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Does NCAA March Madness Really Beat the BCS?

Stocks in this article: NYT DIS CBS TWX

NEW ORLEANS ( MainStreet) -- OK, college football fans, we get it: You want a playoff instead of the Bowl Championship Series and will point frantically at the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament like a toddler in a toy store until you get what you want.

Have you ever actually stopped to think about what that playoff would look like, though? Because December Decadence or whatever other focus-grouped marketing term college sports' ranking officials use for it probably won't resemble March Madness in the slightest. Nor should it.

College football fans want a playoff, but automatic bids and big conferences may ruin their big dance.

Pete Thamel of The New York Times made the format pretty clear a few weeks ago when he revealed that college football's top administrators would likely have the framework for a four-team playoff in place before the start of the 2012 season and would implement it for the first time in 2014. Why four teams? Because an eight-team format would be tough to fit into the academic calendar and the current two-team format isn't cutting it with anybody.

"I expect that there will be a four-team playoff," says Brian Frederick, head of sports fan lobbying group The Sports Fans Coalition. "I think it's critical that proponents of the playoff ramp up their efforts now, because once it becomes locked in with a television contract it will be hard to change."

Back in 2007, a Gallup poll found that 85% of college football fans supported changing to a playoff system. President Barack Obama stated his support for such a system on 60 Minutes after his election in 2008. Most recently, the president told ESPN's Bill Simmons he'd like to see an eight-team playoff but considers four teams "a good place to start."

"Elected officials have more of a responsibility here than they realize or are willing to exert," Frederick says. "People always say that the government should be involved in sports, but that's certainly the case with college athletics where you have state schools and taxpayer-funded institutions making decisions about their future based on college football."

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