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NCAA needs to follow the example of UIL, UEFA

Tuesday night was the first time in a while that my sister and an old friend of ours had the time to go out and do something. Too bad it couldn’t have ended better, as it involved seeing the James Martin Warriors fall to Dallas Kimball 73-59.
In another organization that we’ll get to in a bit, this might be a crippling loss to Martin’s playoff hopes. The fact that Kimball was state champs in their class just two years ago would be trumped by the fact that a 6A team lost to a 5A team – not a good look on the resume.

But here’s the good news: It doesn’t matter. Once district play starts, the slate is completely clean and Martin, like every other school in the state of Texas, will have its shot at the playoffs based solely on how it finishes in district play only.

That’s where the UIL gets it right and the NCAA never has. There’s no subjectivity. All teams in every sport go into each season knowing exactly what they have to do to make the postseason – and it doesn’t involve impressing a committee.

How can the governing body of Texas high school athletics get it right where the national governing body of college athletics can’t?

In less than a year’s time, both the major colleges in Dallas and Fort Worth have seen major athletic programs denied a shot at the national championship thanks to the NCAA’s convoluted selection process that it seems no one not on the selection committees can comprehend. TCU, after being declared the No. 3 team in the nation on the next-to-last week of the season, suddenly dropped to No. 6 and out of the field despite a 55-3 win over Iowa State, because somehow, Ohio State’s blowout win in the BiG Championship game was that much more impressive.

It’s a snub that the basketball team at the school 30 miles away can relate to. No, I have not gotten over what happened to SMU last year. How their season was not better than Oklahoma State or North Carolina State seems incomprehensible to anyone with common sense in my view. The selection committee took mediocre teams from more established conferences because they mean more dollars, bottom line.

Immediately, sports writers in the area have took to blaming the schedules of TCU (and fellow Big 12 snub Baylor), saying they have to schedule tougher opponents. Problem is, that’s not an easy thing to do when said “tougher opponents” can just flat out say No to an invite on the fear that losing to a TCU will wreck their own season too much. No, that’s a factor that needs to be eliminated as well.

Both sports, and possibly the others in college athletics, would benefit so much from an impartial system that took away the power from individuals that are always going to be accused of having bias and an agenda in determining who gets in.

But wait, Rowdy, you stupid and ugly troll, you all say. The NCAA can’t organize like the UIL without breaking up into even more divisions. How in the world can they place the limited number of schools that get in by comparison without some way to rank what conferences are best?

For that, we need to go to another governing body, one an ocean away.

UEFA is in charge of overseeing all of the national soccer leagues in Europe and thus the organizing body of the biggest club tournament in the world, the UEFA Champions League. It’s like the NCAA basketball tournament on a continental level, only there’s no subjectivity as to who qualifies. 15 of the 54 national leagues can have more than one club get in, six can have more than two and three nation get four clubs and no more. How do they determine who gets what? The leagues are all ranked nationally solely on the number of goals scored in league play.

A completely impartial, objective system.

Why couldn’t the NCAA have something like that?

It would be elementally simple. Expand the football playoff field to eight schools, or possibly even 12 with the top four getting byes in the first round. If it’s only eight, then it’s conference champions only getting in. No, I don’t want to hear the whining about how this team deserves to get in despite not being champion because some so-called “expert” says they’re a top five club. The NCAA basketball tournament made sure all conference champions got in before expanding to at-large bids.

So either the top eight conference champions get in, or 12 get in with the top four getting byes. Rank the conferences based on average points per game IN CONFERENCE GAMES ONLY.

Heck, a similar system, almost identical to what UEFA has, could be used for basketball and other sports as well.

This would eliminate every single “subjective” factor that generates so much controversy in the game. Non-conference games would be a non-factor and treated as pre-season games, so there would be complaining about a school scheduling games against cupcakes. Margin of victory would not be an issue because it wouldn’t matter how much you win by; in fact, the points both teams scored in any game would benefit the conference and its chance of getting into the top spots.

Now, I know this is a pipe dream at best. The current system is run too much by the sports media and their bias toward big matchups that will generate “ratings” for those postseason games, and they like their position where they can influence the selection committees, and they won’t allow that power to go away any time soon.

So for the time being, TCU is still going to need a miracle in future years to get into a football playoff over Ohio State, and SMU is likely going to need a miracle or automatic bid to get picked over the fifth-place team in the ACC. And the controversy will never end.

At least I can look to something like the UIL playoffs where I know the selection is fair and unbiased.


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