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Hobbs Column: No need for madness in football

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:47 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

It didn’t take long.

You try to mind your own business, you stay out of the way, avoid eye contact and keep your mouth shut.

And it happens anyway.

Somebody sidles up and notices, all of a sudden, that it’s a whole ton of fun to kick back and watch little-known basketball teams slip the hot foot to established powers and giggle across the TV screen.

“I never even heard of this Florida Gulf Coast.”

Me, either, although I think it’s in Florida somewhere, probably hard against an alligator farm or time share.

But that’s not the point.

And I knew what was coming next.

“See, wouldn’t it be great if college football had something like this, where the postseason really means something? Where it wasn’t just some computers figuring out two teams for the championship and nobody else can do anything about it. These guys are settling it on the court and …”

It’ll soon be four, I pointed out — four teams for the title, although we’re not allowed to call it an actual playoff.

“But it will still be all the usual suspects. I like seeing the little guy have a chance. That’s the way it ought to be done. Football needs a full-blown playoff with a capital ‘P’ and this just proves it.”

There was no escaping it.

So, yeah, I had to agree. Wouldn’t it be great if college football would wake up one day, oh, about a week or so before Christmas, and realize that their sport had just started playing. The rumors you’d heard but paid no attention to for the past couple of months of the regular season were true — they had been playing for a while — and now it was time to figure out what channel everything would be on.

You know why you’d never heard of Florida Gulf Coast before the — Eagles, is it? — alley-ooped their way into the Sweet 16?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because during the regular season few were really paying attention even to what the Dukes and Indianas were doing, let alone LaSalle. Or even pretending to care. You’d just assume that eventually a thing called Selection Sunday would get here, a bracket would be passed around the office, and a tournament of some sort would break out the next week, one filled with thrills, spills and assorted hijinks.

Makes for great theater, if you’re into that sort of thing. Basketball season has officially started. Slate wiped clean.

It’s fun. Harmless fun, but fun.

But it’s not football. More to the point, football can’t be basketball, and probably doesn’t ever want to be.

Not the belabor the point, but college football has a regular season, the greatest regular season in all of sports.

College football has such a riveting regular season that people can’t take their prying eyes off it in August, when it hasn’t even started yet.

Basketball season is almost over before anybody realizes it’s time to watch and don’t really care what they missed.

People, listen, they are two different games, two different psyches.

Baseball, for instance, thinks nothing of playing a doubleheader. Should football try that, too?

Basketball almost seems to have been invented to be a hodgepodge tournament game.

Football was invented so we can have OU-Texas, Auburn-Alabama, and every game, every week dang well matters to the overall well-being of the free world.

Be careful how you go messing with that. And, for that matter, I love meaningless bowl games where teams can have a genuine celebration and not worry what’s next up the food chain the following game.

College basketball long ago sold its regular-season soul for the cheap thrills of March Madness.

Great postseason, yes, but it was a trade-off.

Conferences like the Southland play a regular season for absolutely no reason at all. It doesn’t mean squat. Why bother? Despite all the caterwauling about seeding, with the one-bid leagues it will come down to who gets hot and wins the conference tournament (and the bid to the NCAAs).

Face it. While Florida Gulf Coast — how about Snowbirds as a better mascot? — makes for a great, uplifting tale, for three-quarters or more of the 68-team field, the season is a success by just getting to The Dance.

Florida Gulf Coast didn’t even when its own conference. Imagine if Atlantic Sun Conference had been able to send Mercer what might have happened to Georgetown.

But regular-season trophies are trinkets. Conference bragging rights go to the team that gets to go dancing.

That’s the ultimate goal. Most of the great upsets are probably unintentional, complete accidents.

And, if I sound bitter, it’s probably because my bracket is in smoldering tatters.

But, go, you Fighting Snowbirds, anyway. You’re a hoot.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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