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Why You Shouldn't Be Embarrassed By Harvey Perlman

I had an interesting interaction with BTTowling on twitter yesterday afternoon. It came after I had responded to a tweet by Michael Grey, who hosts "The Show" on AM 590. Grey had asked:

My response to him was:

This elicited a question from one of the writers at, Brian Towle, who asked:

Brian made it clear he wasn't being sarcastic, but wanted an honest answer. It made me pause, partially because my response to the Grey was a little flip, and partially because I wondered how I'd explain my attitude towards Perlman 140 characters a time.

After thinking about it for a bit, I came up with an answer.

The short answer I gave on twitter is because Harvey Perlman had the guts to assume a contrarian role despite the criticism he got for it. Most people would have just gone along with whatever was most popular.

In my view, that's a valid response. And it's true - it took a fair amount of guts for Perlman to maintain his position. You could rebut that by pointing out it was Perlman's job to do that as a member of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, but I would come back and say that there certainly were other people in the same position who weren't nearly as vocal nor nearly as public.

Harvey Perlman's guts aren't the only reason you shouldn't be embarrassed by him.

The biggest reason has to do with options, as in keeping them open. Options are a key part in any negotiation.

Let me illustrate.

For those that aren't CN regulars, I am an IT consultant by trade. I am involved in a fair amount of negotiations that involve convincing my clients why they should chose one system over another. It is my job to compare the systems and assist them in choosing the right one, and that process involves giving them options.

I try to stick with at least three. Typically, the first one is always the best option, although it's frequently the most expensive. It's not always possible to go with the most expensive choice, and that's where number two comes in. Option number two is typically the middle-of-the-road choice.

Negotiations of this nature are easier done if there are multiple people involved, that way one person can present the case for each option, in effect, becoming the "owner" for that option. (Every copy show/movie there is a "good cop" and "bad cop", right? You can't be both at the same time.)

I mentioned three options. More times than not, the third option is bad, yet it's still offered as a choice; the reason being that it makes the other two options look that much better. "Do nothing" is a great third option. If nothing else, it offers perspective or a reason to remind everyone why we're looking at the choices in the first place.

In the case of the college football playoff, the three options (simplified, obviously) were as follows:

- Four-team playoff with games played at neutral sites.

- Four-team playoff involving the current bowl structure and a neutral championship site.

- Keep BCS But Add Extra "Championship Game" - The "Plus One"

The first option was the best option in terms of overall fairness and ability for fans to travel to see their teams, but there was simply too much political overhead involved in making that work. Bowls and all the baggage that goes with them (tradition, ugh) made it impossible.

The second option isn't too bad, especially when you look at it relative to the third, which is really bad because it would have continued the "BCS" (a really bad, filthy, horrible word to college football fans).

Harvey Perlman was champion on that third option, but the play here wasn't really getting the first option, it was getting the second one done as long as it included a selection committee that would make sure if no one wanted another SEC vs SEC championship that one wouldn't happen.

Instead of seeing Perlman as old and stagnant, a luddite, maybe you could change your perspective a bit and realize that he played a critical role in making a college football playoff happen.

For Nebraskans, that means Perlman has been involved in two monumental (epic, biblical, whatever) changes - the movement of the University of Nebraska to the Big Ten, and the implementation of a college football playoff system.

If you're embarrassed by having a leader of your university willing to take on such huge challenges instead of shirk from them, honestly, I'm not sure what else to tell you.