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March Madness

Published February 23. 2010 05:00PM

If it's broken, then don't fix it.

If it isn't broken, then tinker with it until it becomes broken.

That seems to be the philosophy of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) when it comes to postseason playoffs.

In football, the NCAA has what it calls the BCS (Bowl Championship Series). And it's a farce. The only people who like it are the NCAA executives, and the sponsors and promoters of the major bowl games.

Everyone else, including almost every college football fan, dislikes the setup and wants to see a playoff system devised that will crown a true national champion.

The NCAA makes lame excuses about extending the season too long, and taking student-athletes out of the classroom as reasons for not instituting a playoff system. But the real reason is they don't want to kill the golden goose the big-name bowl games that spill millions of dollars into the NCAA's coffers.

But a playoff system could be easily implemented incorporating all the major bowl games. But despite pleas for a playoff that stretch all the way into the halls of Congress, the NCAA won't budge.

Instead we allow computers and unqualified voters to select the teams that play for the BCS title. It's a bad system.

It's a case of something being broken without any attempt being made to fix it, no matter how loud fans scream for change.

On the other hand, the NCAA's basketball playoff system (better known as March Madness) each year crowns a true national champion by the process of elimination. The 65-team tourney isn't broken, and is in no need for fixing or tweaking.

So what is the NCAA thinking of doing? You guessed it. They're contemplating throwing a monkey wrench into the tournament by expanding it to 96 teams.

Why? It's the same reason why they won't consider initiating a football playoff money. In basketball, more teams mean more games, and more games mean more revenue.

But expanding the number of teams will only dilute the honor of being invited to the "Big Dance". The selection process has almost become as big as the actual tournament itself. Adding more teams only takes away a lot of importance of the regular season. If they're going to enlarge the tourney to 96 teams, why not go all the way and allow all 347 Division One schools into the tourney, no matter what their record is, and thereby eliminate the regular season's reason for existing?

It shouldn't take an act of Congress, we all know they have enough on their plates these days. But the NCAA needs to get in tune with the people who support intercollegiate athletics - the fans.

Vote yes for a playoff system in Division One football. Vote no for expanding the basketball playoffs. It's what the majority wants.

Bob Urban

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