2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions – UConn, lost 30% of their games entering the post season and finished tied for 9th place in their own conference. 2011 NCAA Football Champion – Auburn, on the other hand, went undefeated. As in, ZERO losses.
Which sounds a champion to you?
Which sport sounds like the regular season mattered?
I like the BCS (Bowl Championship Series). I know I’m in the minority, but I do. Is it perfect? Of course not, especially with Oklahoma State being the most recent winner of the “we got screwed” award. But college football is special. To be the NCAA BCS Champion means you were an elite team from start to finish. Not “pretty good” or “got hot at the right time,” but ELITE. No other sport can say that. March Madness, as great as it is, dominates college basketball interest, relegates the regular season to second-tier status, and makes the sport nationally relevant for only about 3 weeks.
Conversely, college football is life and death for 4 months. Every. Single. Game. It has the last great regular season, which harkens back to the old days of sports where the only the two best teams over the course of a season were given the honor to play for the championship.
Over time, other sports added more playoff games to create more excitement, and so more teams (read: markets) had meaningful games to play late in the season. But college football is not those other sports; it is already a thrill ride. The regular season IS the playoffs. But the best part is that not only the national champion contenders still have something to play for. A few years ago, the stars aligned and my Illinois Fighting Illini (who most likely will never contend for a championship) shocked everyone and made it to the Rose Bowl with a 9-3 record. I was beyond excited. I couldn’t care less that it wasn’t for the championship. Making the Rose Bowl (Or the other BCS bowls – Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar) is a BIG deal. It comes with prestige, the national spotlight, a recruiting advantage, and millions of dollars for the team and conference. If this was college basketball, they would have been a ho-hum 4 or 5 seed. They don’t put “2007 4-Seed” on T-shirts, but you better believe they make them for the Rose Bowl. I have mine.
So let’s say a tournament is added. Does it really solve the problem of who got screwed? Not really. With a 4 team tournament, the 5th team is complaining. With an 8-team version, the 9th is complaining, and so on. Then every team you add further dilutes the importance of the regular season by making it easier to get in. I just don’t see a perfect solution.
So I ask you, why should we do any harm to the most compelling regular season in existence for just a new round of problems? What’s your stance on the Bowl Championship Series?
Stay tuned later this afternoon when Alex takes on the opposing viewpoint: Anti-BCS.