College Football: Could It Ever Have a NCAA Final Four?

Derek CrouseContributor IIIMarch 29, 2011

A Football Final Four is an advertiser's dream...
A Football Final Four is an advertiser's dream...Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The sports world loves to crown a winner. From a one-and-done playoff, a seven-game series or bowl game, the debate rages on if the winner is the best of the best or just got hot. Playoff formats aren’t perfect, but they do create something a BCS cannot.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is very wide open. When there are 60-plus teams vying for the same goal, the roll of the dice starts to take effect. With teams like VCU reaching the Final Four, it makes fans think, “What if college football had a tournament?” With a little bit of expansion, this tourney could be very viable and still profitable for teams not even in the hunt.

For instance, the onslaught of bowl games makes even the most hard-core college football fan overwhelmed. From the “Irrelevant Bowl” and the “Insert product here Bowl”, the NCAA has created a watered down playoff season. There is only one true championship game, so the other bowl games seem like a big money collection.

While basketball has a regular season that might lack some juice, every tourney game has ramifications unlike the bowl games. College football has created an environment where every regular season game matters and one loss could make or break a season.

What if the NCAA took ideas from their basketball counterparts and incorporated a smaller bracket tournament for the postseason? This all sounds a bit far fetched, but it could create more buzz than any basketball tournament.

For example, 3.9 million people turned on CBS to watch No. 1 Ohio State play No. 2 Wisconsin. It was the biggest television audience for a college basketball game this season. Just months ago, 4.7 million viewers turned on CBS to watch No. 16 Georgia Tech play unranked Georgia in what was the fifth-most watched college football game of the day.

Now just think if there were a Final Four...

Companies would be lining up to score their logo on the field from the first round to the final game and the weekly hype leading up to each game would blanket Saturday’s sports scope. The elite schools will still have the best chance to make it to the championship, but some upstart program will look to upset an SEC team’s dream.

In football, the players stay longer than a year so the teams will have an identity for fans to follow. In basketball, athletes turnover very quickly and fans learn about teams on the fly.

The argument students can’t fit extra games in their schedule annoys many fans. The teams take a month off to prepare for one game in the first place. The so-called student-athlete is still watching game film for hours every day and participating in walk-throughs with teammates every other day.

Large football programs eat, drink, and sleep football, grades come at a close second. I’m sure the players would be willing to suit up in December.

I know that NCAA college presidents would not risk any profit for the sake of competition, but what if all teams gave up two games? It would basically equal to a home game and away game. You take those games, add one more and you have a running start at developing a playoff system.

Hypothetical is an understatement, mostly due to too much television and stadium dollars at stake. Even the worst bowl games draw viewers, so why would a college want to sacrifice a chance at least one postseason game?

It goes back to bringing excitement to the postseason. If colleges were willing to start a revenue system for schools they could divide profits between conferences. More money could be spread out just from the popularity of the sport.

Wouldn’t a team get more respect for making it to the NCAAF Elite Eight than winning the Insight or Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl?

Every fan would love a Final Four in football, but drastic measures would have to be made. All of the bowl stadiums could have games still, it would be a win-win situation for fans, advertisers, and colleges.