When the college basketball schedule dropped for this season, I immediately rushed to my team's site (Florida State) to figure out who the last few out-of-conference games were against. After digesting the opponents I began pencilling in the games on my work calendar (yes, I have an actual calendar that I write on, and it hangs on the wall. I'm old). The date of the first game struck me as being early, so I checked last year and it was - in fact - one day earlier than the 1st game last year. So I started checking older seasons and found that it was the earliest starting date in program history.
On the other end of the schedule, I did the same. Sure enough, it was the latest finish to the season in program history (tying last year). I threw the start dates and end dates (last regular season game) into Excel, and here is how the seasons look.
The beginning of the season has been pushed up over a month from the old days. For the first 25 years of the program, the season only began in November once. Since 1977 it has only began in December once (the 1st, in 1993-94).
In the past decade the season has moved up another 10 days.
The other end isn't as dramatic, but the average end of the season through the year 2000 was March 1st. This season and last that date is March 9th.
Is this a good thing? For me, sure. I love college basketball. More is better. It's obvious that they're doing this to squeeze more money out of the sport, but whatever.
The more interesting question is when is this trend going to end? For the past 60 years the season has incrementally gotten longer. Are we going to see the same trend over the next 60 years? Already championship teams are playing 40 games. When will we hit 45? 50?
Let's hope this trend ends. We are talking about college hoops, not the NBA. Season creep has been with us for a long time, but has gotten out of hand since 2000. You are correct that this is solely about garnering more dollars.
What is needed is to eliminate the post-season conference tourneys. These tournaments are tiered over a 2 week period and unnecessarily extend play prior the the NCAA / NIT playoffs. 38-40 games a season is too much. This year Allen Iverson's favorite subject begins on September 27th, for teams playing on the 1st availabe date for games (Friday, Nov 8th).
The NCAA Tourney begins on March 18, 2014 with the championship game played April 7, 2014. So much for "March" madness. More is not better, merely longer with increased money at stake.
When will enough be enough?