John Calipari's New Post Offers Perspective on BCS
The big story of this week has been, without a doubt, the University of Kentucky's hiring of Memphis head basketball coach John Calipari. This is a great opportunity for Calipari, as the Kentucky job is arguably one of the best jobs in sports.
It also gives him a chance to show what he can do as a mainstay of big-time college basketball.
Until this point, coach Cal has been known for his jobs as head coach of UMass, Memphis, and his stint in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. Now Calipari gets a spot at center stage at one of the most prestigious programs in the country.
It will be interesting to see how Calipari handles the opportunity as a part of a power conference. For the past several seasons, Memphis has had a very strong team under Calipari, who led his team to last year's national championship game.
However, due to the fact that Memphis has played in Conference USA, they did not get many opportunities to be in the national spotlight until March. Maybe that wasn't the case for those living in Memphis or avid fans of the sport, but for the casual fan, Calipari and his team largely went forgotten until the NCAA tournament rolled around each year.
The reason for this is simple: Because the tournament accepts so many mid-majors in March, the regular season of college basketball does not particularly matter.
This predicament, of course, got me thinking about college football and the BCS. Many would have you believe that a basketball tournament would depreciate the regular season of college football.
That may be true, but those in favor of the current system seem to believe that the regular season would be completely irrelevant, which may be a strong assumption. However, while a playoff may decrease the importance of each game, it may also improve the overall quality of the matchups.
For the purposes of this article, we'll assume that any playoff would consist of the top eight teams. Over the past three seasons, no team ranked in the top eight of the AP poll had more than three losses, and in two of those years no team had more than two losses.
While this system would allow teams an occasional slip-up, the margin for error would not be so great that teams would play uninspired. Instead, the system may allow for better matchups in September.
Most teams have those warm-up games in the beginning of the season. You know, the ones that they play "cupcakes" from the FCS (formerly I-AA).
However, a greater emphasis on reaching the top eight of the polls would encourage teams to play more quality opponents. It is common knowledge that a team ranked low, or not ranked at all, in the beginning of a season does not gain much—if anything—from beating a FCS opponent.
Typically, a win over one of these opponents will not cause any movement for a team in the rankings or, in some cases, may even cause a team to drop.
Because of this, teams will go out and find higher quality opponents in order to force some movement in the rankings. I'm not saying that Florida State will schedule Oklahoma every year, but they may start scheduling good mid-majors like East Carolina or solid teams from BCS conferences like Kansas State or Oregon.
Not only would it create more attractive matchups, it would also level the playing field to some degree. No longer would recruits have to go to a BCS school to play the same type of competition or to even have a shot at the title.
This would greatly benefit the Utah's and Boise State's, who have both proved that on a neutral field they can go toe-to-toe with the big boys and beat them.
For the first time since the BCS was created over 10 years ago, this may actually start becoming a reality. President Barack Obama has famously voiced his support for a playoff. Now the BCS is facing an antitrust lawsuit from Utah which may cause, or at the least lay the foundation for, a playoff.
Until this point, the BCS had too much power—from school presidents and conferences like the Big-10 and Pac-10—for any change to occur. Now, with this lawsuit, they may not be given a choice.
Of course, any talk of a playoff at this point is a bit premature. The BCS recently signed a deal that should keep the current system in place for the foreseeable future.
But should something happen and the BCS has to go to a playoff, it really may not be all that bad. In fact, college football might even become better than it already is.
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