Should there be a college football playoff and a longer NCAA basketball tournament?

It’s no shock that most college sports fans (68%) want a college football playoff instead of the BCS. This cuts across age, gender, race, and socio-economics. Particularly given the relative disinterest in this year’s all SEC championship game, sports fans are clamoring for a change. It’s not surprising that college presidents are finally beginning to seriously discuss a playoff system to replace the BCS.

What is a bit surprising is this question examined in the context of the question about playing college athletes. Clearly, a college football playoff would generate an enormous amount of money and would represent a move towards further professionalism in college sports. That’s what fans seem to want. Yet those same fans overwhelmingly said they did not want to pay college athletes. This seems a fair amount of dissonance, where a professional football system would be created on the backs of unpaid labor.

On the other hand, fans didn’t support changing the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, as the vast majority wants to leave it as it is with 68 teams. This would refute the widely discussed plan to expand the event to 96 teams, something that seemed almost an inevitability as ESPN looked at buying media rights to March Madness. At least right now, sports fans say 68 is enough.

Still, I can’t help but think they’d adjust just fine to 96, or whatever expansion may eventually bring. People likely want 68 teams because they’re currently watching a tourney with 68 teams – and a very good tourney at that. And most people like status quo far more than change. But if and when change does come, I imagine they’ll grow to like that as well. If you don’t believe that, remember that sports fans once fought the wildcard in Major League Baseball.

But that said, change is wanted for college football, whose championship is far less graceful than the one for basketball.   And at least for now, involves a whole lot fewer teams.  Click here and here for poll results and here for video commentary.

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