On Monday, the Sports Business Journal reported that the NCAA was considering expanding the best playoff system in American sports. Ninety-six teams is the target, as the NIT would likely become defunct and added into the field of 65. Obviously the intent is more money, as a "new" March Madness might become more appealing to, I don't know, ESPN or something.
If the idea was ever approved, I would kindly ask the NCAA to reconsider and subsequently heave this surplus of brackets in the direction of the BCS.
Many have had their chance to weigh in on the idea. The consensus: let's hope something like this never actually materializes.
More after the jump
Every year there are certainly a few bubble teams that have a great case for inclusion in the field of 65; but there aren't 32 of them, and if we add another layer of middling BCS teams, we only serve to cheapen what is right now the greatest spectacle for excitement in all of sports while simultaneously further minimizing the importance of the regular season. Seriously, why even have a 16-game ACC schedule if you'll get a bid by winning six or seven games?
So how do you lure a cable outfit to the negotiating table? Easy. Give them more inventory. So by dangling an extra week of first- and second-round games to ESPN by adding 31 teams to the tournament, the NCAA figures that ought to be tempting enough to up the rights fees to even more astronomical levels.
The drama would be gone. If we're reaching down to whether middling mid-majors get in over failed big-conference teams -- who is going to care? The arguments now are about accomplished teams that have made key errors, such as Creighton going 26-7 but losing by 24 when a bid's at stake. That's where the passion originates.
The mid-major conferences would suffer as well. ESPN’s Championship Week to me is one of the most fascinating weeks of the season. Watching kids, sometimes non-scholarship four year players, play their guts out because a win means going to the Dance, and a loss probably ends their season is something special, even if it’s not well-played. But would I still set my DVR to the MEAC Championship if I knew there wasn’t as much at stake? That both teams had a reasonable shot at the Dance? Probably not.
The NCAA Tournament is almost perfect the way it is. There will always be complaints from teams that miss out on the Big Dance. A small conference team probably will never win it all. It will always be about money. But the format is the most appealing element of the event. The only way to improve it is to put it on ESPN.