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Doc Five: Ways to make college football’s Final Four perfect – No. 4, don’t be afraid of a Cinderella

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Jim Valvano's 1983 N.C. State team helped grow the popularity of the NCAA tournament (USA Today Sports Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

WAYS TO MAKE COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S FINAL FOUR PERFECT

NO. 4, DON'T BE AFRAID OF A CINDERELLA

You remember those rare Cinderella stories in college football. We talked about them last week. They're great. But for some reason, the sport of college football has never embraced them the way college basketball embraces theirs.

Think of it this way: Did Northern Illinois' Orange Bowl run garner the same warm and fuzzies that Florida Gulf Coast's Sweet 16 run did? Do fans still gush about 1984 BYU football the way they do about 1983 N.C. State's title team in basketball? Of course not.

That's the wrong approach. With the football final four coming in 2014, it could use a good underdog story.

One of the points of scrapping the BCS in favor of a playoff should be to give everyone a shot. A team like TCU in 2010 shouldn't have to go undefeated and never get a shot at a national title. It's hard to argue that every week is a playoff in college football when a team that talented can go an entire season without a loss only to find out it was basically eliminated from BCS championship consideration before the season even started.

A Boise State or a Northern Illinois beating a one seed like Alabama in the semifinals would not be bad for the popularity of the final four. It would energize fan bases around the country. It would add an aspect of unpredictability to the event. But will the playoff afford an underdog that opportunity?

Let's be honest, the playoff wasn't set at four teams to give the little guy a chance. There are four or five power conferences, depending on how you feel about the ACC. It's not a coincidence there won't be a lot of extra spots for smaller conferences to stake a claim to a spot in the tournament. The paydays will be great, and the power brokers in the sport won't want to share. A team from a non-power conference will need an air-tight argument for inclusion in the four-team field.

Again, it's the wrong approach. When a legitimate contender from a second-level conference emerges, it's in the sport's best interest to give it a shot. The NCAA tournament is built on stories like 1983 N.C. State and 1985 Villanova. The Super Bowl's biggest moment in its early development was the Jets shocking the world in Super Bowl III. The sport doesn't embrace the little guy now, but maybe that will change if the right story emerges. Football's final four should embrace that possibility.

Previously on the Doc Five ...
No. 5: Pick the right venues

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