College basketball starts on Friday. This sport beats college football's monolith on any given day (not just Saturday).
Okay, put down the pitchforks, drives the bus-ers.
Hear me out.
Because college hoops is a better put together sport than college football. And here's why:
In college basketball, no matter how bad your team is, there is hope. In 1989, Rutgers basketball looked dead in the water. They were 10-12 in late February--another non-NCAA year about to go in the books, when something wonderful happened. That Scarlet Knights squad busted out 8 wins in a row, including their conference tournament and made a magical, memorable run to the Big Dance.
Meanwhile, let's look at Rutgers football's most successful season. In 2006, the squad started out 9-0. They beat the number 3 team in the nation in Louisville, and other undefeated teams were losing around them. And still, they were barely in the conversation for the National Championship. Yes, back then there wasn't a playoff, but even now, in order to even bother in college football you have to be a powerhouse in the right conference. There are 120 BCS football teams. Maybe 10... MAYBE (it's usually more like 5), even have hope in late August.
The rest of us are hoping to make some bowl game in a warm city, so some rich alums can go on vacation.
Yes, Rutgers basketball hasn't been good. But with a 31 game schedule and a conference tournament, there is always a shred of hope. Games matter. The regular season matters.
In football, the regular season matters...until your team loses. And let's face it, for 110 teams, it doesn't even matter then. At least in terms of winning a championship. At least you have tailgating (which, admittedly, college hoops doesn't have).
Look, I'm a full-blooded American. I'll sit down on a fall Saturday (and Sunday) and flip through the games. I'll look for the compelling ones. I'll watch all the Rutgers games. I'll be drawn in. Football is a great sport.
But so is basketball.
And in college hoops, you always have a chance. Some might say it has too many failsafes--it's too easy to get in. But only 68 teams make the NCAA tournament--out of 351. I just hopped on Wikipedia and counted FORTY bowl games. (That can't be right, can it?) That means 80 teams (or 2/3s) make a bowl game each year. That means, minus the playoff, there are 37 games that are the equivalent of soccer friendly matches.
Good lord, why?
Money, I guess. But I don't care about the money. I care about the games, the tight finishes, the storylines, the buzzer beaters, and the stakes. The stakes are so high in college hoops, a 1 and done tournament where anyone can win. Give me parity Monday-Sunday (all days, by the way, that college basketball has games).
Anyone can't win in football. There are the haves and the have nots.
Yes, Rutgers hasn't had a miracle season in almost 25 years. But that doesn't mean it can't happen. Rutgers beat Wosconsin last year! There are upsets often!
As for football? Yes, Rutgers is in the right conference right now. Staring up at a huge hill to climb. Maybe, just maybe they'll be in that conversation one day.
But right now, give me a chance. Give me a miracle.
Football has the money. Basketball has the tournament.
Give me the buzzer beater. Give me multiple games a week.
Give me a chance.
Dave White is the author of the Jackson Donne series. Check out his books and leave an Amazon review!