College Basketball: Universities Need to Focus More on the Sports' Potential

By Joseph Nardone

College basketball is not nearly as popular as most of the other major American sports. During last year’s NCAA Final Four run and in its Championship Game, the peak rating was a disappointing 12.3. While the number itself is impressive for the country’s fifth favorite sport, it’s a far cry from the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals‘ numbers. That’s not to say that the sport itself is a long ways away from reclaiming huge amounts of popularity in the future. Fortunately for college basketball fans the future is bright and, believe it or not, right around the corner.

The NFL and NCAA Football might the kings of sports viewership now, but with concussion reports and lawsuits pending the world of football can be completely different within just a few years. College basketball, if done smartly, could capitalize on football’s misfortunes. Smart moves by university presidents could lead to progress in ratings. Mainly, if you’re a basketball conference don’t try to become a football juggernaut.

Football generates a ton of money. In the rat race that is the money grab going on between university presidents is forcing schools to make difficult choices. Should they leave a conference, stay, become an independent. The Big East is a prime example. The Big East Conference was founded as a basketball first endeavor. Founding members such as St. John’s, Syracuse, and Georgetown all carried their own weight. Now with defectors such as the Orange moving on to “football conferences” leaves the Big East in a precarious situation. Do they try to keep up with the Jones or make a unique mark in college athletics.

At the moment the conference seems stuck on trying to become a football conference. Already way behind other football heavy conferences such as the SEC, Big 10, and Big 12 the Big East is just banging its collective heads against the door. Instead of wasting time and money trying to become a football conference maybe it’s time the Big East starts to focus on what made them relevant to begin with, basketball.

That doesn’t mean that they should abandon football all together. Instead, what they should do  is focus most of the revenue gained through football into rebuilding their basketball programs. Build state of the art facilities, conjure up and construct the best looking arenas, and hire the worlds smartest minds to run the conference like a Fortune 500 company.

In the short term the idea of using all your financial gains from football isn’t exactly the wisest move. But thinking big picture, football is not going to be the ratings powerhouse forever. You can argue to your face is blue. At one point in this country MLB was the country’s national pastime. During the 1960s if you made the argument that in the future the NFL would supersede them as America’s favorite sport you would be laughed at. The idea that college basketball can’t make a comeback is naive.

Fashion goes in circles, popularity of celebrities comes and goes, but at the end of the day people will crave watching competition. If football was to be changed dramatically or gone from the landscape of sports all together(boxing) college basketball can be right there to scoop up the viewership remains and be the crying shoulder for America’s sporting needs.

Follow Joe on the Twitter machine if you want @JosephNardone

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