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Editorial: If football were like basketball …

 

It’s absurd how right the NCAA gets basketball and how wrong it gets football.

The NCAA produces a clear national champion in men’s basketball, the winner of a much-loved 68-team tournament.

The NCAA produces a questionable national champion in football, the winner of one game it got to play in after scoring well in a much-maligned computer points system.

There is hope. The president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, has signaled that the organization might be interested in a four-game playoff. And as USA Today points out, that probably would spur an outcry for an eight-game playoff.

Change has to come. The bowl system protects the interests of conferences, bowl organizations and their sponsors but tramples over the NCAA’s potential revenue. The organization makes most of its money to stay afloat from the basketball tournament.

And with conferences eating each other alive to the point that it seems the country will end up with about three major mega-conferences, three ordinary conferences and a bunch of little ones, it’s clear that conferences no longer can be trusted to run college football, as they pretty much have been since the BCS system came about in the 1990s. One agency must step up and oversee the entire sport, and that is the NCAA.

If the NCAA could inject the magic of Cinderella — the small school upsetting the big ones — into football, it would increase the fan base.

Even in the NFL, fans follow because there is always hope that a team, even in small market towns, can win the title. In college basketball, even out-of-the-way places can build a championship-level team. But in college football, only the powerhouse schools get to chase titles.

It’s time for a change. The college presidents know it. The fans know it. The sponsors know it. It just is a matter of the NCAA stepping up and doing it.