In the world of NCAA football, the Boston Celtics never would have reached the 2010 NBA Finals. There never would have been an epic, seven-game series between Boston and Los Angeles. Hell, the Celtics never would have made the playoffs. There’s no such thing as a playoff system in the world of NCAA football. Just a multitude of ultimately meaningless bowl games alongside one game that determines a National Champion. Even though there’s normally at least one other team (I’m looking at you, TCU) that still hasn’t lost.
(Jim Mora’s take on the subject: Playoffs? You’re talking ’bout the playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs???? I just hope we can win the AdvoCare v100 Independence Bowl!)
Imagine if last year’s Butler Bulldogs had been confined to a lesser postseason competition because their strength of schedule didn’t match up. Imagine if Hickory High never played for the state championship because their enrollment wasn’t large enough; if there was no NCAA tournament for Jimmy Valvano’s 1983 North Carolina St. Wolfpack; if George Mason had championed the Colonial Athletic Association but had been forced to play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl rather than improbably marching to the Final Four; if Rudy Ruettiger had never been able to play for Notre Dame because he didn’t reach height requirements; if last year’s Celtics never reached the Finals because John Hollinger’s odds determined they shouldn’t.
Wouldn’t you find a problem with that? Wouldn’t you?
The BCS kills the underdog. By refusing to add a postseason tournament, the NCAA football committee (or whoever makes these decisions) drowns Cinderellas before they can even stand.
The most memorable sports moments occur unexpectedly. I can still see Dikembe Mutombo after his eight-seeded Devner Nuggets took down the first-seeded Seattle SuperSonics (sorry, Seattle). Laying on the floor, holding a ball over his head and screaming with joy, Mutombo displayed all that is right in the oft-corrupt world of sports. For that day, Mutombo could dream about winning an NBA championship. He could revel in his win (which wouldn’t have happened in the BCS, because the Sonics would have already made the championship) and look forward to moving on in the playoffs.
In retrospect, the Nuggets’ win meant little. They lost to the Utah Jazz in round two and never came close to winning a title. But the point is, they could dream about winning the championship. They weren’t subjected to finishing the regular season and then playing in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl. The NBA postseason means something, as it should, and even teams who underwhelm during the regular season (or, in the case of NCAA basketball, play lesser competition) have a chance to shock the world. Even teams who earn the eighth seed can dream.
I know basketball’s a different sport than football, and I know the NBA is a professional league which isn’t run by the NCAA. But imagine if the Celtics’ had ended the 2009-2010 regular season against the Milwaukee Bucks and then played a single postseason game against the Miami Heat. Imagine if that game was for nothing more than bragging rights and a sack of cash. Let’s call the hypothetical Heat-Celtics postseason affair “The New Era Pinstripe” Bowl.
Wouldn’t that have really sucked?