Bloomberg News

College Football Tournament Not Preferred by Public, Poll Says

March 29, 2012

College football’s current format for crowning a national champion is preferable to holding a postseason tournament like college basketball, according to almost half of the people questioned by the Seton Hall Sports Poll.

The poll, conducted among 779 people by telephone across the U.S. from March 26 to 28, found 44 percent of the respondents said they would keep the Bowl Championship Series system, while 37 percent opted for a national tournament. The remaining 19 percent said they didn’t know. The poll had a margin of error for the full sample of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

The poll results were reported as executives from college athletic conferences and the BCS are discussing possible alternatives to the current system, which combines voting polls and computer rankings to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 teams that play for the national title in college football’s highest tier.

“I think the problem with a football playoff is that no one has been able to figure out what that would look like,” Rick Gentile, director of the poll at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “Every proposal that has been laid out has been fairly unacceptable and this year’s game was controversy free. I think the problem is that people can’t envision how it would work.”

The University of Alabama, ranked No. 2 going into the game, beat No. 1 Louisiana State University 21-0 in the Superdome in New Orleans to win the national championship this past season.

Sports Fans

When Seton Hall’s poll focused on people who identified themselves as sports fans, 37 percent said they would prefer a tournament. Among those who said they followed sports “somewhat,” the number rose to 50 percent. Among people who said they watched sports closely, 61 percent said they would prefer a tournament.

“People are still leaning toward, ‘Yeah, it kind of works,’” Gentile said. “That’s what you are getting from the general population. That would probably change if you get into December and there are a few undefeated teams left out of the mix.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Washington at ceichelberge@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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