Monday, November 30, 2009


In his 1945 novel “Animal Farm” George Orwell wrote: “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others…”

Today this is the guiding principle behind the National Championship of College Football’s Division I FBS. Div I FBS consists of the schools in 11 conferences plus 3 independents making a total of 131 colleges and universities that have Division I FBS football programs. None of the 11 conferences is designated as being better or deserving of higher ranking than any other and no individual school is predetermined to be a lesser member of Div I FBS than any other member institution. Nevertheless, some college football teams are apparently created more equal than others.

No other organized sport has such a consideration when it comes to naming its championship team. In the last Baseball World Series the Yankees were not diminished by their regular season victories over the American League’s weaker teams like Baltimore, Kansas City or Cleveland and neither were the Phillies downgraded after beating up on the National League’s lowly Washington Nationals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Any win over a Major League opponent is equal to any other win. Likewise in the National Football League, the NBA and even in the NHL, no team is ranked as better or worse based upon which other teams they scored victories over during their regular season schedules.

But somehow this sense of fair play – not to mention reason - just doesn’t apply to college football. This season, of the 131 Division I FBS teams only 6 have played their season undefeated. All 6 have won every game they played. None of the remaining 125 teams have only 1 loss. The best record outside the undefeated teams is 2 losses. Thus, it would appear reasonable to say that only these 6 all-winning teams should have a shot at being crowned National Champion. Yet, since there is no playoff system, only 2 of the 6 can be matched in the so-called and self-proclaimed National Championship Game. What then of the other 4? What is the best way to pick the 2 teams to vie for the title and eliminate from consideration 4 others?

The 6 undefeated teams are: Florida, Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State. This is the order in which these teams are now ranked by the BCS, which is the official ranking body that picks the 2 teams to play in the National Championship Game. Since the BCS ranks the Top 25 teams each week, how do the schedules of the 6 undefeated teams look against other ranked opponents?

Of the top 6, only 2 have played more than 1 opponent that also ranked in the Top 25. Texas (ranked #3) played and of course defeated 4 ranked teams – Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Oklahoma – while TCU (ranked #4) played and beat 2 ranked opponents – Clemson and BYU.

The #1 and #2 teams, Florida and Alabama only played 1 ranked team each. Both of them played and beat the same team, LSU. Still, Florida is ranked #1 and Alabama is #2. The #5 ranked team, Cincinnati, has only a single ranked team on its schedule, West Virginia.

The most alarming schedule analysis has to be that of #6 Boise State. While Boise State only met 1 other team ranked in the Top 25, how important should it be that the 1 team was the #7 ranked team, Oregon? After the 6 undefeated teams, the official college football rankings list Oregon as the next best team in the whole country. And Boise State beat them. If Boise State beat Oregon, and none of the other 5 undefeated teams has beaten any team so highly ranked, why is Boise State #6 behind all 5 of the others? That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, does it?

Some analysts say that many teams prop up their record by playing weak teams outside their conference – and that’s been true. This year, Boise State played Bowling Green and it is fair to hold that up when evaluating them. Cincinnati also played a game against a very weak non-conference team, Southeast Missouri State. TCU, however, did not pad its schedule with any of the weaker non-conference teams, not one of them. Texas (remember they also played 4 ranked teams) only had one game against a traditional weak team, Central Florida.

But, look at the schedules for the #1 and #2 Florida and Alabama teams. Not only did they each play their only ranked opponent against the same LSU team, but also each of them added multiple weak teams to their non-conference schedules. Alabama, the #2 team in the nation, played and beat teams from Florida International and Tennessee-Chattanooga. The #1 ranked team, Florida, did even worse than that. Like Alabama, they also scheduled Florida International, plus they added outrageous patsies like Charleston-Southern and some school no one's ever heard of called Troy.

So, Florida the #1 ranked team played 25% of its games against the worst teams in college football. That would be like the Yankees, who won 103 games and lost only 59, playing 40 of their regular season games against Washington, which won only 59 and lost 103. Of course, the Yankees did not play any games at all against Washington, but had that actually happened, it’s unlikely anyone would have seriously considered the Yankees as the #1 team in baseball.

In the real world, #1 Florida Gaitors and #2 Alabama Crimson Tide meet next week in their own conference championship game and the winner of that game will play against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game. Based on who and how these teams have played this season, it doesn’t matter who wins. Texas should easily beat either one, Florida or Alabama. But that will still leave probably the best team in the nation, the real #1 college football team, Boise State, out in the cold.

All Div I FBS teams are created equal, but some teams are more equal than others…

Friday, November 6, 2009


Wait a second. Isn’t the astronomical increase in costs, seemingly unstoppable over time, one of the biggest problems we face in healthcare? Aren’t doctors and other service providers clamoring for higher reimbursement agreements, complaining about low payments from Medicare and insurance companies? Don’t we keep hearing the drug companies and medical equipment manufacturers warning us that a national healthcare program – apparently any kind of national healthcare at all – will drive them either into market-share disaster or outright bankruptcy?

Has anyone seen a hospital bill lately? Have you visited an Emergency Room? Have you been admitted, sent to a regular room on a regular hospital floor? Have you spent a couple of days as an in-patient? If you have you know how quick and easy it is to run up a hospital bill of $10,000 or $20,000. And if you’ve been really sick, you certainly are familiar with how fast those charges add up to a hospital bill of $100,000 plus, even $500,000 or more. Not sure I'm right? Go ahead, get cancer – have a heart attack or heart surgery. You’ll see.

Meanwhile these same hospitals call themselves non-profit organizations and constantly talk about the difficulties they face in terms of their costs – not yours – but theirs.

So, explain this - In today’s national edition of The New York Times, the full-page that follows the end of Section B – the part of the paper with the Sports section – is completely taken up with an advertisement saluting the World Series Champion New York Yankees – and that full-page ad is sponsored and paid for by “New York-Presbyterian OFFICIAL HOSPITAL OF THE YANKEES.” Imagine that, the Yankees have an “official hospital.” That’s not some kind of socialism, is it? I sure hope not.

No one can be absolutely sure what the cost of ad space is in The New York Times. The newspaper has fallen on hard times. Who knows what they’ll take for an ad these days? Things are so bad they’re even talking about bankruptcy. They must be starving, right? Ad revenue reported for The Times’ latest quarter is down from last year. This year it was only $570 million. Don’t you wonder how they managed to make it on about three-quarters of a million dollars – a day?

Most industry reports indicate that the full-page ad they bought probably cost about $189,000. Of course, New York-Presbyterian made a point – an expensive one too since it costs extra – of buying the “national edition” rather than just the local New York City edition of the paper.

What were they thinking? More out-of-town patients? Perhaps they’re counting on me telling the next ambulance that picks me up in an emergency to… “take me to New York-Presbyterian, and step on it, buddy!”

Last year, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, a non-profit, tax exempt 501 C-3 entity with multiple websites showing how many ways you and I can give them our tax deductible “gifts” – in 2008, this hospital pulled in $2,833,500,000 in patient revenue. Count the zeros. That’s more than $77 million dollars a day, 365 days a year. Puts The New York Times to shame. Cha-ching! Cha-ching!

Hey, what’s a measly hundred and eighty-nine grand to congratulate “Our Yankees”?

And one more question – What do you suppose it means to be the OFFICIAL HOSPITAL OF THE YANKEES?

I don’t know about you, but I sure feel better knowing we don’t have any sort of universal, socialized national healthcare. And I’m sure all the tax-exempt 501 C-3 doctors at New York-Presbyterian are doing a wonderful job treating all patients who are in need of medical services, right? Well, I don’t want to be one to tell you, but consider this – a report today in the publication American Thinker says that of the 93 doctors affiliated with New York-Presbyterian in the specialty of Internal Medicine, only 37 of them accept Medicare. Maybe the other 56 internists have to find a way to pay for their season tickets.

Go Yankees!