During his prime, I grew into an “anyone but Tiger Woods” fan of professional golf. Not because I didn’t appreciate his abilities and his tenacity, but because he ruined so many Sunday rounds of major championships. I never watched a lot of golf on TV, but the majors were always fun, especially on Sundays. It just wasn’t that much fun watching the field play for second place while Tiger held a 5-, 10-, or 15-stroke lead. Tiger wasn’t going to choke and no one else was good enough to catch him, so what’s the point when the potential drama was as exciting as a NASCAR battle for ninth place?
There are two types of frustration for college football fans – frustration borne of futility and ineptitude and frustration borne from unmet expectations. Over the past 10 seasons, Virginia fans have become very familiar with the former. Friday against Pitt, it was all about the latter.
College football season doesn’t truly begin until that first full Saturday of games. This year, that’s September 1. Some of us refuse to wait that long, though. The good news for us is that we don’t have to wait. It doesn’t matter that it’s Wyoming battling New Mexico State. College football is college football (at least when it’s still August and we’re starved for it.)
So, I’m here with some reasons to dig into the seemingly unappealing and unimportant, appetite-whetting menu of taste-tester games taking place a week ahead of that most glorious of Saturdays. While there’s not much to get overly excited about on August 25, when you’re this hungry, you’ll make do with just about anything. At some point, you’re sure to be asking yourself, “What the hell am I watching right now?” Well, here’s what: Continue reading The Preseason Slate of Games Made Only for True College Football Fans
At the end of any given football season, I always love going back through my articles and checking out all the brilliant things I said throughout the year. Then, when I come across all the completely dumb things I said, I enjoy that part even more. Laughter is good for the soul.
So, first of all, let me brag to you about the things I said that have turned out to be absolutely brilliant in retrospect. I don’t get to brag about being right about football too often, so let me have my moment.
“SEC East Sleeper: Remember the Gators” This was a title for one of my articles early in the year.
“This year, I am still cautious about all the optimism surrounding the Tennessee football program.” Good call here, even if my dad was convinced otherwise.
“With the return of Mike Williams from injury, Watson should have a great target downfield for those longer plays.” Deshaun Watson proved to be a huge asset in Clemson’s championship game, but so did Mike Williams.
“I would not be surprised to see a Heisman winner from an ACC football program this year.” It may not have been Deshaun Watson, but the Heisman winner was from the ACC.
“And as much as I ride for SEC football, I have to admit I do expect the Seminoles to come out victorious.” This was the one SEC game I really wanted to see during week one, even if I did expect Ole Miss to drop this game.
“Do I expect Ole Miss to get its third victory in a row in this series? No, but I do anticipate a very interesting football game.” This came from that same article and was referring to watching Alabama’s trip Ole Miss. I was right about this year, even though Ole Miss had given Alabama trouble lately.
“They’ve actually won eleven in a row in this rivalry…but who’s counting? This year I truly do expect that winning streak to come to an end.” This is yet another gem from that same article about watching only one SEC football game each week. Tennessee had been hitting a huge mental roadblock in the Florida game–until this year.
“ACC football is not to be taken lightly this season.” Early in the season, I warned everyone to give ACC football some respect this year. After the conference’s bowl season performance, it was definitely earned.
“To be totally honest, at this point the regular season is just Alabama getting warmed up for its playoff appearance.” This came from my Alabama-Ole Miss smackdown piece, but really was not an exaggeration at all.
“Florida’s offense is still nothing special.” Although this was from my smackdown piece before the Florida-Tennessee game, it turned out to be very true. No surprise there.
“I know the Auburn Tigers are ranked a little below the Arkansas Razorbacks, but they’re going to beat them anyways.” Yet another smackdown piece that proved to be correct.
“It will be funny to see Great Value DBU shut down the Heisman winner though. I must say…” This was a personal tweet referring to LSU shutting down Lamar Jackson, which did eventually happen.
So I was right, at least to some extent, pretty often. But what I hope you’ll find much more amusing is all those really stupid things I said. Maybe my sense of humor is strange, but I thought some of these were pretty hilarious.
“If Mark Richt can do that, they could have a very impressive non-conference win in his first season as head coach.” I really thought Miami’s trip to South Bend would be a noteworthy non-conference game this season. Unfortunately, beating Notre Dame wasn’t exactly an impressive feat.
“But if the Vols do get that win then it’s safe to say they are national contenders and Alabama better watch out for them in a couple weeks.” Remember when everyone thought the Vols were potential national contenders before the season even started? I bought into that hype when discussing how I wanted to watch the Vols play at Georgia in Week 5 of SEC football.
“I don’t know that I’m right about this but I think the Vols will have a good chance to win at home over the Crimson Tide.” I wanted to watch the Alabama-Tennessee game in Week 7 if I could only watch one SEC game. Poor choice there.
“Labor Day is just a welcomed day off from both work and school for most people. But for Ole Miss this year, it’s the day [it takes] down the Florida State Seminoles.” From a Smackdown Friday piece so I didn’t really mean it. But still hilarious. Plus, that whole article was hilarious if you like hating on Florida State.
“…if I had money to bet I’d be putting it all on the Tennessee Vols to win the SEC East right now.” It’s a good thing I was broke. I would’ve wasted a lot of money thinking that the Vols were really going to win the SEC East.
“I hate to break it to Clemson fans, but Lamar Jackson is about the shatter your hopes and dreams.” This Smackdown was off. Lamar Jackson did take Deshaun Watson’s Heisman trophy. But Clemson still lived out its dream of winning a national championship again.
“Coastal Division Is Worse for ACC Football than East Is for SEC Football” Even just the title of this article is off. After bowl season, there’s not much that can be said for the SEC East, aside from Florida and Tennessee.
“It’s not that the Razorbacks can’t beat the Gators. It’s just that they won’t.” Another Smackdown Friday article gone wrong. The Razorbacks could and did beat the Gators–in convincing fashion.
E-mail Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KristenBotica.
Photo from Public Domain Pictures.
All this time, the NFL has seemed so bullet-proof, but we’re seeing vulnerability in the armor. People aren’t watching as much, and they don’t like the way the product is being dispersed.
What plagues the professional game actually seems to aid college football. While we understand Saturday remains the best day to see the best games, we don’t feel like the occasional Thursday or Friday games are scheduled to do us dirty.
You want to play one of these games on the moon at 4 o’clock on a Tuesday, College Football fans will adjust. Just tell them when/where the tailgate is, and they’re cool.
Tell an NFL fan that Sunday Ticket is only offering a game that his antenna won’t in the late spot on Sunday, and they’re livid with London and Thursday Night Football. The presentation of the NFL game is too clean for fans to adapt to these random game-time windows.
College Football fans see Thursday, and now also Tuesday and Wednesday, as an opportunity to showcase a game that might be buried on ESPNU or some dreaded streaming option at noon on Saturday.
Western Michigan is the “Other” Team
Last Tuesday, the nation’s “other” unbeaten team had the undivided attention of the College Football diehards in Muncie. Maybe a 32-point win over Ball State isn’t that sexy on paper, but did you see what Corey Davis did?
Do you feel anything was flukey about Western Michigan’s 9-0 start? Maybe you understand the pecking order, and where the Mid-American Conference gets pecked. Maybe there’s an obligation to qualify the two road wins over the Big Ten by reminding everyone that Illinois was one of those wins. Maybe you wonder if the MAC juggernaut deserves to be on the field with a mid-major darling like Boise State.
Remember the 80s?
Just for kicks, you could have watched games involving Oklahoma and Colorado last Thursday. Maybe something like that would have excited you more 25-30 years ago, but those games affect the outcome of the Big 12 and Pac-12, because the present is weird.
You love it, and it takes nothing away from Saturday afternoon or evening.
Election Threads and Football on the Diamond
This coming Tuesday, Eastern Michigan will continue a semi-annual MAC tradition of paying homage to democracy with Election Day uniforms, back in Muncie–for #MACtion. Speaking of everyone’s favorite non-defense-playing conference, you’ll be sure to see Cubs fans from DeKalb to Northern Ohio trolling Guaranteed Rate Field on Chicago’s south side this Wednesday.
It’s football at a baseball stadium. Yeah, Northwestern and Illinois got Wrigley on a Saturday, and GameDay went to Wrigleyville. This next chapter in the great Toledo-Northern Illinois saga might get Roy Philbott, Rocky Boiman, and an ESPN2 production crew to urban Illinois on a school night.
Does Anyone Get Pac-12 Network?
Thursday, we get Utah in the Valley of the Sun, for the FS1 weekend preview. It’s up to the Utes to prove that anyone other than Washington is worth a damn in that conference. This game isn’t being stolen from ABC at 3:30, but more likely from a channel you don’t get, even if you live in Phoenix or Salt Lake City.
NBC is Glad It’s You, Not Them
CBS gave you three games on Saturday, just as they would when they have London and the 1 PM/4 PM doubleheader on Sunday. They got Notre Dame because they have Navy rights. Notre Dame lost again; great moment for Navy. Is College Football worse off for the Irish’s 3-6 campaign?
I doubt CBS or Navy care. They’re going to care about records a lot more in December when they’re selling some lousy SEC East team’s upset potential against Alabama in Atlanta.
Speaking of the Tide, Jalen Hurts may have provided the only offensive spark for Alabama in a 10-0 win in Death Valley at night. There’s a joke to be told including Alabama’s quarterback’s last name and a breakfast food that looks like a zero, but I’m striking out.
The networks are hitting it out of the park though and in doing so, they’ve won us over with quantity over quality. More may mean too much on Sunday, but we love it on Saturday, Thursday, and sometimes Tuesday.
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Throughout this season I’ve noticed how intertwined college football has been with Twitter. Any given day of the week, I can get on Twitter and see multiple tweets about college football. And this isn’t to complain. To me, it’s just really interesting how Twitter has come to interact with college football.
When you think about it, Twitter has really transformed so many aspects of college football. Coaches tweet now. Players tweet. Analysts tweet. Fans tweet. We all tweet, often interacting with each other. The interactive aspect of Twitter has really made college football more fun in countless ways.
Coaches can tweet random facts that let people into their lives, or they can (with restrictions) use Twitter as a recruiting tool. One of the most prominent college football coaches as far as Twitter goes is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. He uses his account for all sorts of different things, and it’s clear that fans eat it up.
I’m not a fake, here’s my Top 5 from @Drake:
3. Started From the Bottom
4. Hold On, We’re Going Home
5. Hotline Bling
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 30, 2016
“Amazing” to me- Alabama broke NCAA rules & now their HC is lecturing us on the possibility of rules being broken at camps. Truly “amazing.”
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 1, 2016
I mean, I don’t even like Michigan football at all, but those tweets make me like Harbaugh a little more. He is clearly a Twitter master.
Players being on Twitter is a whole different animal. Being a Florida fan, obviously the most interesting player to follow is Teez Tabor. Though some of his tweets have been deleted, his Twitter has always been a goldmine. College ball players often just shut up and play, but having Twitter and thousands of followers on Twitter gives them the chance to actually talk.
Talking is definitely something Tabor has proven to be great at. He compared college football to slavery once. He also called out Florida’s UAA for being bogus after he was suspended for refusing to take a drug test. But in a totally different light, he’s tried to set a good example for younger fans. This summer he actually live streamed himself giving to a homeless man in Gainesville.
Gotta be a positive influence to the youth
— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) October 12, 2016
— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) August 20, 2016
Say what you want about the first couple tweets I mentioned, but Tabor is clearly a Twitter master, too. He uses it not only to express himself and support his teammates, but also to try to inspire his followers to do better.
Analysts have also become increasingly active on Twitter. Even bloggers like myself use Twitter to interact with fans of the teams we write about. We also can use Twitter to promote our work and get precious views.
One very recent example of analysts using Twitter was with the postponement of the LSU-Florida game at the beginning of the month. Many major analysts immediately jumped on Twitter to give their commentary on this news.
LSU got its narrative out first, causing the majority of analysts to pick up its version of the events. Analysts were bashing the Florida team, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, Coach McElwain and even the SEC Commissioner, who ultimately made the call to postpone the game.
Clay Travis was one of the most overwhelmingly loud voices speaking out against the Gators. I’m sure he gained thousands of LSU and Tennessee fan followers that weekend. And kudos to him for exploiting a sensitive topic to get more clicks. It’s the smart thing to do.
So Florida had two different teams travel for games this weekend and is still hosting football recruits this weekend. Total cowards.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 8, 2016
On the other side of things was one of my favorite Twitter presences as far as analysts go, Barrett Sallee. Sallee, for anybody who understood why the game was postponed, was the voice of reason. He even went so far as to say exactly why the theory that Florida was scared of playing LSU that weekend was ridiculous.
So you’re of the belief that Florida wanted to delay a game in which Leonard Fournette wouldn’t play to make sure Del Rio does?
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) October 8, 2016
Sallee obviously received a lot of criticism and insults for being one of the few analysts to publicly defend the Gators. But, as always, he handled his critics very well. And in this case, both Clay Travis and Barrett Sallee proved that they are masters of college football talk on Twitter.
The last aspect of how Twitter has changed college football has to do with the fans. The fan experience is entirely different now that there’s Twitter. There are really three major ways Twitter changed college football for the fans: fans interacting with other fans of the same teams, fans interacting with fans of other teams and fans interacting with and/or criticizing the players.
Fans interacting within the same fan base has become incredibly popular. Vol Twitter, Gator Twitter and so many other Twitter worlds exist out there because of college football. Having other fans to commiserate with or celebrate with, without ever leaving your house, is really awesome.
But what happens when the good people of Gator Twitter and Vol Twitter clash? Well, if you’re sensitive then you should probably stay out of it. During #FloridaHateWeek/#TennesseeHateWeek leading up to the September 24th game in Knoxville, these fans really went at each other. I got to see both sides of it, which was honestly incredibly amusing.
Having Twitter to talk crap with fans of opposing teams can be really fun. But like I said, keep your feelings out of it. It’s not that serious, bro.
This last part of things can be great when used correctly. But when abused, it really irks me. Fans have the ability to criticize and/or interact with the players via Twitter now. In theory, this is great. In practice, it’s not always so great.
If you know me, you know I defend athletes whenever my writing allows. I defended Josh Dobbs and all other college athletes earlier this season after a student wrote a really nasty article about “whiny” football players. Here’s my chance to defend players in another way.
Because Twitter is Twitter and it creates a mob mentality in a lot of ways, fan bases often find scapegoats to take out all their frustration on. Sometimes the scapegoats kind of deserve it. But in other cases, it just gets to a point that is completely ridiculous.
For example, earlier this season Florida safety Nick Washington had a game-sealing interception off a Jarrad Davis tipped ball. A play like that shows great awareness and athleticism. But, since he’s a Gator Twitter scapegoat, he got virtually no credit for it.
Nick Washington so lucky he was ball watching. His shitty play actually got him somewhere. And we gonna win
— BSG (@BiasedSportsGuy) October 1, 2016
LOL. You have to be kidding me. A) I assure you that it was not “shitty” play that got him to the University of Florida. B) Random Twitter troll, do you start for a top 25 college football program? C) Who hurt you? D) Aren’t you a Gator fan? What are you doing??
Now, most college football players would never lash out in response to something like this. As someone told me a while ago, “There’s a reason we’re on that field and they’re just watching.” But at the end of the day, fans need to realize that the players do see these tweets. These guys are devoting countless hours, their bodies and so much else to try to generate income for the universities and entertain the fans.
Being ungrateful just because Twitter gives you a place to do so is just plain dumb. Is it really worth the RTs and likes? Is it really worth the players thinking their own fan base is ridiculous?
As we Gators would say, “In all kinds of weather, we all stick together.” Now, if college football fans on Twitter (including Gator fans) could actually take that to heart, college football Twitter would be a much happier place.
At the end of the day, Twitter has changed college football for everyone involved. I really do think it’s mostly a good thing, too. Sometimes it’s even a great thing. But as evidenced by my last point, it clearly isn’t always a good thing.
As technology changes and platforms like Twitter become even more popular, it’ll be interesting to watch how it continues to affect college football and all of us that are so invested in the game.
You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.
These are the dog days. The weather is overbearing in a way that makes us simply want to wave the white flag.
But, college football doesn’t allow for that. It doesn’t allow us to give int. College football offers hope at the end of this hot, desolate wasteland that we know as the “offseason.”
As the calendar flipped to August, I was reminded of one of my favorite football movies, “The Best of Times,” starring the late Robin Williams. You should put this on your list if only for the poetic diatribes and quotable lines. When describing the anticipation of the annual rebirth of football, Williams encapsulates the anticipation, the hope of a new season.
“It’s that time of year again…when the first leaf of autumn falls forlornly to the barren ground below.”
The hope he speaks of is found in an ideal unique to college football.
Tradition. A three-syllable word that defines the phenomena that is the sport we love. It’s more than just what happens between the lines. Coaches and players come and go, and the sport encompasses more than Xs and Os.
It is tradition.
It’s the Vol Navy sterngating in the shadows of Rocky Top. It’s the Sea of Red releasing balloons when their Huskers score for the first time. It’s Army and Navy desperately trying to “sing second.” It’s doing the Hokey Pokey at halftime in Blacksburg. It’s dotting the ‘i’, screaming “Bear Down,” “Boiler Up,” and striking the Heisman pose.
It’s the sight of beloved mascots like Ralphie, Tusk, Cam the Ram and Mike the Tiger. It’s the smells filling the State Fair on Oklahoma-Texas weekend, permeating from Dreamland on Friday afternoon, and wafting across The Grove on Saturday morning. It’s the deafening cheers in The Swamp, The Horseshoe, The Doak, “between the hedges” and down on The Farm. It’s the driving melodies of Texas Fight, Fight Tiger, Tiger Rag and Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
The autumn spectacle makes this sport special. It has survived world wars, financial recessions, and national tragedies.
The passion and traditions are cultural – inherited at a young age, carried through tenure as a co-ed, embraced as a seasoned alum, and then taught to the next generation.
No other sport offers the color and pageantry quite like college football. Lucky for us, it’s that time of year again…
It’s been 3 years since Tennessee bought out Butch Jones’ contract with Cincinnati. Three years of top 15 recruiting classes, three years of improving records from 5-7, to 7-6, to 9-4. Three years of preseason hype followed by losses that make fans’ hopes rise, but hearts break. There was that Pig Howard fumble at the goal line for a 31-34 loss to Georgia in overtime in 2013, those consecutive losses to Florida and Georgia by a combined four points in 2014, and every loss in 2015, which consisted of a double-overtime loss to #19 Oklahoma, a one-point loss to Florida, a four-point loss to Arkansas, and a five-point loss to the eventual national champions, Alabama. After three years of work, he has the recruiting classes, he has the experienced players, he has the Power Five conference football program, and he even has the not-so-formidable schedule to help him out. Only one real question remains about Butch Jones as a head coach, and it is now set to be answered this year. How far can Butch Jones take the Tennessee football program?
Can Butch Jones end the 9-year losing streak against Tennessee’s arch-rival Alabama?
That game will be played at Neyland Stadium, in front of their passionate fan base. Barring injury, they’ll have the senior quarterback, Joshua Dobbs with 24 starts under his belt, against a quarterback yet to be determined by Nick Saban and the staff who will have a total of six options. Tennessee’s defensive line of juniors and seniors will be playing against Alabama’s offensive line of sophomores and freshmen. Again, barring injury, almost every player that starts for Tennessee will have played in that five-point loss to Alabama last year. Alabama still has its vaunted defense, running back Bo Scarborough, and some of the best coaching in the nation, but if everything holds through the first six games, there has been no better opportunity for Tennessee to defeat Alabama in the nine years since it last did so.
Can he win an SEC Championship and make the CFB Playoffs?
If he can defeat Alabama, the road to the SEC Championship is one of the least formidable in the SEC. Non-conference home games against Appalachian State and Ohio, as well as a neutral site game at Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech, give them a manageable 3-0 record out of the gate. The only real threat to that will be Virginia Tech, who’s coming off a 7-6 season and still trying to find a starting quarterback.
The next four games will determine the path of their season, at home against Florida, at Georgia, at Texas A&M, and at home against Alabama. Florida will be a difficult game against a tough defense, but they’re also looking for a quarterback (none of their quarterbacks have ever thrown a pass for Florida), and the game will be played at Neyland. Georgia will be their first difficult road game, but they will be facing a new head coach, Kirby Smart. Georgia is also young on offense but very talented and has a quarterback that won ten games last year in Greyson Lambert. Georgia is very experienced in the secondary on defense, and Smart is a defensive coach. This game will be a grind and a test for Tennessee. the road game against Texas A&M will be their “trap game,” with a quarterback in Trevor Knight who went 11-4 last year at Oklahoma, and a coach fighting to keep his job in the midst of off-the-field drama in Kevin Sumlin. Alabama has already been discussed above.
All four of those will be tough games, but after them, Tennessee has the easiest four game schedule a team could compile in the SEC, and an FCS school they will soundly defeat. Ending the year at South Carolina, at home against Tennessee Tech, at home against Kentucky, at home against Missouri, and finishing off at Vanderbilt is a schedule that even Cincinnati, the program he left, could reasonably go undefeated against. Mark my words, if Tennessee is 7-0 on October 16, 2016, they will go undefeated through the regular season. Those middle four games will be tough, and I expect them to at least be 3-1 in the Florida, Georgia, A&M, Alabama matchups, but could there be an easier route to the SEC Championship? If he gets there and wins, it’s a virtual guarantee Tennessee will be in the CFB Playoffs… How far can they go? Every piece is in place for Butch Jones to answer the question every Tennessee fan is asking, “How far can Butch Jones take this program?”
So Tennessee fans, as you sit at #10 on the recently released Amway College Top 25 Coaches Poll, kick back and enjoy. You’re about to see the full potential of what your athletic director Dave Hart bought out of Cincinnati 3 years ago. Whether Tennessee has the next great coach in the SEC, or just one in the series of coaches trying to bring the “Power T” back to prominence, everything is in now in place. You will know which of these he is at the end of this year, which is why, for Tennessee fans I would call it, “The Year of Butch Jones.”
Photo courtesy of Jason Yellin.
As we stand upon the brink of the 137th year of college football, there are few things that could be changed that would make the game itself better. But, no single game-centric issue needs more fixin’ than the system for college football replays.
We love the college game and it is simply better than the NFL in most ways. However, the college football replays system should, without question, be conducted the same way they do it in professional football.
Two Scenarios That Capture the Shortfalls of College Football Replays
It’s first and goal at the 2-yard line when a powerful tailback goes off tackle and into a pile. The officials can’t tell if the ball crossed the goal line because of the mass of humanity mashing against each other. When the dust clears, the officials make a call…
Whether the refs ruled a touchdown or not is irrelevant here. Why? Because you can guarantee that play will be stopped and we’ll all lose patience watching the different angles to see if the guy got in.
The next scenario looks like this. The offense faces 2nd & 9 at their own 32 late in the first quarter when the QB completes a three-yard pass that may or may not truly have been complete. When the initial replay is shown, it’s unclear as to whether the nose of the ball hit the ground or if the receiver got his hands under the ball.
No matter. The “genius” eye in the sky stops play to look at the play from every angle except the receiver’s helmet cam. Four minutes go by when the ref pulls off the headphones and announces that the call on the field stands. The result? It’s now 3rd & 6 instead of 3rd & 9. Wow! That’s progress, right?
Upon Further Review…
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going back to the way it was for over a century. No replay. The refs make the call and the call is final. Now, get to the line of scrimmage and let’s play.
But, that will never happen and continuing this system makes us bleed from the eyeballs. So, here’s a solution.
The NFL system puts the decision on the coach. In both of the aforementioned scenarios, the coach of the defensive team probably never would’ve wasted his challenge on those plays.
If he challenges scenario A and wins, there’s still a good chance that the QB will score on a sneak from the 3-inch line on the next play anyway. He’d save his challenge for a different scenario.
If he challenges scenario B and wins, the offense is just as likely to convert on third down whether they need six or nine yards. Again, he’d save his challenge.
In the college system, there are already stoppages in play that destroy the flow of the game and the involuntary replay stoppage makes the games almost unbearable for the fans inside the stadium. If coaches were given one challenge, they would be likely to use them carefully and then the fans would not be subjected to the endless delays that disrupt the flow and, ultimately, make the games longer.
Instead, the Rules Committee chooses to completely ignore the flaws in the replay system. The inherent flaw with their approach to their decisions is that millionaire head coaches are the Rules Committee and the last thing they want is more accountability. So, they leave it up to the replay official to remove the burden. To boot, this change to the system would result in fewer replays and speed up the game, which will give the networks more dependable windows of time for their broadcasts.
Again, college football is the greatest sport on the planet and I hate to seem like I’m bashing this thing I schedule my year around. But if I were Czar, I’d make this change to make it that much better.
E-mail Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MarkCFried.
Photo courtesy of Brian Cantoni on Flickr.
In my last column, we explored what realignment into 16-team power conferences might look like. And, when I posted it on my Facebook page, some friends responded with their own ideas.
First, there was my cousin, Chris Creguer, who suggested blowing up the Big 12 and dispersing its teams into the four remaining Power 5 conferences. That could work and I can see the NCAA falling in love with that system.
That’s too easy, though, too neat and tidy, too realistic. So when a college buddy of mine, Ryan Schadewald, floated his idea of getting rid of the conferences altogether and going to promotion and relegation style, similar to that of the English football pyramid, I knew I’d found my next project.
From now until the end of football (which is probably much closer than any one of us is willing to admit), the college game will consist of multiple 15-team divisions playing a 14-game round robin regular season schedule over a 15-week period.
Opening Week 2016 is August 22-28. Closing Week 2016 will be November 28 – December 3. Games are to be played on Saturdays only. Each division will have one primetime game per week.
The top four finishers in the Division I standings will compete in the Division I Playoff. First round games are the week following the conclusion of the regular season (December 10, 2016). After a bye week, the winners of the first round meet in the Division I Championship Game (December 24, 2016).
The bottom four teams in the standings are relegated to Division II and replaced by four D-II teams for the following season.
In Division II and below, the top finisher in the standings earns automatic promotion into the next highest division. The Playoffs in these divisions will determine the other three promotion spots with second place facing seventh place, third meeting sixth, and fourth playing fifth, in a single round, the week after the regular season.
Once the regular season is over, schools which have not qualified for any playoffs may compete against each other, across the divisions. In other words, if former rivals want to get together but one is in Division I and the other’s in Division IV, now’s the time for that to happen.
Call them friendlies, bowl games, whatever. They’re essentially the same thing. These contests are completely optional and must be mutually agreed upon. They also may not be scheduled on Saturdays, which are reserved for the Playoffs.
When the Playoffs are completed, all teams are available for postseason play. If the Division I champ wants to accept a challenge from the D-II regular season champ, I’m sure many would tune in.
January 1 is the new cutoff for the college football season. Sitting around all day watching football is a New Year’s tradition. It’d be a shame to cancel that, but after the first we need to move on.
Standings and Overtime
No college football game shall ever end in a tie. Don’t worry. The overtime structure is so nearly perfect the way it is. The only change is that possessions will now begin from the 50-yard line, not the 25. This will take away the comfort of knowing that you’ll still have a makeable field goal attempt even if you lose five yards.
Since there will be no single points earned through draws, as in soccer, it took some creativity to come up with a system for keeping standings.
- 1 point in the standings for an overtime loss
- 2 points for a win in overtime
- 3 points for a win in regulation
- 1 bonus point for winning a game by 36 points or more
- 1 bonus point for scoring 50 points or more in a game
- 1 bonus point for a shutout
Therefore, the “perfect game” would be a regulation shutout win by at least 50 points. Such wins are awarded another extra point in the standings, for a total of seven (3 for win, 1 for 36-point win, 1 for scoring 50, 1 for the shutout, and 1 for the “perfect game”).
Scoring in such a way will lead to more dynamic movement than seven teams earning two points each for a win, and eight teams (including the team with a bye) earning no points.
Awarding bonus points for those achievements within the game works because this system lends itself to more parity than we see now when Power 5’ers host FCS squads.
Chances are you’re wondering where your team fits in all of this madness. Many of you are going to be angry with me for putting your team where it belongs, but keep in mind the beauty of this system.
Each and every team in the entirety of college football has an opportunity to play its way up the ladder. If you don’t like playing D-IV football, then earn promotion into D-III.
Keeping all that in mind, here’s the breakdown of the initial divisional splits:
|Division I||Division II||Division III||Division IV||Division V|
|Ohio State||LSU||California||Arizona State||Indiana|
|Oklahoma||USC||Auburn||Mississippi State||Louisiana Tech|
|Stanford||UCLA||BYU||Boise State||Central Michigan|
|Notre Dame||Michigan State||Nebraska||Western Michigan||Bowling Green|
|Florida State||Wisconsin||Penn State||Northern Illinois||Akron|
|Florida||Oklahoma State||Texas Tech||Marshall||Ohio|
|Ole Miss||Texas||Pittsburgh||NC State||Nevada|
|Houston||North Carolina||Memphis||Kansas State||Colorado State|
|TCU||Miami (FL)||Western Kentucky||South Florida||Kentucky|
|Michigan||Temple||Arkansas State||Cincinnati||Southern Miss|
|Iowa||West Virginia||Toledo||San Diego State||Appalachian State|
Whine and complain all you want, but understand that placing the teams is the least important aspect of the plan. In three years, the whole thing would look totally different. Cool your jets.
Obviously, these are only the top 75 teams. There are 128 teams currently in FBS, 125 in FCS, 171 in Division II, 248 in Division III, and 86 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
From the big boys all the way down to University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas with an enrollment of 400, that’s a grand total of 758 teams in all of college football. The list above represents just 10 percent of the participants under the new system.
There you have it, the system that would bring college football into a new era of equal opportunity for all. I’m sure there are holes in my theory, but I’m so convinced that this would be the greatest thing in sports that I haven’t even fully thought it through, to be honest with you.
Promotion and relegation makes every week of the season fun for all teams in all divisions. No matter where you are in the standings, you’ve always got something to play for. That’s why I think this is the way to go forward.
Now, let’s hear your take. I love having people explain to me why I’m an idiot. Find me on Twitter @GreatGatzke, or e-mail [email protected]