The BCS and March Madness – Two Views on the Same Idea


With what many consider the best playoff system in any sport talking expansion, many might next turn to the BCS to expand or change.

The argument has been around for years. Why is the college football system so unwilling to change? Why don’t they just follow the incredibly successful footsteps of March Madness? What would be so wrong about a playoff system?

Each side has its pros and cons, things that make them unique, and reasons for change and reasons to be conservative.

Without taking sides, here are some of the arguments:

In college football, every game matters. In college basketball, March Madness is the only time people really pay attention.

With a 12 or 13 game season in college football, supporters of the current bowl system say that each game makes a huge impact on the postseason, as if each game itself were a playoff game. A 30+ game season in college basketball can sometime drag on for fans, and yes, some fans don’t pay very close attention to the regular season.

Yet if you turn on SportsCenter on a weekday night, college basketball games featuring ranked teams still seem pretty important to them, and blogs, media and fans in general do really seem to care if the raucous fans around the country are any indication of a January conference matchup.

In college basketball, the best two teams at the end play. In college football, many would argue that doesn’t always happen.

In 2004, a year many consider the BCS’s biggest mistake, Auburn — an undefeated team and SEC Champions — was left out of the BCS National Title Game (that year the Orange Bowl). Tiger fans cried foul, saying that the two best teams were not playing for the championship, and they were unfairly excluded from a chance at a title.

While Tiger fans may have been justified, they were powerless to stop the Oklahoma vs. USC matchup that would occur.

In college basketball, 65 teams get a shot at the title. After five rounds, two teams are left to battle it out.

But take 2010 for example. Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse were thought to be the best teams in the nation all year. Yet, now that we’ve reached the Final Four, where are they? They lost in earlier rounds, and will not get a chance to compete for the title. So are the best teams in the nation competing this weekend in Indianapolis? Butler, Michigan State, Duke and West Virginia are all good, but very few would have said that these were the best four teams in the nation before the Madness started.

So which way is better?

A 65-team tournament is more feasible for college basketball. A tournament of any size isn’t really feasible for college football.

The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is 120 teams large. Division I basketball is 342 teams large. Could you really find a tournament style that would be as inclusive for football as the NCAA tournament is for basketball? Plus the schedule of football directly conflicts with college finals and winter vacation, how could you resolve the issues with academics?

Its difficult for anyone to come to a consensus on the topic. Numerous sites have tried to engineer playoff systems for college football including Yahoo!, BCS Evolution and BCS Sucks among literally thousands of ideas scattered across the internet.

Yet no two can come to final conclusion about how it should work while still keeping everyone happy. It seems nearly impossible.

There are many other arguments to be made on both sides here. The issues probably wont be resolved anytime soon, but the arguments likely wont stop either.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.



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