Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Butler (Almost) Did It

If you're a sports fan, this week is perhaps the greatest week of the year.  NCAA Final Four.  Opening Day.  The Masters.  (Can't forget the NCAA Frozen Four as well!)  And tonight's national championship game between Duke and Butler did it justice, as it was a battle that'll be remembered for years to come, with that desperation three bouncing off the front rim as the horn sounded.  We'll be talking about this one tomorrow, that's for sure.  Certainly Twitter is all abuzz tonight with talk about the game; it's been a trending topic all day.

You know what WASN'T a trending topic?  Eldrick Woods and his press conference.  Props to his handlers for throwing him to the media on a day where he could announce just about anything and find himself on page three of the sports section. No matter how ESPN tried to titilate, real sports won out.  Albert Pujols and his double dinger day ensured that.  The "trending topics" bore that out as the action won out over the paparazzi. And with Billy Payne enforcing Augusta National's version of dictatorship, the only way Woods will be the focus the rest of the week is if his golf game is at it's best.

Tonight's National Championship basketball game also reinforces my belief that college football desperately needs a playoff.  Butler proved tonight they belonged in the championship game in basketball.  What about Boise State last season? The arguments against a playoff are quickly losing relevance.  Arguments about teams missing too much class time pale when the NCAA is proposing a 96 team basketball tournament where there is only one off day (a Monday) for a week and a half.  Using a formula based on the existing BCS formula to seed teams, with higher seeds playing home games, ensures that the regular season remains relevant.

The existing BCS system only works in those season where it's a clear-cut choice between two teams. Sometimes that works (1999 Florida State/Virginia Tech, 2002 Ohio State/Miami, or 2005 USC/Texas), but most of the time, it doesn't.  I've suggested it before, and I'll say it again.  Eight team playoff, played on college campuses on home fields where the home team earns the right to host, until the national title game, which is played on a neutral site.  Eight teams should bring in every valid candidate for a championship.  Everybody else can still go to a bowl game; bowl games only serve to provide programming for ESPN and provide teams with additional practice time.  A playoff doesn't change that.  ESPN still televises the NIT while March Madness is still underway; no reason why a college football playoff would change that.

Tonight, Butler shot a hole in the argument that one of the "mid-majors" can't compete with the big boys. Now more than ever, college football needs a playoff.

No comments: