March Madness has already started. Of course you already knew that. It begins today in an arena somewhere near you.
And if your friends tell you that March Madness is the best time of the year, just laugh and carry on about your merry way. Truly, I know I’m not alone here – wake me up when July ends. I’m not a basketball hater or a March hater, and I’ll get into March Madness just enough to see my bracket fade into oblivion.
Here’s the 10 best reasons Saturdays Down South eclipses college basketball and March Madness:
1. The regular season matters
Like it or loathe it, the current BCS system is set up to where every week matters in college football; it’s a playoff. In college basketball, every week doesn’t matter; every game doesn’t matter, and much less conference tournaments don’t even matter for teams that actually have a chance to win a national championship. The implications in the Ole Miss-Florida SEC basketball championship and Alabama-Georgia SEC football championship couldn’t be more polar opposite. One team’s game ended in heartbreak and the other played for a national championship, but, hell, who cares in basketball, because they both get a shot at playing for a championship either way.
2. Conference warfare
Do you care that the SEC is one of the worst basketball conferences in the country? Is that why we don’t care? The Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Did you know that? You know they’re at least the fourth best in the college football, because you love to taunt them. The SEC hates the Big Ten in football, particularly Ohio State. Ohio State fans think they’ll become the first non-SEC team to win a championship. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds claims the Big 12 has a tougher road to win a championship than the SEC, and he isn’t talking about basketball in the middle of March.
3. National Signing Day
Aside from any Saturday, no recruitment for any college basketball prospect eclipses Robert Nkemdiche’s recruitment. Are more people talking about Kentucky’s six McDonalds’ All-Americans outside of Lexington, or that fact that Hugh Freeze pulled a John Calipari and signed a top class in the country, including the top player? Freeze is a nationally renowned coach now, for one recruiting class. College football recruiting is a circus, but it works.
4. College GameDay
ESPN’s College GameDay continues to dominate ratings on ESPN. How do you like the forecasted schedule of the basketball version four weeks in advance? Compare it to the football version’s Sunday decision for their destination campus for the following week. Yah! Let’s go to Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas in four weeks. It doesn’t compare to a thrilling victory to remain undefeated and hosting an undefeated team the next week. That’s college football. Better yet, do you know Digger Phelps or Lee Corso better? (I do love Jay Bilas, though. I’ll keep him out of this argument.)
The Auburn-Alabama basketball game has a pulse, but is it anything like the Iron Bowl? How about the Third Saturday in October? No? Ask Mississippi State whether or not they would rather win the Egg Bowl Trophy or a shootout with Marshall Henderson, or whether The World’s Largest Cocktail Party compares to the hardwood. Ask Arkansas fans if their emerging on-court rivalry with Missouri tops a battle for the Golden Boot or the Southwest Classic Trophy. Do me a favor and don’t ask a Kentucky fan about his rivalry with Louisville. It will only lead to louder noises.
Auburn knows it’s more fun to roll Toomer’s Corner after a win over Alabama on a fall Saturday night than any other time. Likewise, Bama fans will Rammer Jammer down your throat, a tradition screamed only twice in the closing minutes of a secured victory. Is there anything better than a first-time SEC coach calling the Hogs? Take a stroll on over to The Grove in Oxford when you can, and you’ll know what I mean.
Only us SEC folk, and a few select schools around the country, can attest the passion of college football. Aside from a couple in-state rivalries, nearly every team in the conference roots for the conference as a whole. Sure, that might happen in basketball, but who cares, right? I know you’re coming around, basketball fan. Tailgates and tan lines win September and October, and nothing comes close to the passion of college football.
8. Poll transparency
Right now, at least, we have more transparency in ranking teams than college basketball’s selection committee. At least we get to see who gets voted for week-in and week-out in the fall, unlike the college basketball selection committee deciding on who gets into the 68-team field. I may rethink this one in 2014 when college football has its own selection committee. Aye.
9. Villain coaches
The SEC is home to arguably the most despised and envious coach in college football: Nick Saban. USC has the most hated coach in college football in Lane Kiffin, period. Name a current basketball coach who’s hated aside from Rick Pitino, Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari. You can name 10 hated football coaches off the top of your head right now.
10. Condensed regular season
College football’s regular season is like a carrot dangled in front of your face, teasing you every step of the way. Then, poof, it’s gone. You plan weekends around football games, because you only get 12 precious dates. You cringe at fall wedding invitations, and the very next step you take is to your calendar and your team’s schedule to see what game(s) you miss. You would never think of doing this for any regular season basketball game. Forget it.
Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE