An Idea For College Basketball and Other College Sports
I'm not dumb enough to suggest any changes starting with the traditional date on the calendar for the Round of 64 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and moves forward. I suppose one day if we want to move to 2 out of 3 games for advancement, that would be our next move if ever. The date on the American calendar for The Masters is always a big deal.
I do believe that conference challenges are the big idea college basketball needs. The schedule would begin on November 1st (around today's typical starting date.) Based on the number of current conferences (around 30), every conference would face every conference. Through November and December, college basketball would average around 3 conference challenges per week. The centerpiece of the regular season would always be the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in early February. Obviously, while random draw makes the conference challenges, the sport controls the schedule so the heart of the regular season would feature Saturdays with match-ups like the ACC-PAC 12 Challenge and the ACC-Big East Challenge with the ability to change the spotlight from season to season. Like football, the conference challenges would have the pomp and circumstance of people from the league offices staging a trophy exchange at the last game of the conference challenge. The schools would have complete freedom outside of the challenges. Total freedom to schedule.
The regular season champion for all the conferences would be "a champion for the conference" based on winning percentage in conference challenges. The conference portion of the season would really be a long fiesta for the conference. Online studying at the same location for around 30 days. Around one game a day for the double-elimination conference tournament championship while everyone else is at soda socials, concerts, cinema, bowling, miniature golf, etc. . .The conference tournaments would have television coverage that would do so much interviewing that Kirby Smart of Georgia Football would be at the SEC Basketball Tournament. The theme every season would be a celebration of the conference in February. Collegiality.
After the conference celebration, it's time for the sub-regionals. The top 60 seeds would host all the other schools (around 350 schools today) until the sub-regional championship games which would serve as the advertisement for the NCAA Tournament. On the Friday and Saturday nights that proceed the traditional Selection Sunday on the calendar, it's the old-fashioned buzzer-beater coverage (always as late and close as coverage can give you with staggered tip-off times.) With 30 games starting perhaps at 5:00 P.M. Central, just about one dollar will provide you with your school's sub-regional championship game. Extremely affordable Pay-Per View is always a possibility. What this dynamic does is give college basketball total sharing with perhaps the most precious moment in sports when the one-bid conferences crown tournament champions. Everyone joins the party.
Conference champions are the big winner. The only expansion of the NCAA Basketball Tournament would really be that every conference champion would Dance. Dayton expands. Fighting a hangover from the Saturday Night sub-regional championship game and the medicine is the beginning of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in Dayton at around 11:00 A.M. on Sunday morning. If your team won their conference, you are to head for Dayton in the event you are eliminated from a sub-regional. The conference champions are blessed with two bites at the apple for the Round of 64. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday action in Dayton keeps college basketball on pace with the current calendar. I think it's very important on the night of sub-regional championship games to promote the traditional time frame for submitting office brackets on the following Thursday morning with Public Service Announcements. A new tradition is to award office brackets for people who take the initiative to find Dayton results, and I think that should be important. For me, if we did high school gyms in Dayton, it could be a neat experience for television coverage. In Dayton, it's four brackets and staggered starts with 4 teams advancing from Dayton to the Round of 64.
Look, we're done with all the selection stuff forever. What Joe Lunardi could give us based on the structure going forward is a club that's likely to be seeded in the top 20 in Division One and thus ride that advantage (a sub-regional championship game against a team outside of the sport's well thought of top 100 to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.) The traditional committee would handle all of the post-season duties. The new format would mean announcements along the way. I think buzzer-beater coverage (as late and close as possible) has been a great advertisement for the sport since we first tried it. As a big expansion advocate surrendering forever, I think in the final analysis that people want us to institutionalize the current format with Dayton, Ohio, and the traditional Thursday Round of 64 that the sport ends up with before the mad dash to Monday night.