COLUMN: College football system should take note of March Madness
At this point, you probably shredded your pre-tournament bracket well over a week ago. Yes, it seems as though this year's NCAA basketball tournament has proven to be as mad as ever.
No, it's not the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University that has me pulling out my hair this time, but rather the lack of universally-competitive sports in the NCAA.
In college basketball, all Division I teams have a shot at greatness. No, not just conference greatness, but a national title. If you know anything about UNC sports, you know that the 2010 men's basketball team tasted a hint of such success when it won the Big Sky Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. This is great news for smaller schools like UNC and more importantly their fans. Each and every year, the Bears are competing for a chance to bring a national championship to Greeley. This makes for an almost perfectly competitive system. Unfortunately, this is not the case for football; perhaps the most popular of all college sports.
The bowl system, be it of college football, or toilets, stinks. In college football, teams can fight for the chance to "appear" in bowl games. The winner brings home some overly licensed trophy sponsored by Capital One or Tostitos. The schools usually earn top dollar to play these games and even more if they win. There is one championship game which features two teams that are determined between a mixture of coaches polls and algorithms.
In the bowl system, there may be a national champion, but there is no way to know if it was really the best team, unbeatable by any other.
Over the years, ideas and rumors have swirled around the association that involve a type of playoff, or bracket system, not unlike the one that men's and women's basketball use annually. The idea is that the season would be slightly extended, but it would better find a champion in the end. I write in favor of such a system, and I sincerely hope that the NCAA takes a more competitively sound, and less lucrative, approach to collegiate sports.
Although the Big Sky currently plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level which has a playoff system, it wouldn't allow a team from our conference to play in a large bowl game or even the "bigger" national championship game. That should change.
It is my personal belief that the system would encourage a broader range of fans to support teams that they may be affiliated with, but currently have no chance of playing in national title games. If the Bears had an honest way of playing a big-name team in a competitive atmosphere, I think most fans would approach the season with a greater sense of hope and ultimately support our football team with more enthusiasm than ever before.
- Benjamin Fuller is a senior economics major and a columnist for The Mirror. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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