The Pats copping MVP and Coach-of-Year awards got me thinking about the concept of the best 2 teams in the league playing for the championship. Realistically, such a prospect was abandoned when the league began its 2-Division format way back in 1933. And indeed, of the 34 seasons from 1933-1966, only 18 had the top 2 teams face off in the championship game. During those years, 12 teams watched as a team with an equal record played…while 8 teams watched as a team with a worse record played. The nadir was 1936, when the championship was between the best and the 4th best team…that’s the risk you take when you go to a Divisional system.
But before we put the football season to bed…it also got me thinking about the history of tie-breakers, not in deciding the winner of a game, but it deciding the order of finish in the standings…important both for the Division championship and the draft order. Since I could find no help on the net, I did my own research. With the draft order, it appears that in general, 2 teams with the same record would alternate round by round: AB, BA, AB, BA like that…3 teams would rotate: ABC, BCA, CAB, ABC, etc
With something as important as the Division championship, the idea of a tie-breaker on paper was apparently unacceptable, because it was never done. 2 teams tied for the best record in a Division would meet each other in a post-season playoff game…regardless of how they faired against each other in the regular season. From 1941-1965 there were 10 such ties, plus one in the AFL in 1968…in 5 cases the teams were 1-1 in the regular season…in 3 cases, the 2-0 team won the playoff game, but in 3 cases the 0-2 team won the playoff game. I’m guessing that this was thought to be the fairest, most sportsmanlike (“manly”?) way to decide it.
And indeed, the first time the league applied a tiebreaker-on-paper was a major embarrassment. In 1967, the NFL went to a 4-Division setup…the 4 Division champions advancing to the playoffs. Going into their final regular season game, the Colts were undefeated at 11-0-2…and they were meeting the Rams, who were 10-1-2. Sure enough, the Rams won, and got the Division based on point differential. The 11-win Colts were out…the other 3 playoff teams had 9 wins each. This left a decidedly sour taste in everyone’s mouth…altho the Rams got their comeuppance the next year…out with 10 wins, while the Vikings were in with 8.
So when the merger setup began in 1970…2 Conferences of 3 Divisions each…they could have given the best Divisional leader in a Conference a bye…#1 would then meet the winner of #2 vs #3 for the Conference championship. But the idea of adding a 4th team meant an extra game, good for revenue of course…and it also gave them a fighting chance at getting most of the best teams into the post-season. The black eye of 1967 had to be in their minds. BTW, that 4th team was officially referred to as the “Best 2nd Place Team” or the “4th Qualifier”…the press nicknamed it “Wildcard,” which stuck.
(1) Never play poker with Tarot cards…I tried it once…
I got a Full House…3 people died and 2 got divorced…
(2) Jackie Gleason’s doctor told him he’s just short for his weight…he should be 8′ 6″.
(3) You tell your computer to do something, go in the next
room, and when you come back, it’s still asking: Are you sure?
It’s times like this that I wish computers could feel pain…
(4) Or as the cab-driver said: It’s not so much the work I enjoy, as the people I run into.
(5) » » » I was slow for my age…I didn’t get my birthmark till I was 10… « « «
(6) Here’s one I remember from childhood…it almost never works, but
if all else fails…when you’re in really bad trouble, tell them you’re sick…
(7) >>>> One thing about me…I don’t take thanks lightly. <<<<
(8) There’s a fine line between having an open mind and a hole in your head.
(9) “Times are bad…children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is
writing a book.” So said Roman orator Cicero, who lived from 106-43 B.C.
(10) Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz said Gilligan had the first name
Willie in the early planning stages, but it was never used on the show, or anywhere else.
(11) I think it’s unfair to deny someone your hatred, when they’ve truly earned it.
(12) Cool Daddy thinks the Egyptians’ only real grievance
is that they are Egyptians. (He said it, not me…)
(13) George Bernard Shaw said: It is impossible to explain decency without being indecent.
Do not adjust your set…this is real…Eastern Washington University…anybody for BLACK?…