Wednesday, we had a brief little commenter-assisted discussion of the merits of moving the college basketball schedule entirely to the spring, as proposed by FanHouse's Clay Travis. Travis sees college basketball receding in popularity where other sports -- the NFL, college football -- are succeeding, and thinks a move into the second semester of the academic year, from January to, say, May, would help whatever lingering popularity issues college hoops seems to be having.
A day later, SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean has taken a stab at the problem. (Assuming, of course, that we're willing to call it a "problem," which is shaky anytime an organization makes as much money as the NCAA and its member schools do.) Chris has a couple of major fixes and a bunch of minor ones. His first is scheduling; he thinks the nonconference and preseason should be moved to Dec. 31, when the only bowl games on TV are ultimately meaningless and most people are sitting around their houses waiting to get dressed up and go out and make bad decisions. There is literally nothing wrong with this idea. Approved.
The second major fix: Get rid of the one-and-done rule. Oh boy. Chris quotes Andrew Feinstein, who wrote a similar "let's fix this thing" piece from the NBA's perspective:
First off, the one-and-done rule doesn't work. Frankly, it should be called the one-semester-and-done-rule. This NBA provision that a player can't join the league until the equivalent of one college year has passed or he has turned 19 only encourages NCAA basketball programs to be more sleazy and corrupt than they already were. The kids get no value out of school whatsoever (how many classes do you think O.J. Mayo attended at USC for the one semester he was actually on campus?) and the NBA still inherits raw talent that's not properly developed. It's lose-lose on both sides. [...] And to not totally jerk with the NCAA, a la MLB any kid who decides to go to college must stay in college for three seasons, making NCAA basketball a much better product...and less corrupt.
OK. Where to start? First, to clarify: The one-and-done rule is pretty dumb. It should be changed, and if it's going to be changed, it should probably be changed to something resembling baseball's system -- players can either choose to leave high school and go pro immediately, or they can attend college with that caveat that if they do enroll, they have to stay at least three years. This system is a nice little straddle; it manages to please both the "18-year-olds should have the right to be professionals" group and those who think high school players need time in school before they go pro. It works on both ends.
But fixing the one-and-done rule doesn't seem like a surefire path to popularity, because few would argue the NCAA hasn't in many ways benefitted from one-and-done. Look at John Wall. He's the most famous college basketball player in the country -- in some places, he's probably the most famous hoopster, period -- and his dalliance with college sports, however brief it will be, has benefitted both himself and the NCAA. Colleges get to boast that they have the best talent in the country; players get to embody that talent and raise their profile ahead of the NBA draft; and the NBA gets to welcome a host of recognizable stars in a few months' time. None of this seems to have made the NCAA less popular. More corrupt? Maybe. But since when do college basketball fans care about that?
This is, much like yesterday's post, just rambling thoughts. There is nothing especially coherent here, at least not on my part. But in so far as college basketball needs to be fixed for the sake of popularity -- and not for other interests, like integrity -- the one-and-done rule doesn't seem a likely culprit. But then, what does?
Anyway, Dobber's got a whole bunch of good ideas; be sure to read them all, and be sure to leave your own in the comments. Who knew college basketball needed so much saving? But hey: Here we are, so let's save it.