Shane: Football less forgiving than basketball

‘March Madness’ mild compared to football’s ‘Total Insanity’

By Shane from Centerpoint
The “real” college basketball season doesn’t begin until March. That’s when the tournament begins. Prior to the “Big Dance”, teams spend about three months trying to earn a spot in the final field of sixty-four. As long as a team plays a respectable schedule that contains three or four quality non-conference opponents and produces a decent conference record, they could lose ten games and still be eligible to compete for the national championship. That is “easy street” compared to the extreme pressure football programs are subjected to, beginning with the opening game. The B.C.S. formula doesn’t allow a football team to lose more than one game (if that). Staying undefeated is the only way a team has any shot at locking down a spot in the championship game. Even after that nothing is guaranteed. If basketball in March is “Madness”, then the entire college football season has to be “Total Insanity”.

Fans love a playoff system. So do coaches and players. In fact, almost every team sport has a structure in place to allow competing teams some leeway to improve as the season progresses. While a few losses might not ruin a college basketball teams chance to finish on top, college football is absolutely unforgiving. Two regular season losses will effectively destroy a football programs goal of being the national champion.

I know that the NCAA tournament is based on a “one-and-done” principle. However, that pressure is centered on a very short two or three-week period. College football stretches that “frantic-zone” out over a three or four-month time frame.

I also know that basketball teams must win five consecutive games, facing the best of the rest, in the highly charged atmosphere of national TV.

College football coaches can only imagine what it would be like to win their division and earn a spot in the playoff. Instead they live under the gun for thirteen weeks (many more if they make it to a Bowl). The intensity required to win every game has a much longer duration when comparing football to basketball.

A college basketball coach has more than one opportunity to make mistakes and also has the luxury of knowing that he has multiple chances to correct errors and right the ship.

Want a great example? A major basketball program can simply win it’s conference tournament – no matter what their record may be – and it will guarantee them a spot in the sixty-four team pool, with a fair shot to win the national crown. I know the scenario above is not likely, but it’s possible.

On the other hand, a football team can lose its first two games and their ticket to the national championship game is cancelled. You can write that in stone.

One early loss to a quality opponent can be overcome, but that team is going to live on “pins and needles” for the entire season, knowing that their fate is based on the hope that other teams will fail at least once too. The process can be nerve-racking at best. Don’t believe me? Just ask any college football fan base. Many have endured the test and few could say they enjoyed the experience.

My point today is not designed to slam college basketball, and I’m not making a claim that football is better because I realize that both systems are legitimate. However, I am saying that basketball is a more forgiving sport. It doesn’t require the same level of perfection, as football, and the sense of urgency is lessened because a few losses will not always ruin the chance to win a title.

So next time you call the NCAA college basketball tournament “March Madness”, remember when next September rolls around that “Total Insanity” is about to begin.

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13 Comments

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  1. 1
    BLEEDIN_CRIMSON

    I agree with all the points you make above. And I would argue that — altho I LOVE basketball, and considered playing collegiately (in junior college) — football is more of a team sport and therefore, relies much more on a coach / staff for success, whereas with basketball, one player can be good enough to simply take over, dominate, and make the playbook inconsequential.

    However, I will argue that football has a much lower bar for program ‘success’ than basketball does. To have a successful football program (and therefore, keep your job as a coach), all you have to do is really just win half your games or more. Win 6, become bowl eligible, get a bowl invite, and have a winning season and most schools (most) will consider that a success.

    In college its all about making the 65. Win 20, even 25 or more, do well in conference, have a win % close to 70 or higher AND still miss the dance and you could very well lose your job as a coach. It doesn’t matter so much as how far you go for most schools (most), but its about getting that spot in the tourney. NIT bids will buy you time, but everyone wants to dance eventually, and without an invite, coaches can find there bags packed for them despite winning lots of games.

  2. 2
    Bengal Tiger

    I couldn’t agree more. “March Madness” is the ONLY time that College Basketball approaches the importance/pressure of the CFB regular season!

  3. 5
    The BAMMER from St. Clair

    YO! Yes, college football is “less forgiving” than college basketball is over the course of a whole season. With that being agreed on & said, let’s talk about (albeit purely hypothetical) a COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF. I would like to hear some other ideas (besides my own) about how a playoff would be ran. I’ve always felt that every conference champion should be placed in a bracket and let it be truly decided on the field. Yes, we would have to use the bowls and YES, IT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED. My idea DOES INCLUDE the non-BCS conferences. The SEC Champion could face the ACC Champion, the Big 10+1 could face the PAC 10 Champion, the Big 12 Champ could face the Big East Champ, Conference USA Champ Vs. MAC Champ, Mountain West Vs. WAC, and as far as Notre Dame and other independents are concerned, let those teams join a conference or band together and form a new conference so that they could be in the mix. Let every team truly EARN their right to play for the National Championship. Every year the conference champion vs. conference champion could be rotated, such as the SEC Champion facing the PAC 10 Champ, The Big 12 winner playing the Big 10+1 and so on. Let the playoff begin in mid-December with everything wrapping up with a National Championship game in the latter part of January. The revenue would be truly AWESOME and college football as a WHOLE would benefit from a COMPETITIVE STANDPOINT. If you think that the game is competitive now (and it is), JUST IMAGINE how much more competitive it could be with a TRUE CHAMPION being crowned EACH & EVERY YEAR!

  4. 6
    Ty from T-Town

    Insanity Plea:

    Shane, you are once again guilty of being dead-ass-right.
    The wind-down period after the football season is commonly referred to as;
    Basketball Season.

    Without the contrived madness of bracket season, the regular season of college basketball would be about as interesting as Ariana’s weight loss story.

    There is no sense of urgency when you play six warm-up games against Slippery Rock, and beat the hell out of The Sisters of the Poor. No one seems to care if you occasionally drop that home game against the Athletes in Action, as long as you are invited to the party in March.
    The lucrative nature of the NCAA basketball tournament, is proof that everyone likes the end of basketball season.

    Here in T-Town, we welcome September.

  5. 7
    bamasux

    “As interesting as Ariana’s weight loss story…..” That was a funny line Ty.

    BAMMER—Now that the SEC Champ can get into the NC game with even one or two losses, I don’t really care anymore about a playoff. I always got the feeling that the other top to bottom weaker conferences (pac10, big10, etc.)did not have much interest in a playoff system because they knew it would only hurt their chances of winning an NC. Same reason for them not having a conference championship game. Now that the SEC has proven that their champion can beat any team out their for the NC, albeit 4 years too late, the SEC should be a shoe in every year. The 04 shaft and the 06 beat down of the “#1 team” probably led to this. And the rest of college football can kiss our collective ass.

  6. 8
    LARRY C

    UAT FANS YOU DONT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. UAT HAS PROBATION COMING REAL SOON.THE TEXTBOOK IS JUST THE START OF WHAT YOU BE THE DOWNFALL OF SHORTY SABAN AND THE UAT FOOTBALL PROGRAM. THE NCAA IS LOOKING AT 5 RECRUITING RULES BROKE IN 08 AND 4 THIS YEAR. IT WILL BE A MAJOR BLOW AT CHETER U WHEN THE NCAA IS OVER. STAY TUNE, MAL WILL BE LOOKING FOR A NEW FOOTBALL COACH IN JAN 2010.

  7. 9
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    You will never wee a football playoff. The conference suits (outside the SEC) wil never sign off on that. Why would they. All they have to do is run the table in thier weak conferences, maybe even have a loss, and they are in. With a playoff, The SEC would be a shoe in.

  8. 10
    jtw232

    Larry C, you my friend are a clown. When the beatdown comes…….and it will come I will be laughing my ass off at your pathetic attempt to pull us down in the mud with you and you’re pathetic exuse of a team RTR…

  9. 11
    The BAMMER from St. Clair

    YO! Just a few comments. Ballplay & Bamasgreat, you both made valid points. Personally, I believe that a playoff will happen YEARS DOWN THE ROAD. It probably WON’T be the format I prefer, because most proponents of a playoff want an 8-team format. IF IT HAPPENS, it will happen because of the WINDFALL of REVENUE that a playoff would bring forth. People are GREEDY. LARRY C, I agree with JTW232. YOU are a CLOWN! That’s what the “C” stands for. You are probably a VOLS fan with a LOUDMOUTH CLOWN for a head coach. Maybe you & Lane should join the CIRCUS and take your act on the road! I can see it now…”Don’t Miss BOZO & CLARABELLE! They’re NUTS!!!” Later!

  10. 12
    CrimsonBrother

    Thank’s for that GREAT insight Ballplay Indian or whatever your calling yourself this week.

    I can always count on you to show us all why the Aub-Der Nation got their AZZ KICKED 36 – 0.

    ROLL TIDE BABY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. 13
    LARRY C

    JTW232/BAMMER YOU TWO ARE NOT VERY SMART HUH? YOUR CHEATING COLLEGE HAS TROUBLE HEADED ITS WAY. CONGRATS ON BAMMERS NEW BB COACH TO BAD YOU DID NOT HIRE A MAN FOR THE JOB. ROTFLMAO

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