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Reminder that college football and college basketball are apples and oranges

Logo No. 2 of four AP

This is a great time of year around the sports world. Not only are spring football camps opening up and ongoing around the country, giving a fans a breath of fresh air and a preview of what is to come in the fall, but basketball is marching toward a national championship. You know, if you’re in to that sport with the round ball on the hard court. There is room for both sports of course, but please refrain from attempting to draw comparisons between the two.

One of the popular things football writers like to do this time of year is defend the sport of college football as the supreme sport over its basketball counterpart. This is unnecessary of course, as most of the targeted audiences for the sports tend to overlap enough to satisfy both cravings. Another gimmick is to come up with a field of 64 football teams and determine who would win a gridiron edition of the tournament. Heck, maybe that is someone out there chooses their winners in the office pool every year.

Wichita State completed a rare undefeated season on Sunday, assuring an unblemished record when they play their NCAA Tournament opener next week and essentially locking up a number one seed. Inspired by the remarkable feat, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated wonders if a mid-major in college football could possibly qualify for the new College Football Playoff about to kick off in the upcoming season. The answer is rather simple: yes.

It certainly will not be easy, but the formula may not stray too far from what the traditional path to busting the BCS has been made up of in recent years. Go undefeated, win the conference championship and maybe score a notable victory or two along the way to open some eyes. With four spots open at the mercy of the selection committee, there will come a year when one of the schools not from a major conference could have that type of resume that is just too hard to ignore. It will not likely happen often, but it is certainly possible.

But why do we bother drawing comparisons between college basketball and college football when discussing the postseason? What is the point? Both college basketball and college football operate differently from top to bottom. This year football will finally operate a postseason under a somewhat similar philosophy with the four-team college football playoff, but basketball has 64 (68) spots open and every conference champion gets in no matter what. Every conference champion will get a spot in the basketball tournament. There is a hypothetic possibility only one conference champion could get a spot in the college football playoff. Until football has an expanded playoff structure with similar access to the basketball variety, there is no comparison between the two sports.

Comparing college football and college basketball is essentially along the lines of comparing apples to oranges.

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19 Responses to “Reminder that college football and college basketball are apples and oranges”
  1. 8to80texansblog says: Mar 10, 2014 1:37 PM

    The best part about March Madness is no team is denied access…. You could go winless in your conference but win the conference tourney and you’ve got a seat at the table.

    Unlike CFB where teams go undefeated in the power conferences and don’t even get a shot at the title (’04 Auburn)

    I still love CFB above all else… jus wish they could get this tourney thing figured out…

  2. Scott Hevel says: Mar 10, 2014 1:58 PM

    You’re a smarter person than that.

    There is zero chance of a mid-major ever getting a shot….until we go to 8 teams. Even if you had a mid major like BYU or UCF or Fresno State go undefeated, you would have to have every major conference team have 2 losses to make it look bad enough for the “committee” to let someone in.

    If you think the power conferences agreed to a 4 team playoff in order to “give everyone a chance”, you haven’t paid attention to the cartel that is college football. This is the impetus to break CFB into the major group and the sub-majors so they can have their own division of football.

    PS There’s a reason good mid majors can’t find “good opponents”.

  3. jbeagles23 says: Mar 10, 2014 2:42 PM

    College hoops has it figured out and college football doesn’t yet. The football playoffs are continuously going to be Goliath vs Goliath. Even if a David deserves to be there more

  4. musiccitymiracle2 says: Mar 10, 2014 5:11 PM

    A mid-major could get one of the four berths, but as the author notes, their system better be magical.

    Undefeated.
    Large margin of victory.
    Two notable victories over major conference opponents. Even better if they have one over a big conference champ. It’s conceivable that Louisville or Boise in their heyday could beat Georgia or Oklahoma in a non-conf game, and then have the team they defeated go unbeaten the rest of the way.

    That’s what it will take. And they really need two – not just one – major conference win.

    The reason major conferences get more weight is because our guts and our eyes tell us that even though Team A did indeed Team B on a given day, there is very little chance that they could beat all of Teams C, D, E, F, G, and H over the next few weeks.

    I hope the committee ranks teams on their accomplishments and their schedules as opposed to their ability to be unbeaten and untested.

  5. barkleyblows says: Mar 10, 2014 6:23 PM

    And that’s why college basketball is watered down. I don’t wanna watch little sisters of the poor (like Wichita state) in football.

  6. Deb says: Mar 10, 2014 6:35 PM

    You’re right: apples and oranges. For one, football players can’t take the field every day. It’s a more brutal game than round ball. That being the case, we’re never going to see a 64-team playoff. So let’s do the sensible thing and pare Division 1A (or the FBS) to something more manageable than 125 teams.

    If the Old Dominion Monarchs are never going to have a legitimate shot to play for a title, why the heck are they moving to the FBS? Let’s come up with some alternative division between FBS and FCS where the Monarchs, the Utah State Aggies, the UTSA Roadrunners, the Rice Owls, and the Memphis Tigers, and Tulsa Golden Hurricane can go and compete against similarly skilled and financed teams.

    Then let the Alabamas, Ohio States, Southern Cals, Miamis, and so on, fight it out in a playoff field of 12-16 teams determined by straight-up seeding. After all, most Div 1A conferences have only had conference championships for about five minutes. It’s a little silly to decide that an 11-1 powerhouse should miss the playoffs because we have to make room for the 6-6 champ from Conference Rinkydink.

  7. manik56 says: Mar 10, 2014 6:41 PM

    I have no desire to watch David. If I did I would care about D2 football.

  8. imaduffer says: Mar 10, 2014 7:50 PM

    Kevin, you are right, there are no 380 pound basketball players.

  9. normtide says: Mar 10, 2014 8:00 PM

    Basketball teams can play 3 or 4 games a week, and back to back games. Football teams can’t. Totally different scenarios.

    About the underdogs/little guys. People love to say they root for them, but the ratings say they don’t. Go back and check. The blue bloods in both sports bring in the most viewers. Bama v ND had the same rating as Auburn v FSU, the first was over in the first quarter and the second came down to the last play. FSU or Auburn are not small time, but neither are the classic power programs. Michigan v Louisville blew away the ratings for Duke v Butler. TV ratings drive the networks and influence who gets the prime slots. The vast majority want to see traditional powers square off. You just like to say you want to see Boise get a shot, mainly because you want to see power team X get beat. If you actually love the little sisters of the poor, start tuning in. Otherwise, give it a rest.

  10. 10kmp says: Mar 10, 2014 8:33 PM

    @jbeagkes23 says: College hoops has it figured out and college football doesn’t yet.

    Are you kidding? College football is the sport that has it “figured out”. Every game in the football season is a playoff game in and of itself. Every week means something, no matter the opponent. Basketball? I don’t even know why they bother to rank teams; it’s pointless. The pre conference games are horrible. They’re scrimmages, nothing more. Win 20 games and you’re in the enormous tournament field. To put it in plain language, college basketball’s regular season is boring. March is interesting, but the tournament is a small part of the entire season. Late October through the first week of March cannot begin to compare to football.

    The only thing I’d like to see change in college football would be the formation of a ‘super division’ if you will; the Ohio State’s, USC’s, Alabama’s and Oklahoma’s of the college football world having their own NCAA division. This would allow mid majors to compete for their own national title, in addition to giving the ‘super powers’ a playoff and title game of their own…

  11. normtide says: Mar 10, 2014 9:53 PM

    I’ve been saying that for a while 10k. It’s the only way to get to a true playoff system. Let’s face it, the UAB’s, FIU’s, Akron’s of the football world will never ascend to being top tier. They will win a big game now and then, but will mostly be fodder. I even like the idea of relegation, like European soccer. Based largely on attendance and long term performance. It would actually give a team like Idaho a chance to build in a division without the super powers. And if they could come to dominate, they could have a chance to move up after being built up. As of now, Idaho has little chance to gain the recognition and then use it to improve recruiting. At the same time, teams like Colorado, Indiana, Wake Forrest couldn’t continue to take a share of big league money while putting little into improving its football program. It would provide a viable path to top tier play and stop the leaching by programs who don’t care to actually add to the total football product.

  12. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: Mar 11, 2014 1:26 PM

    The college football playoff will be completely corruptible until you leave the decision of who gets included on the field, expand it and include all the conference champions! Rank the teams by overall conference rankings. If not it will simply be talking heads (TV show hosts, various reporters, self interest college officials) pushing their own agendas. I could see Top Money teams being selected if they can bring the big bucks in over better teams who wouldn’t draw as much TV viewing!

  13. Deb says: Mar 11, 2014 3:22 PM

    normtide says:

    “If you actually love the little sisters of the poor, start tuning in. Otherwise, give it a rest.”

    Truth!

  14. dmcgrann says: Mar 12, 2014 10:11 PM

    I’ve been lurking around this topic and not thumbing up or down, but there are some interesting points here.

    Deb, you asked why ODU is moving to FBS. Well, I don’t know exactly why either, but there are enough core donors and fans that actually have drunk the Kool-Aid and really, really think they’ll be the next Boise State. Oh, and that there will be a Boise State every year. The fact that they fall back on is the size of the Hampton Roads TV market. Must be worth something, right? I wish them the best, but I’m also a realist. A lot of ODU fans really think that with the end of the BCS, that it’s a wide-open field for them, because there are no AQs.

    Normtide’s observation regarding relegation like in soccer is interesting. It’s sort of a shame that “American football” isn’t physically like soccer. Not to say that soccer isn’t tough in it’s own way, but their different sports. And, in college football we have those pesky amateur status rules and a rough concept of getting an education in a college/university setting. English soccer seasons last from August into May or June.

    Think if we could do the same with college football and set up our own version of the F.A. Cup. In essence, we’d still have the SEC (Alabama and so forth would end up with a footnote of “never relegated”). You’d end up with a champion of each of the “leagues”, but also a “Cup champion”, which, conceivably could end up being Villanova or North Dakota State one year in a bazillion, but would increase interest. The FCS teams would get their FCS money games, they wouldn’t count against the FBS teams in the “Premier League” standings, and rivalries could be maintained. But, it would take too long of a season.

    But it would be fun.

  15. dmcgrann says: Mar 12, 2014 10:22 PM

    By the way, I tune into “Little Sisters of the Poor” every weekend, when I’m not at one of their hackysack games (I have season tickets). And, I have to pay for the streaming.

    I did see Alabama play a little last year. In all honestly, the only Alabama football Is saw was when I changed channels just in time to see Chris Davis from Auburn catch a missed field goal in the end zone and start running. I am not lying; dumb luck.

  16. normtide says: Mar 12, 2014 11:03 PM

    DMC, the problem is a team like ODU has the chips stacked against them already. To get sustained success over a number of years, you have to get the top recruits. (Boise wasn’t able to really sustain their level of play). To get the top recruits on a regular basis you need to win, big and constantly. (I can’t get a job because I don’t have a car. I don’t have a car cause I can’t get a job). You need wins against teams like Bama/OSU/USC/etc.

    Now, if you could build in FCS type division, at least you would have something to carry over. Winning at any level boosts alumni donations, which will be needed to build facilities needed to land top recruits.

    Money will always be an issue in college football. Might as well bank on that. As it is, the have nots will never catch up to the top tier programs. Not sustained. You have to change the system if you ever want them to have any chance.

  17. dmcgrann says: Mar 12, 2014 11:52 PM

    Normtide, I agree with you. It’s why my alma mater is where it is. It got that way after a hell of a lot of angst and trouble, too. We fought like hell for a while to not be classified down. There was talk about going DIII. But, we decided football was important, we could do it at this level, with a lot of work. A lot of work and fundraising.

    ODU doesn’t see that. They’ve had tremendous success for a complete startup, but they figure C-USA is going to be enough to pay the bills. Ther’s bold talk from Norfolk.

  18. normtide says: Mar 13, 2014 8:33 AM

    The bottom tier leagues are light years behind the top tier ones in money. All the new sports networks have helped, because they need content to air. The MAC has found a weeknight niche. But the gap will only increase. Even the MWC will suffer because they have a favorable deal to Boise, whose peaked. Their are so many fbs programs losing money now. Pay for play will separate the wheat from the chafe.

    Btw, the NCAA already has minimums to maintain fbs membership. Attendance and number of home games. If I remember correctly, temple was in danger of being demoted a decade back.

  19. dmcgrann says: Mar 13, 2014 6:02 PM

    They’ve never enforced the attendance rule. There are a couple of teams in the MAC that flirt with noncompliance every year.

    When D1 was first split, the rule addressed stadium size and attendance wasn’t mentioned. That changed pretty quickly to a minimum attendance rule.

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