I realize that many of you who see this post will simply give me the virtual equivalent of clapping your hands over your ears and doing the “LALALALALALAICAN’THEARYOU” shuffle, but it bears repeating: there’s a reason that the college basketball experience matters in the discussion of a college football playoff. You can talk all you want about differences in schedules, in the number of teams, in the length of the season, but it still comes back down to this:
“Every Saturday when I’m in a stadium or watching on TV, I see how much these games mean to people,” Hancock said. “I get it that if you did 16 teams, then the conference champions would get in and the conference races would be [important]. But it’s inevitable that a portion of the energy would go from the regular season to the playoff.”
On that issue, Hancock claims to be somewhat of an expert. Like a lot of us, he has seen the meaning bled out of college basketball’s regular season with expansion of the tournament. The ACC recently signed a monster deal with ESPN that seemingly hinged on the hope of Miami and Florida State becoming good again in football and a couple of Carolina-Duke regular-season games.
“[The BCS commissioners] have to worry about what this enterprise is going to be like in 20 years,” Hancock said. “Nobody foresaw what the tournament would do to December, January and February basketball.”
I understand that Hancock’s a shill. But that doesn’t change the simple fact that college basketball today is a very different animal than it was 35 years ago. If you’re a fan of brackets, no doubt that’s a big plus in your book. But if you’re a fan of meaningful regular season play, it has to give you some pause for thought. And if you’re a BCS conference commissioner, or the president of a school in a power conference getting paid major bucks for that football regular season product, it has to give you more than that.