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It+s time for +December Delirium+

April 2, 1997

It's time for 'December Delirium'

The issue:

Different playoff formats in college basketball and football.

His view:

College football should adopt a form of March Madness to determine its National Champion.

Wade Barrow

Assistant Night News Editor

Just about the time that many people in the media had declared college basketball dead, March Madness proved them wrong.

It was a tournament of lasting memories. Though most of the nation probably didn't even know they existed, no one will soon forget the Cinderella stories of Tennessee-Chattanooga or Coppin State. National Champion Arizona, a #4 seed, had to defeat three #1 seeds and escape an infamous past of early tournament exits. It was a great tournament indeed.

So why was everyone in the sports media ready to pronounce college basketball dead? Many journalists claimed that the NBA had robbed the college ranks of all its young talent. Others believed that the college game had lost its edge because of showboating players, decreasing fundamentals and a thin coaching pool. All could not be much further from the truth.

So why did the sports media really say college basketball was dead? It is for the simple reason that they take it as an insult that college basketball has done so well without any of their 'help.'

One only needs to look at the sad state of college football. Here is the only sport in the world that is played for 13 weeks only to have their season come down to a popularity contest voted on by a third party. Media rankings determine who gets bowl bids and who wins the national championship. Watching last season's mythical national championship was like seeing The Bear Pit for the first time. That's it? Its just too anti-climatic.

In college basketball they decide the champion on the court, as it should be. They give bids to tournament champions, not the top 64 teams in the AP poll. A fine example of the wisdom of the Tournament selection committee is the Texas Longhorns. Journalists whined that the 'Horns didn't deserve to be there, and Coach Penders' team answered the criticism by advancing to the Sweet 16.

Unless something changes, the popularity of college basketball will surpass football, but I'm just full of ideas.

College football officials will claim that a playoff system is impossible. Let me correct them.

The average team currently has an eleven game season with two bye weeks. The first thing you would have to do would be eliminate one bye week and one game. condensing the season to 11 weeks. Then give the champions of each major conference (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, etc.) an automatic bid to the 32-team playoffs. The remaining 20 or so bids would go to at-large teams by a selection committee. I hope this sounds just like the NCAA basketball tournament selection process because it's supposed to. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

What about the bowls?

Let them bid to host games. The highest bidder gets their choice of the matchup. By doing this it guarantees the continuation of the bowl game tradition. Even if the bowls balked, the television revenue of a playoff system would make up for the lost bowl revenue.

The time has come to finally put to rest an archaic tradition, and possibly capture some of the magic of March Madness in the process. We could call it December Delirium. Then again maybe we should hold off on that one.

The point is champions should be crowned on the field, not in the newsroom. Call it a dream, but all I want is a College Football National Champion that wins without the help of me, or any other aspiring sports writer.

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