Today is the best day of the sports calendar and it’s not because of St. Patrick’s Day, although it happens to fall on that day this year.
To me, while I’ve always been more of a fan of NCAA football than NCAA basketball, I have to admire what that sport has done to captivate the national sports public for a whole month. Today is the one day of the year when your favorite basketball team has a chance, no matter how small, of winning it all. In basketball, with runs by teams like Butler, George Mason and LaSalle in recent years, that kind of hope exists.
It would be nice if football had the same thing.
Football can never duplicate that because it does not want to but, just once, I’d like to see them try. It’s gotten far too complicated with far-flung conferences that make zero geographical sense, but this is how it can be done.
1) Have a 64-team field
Base the seeding on the regular-season outcome so, say, Alabama opens at home with Idaho. Before you say it would be a bloodbath, check out some of the teams Alabama played in its non-conference schedule over the last five years.
2) Play a Limited Regular Season Schedule
Determine how many weekends a regular-season would take, with byes, then base the post-season off of it. If it’s an eight-game season, the 2015 Temple Owls would have had a high seed based on a 7-1 record that included a four-point loss to the then No. 9 team. Maintain current rivalries, like Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn, Texas-Oklahoma, but ditch the Stony Brook-Temple and Rutgers-Howard type games, which really clog up the college football season and nobody really wants to see.
3) Create November-Dec. Madness
Pair the field down to 32 after the first week of the playoffs, 16 the third, eight the fourth and four the fifth. Hold the Final Four in January. No byes.
4) Wake Up
It was a good dream while it lasted but face facts. We college football fans will never have what college basketball fans have this one day of the year—the audacity of hope, and that’s a powerful drug.
At least we will always have tailgating.