Tag Archives: UNC football

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

Country Music – Good for What Ails Virginia Football Fans

Did you ever connect country music lyrics with Virginia football? I hadn’t until today. When getting ready to write about this week’s debacle against UNC, I decided to stroll through one of my country music playlists. The applicability of the stories from the giants in the genre to Virginia football and the suffering of its fans is uncanny. So rather than write a column that tries to find a modicum of good news in an avalanche of tragedy, I thought I could do more for Virginia football fans by giving them a playlist that can ease their pain a little. At this point, that’s about all we have left.

I quickly discovered that the challenge with this idea is there is just too much material. Who knew that music giants Toby Keith, Jerry Jeff Walker, Travis Tritt, John Prine, etc., had Virginia football in mind when they penned their lyrics? I have over two pages of “quotable” material. I could write a thesis connecting lyrics about squandered love, too much drinking, and lost dogs to Virginia football. This is a marriage made in heaven…or “Something Like That” – Tim McGraw

Let’s get started and maybe we can forget about last week’s game…or the one coming up:

“Well I woke up this morning and I looked outside and all I had was gone. I started wondering what else could go wrong. Standing outside in the pouring rain, getting my poor house rearranged, but I’m all right, for the shape I’m in” – BR5-49

I don’t think there is any doubt who owns the poor house of the ACC Coastal Division. While Virginia fans have been on an emotional rollercoaster this year, any optimism for 2016 is gone. While we seem to be destined to spend this year rearranging our poor house, I continue to think Virginia will succeed over the long term. We are all right (for the shape we’re in).

“Hey Mr. Brown, turn the volume down. I believe this evening’s shot” – John Prine

Okay, so this could apply to a lot of Virginia games. It is especially applicable to the UNC game as by the 3rd quarter it was very clear that the evening was indeed shot. The unfortunate truth about this quote is that many Virginia games are shot before the evening arrives.

“I sobered up and I got to thinking, girl you ain’t much fun since I quit drinking” – Toby Keith 

I don’t want to scare anyone here, I haven’t quit drinking. However, as the tailgate libations wore thin during the game, I noticed the fun of the game started to wane and the fun (as in most Virginia games) shifted to socializing with friends in our section. Some things don’t change, but in a lot of ways, this is why I keep coming back.

“The whiskey ain’t working anymore” – Travis Tritt

See comments above. While repetitive, this one was just too perfect to leave on the cutting room floor.

Well it was all I could do to keep from crying. Sometimes it seems so useless to remain.” – David Allan Coe

This was clearly the sentiment of the surprisingly enthusiastic crowd. By the middle of the 3rd quarter, I-64 was full of Cavalier fans who would understandably be home before the final horn sounded.

“I don’t want to hear those sad stories, because we both already know how it goes” – Jerry Jeff Walker

It is my belief that this is Jerry Jeff’s way of saying “Same Old ‘Hoos.

“I toasted you and said we may be through, but you’ll never hear me complain” – Garth Brooks

Honestly, given the state of the program, getting 41,000 fans to Scott Stadium wasn’t a bad turn out. While there is still a core base of Virginia fans who will post without consideration of the team’s won/loss record, there are many who share the sentiments of Garth Brooks.

As we look forward to next week’s game, the best description I heard on my playlist was courtesy of Jerry Reed:

“Alligator bait in a Louisiana bayou”

Unless Amos Moses shows up in a Cavalier uniform, I think Vegas might be generous with its opening line of Louisville giving Virginia 26.

I don’t give stock advice and I don’t bet, but if I were a betting man or giving betting advice, I’d say take the Cardinals and the points. They hung 44 points on NC State in the first half. You can thank me later.

As promised, here’s a playlist that provided 2 pages of quotes that speak to Virginia Football, only a fractions of which I could use. I hope these help you forget the travails of Virginia Football, at least for a little while.

Waymore’s Blues – Waylon Jennings

I’m All Right (for the Shape I’m in) – BR5-49

Something Like That – Tim McGraw

I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight – Toby Keith

You Ain’t Much Fun – Toby Keith

The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ – Travis Tritt

Here’s a Quarter – Travis Tritt

I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose – Jerry Jeff Walker

Pot Can’t Call the Kettle Black – Jerry Jeff Walker

Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks

Amos Moses – Jerry Reed

Come Back to us Barbara Lewis – John Prine

Flashback Blues – John Prine

You Never Even Called Me By My Name – David Allan Coe

She Held That Bottle – The Hogwaller Ramblers

Sunday Morning Coming Down – Johnny Cash

 

E-mail David at Twitter @dmrayner.
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