SB Nation is known for high quality team content above all else. Our network has focused very much so on this general formula from day one. But we've also expanded into more generalist categories like cycling, men's fitness, ice skating and minor league baseball. We've expanded to cover the BCS and the BCS process with BCS Evolution. Ben Prather does an incredible job on a daily basis of covering all aspects of the BCS.
I figured with the BCS' biggest week just gone by, it would be a great time to get to know him. So without further ado, let's get to know Ben Prather.
Tyler Bleszinski: Tell me about how you came to be at SB Nation.
Ben Prather: I first found SB Nation through finding Block U in 2008 and found the interface very intuitive and inviting. I also liked the quality of Sean Reynolds' content and the unabashed fan bias that adds a rich flavor to the content.
I had been contributing regularly to Fanblogs.com prior to moving to SB Nation and wanted to focus more specifically on the BCS politics and potential playoff designs. One of the other contributors at Fanblogs.com sent me a link to an ad for an editor position at SB Nation this summer which planted the seeds that grew into my asking to start BCS Evolution.
Come to think of it, they might have been telling me I need an editor. Hey wait a minute here...
Bleszinski: What's it like running a more general blog like BCS Evolution?
Prather: I came from a site that is basically a news aggregate for all of college football, so BCS Evolution is a significant narrowing of topic from what I was used to. It happens to be a topic I am a bit obsessive about.
On the one hand it is tricky because I don't have many other sites to look at for ideas on how they present content and learn from. On the other there are fewer competitors and I am treading new territory somewhat.
I guess by Chris Dobbertean of Blogging the Brackets and I will have to get each other’s backs.
Bleszinski: The big season for you is just about to wrap up. How do you think the BCS did in 2009?
Prather: I can be a bit manic depressive in my self evaluations. I think my timely data sets, like the emulations of automatic qualifying criteria and the bowl challenge cup standings, have been a huge success. One thing I need to work on is making my post more inviting for comments. Sometimes I can come off more dogmatic and matter-of-fact than I intend.
Bleszinski: What kind of community do you want to run at BCS Evolution?
Prather: I want to have an active debate on the postseason design where people feel welcome to discuss if changes should be made and what changes they would like to see.
The bowl season was great because bowl reviews allowed 3-4 fresh posts per day. That is not going to happen the rest of the year. I believe the best content of the best blogs is created in the comments. It is my goal to get BCS Evolution to that point by providing a stable venue for this conversation that allows all sides a fair shake.
I look forward to the day when the comment sections are active enough for my less mechanical side to pour through. Frankly, from my experiences at Fanblogs, I find this is probably my better side.
Bleszinski: Do you think we'll ever see a true playoff system in college football and why or why not?
Prather: I really try to avoid the "P" word. In college football today this word carries a huge stigma and philosophical baggage to people on both sides of this issue. What is a "true" playoff anyways?
Multiple teams finishing the season undefeated while holding a championship game that does not include them all will not last. Eventually money will win and there is more money in a tournament. The question is how many decades until this happens.
The hiring of BiIl Hancock as the BCS Executive Director makes me optimistic that the issues involved in the designs currently offered will be better communicated and improved designs can be put forward for consideration starting in 2014.
Bleszinski: Are you trying to impact change in the system?
Prather: Yes. In the summer of 2008 I had the seeds of an idea, inspired by BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall's idea of a play in game for the top two non-automatic qualifying conference champions for the BCS berth, that I drafted and sent to BCS officials last March. I have received responses from those correspondences and have refined my designs to address the concerns expressed and further research the statements by college football officials on this topic.
I am presently adding finishing touches on my next proposal to the BCS. I plan to have this finished latter this month. This proposal contains two alternate designs, both of which can be found at BCS Evolution in the Table of Contents under the Almanac section. After this proposal is finished I will have some time to work on merging these two designs into a single even more robust design.
Bleszinski: Even if a playoff system isn't on the horizon, is there something that they can do to change things that will make you a little happier with the current format?
Prather: What is the college football postseason's strategic plan?
A great step forward would be to allow teams with 9 or more wins over FBS teams to play in two bowl games. This would allow a plus-one to form naturally and provide financial incentive for teams expecting to be near this level to avoid games with FCS or lower teams. The gains from the potential of a second bowl game would greatly exceed the risk of losing a chance at the national title for most teams.
I would like to see the BCS evolve into an accreditation board type institution for the bowls that defines clear criteria for classifications of bowls into clearly defined and meaningful tiers.
Bleszinski: Tell me something about yourself that readers might not expect.
Prather: My avatar, utesfan100, comes from the fact that I am a University of Utah alum. Most people would not expect that I went to Utah from (and have since returned to) Panama City, Florida. Since 2001 I have only seen one Utah game in person - the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
I am also a fourth generation Washington Redskins fan and grew up going to games in RFK stadium before my family moved to Florida. Those were the days when I was a Michigan fan because Wolverines were my favorite animal ... and the cool hats ... and the comic book character.
Bleszinski: Thank you so much for your time.
Prather: Thank you for giving SB Nation an excellent team! Without the infrastructure and teamwork of SB Nation I could not run this site within the time constraints I currently have.