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The Second Division Problem

The BCS Schools may want to break away from the NCAA and destroy the greatest spectacle in all of sport.


Yesterday, Andy Katz posted an article that downplays some of the worry that football schools want to break away from the NCAA.

There have been several articles about this idea recently. Eventually, most posit, the football schools will want to take their ball and break way from the NCAA to create their own division.  They want make sure everyone knows the major conferences are big time, they want their own rules, and they want all the moneys.

But doing this, eventually, would destroy the greatest championship in all of sports:  the NCAA Tournament.  If a breakaway happen, the Big Conference schools would have to create a new championship tournament... something probably decided by computers and how much a team runs up the score on their opponents.

Gone would be the magic of the first weekend of the tournament.  Gone would be the Butlers and the Florida Gulf Coasts.  Gone would be the fun that is the brackets.  The upsets wouldn't really be upsets, the shocks would be minor and instead, we'd be likely to see Kansas versus Kentucky every year.

And, I'm sure, there are Rutgers fans saying, "Bring it on."

After all, it's been more than 20 years since Rutgers last made the NCAA tournament, so who cares?

But that is a fallacy.  Imagine, Eddie Jordan (or whomever) finally gets the Scarlet Knights team to a point when Selection Sunday would matter, and instead, there is no Selection Sunday.  I'm not sure how a BCS championship in basketball would actually work, but it'd like either be "EVERYONE MAKES IT" or it would be markedly smaller.  The chance of a Cinderella run would be gone.

The regular season would matter, people would shout.

Yeah, it'd matter until you lose the first game or two of the season have no chance to rebound.

Once that happens, all the juice would be out of the year, and fans would start to look forward to next year and reading up on the recruiting rankings. The magic of college basketball is there's always a chance.  There's always a chance that--even if you go 0-for the regular season--your team can get hot and win the conference tournament to get an auto-bid.

Fans, ideally, can't ever give up.

But, let's be realistic, it's not about competition or excitement on the field.  It never is.  It's about money.  It's about collecting as much money as possible, and with that, football is a goldmine.  And it leads to the "drives the bus" mentality.  Football brings in money, so its all that matters.

And, in order to bring in more money, the football monolith will continue to try and destroy everything in its way.  No other sport matters, in-game excitement doesn't matter, and tradition will go by the wayside as well.

Its a shame, because both football and basketball are exciting to watch.  A close, high stakes sporting event--be it football, baseball, baksetball or hockey--really can get the adrenaline going.  There have been many a Scarlet Knight gridiron battle where I haven't been able to move away from my seat.  I love watching Scarlet Knight football almost as much as I love Scarlet Knight basketball.

But money doesn't care about that.  Money wants to take all the high stakes action away.  Money wants there to be blowouts, and no playoffs, and no reason to get excited.

All they want is a game day experience, not worrying about a good game, and finding a way to bring more money in.  Why the creation of a small college football playoff?

Money, of course.

And breaking away from the NCAA will just bring in more money to the Big Time schools.

Forget about Cinderella.  She doesn't matter anymore.

But the schools should consider the health of the sport and the happiness of the fan.  Basketball is often football's blind spot.  They think people don't care, but if the conferences breakaway, there will be major fan and media backlash.  The schools will be hurt in the court of public opinion.

Katz and Gary Parrish both say the Conference breakway is a long way off, if it even happens at all.  The NCAA tournament brings in billions of dollars and will be hard to destroy (though football schools are probably upset that some of that money goes to an FGCU).  But make no mistake, its in the back of the big time conference's brains.

And, while Rutgers is lucky to be in one of those conferences, its sad to think some want the magic to go away.