For what it’s worth, I’m not the only blogger obsessing over the BCS/playoff debate. Kyle’s been plugging away about it lately (lots of links, too!), as has Paul Westerdawg. And Doug gets his two cents in, as well.
But I really wanted to spend a minute responding to this post of TH’s over at Carolina March. First of all, because it makes me recognize that I am a mere amateur when it comes to sarcasm – I can get it out in occasional dribs and drabs – who cannot help but acknowledge when I am in the presence of a pro.
But I also think he’s dead wrong about something when he posts,
Face it, the bowl system is just like the NCAA basketball tournament. Except where there’s one meaningless Tuesday game in March, there’s thirty-three in December.
Sorry, but that does not compute. In the context of mission creep, bowl games and March Madness could not have less in common. Bowl games, except for the BCS title game, are nothing but glorified exhibition games. Well paying ones, with better TV ratings than most regular season college basketball games, but exhibition games nevertheless. If you feel a need to analogize them to a basketball tourney, the NIT would be a better place to start.
D-1 football isn’t a tournament sport at present. College basketball is. And it’s real easy to spot the difference. All you have to do is go try to find the football equivalent of ESPNU’s Bracketology. Let me know when you hear Herbie and the other talking heads arguing over who got screwed over not getting a Las Vegas Bowl invite.
Or when you can find a regular season Washington-Hawaii basketball game that draws as much attention as a Washington-Hawaii football game:
On the final weekend of the season, Washington at Hawaii received a 2.0 TV rating. An estimated 1.96 million households saw the game, even though it ended a 3:14 a.m., ET because the Warriors’ victory all but assured them of an at-large berth in one of the five BCS games.
There is one regular season basketball rivalry that draws national attention year in and year out, TH’s North Carolina and Duke. How many D-1 football rivalries are compelling nationally? And how many D-1 regular season football games are there every year like Washington-Hawaii or West Virginia-Pitt that draw our attention, compared to college basketball? If it’s not because of the differing postseason formats, what is it?
UPDATE: In the “give credit where credit is due” department, TH responds to my post here. I don’t want to spend too much time in my response to his response, mainly because it’s apparent that there’s a yawning gap between our opinions on this subject that I don’t think can be bridged. However, there are a couple of rebuttals to his post I want to make.
First, I think he’s being just a wee bit disingenuous with his “a scrappy team from a minor conference” comment. Memphis vs. Tennessee was a meeting between the top two basketball teams in the country that wasn’t played at three in the morning, East Coast time. The caliber of teams in the Hawai’i-Washington game wasn’t anywhere in the same vicinity. Neither was the setting.
Second, he misinterprets the point I raised in the last paragraph of my post. I’m not asking why from an overall standpoint college football is more popular than college basketball. I’m asking why there are so many more compelling regular season college football games than there are regular season basketball games.