My name is Mike Hall and I'm here to recruit you. Drink a glass of my sports milk, if you would... and tell me where I'm crazy. With less than a week until Selection Sunday I'd like to compare the NCAA Tournament to the BCS... in hopes of proving that the BCS really isn't Satan's greatest success afterall.
I happen to be one of the rare sports fans who actually loves the BCS. You never hear our side of the story because people never seem to have those of us in the sports media who enjoy the BCS (my BTN partner Dave Revsine, Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein, ESPN's John Saunders, CBS' Dennis Dodd, etc) involved in forums to discuss the topic.
Now there are a bevy of reasons I have as to why the BCS is fine, if not very good. But instead of taking up space by going into detail on things like the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it TV ratings and attendance figures, the amazing intensity and importance of the regular season, the stupidity of comparing it to Division II football's playoff, the stupidity of comparing it to the NFL's playoff, and more ... I'll instead throw out there 3 points:
On the one hand, I agree. The amazing upsets provide the drama that makes March Madness and sports so wonderful. But on the other hand... is that really the best way to determine who is the champion? I mean ... When we look back at the 1985 basketball season ... we look back at the winners that year, Villanova. But is that really an accurate depiction of who was the best team that season? Or does that more precisely say which team was the best for 3 weeks in March that year? The Cats were a Nol. 8 seed. Should they really have even legitimately been a part of the fight for the national championship?
Think of it in this microcosm. Look how the conferences pick who gets to go to the NCAA Tournament. They pick the winner of their league tournament in March. For a big conference like the ACC, it doesn't matter if Duke won the regular season but loses the tournament--they're still getting in. But what about the smaller conferences. They completely ignore the entire 3 months of the regular season and which team truly was the champion of the conference. But they reward the team that happened to play the best 4 games in a 4 day span. Is that really right? Does that really show which team was the best in that conference that year? Is that team truly representative of the best that conference had that year?
Point #2 -- When I get in debates with people about the BCS, they always say if you made it a 4 team playoff, or an 8 team playoff... the arguments who was left out will go away. When I protest that, I hear, "well, it will be so minuscule in comparison to those we have when debating how unfair it was that the third team in the country got left out of the BCS national title game." To that I say nay.
Wait until this upcoming Sunday. Watch TV all day Sunday, all day Monday ... listen to sports radio all week long. What will you hear? Passionate arguments about how ridiculous and unfair it is that team X was left out of the NCAA tournament. And which team is team X? Why that would be the 66th best team in the country. 66! And you'll hear words thrown around as if this is a crime of national importance. Its "shocking ... appalling ... grotesque... disgusting... unforgivable..." that the 66th best team in the country didn't make the tournament. Let me summon my Seth Myers here... "Really!?"
My question to you is this... what on earth makes anyone think that if we went to an 8 team college football playoff, that the outcry over the 9th best team in the country being left out would be small?! It'd be just as loud, if not louder, than the pessimistic and annoying rants you'll hear about bubble teams getting left out next week.
Point #3-- In fact let's put that into practice based on this past season. If you do the conventional idea people have of getting to the 8 playoff teams ... you have the winners of the BCS conferences, and 2 at large teams. Ok, so who would be our two at large teams then? Texas has to be one. They beat Big 12 champ Oklahoma head to head and their only loss came to a top ten team on the road in the final seconds. Course that loss came to Texas Tech... a team with also only one regular season loss on the road to Oklahoma. They have to be in. Same goes with Utah, I mean they were undefeated. And if that's true... then Boise State must make it as well since they also had no losses in the regular season. Now USC, there's a team that has to be in. They had only one loss which came on the road to a good team back in September and most considered the Trojans the best team in the country come December. Shoot, I forgot Alabama. They had only one loss in the regular season, sorta. It came to Florida in their conference's title game. They really have to be in.
So lets see where this perfect 8 team playoff system got us. Texas, Texas Tech, Utah, Boise State, USC and Alabama all deserve to be in. That's six teams fighting for two spots. How do you think that would go over? If we did that, did we really get rid of the controversy that people claim only exists with the BCS?
Let me end by saying this... I've had this argument for almost half a decade now. And when I get in debates with people all it does is make both sides feel stronger in their own opinions. Its basically like putting a democrat and a republican together and having one try to convince the other about their point of view. So I know I won't convince those who already hate the BCS.... But hopefully you can at least see where I'm comin from. And also, maybe instead of spending next week arguing about which teams that weren't good enough to place in the top half of their conference didn't make the NCAA Tournament ... we can spend time focusing on those who DID.
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