Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shit, meet Fan.

A lot of people are talking noise on RSD right now, with more knee-jerk reactions than a Deep Tendon Reflex test. I was expecting this the last few weeks, but still got caught a bit off guard by the wave of reaction. The Hodags are again converging tonight, after a marathon officers meeting last night that lasted upwards of 5 hours. Some brief observations...

  • For all the chatter on RSD, and all the people shitting on the idea, it's worth noting the absence of input from members of the twenty-five teams being asked to join. No doubt, they're within their wagon circle discussing the same points Wisconsin's leadership is considering.
  • Whoever posited that those same teams are talking amongst themselves right now is right. We made calls to our friends on those other teams, and emails have already begun making the rounds. For those talking about the possibility of half the teams going and half staying with the UPA series, they're off base. This will either work because all the teams are on board, or none of them are.
  • For those people who are decrying this idea, but bitch and moan about having to explain why dogs are not involved in our sport, they're talking out of both sides of their mouth. While I understand the general ultimate culture is mostly socialist and grass-roots, and thus want to keep this "about the people", Cultimate has to date proven themselves to be excellent marketers and promoters of top-quality tournaments. Their tourneys are seamless, their graphics slick, and their promotion strong. Much more focused than the UPA's approach.
  • The UPA, in their Revolution, outlined tiered college competition for the upcoming years already, but those on the outside of C1 are complaining most about not being able to play the top teams. Guess what? It's coming anyway. Cultimate's announcement only moved up the date substantially.
  • That being said, concerns remain. Verifying eligibility is the main concern, in my opinion. Making sure outside teams can play into the winner's bracket is another. Outside teams should at least be given the chance to try to prove themselves, in the way non-conference football teams still have an outside shot at playing in a BCS bowl. However,
  • Teams and regions have complained about bid allocation processes since there was a bid allocation process. Some teams get left out. Others get a chance. It's not equal for everyone because not all teams are equal. The majority of teams out there will, playing any of those 25 teams 10 times, lose all 10 games. The main gripes are coming from those teams that can, at times, beat several of those teams. Yet last year, even with the noise Arizona made at the beginning of the season, they got blown out in quarter-finals. If the purpose of the UPA series is not to find the best 16 teams, but to crown the best team in the country, I feel confident saying that the C1 will do that just as well. As they say in the game, "haters gon' hate, ballers gon' ball."
  • Still, there needs to be a fair way to make sure any good teams outside of these twenty-five have a shot at playing in the final tourney, and have a shot at playing into the league for future years. No one should be left out based on reputation alone.
  • Another thing there are relatively few detail about are these officials (observers? active observers? refservers?) and any rules changes that might come from that. Any changes to how things will be played need to be stated fairly early in the process.
These are just my initial thoughts. As I glance back to RSD I see that Toad has woken up, and soon things are going to reach a fever pitch. Skip gets into town tonight for the weekend's poorly named (in light of today) No Wisconsequences, and the Hodags will continue their dialog with other potential C1 teams as we move forward with the best interests of our program and Ultimate in mind.


Anonymous said...

The UPA College Series is run by volunteers. A professionally-run championship series would be a nice change.

Jay Schulkin said...

Their tournaments (that I have attended) really weren't that seamless, besides the great competition at a tournament like Stanford Invite of course.

Pros of a cultimate tournament: great competition, a couch for all the hipsters to hang out on, maybe a 5ultimate sticker, a pretty design sometimes (vegas).

Cons of a cultimate tournament: wildly expensive, lack of additional worthwhile amenities to make up for high price, bids given out based on politics, terrible design work (stanford invite 08), game play logistics (poor field complexes, badly sized fields [90 yards between the goal lines at stanford]).

Matt Carney said...

What do you think Cultimate can do to appease the non-C1 regional semifinalists out there (like my team) to go along with this thing?

I love that we're stepping in the direction of NCAA-style ultimate, but I'm not wild about remaining in the implied mediocre-dom of teams #25-50.

Anonymous said...

Skip would be a fool to underserve the non-C1 teams, and he's no fool. I assume we will find out about the non-C1 teams' options and tourneys soon.

Anonymous said...

For the C1 to be viable, it needs the participation of the non-C1 teams at its tournaments. But won't that draw those teams away from the college run tournaments most non-C1 teams use to make the money to pay for the Cultimate tournaments?
I like many of their ideas, but it seems to be rather hastily implemented.

Anonymous said...

thats refZervers.

Ben Sprung said...

"For those people who are decrying this idea, but bitch and moan about having to explain why dogs are not involved in our sport, they're talking out of both sides of their mouth."

I don't see how preselecting the top 25 teams before a single game is played is a solution to this problem of recognition. You seem very much to want ultimate to be like other college sports...but for one thing, what other college sport has a national championship run by a for-profit organization? (which I assume C1 is). It really is hard to see how this could be in the best interests of the players or of ultimate in general.

And I think that as long as the game is played with frisbees, the dog questions will remain...

Anonymous said...

Considering the happenings beyond the ultimate world over the last few months I think that shit and fan are well acquainted.

Regardless, thank you for sharing you insight and opinions.

Seamus said...

----The UPA, in their Revolution, outlined tiered college competition for the upcoming years already, but those on the outside of C1 are complaining most about not being able to play the top teams. Guess what? It's coming anyway. Cultimate's announcement only moved up the date substantially.----

That's hugely oversimplified, Hector... there's absolutely no chance that the DivI/II shakedown from the UPA end would have the same preclusive effect on matchups between tiers.

I wish the Wisconsin leadership above all else would give the wider world a look-- after all, if Wisconsin isn't in, the Conference 1 dies. What in particular did Cultimate offer to lock down Wisconsin's inclusion?

Nathan said...

My understanding is that Wisconsin has not yet committed either way.

As for what they were offered, I hear numbers like a $5000 travel budget (versus $1000 travel budget for the other teams), in addition to jerseys and no tourney fees.

Hector, care to confirm those numbers?

Personally, I don't love the idea of one team being offered more to participate than others. I don't mind the idea of competitive rewards, but appearance fees goes one step too far for my taste.

Anonymous said...

The more I hear about this process, the more I am convinced that Skip's plan is:

1) Get the top teams on board, by hook, crook, and, basically, bribery (aka "sponsorship and appearance fees"). (Skip almost certainly intends to lose money in year one.)

2) Assuming step 1 works, play brinksmanship with the UPA ("we've got the teams on board") and hope the admin caves in and offers rostering assistance. If the UPA calls their bluff, then they will have an awfully hard time making C1 work.

3) In the near term, make his profits by amping up the fees on the non-C1 events. In the long term, once CUltimate's control is firm, start charging the C1 teams. Presto: Skip is now running the college series for a profit.

The reason Skip rushed into this is because he knows the window for a hostile takeover of the college series is closing. Once the UPA gets the Div1/Div2 split up and running, it becomes a lot harder to peel the top teams away.


Anonymous said...

"Their tourneys are seamless, their graphics slick, and their promotion strong."

Really? Speaking as a former college player who is likely to spend to travel and see high-end college and club ultimate, I've not been marketed to at all by what amounts to a decent website and aforementioned "slick" graphics. Wonder what happens when the kids in the clubhouse get real jobs. Prediction: cu1timate folds.

It seems to me that an organization that could bring a crowd and the accompanying sponsorship dollars to the sport (in order to defray costs currently paid by players) are in ultimate's best interests. Does this accomplish that? Is it really anything other than a better designed website?

Brian said...

I have a few points.

1. I'd like to know where Cultimate is getting funding for this. I truly doubt that this would be profitable enough to make ends meat off of, so I'm still assuming that the creators of this are doing what they think is in the best interest of the college game.

2. I would like to see some sort of qualification process for "Conference 1" instead of a straight selection comittee. Give the teams that made quarters straight bids, but why not replace the first of the five conference tournaments with divisional qualification tournaments? Bring in the best 8 teams of a geographic region to play for the right to be in the league.

In reality, nobody is going to challenge the top 15 teams being in there, but teams that finished 26-40 deserve a chance to compete with the big boys.

Somebody mentioned some sort of "out of conference" games, perhaps the proposed "play in" games for the last couple of spots at nationals could include the top non-conference teams.

Whatever they choose, there needs to be a mechanism that makes it possible for teams that wern't selected to compete on the national stage.

3. I see this either completely folding and never happening, or Cultimate and the UPA compromising and creating a joint venture. The UPA has a lot that cultimate doesn't (insurance, eligability, the TV contract) and cultimate has a lot that the upa doesn't. Namely, the ability to cater to the highest level of play.