Quite the rumor-riffic day in college sports. Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal is reporting that the NCAA may be considering opting out of its deal with CBS as a first step on expanding the tournament to 68 teams or even the long-rumored 96-team bracket beast. (SBB says its even already a "done deal").
Bracketologists everywhere just went into an epileptic fit. BCS publicists everywhere are salivating. Mid-majors everywhere are touching themselves.
The NCAA has its sights set on expanding from a 65-team tournament to either 68 or 96 teams if it opts out of the CBS contract, according to the 12-page RFP.
A 68-team field would add three "play-in" games to the current 65-team format, and a 96-team field would expand the tournament’s inventory by 31 games.
I've been a huge proponent of the 68-team expansion for a while. Seems so dumb that they only have one play-in game. Might as well turn that into it's own little mini-tournament day in Dayton. The mini-madness before The Madness. I'm all for it.
Plus, it probably means three less 19-15 major conference teams whining about being left out. That's fine. I've always been fine with the tournament where it is because, unlike the BCS, the teams that get "screwed" are ones that barely deserved to be in the tournament anyway. Not like football where the team that gets screwed went undefeated and only missed out because some voter in Mississippi is biased.
So expanding the tournament to 96 teams...I mean...I guess so. I don't really think there's anything wrong with the NCAA Tournament how it is. It's not like college football, which is crying out for a solution. The 64-team tournament IS the solution. That said, I not entirely against the idea of more "playoff" basketball. As long as it doesn't mean a whole bunch of 17-15 SEC teams now make the tournament, it's fine. Much rather see these extra spaces go to 24-8 mid-major programs that deserve it.
The other issue this raises...let's face it...the only family of networks in a good position to handle that many games at once...ESPN. One more sport gobbled up by the behemoth. And more Dick Vitale than you could ever possibly want, or in this case, not want.
One person who must be doing jumping jacks right now...Jim Boeheim. He's been a proponent of a 96-team expansion for years.
"What do you lose?" says Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who has spoken out in favor of expansion in the past and says he's convinced it will happen eventually. "It's an easy decision."
He's right...you don't really lose anything. What's gained by the NCAA...a lot of money. And some excitement, no doubt. But remember, when this goes down, it was about the money. Not the student-athletes (who oddly enough can take on another week of basketball no problem but can't possibly add-on a week of football for a playoff...weird how that works...and if you're wondering why that doesn't work for football...because there's no money in it for bowl partners.)