In college basketball, reaching the Final Four is an achievement unto itself. Teams and coaches are judged more often by whether they made it to the biggest stage, the endgame, the final contest, than by whether they hoisted the trophy at the end.
In the NFL, conference championship weekend is the great divider.
Besides quarterbacks and, to a lesser extent, head coaches, teams and franchises are judged by whether or not they made it to the "big game." The Wild Card Weekend and divisional round are nothing but preamble; nobody cares whether a team made it to the first or second round of the playoffs in any given year.
The conference championship games are the ones that matter; they are the ones that punch your ticket to the Super Bowl.
In the NFL, if you don't at least make it to the Super Bowl, you're forgotten forever: The Arizona Cardinals have been to a Super Bowl, but the Detroit Lions have not, and fans of both franchises know it well.
How did the finalists do in this last test, this ultimate entrance exam?