OK, I consider myself to be a pretty good commish, and I often offer advice to others in this forum, but this situation has me really frustrated and in some serious need of Cafe perspective. I'll try to explain it as best as I can...
It's a 12 team H2H keeper league for money ($75 per team). The draft was scheduled for last night at 8pm ET and everything was hunky dory, good to go... ESPN opens the draft room an hour before first pick, so I go in a little after 7:00 and to my horror the draft order is completely wrong. I run four leagues as part of NCAA Fantasy Baseball (see my sig) and have a League Manager for each one, because I simply don't have the time to run the day-to-day business of each league. I had created a randomized draft order and asked the LM to update it. Turns out this never happened, which I didn't realize soon enough, but it's my fault for not following up and making sure it happened.
So what I try to do is go into the LM control panel on the ESPN page and reset the draft, hoping I could re-sechedule it for an hour later or something. As I should've figured, the earliest I could re-schedule for was the following day (today). At this point, several of the managers are freaking out (understandably so), saying this is bullsh*t and they want their money back, can't make any of the proposed new draft times, etc. It's beginning to look like the league is gonna get shut down and I'd have to refund everyone, which would have been a real bummer, all just because the draft order was wrong. But then one of the managers suggested Couch Managers, which let me run a draft with all of my league's exact roster and draft settings on the fly... it was perfect, really saved the day. So believe it or not, we actually had the draft off the ground and running at 8:35 PM with 11 out of 12 managers, and the 12th joined around 9:00.
Crisis averted... almost. Turns out Couch Manager's database is missing a few players, most notably Kelvim Escobar and Trevor Cahill (those are the only two that were raised by name). The guy who wanted Escobar notified me and an agreement was reached that he would pick a B.S. player in the 15th round, who would be replaced with Escobar after the rosters were entered on ESPN. This seemed OK with everyone, since no one else had raised the Escobar/missing players problem at that point, and no one seemed willing to give up a 15th round pick for him. Problem is, the manager got confused and Chris Carpenter, who is draftable but he didn't want, was auto-drafted for him.
After this happened, it was discovered that some other players were missing. Upon realizing this, I immediately announced that any players not available on Couch Managers will not be drafted and will stay on waivers in the league, where everyone has a fair shot at them. Someone then raised a fair point that one shouldn't have to sacrifice their waiver priority to pick up someone that should have been in the draft pool, and would have been had we drafted on ESPN. So I came up with a compromise that each team will get one free waiver request, in reverse draft order. It would not affect the normal waiver order and teams have the option to decline it. Everyone seemed OK with this compromise and I indicated that the team that wanted Escobar would get the claim to him, as per my previous agreement with him. No one objected to this at the time either.
Well, I got a heated email from one of the managers this morning saying it was crap that the manager automatically got Escobar and that I can count him out for next year, etc. However, I know if I went back on my word and took Escobar away from the other guy (who, keep in mind, was willing to give up a 15th round pick) that he would be equally pissed off.
I would say draft technology is imperfect and you're doing the best you can. You're basically in a position of the least-bad options.
I think what you did is fine (or at least, good enough).
One other option to propose is that people do a blind-bid on any players that they want of their draft choices. So if they want Cahill, and noone tried to draft him, they send an e-mail with, "I want Cahill and will put up my 18th-round draft choice." or, "I want [whoever else] and will put up my 12th-round draft choice." In the case of ties, you go with whoever had the earlier pick in that round.
It's not perfect (but the ship of perfect sailed when the draft order was screwed up) but I don't see how people could legitimately complain. And then if people don't want to bid for a player but instead see who comes floating down to waivers, that's their decision.
0-3 to 4-3. Worst choke in the history of baseball. Enough said.
If you do not have time to run the day to day operations of 4 leagues, then why do you have 4 leagues that you are responsible for? I know you like your NCAA conferences thing, but sometimes bigger is not necessarily better. From reading previous posts, I know that managers are allowed to own teams in more than one of your leagues, but sometimes those leagues are pitted against each other. If you need owners to fill multiple teams in order to have these 4 leagues, you need to seriously think about contraction for more than one reason. One being that the multiple teams owned by the same owner is problematic, the other being that you are in charge of leagues that you do not have the time to be ultimately responsible for day-to-day.
As far as the actual problem, there were several things done that I think were mistakes, and each was corrected by making another mistake that offered the potential to compound the problem. When problem-solving, often it is smartest to find the solution that will not necessarily be the best solution, but rather a solution that will end the problems.
The first problem here was that I think that you have overextended your commish responsibilities. Only be responsible for what you can actually be personally responsible for. Rather than delegating the responsibility to someone else, you should have simply shrunk the scope of your operation.
Problem #2 is that your chosen deputy Commish forgot to set the draft order. The solution could have been "ok, let's just live with it", and gone with the draft order that was in front of you. Why do you set your own custom order? Most sites will do that for you, and that eliminates the chances for mistakes and accusations of cheating.
Problem #3 was trying to change the draft time. I believe that once a draft time is set, it should not be changed. It is simply going to be impossible to find an alternative draft time that is going to please everyone, so the original time must be kept. Even pushing this back an hour would have been a mistake because it opens the door for someone to complain.
Problem #4 was moving to couchmanagers. An understandable move for sure, but it should not be a surprise if the player pool is slightly different.
Problem #5 was allowing people to choose players not in the couchmanagers pool. This just complicates things and opens the door for confusion. Putting players on waivers that were not in the couchmanagers pool would have ended the cycle of complaints. The guy that pointed out that it wasnt fair had a point, but at some point you have to put an end to the snowballing problems.
Problem #6 was that the owner that wanted Escobar took Carpenter when he had agreed to take a "nobody". Since he did not choose a nobody, he should not be able to swap that player for Escobar. Escobar should go to waivers. Confusion and autodraft or not, the guy needs to ensure that he lives up to his agreement to take a nobody, and he did not do that.
Your subject line asks what to do. In my opinion, you need to STOP DOING. Tell the guy that took Carpenter that he did not pick a nobody, so he forfeits his rights to Escobar. Get out of your situation by not disrupting things any further, and not trying to make everyone happy. If people ask for their money back, or say that they are leaving after this year, then you need to simply accept that because of mistakes made by the management team of your league, the people are right to be upset and it is up to them to decide how they want to react to the mistakes. Stop trying to bend over backwards to appease everyone, because that just tends to upset someone else along the way.
For you, all you can do is learn from mistakes made and move forward.
Agreed that you are probably overextending yourself and your leagues. I would never pay money to pay in a league where the person responsible for running it day to day cannot even remember to set the draft order correctly (you may seriously want to find a replacement). I disagree with the idea you should have just cut your losses instead of trying to find the best possible solution. You cannot punish the league for your mistake which is what the other poster was advocating. Taking the easy way out is lazy commishing.
The main mistake I see is that when the guy took carpenter the answer should have been too bad if you want to sub draft escobar with your next pick fine or you can give up carpenter for him. It was unfortunate but no different than a normal timeout situation. I think the blind bid with draft choices offered up could be a good solution that would appease most if not all. The only problem you are going to run into here is that you may have to do a couple rounds of this because I can see someone saying well if he was available after this round I would have taken him and in my opinion it would be a legit complaint.
You did compound the main mistake when once you allowed one person to sub-draft someone not in the database you decided then to change the position. That was probably the worst idea. Once you set a rule like that you have to stick by it no matter the headaches otherwise of course people are going to think its unfair only one manager benefited from the setup and then subsequent change.
I think if you cannot find a solution EVERYONE agrees to you should refund everyone, especially since you do not even have someone competent to manage the league.