-be are sabotaging the regionals intentionally? No I do not. But if I'm naïve and that is the case, then it really is time to kill the 16 team tournament.

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