Why college basketball is relevant to the BCS discussion

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.

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40 Comments

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40 responses to “Why college basketball is relevant to the BCS discussion

  1. TennesseeDawg

    I’ll be honest, except for the Dawgs, I watch almost no regular season CB games. It doesn’t mean much until tourney time. In contrast, I’ll watch any big regular season CFB game because one loss means so much more in football.

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  2. Bob

    A huge amen to that. College Basketball’s regular season is as thrilling as watching the Dawgs play Charleston Southern in football…..;-) A playoff of 8 teams would work for me. The problem is that the playoff fanatics would soon expand it to 16 teams and there are not close to 16 teams deserving a shot at a National Championship. The regular season will be big time devalued.

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  3. Dooms Day Dawg

    An NCAA Football tourney = death to college football. First, if run by the NCAA, the smallers schools WILL get in. The 1st round will be similar to a 16 vs 1 hoops game. Imagine Oregon vs Portland State in football. And I am sure everyone remembers that the basketball tourney did not begin with 64. There was a time when conference champs were the only teams in. Then expansion and money crept in. Now there are even talks of adding more schools! Wee! Let everyone have a shot! The BCS is not the answer, nor is a playoff system run by the NCAA.

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  4. Dante

    I’d give this argument a lot more credence if BCS Conference ADs weren’t out there watering down their schedules. The regular season will be devalued? It’s already being devalued. I have a hard time buying that a playoff will be any more damaging to our regular season than Georgia scheduling the likes of LA-La and Georgia Southern.

    IMHO, college baseball has the best balance of regular season excitement and post-season excitement. Part of that is because teams like Georgia will go out there and schedule tough games so they’ll be ready for a playoff run if their team is good enough to make it.

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    • There are plenty of crappy games littering baseball and basketball regular season schedules.

      And speaking of college baseball, after this past season, what’s the point of having an SEC tourney?

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      • G.I. Bulldog Joe

        Doh!

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      • Gen. Stoopnagle

        Support the local economy in Hoover?

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      • Dante

        There are but at least in baseball even the crappy games are losable because a good team isn’t sending out an ace pitcher on a Wednesday to take on Kennesaw State. In football, even against a crappy team our starters are in until we have a comfortable lead.

        As far as the SEC Tourney, I don’t understand why we have one. To be honest, I didn’t equate that with either the season or post-season. I just sort of forgot about it (like I often do when it’s actually being played). I still think it’s one of the few sports where I look forward to the regular season just as much as the post-season (not counting the SEC Tourney obviously).

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        • There are but at least in baseball even the crappy games are losable because a good team isn’t sending out an ace pitcher on a Wednesday to take on Kennesaw State.

          And why do you think that’s the case?

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    • Biggus Rickus

      That’s not what “the regular season will be devalued” means. It means that a game like South Carolina-Alabama would be rendered less important if both teams got into a tournament at season’s end.

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  5. Mike

    The proponents of this theory usually fail to mention that the basketball season has almost three times the game as the football season.

    That just *might* be one good reason each game is not as meaningful.

    Plus, about half of the games are played on a weekday. Which makes it tough for out of towners to get to games, unless the arena is in the middle of a big metro area. Which by definiton many if not most colleges are not.

    I don’t entirely disagree with your point of view re: the BCS and a playoff, but the comparisons with basketball are not exactly apples to apples.

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    • If all that you say is true, why is the college basketball regular season of today less meaningful than the college basketball regular season of 30 years ago? There were more regular season games, and more weekday regular season games, back then, as well.

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      • Mike

        Postulating the answer to that theory (if it even is true) does not prove your theory that football and basketball are comparable. There can be any number of reasons the regular basketball season might not seem as important that are not associated with the expansion of the NCAA tournament.

        I know, I know, your next question will be; OK, then share with us your alternative plausable explanations.

        I got nothing but more theory

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      • AmpedDawg

        Is it less meaningful? I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that there are a lot more tourney bids going to conference champions today than there were 30 years ago. I could be, and probably am, wrong. But nevertheless, if you are Georgia, for example, and your shot of getting into the NCAA hinges on your regular season victories in and out of conference (and who you play out of conference) and how far you get in the conference tournament, I would think that the regular season is pretty damn meaningful.

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  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    Since money will ultimately decide the issue anyway, then Greg McGarity will get to deal with a playoff system that makes fans NOT want to shell out increasingly large bucks for season tickets.

    Seems to me there is a sort of ultimate inconsistency here somewhere.

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  7. Here’s what drives me crazy about all of “this” – we pretend that the “national championship” matters, but we don’t seem to want to have a vehicle for honestly deciding who wins it. Thus we end up treated to logic-offending claims, like USC’s back-to-back 03-04 “national titles” or Alabama’s 13 National Championships (I was at Tuscaloosa, and if any big lie is repeated in a more often Gobbelean fashion than the 13 titles I don’t know what it is). The end result of such patent nonsense, to me, is that the “national title” in college football is virtually meaningless. Yet, I seem to want it.

    All of this is partly my fault for buying the whole ESPN-driven notion that it is SO IMPORTANT. I can still remember well (you likely can too, Blutarsky) when a good season was defined by beating your key rival and winning your conference. The “national title” at that time was seen pretty much for what it was – media fiction. Now, 119 teams end up feeling like they failed each year. I don’t know what the answer is, but the next Nobel should go to whoever finds it.

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    • Puffdawg

      YES! Mergz, don’t know how long you’ve followed GTP, but there was a raging debate on this a while back, and what you just said was and has always been my contention. Who gives a shit about the MNC? My goal for my team every season is win the conference, beat your rivals, and win the Sugar Bowl.

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      • Macallanlover

        My goal as well, Puff. And I hate that the faux title offered by the BCS crap is causing us to devalue the regular season by dropping quality out of conference games. OOC record has nothing to do with us winning the most significant title in CFB.

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        • Puffdawg

          Mac, the crap OOC games are all about the money. We’d rather host Directional State two years in a row than trade home and aways with Ohio State because we make more money. You could argue the home and aways build our national brand and may raise revenues indirectly that way, but they can also have the opposite effect, as in losing the last two big time OOC games out west. Crap OOC games are risk free, and I don’t think playoffs would change this practice.

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          • Bob

            I could not agree more. I care about winning the SEC. That is done on the field of play. The MNC, well that is fine, but it is hardly my damn goal. There is FAR too much luck involved in that whole process. LSU and to some degree, Florida have been blessed by having the right timing. UGA and Auburn, not so much. And there is absolutely no difference in Georgia’s 13-1 and LSU and Florida’s 13-1 except that some other teams in another part of the country happened to play better than in the years LSU and Florida were blessed. Urban Meyer and Nick Saban had zilch to do with it.

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      • AmpedDawg

        Count me in that group as well. Winning the SEC and beating Ga. Tech are the only things that matter to me (unless Clemson is on the schedule…I enjoy stomping them as well). Until there is a playoff to actually pit teams against one another after the season, the BCS Championship Game remains a beauty contest determined, to some extent, by how well thought of your team was in July and early August before anyone had ever taken the field.

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    • All of this is partly my fault for buying the whole ESPN-driven notion that it is SO IMPORTANT. I can still remember well (you likely can too, Blutarsky) when a good season was defined by beating your key rival and winning your conference. The “national title” at that time was seen pretty much for what it was – media fiction. Now, 119 teams end up feeling like they failed each year. I don’t know what the answer is, but the next Nobel should go to whoever finds it.

      How true.

      The thing is, I don’t remember there being as much bitching about the old system as we’ve heard about the BCS. Certainly nobody wrote books about it.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        The lack of bitching about the old system is probably as much a function of the lack of instant communication as actual lack of bitching.

        The whole playoff debate explosion is, I suspect, pretty much a function of the provision of access by your own self and others.

        The internet is the water cooler of the new age, and I can remember some pretty heated arguments about who was really number one around the water cooler in the “old days” when people actually waited at the drug store for Sports Illustrated’s latest crime against the people to come out.

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      • Dante

        It helps that in the old system, winning a national title didn’t really mean anything. There was no big bowl payout. There was not even a change in where you went for your bowl. It was just a nice thing to hang up in the trophy room to impress recruits. Now that there’s cash money attached to it, ADs are doing whatever it takes to get there. And given it’s still just a popularity contest but now with one game tacked onto it, it’s more a matter of politics than actual football.

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    • Dog in Fla

      “(I was at Tuscaloosa, and if any big lie is repeated in a more often Gobbelean fashion than the 13 titles I don’t know what it is).”

      +0.50 Godwin (“Gobbelean” gets full point only when used in analogy launched during month of November)

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  8. Toomdawg

    It’s just a bad analogy. The good analogy is the NFL.

    Playoff system: check
    Lose a game and still survive: check
    Lose ONE THIRD of your games and maybe survive: check

    Lots of issues here that would seemingly be strong arguments against a college playoff. And yet the verdict:

    EVERY game matters and gets huge attention: check

    Hell, Senator, we are 2-4 and wild dogs wouldn’t keep me away from watching every play of every game.

    The dillution argument just doesn’t hold water.

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    • EVERY game matters and gets huge attention: check

      You mean like the Colts-Jets game last year? Check.

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      • Puffdawg

        More like checkMATE!!! See what I did there?

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      • Macallanlover

        Irrelevant and hyperbolic, Senator. Eight teams, four home game spots available. A truly legit title that is earned. Every single game for contenders would be like throwing raw meat in a lion’s cage.

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        • Hackerdog

          You ignore the recent Colts’ seasons where they choose to forgo chances at undefeated seasons in order to rest starters and be ready for the playoff games that “really” count.

          But other than those obvious exceptions, you’re right on the money.

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          • Macallanlover

            No, I think that is a valid point for the NFL system, but that would not ever, ever happen in an 8 team playoff in CFB with four home games at stake for the four highest rated teams.

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        • Mac, you keep arguing as if an 8-team playoff is where the action has coalesced. I would bet that at least 80% of the talk centers around either a plus one or a 16-team format.

          I don’t think an 8-team playoff is realistic unless there’s a drastic realignment in D-1.

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          • Macallanlover

            I agree, there is much more support for the +1 and the 16 team format. Just because I am in a small minority doesn’t mean I am not right. 8 is the sweet spot, +1 is an extension of the current problem, and 16 is logistically flawed (also provides unnecessary fodder for the excessive arguments as well as some validity for the regular season being devalued folks.)

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            • AmpedDawg

              I’m in the 8 team boat as well. Conference champions and fill the remaining slots with the highest ranked teams that are not conference champions. I’ll leave up to others whether the Big East gets an automatic qualifier or not. Personally, I say that no conference gets an automatic qualifier unless the champion is in the top 10. No polls (that count) until mid October. However you rank them, strength of schedule has to play a role (I’m not an MIT grad so forgive me for saying that someone else can figure out how to make that work). But that’s just me.

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  9. bba

    in regards to devaluing, check out this quote:

    “Most people expect us to win right away,” Krzyzewski said. “The people who expect that won’t get that, so we don’t expect that. We need to develop like our team last year developed and give them an opportunity to do that. We can’t play for the national championship in every practice and every game. What we need to do is give them a chance to grow in a system and, by the time you are in a position to do that, be ready for it.”

    This is precisely why no one outside of tobacco road follows cbb until march. you think richt had coach k’s mindset going into columbia or when he decided to go for it from his own 28 against arkansas? a playoff would most certainly take the sense of urgency out of some games each season.

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  10. Go Dawgs!

    I don’t really have a dog in the fight between the bowls and the playoffs. As long as UGA doesn’t get screwed over in a year where we’re good enough to win the national title, I’m good either way.

    With that said, I don’t agree with the argument that college basketball’s regular season sucks. Granted, your season’s not over if you lose a game, but it’s not very realistic to expect that kind of focus in a sport where you play 30 or more times. I watch a lot of college basketball during the season. I watch Georgia every time that they’re either on TV or I can get over to Athens to see them. I watch ACC games, Big 12 games, Pac 10 games, OVC games, it doesn’t matter. I’m not even that big of a hoops fan (I watch 10 Hawks games a year, max, and that’s it for the NBA). I just love college sports. College football’s better, but I think that’s probably just because I like football more than basketball.

    If you love basketball, I think you love college basketball’s regular season, even if you can lose ten games and still get into the tournament. For my money, the Dennis Felton run through the SEC Tournament a few years ago was one of the most thrilling sports rides I’ve ever gone on. Did we deserve to be in the NCAA’s? No. But man, it was a fun story. Just sayin’, I don’t know if it would ruin college football or not to go to a bracket playoff. Certainly, it would take some of the sting out of losing, but losing twice would almost still certainly doom you. I just don’t agree that college basketball’s broken.

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  11. Russ The Temporary Mascot

    Since live mascots do not work well on the hardwood, basketball is not relevant to me.

    Russ.

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  12. Senator wrote: “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”

    Let me correct that for you:

    “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 differences in schedules, the number of teams, the length of the season.”

    Its the 30+ games that makes each game less relevant, not the tournament.

    Look at pro sports.

    Regular season games in football > basketball > baseball.

    # of games baseball > basketball > football.

    Not a coincidence.

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    • I give you guys credit for stubbornness, if nothing else.

      First of all, who said anything about each game? I thought we were talking about the regular season as a whole.

      But skip past that for a minute and address (1) why college basketball’s regular season is less compelling now than it was 30 years ago and (2) why college basketball revenue generation is the inverse of college football’s in terms of regular season vs. postseason.

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  13. Stephen

    All these folks saying that “they’d still watch and go to games” are missing the point. No one’s worried about losing the die-hards. Heck, I’d still go to the UGA version of Colts-throwaway-games because I’d want to see the backups play. I’m enjoying watching Hutson Mason play as I type.

    I think we’d really need some evidence here. How did attendance and TV ratings change for some particular teams after basketball went to brackets? How did overall attendance/ratings change?

    It’s kinda inconceivable to me that there would ever be a situation where every game on UGA’s schedule didn’t matter to me.

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