Tuesday, September 07, 2010

10 things I hate about college football

The play is closer to high school or flag football than pro football. That can go either way depending on your preference. When I was playing in high school, I found the NFL hard to watch, because it seemed too polished; at the time, I preferred the smash-mouth, less-predictable game you found on our fields. Also, the Saints were mediocre then. But nowadays, it just pains me to see a kicker send a field goal attempt 30 yards wide right or to watch a quarterback throw a pass that’s too errant even to intercept. Especially when the team in question is supposed to be one of the best in the BCS rankings.

BCS rankings. I’m not a fan of complicated math algorithms deciding things in the first place, but this is ridiculous. Has the BCS definitely decided anything, ever? That’s not a rhetorical question - the answer is no.

AP/Coaches’ polls. The polls themselves don’t bug me as much as the questions they lead analysts to float. In last night’s game between Boise State and Virginia Tech, there was much talk about how Boise State could kiss a BCS bid goodbye if they lost. Really? In their first game? Maybe it’s because my university’s team was mediocre at best and never had a chance of recognition, but it’s hard for me to identify with a team collapsing because it went 9-2. It’s a wonder any team succeeds at all. And when they do, it’s usually the same few powerhouses.

Powerhouses. At the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, a Division I school, you’re just as likely to find LSU colors as vermilion and white. And that annoyed me less for patriotic/front-running reasons as for the truth behind it: LSU is a bigger and better-funded school, and will always have a more competent and publicized team. And this is commonplace all over the country. There’s little room for scrappy teams to shine in college football, and money stacks the deck in ways that ensures scrappy schools stay scrappy.

Lack of ties. For me to care about sports, I have to be emotionally invested in a team. These days, that pretty much leaves me with the New Orleans Saints. But it’s also been the case with my high school and college teams during the time I was in school. Because I either played in or went to all the games. And that to me is the essence of college football: being there. Every team and school has its history, tradition and quirks. I have no ties to any of the big schools, and watching young, passionate fans having fun makes me sad that I’m watching on TV.

Boring scandals. The NCAA, by necessity, has a tremendously complicated code regulating athlete, coach and school behavior. Which means that scandals are a lot like those plaguing Wall Street: important, but relatively eye-glazing. It may be crucial to preserving the integrity of amateur competition that Reggie Bush didn’t get a text message from a potential agent, but a steroid-inflamed muscle sprouting a third eye would be way more fascinating.

The overtime rules are grating. I know I’m in a minority on this point. But football is not baseball; either side can score on any play. I’ve been to several college games that went into overtime, and as much as I love being at a football game, my response was always, “sigh.” Not only is it more sensible health-wise to end a game in sudden death, but it’s also more exciting to end on points. “We stopped them from scoring in their final series! YEAHHHH! We win!” Yeahhhh.

The Play. You know, the one where the Stanford band stormed the field, allowing California to lateral their way into a win and infamy. It’s a memorable play, but it belongs in the follies file. The River City Relay is a far better example of a genuinely successful lateral-fest at the pro level. Forrest Gump depicted a far funnier version of player-marcher clash. “The Play” is a pompous name as it is, but there are genuine feats of athleticism at the college level that easily eclipse it and are more deserving of the title. 

The anti-college football crowd. It often seems like there are two types of people: those who are obsessed with college football and those who think it should be eradicated. The latter type annoys me, particularly because they’re generally people I agree with on almost every other issue. My grad-school cred went way down when I suggested that perhaps college sports have some academic and civic value. So I was grateful that I had a group of grad friends who loved going to all the games. Sports in general is an easy target for those looking for something to blame for shoddy schools, especially for those who never took the field. That’s not a fair position, and I certainly never took that stance on, say, band, chorus or speech teams. Also, athletics paid for my schooling. So I was a walking example of why the haters were wrong.

The fact that, despite these grievances, I will probably still watch a ton of college football. And like it.


NOLA Progressive said...

There is little else on earth that both captures me and pisses me off as much as college football.

You touched on a point that drives the whole debate in your post. Money! It's not that I have a problem with it being money driven, since basically everything in life is, but I have a problem with them pandering in such a way as to make it seem that it isn't about money. The BCS bologna only exists because of certain teams clamoring after bowl dollars. The scholarship cap has done a lot to allow smaller teams to attempt a rise, but you are right on when you say the system is designed to keep them B list.

Dont' get me started on overtime! I hate freakin college overtime. Perhaps we should just let Brett Favre come back to college and lose an overtime game. Perhaps then the NCAA would change it.

venessalewis said...

I have nothing to add here except Go Cowboys and quit hating on LSU. That is all. :)

NOLA Progressive said...

Go Cowboys???!!!! At last Venessa has revealed a fatal flaw. Although I'm glad to see your collegiate alliances are in the right place.

venessalewis said...

Hehehe NOLA....sorry, my loyalties lie with my husband's favorite team since childhood, because honestly, when it comes to footbal, I can take it or leave it. But as Ian knows, my favorite thing about sports is smack talk.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nobody's perfect.

NOLA Progressive said...

Well it could be worse...you could be a Vikings fan :-)!

Jenni said...

Hi, my name is Jenni, and I love college football. I love watching College GameDay Saturdays and seeing Lee Korso be the crazy old man and Kirk Herbstreet being the washed up Ohio State douchebag he is.

I was lucky. I went through undergrad with a lame football program and then ended up at Iowa and in the Big 10. Only then did I learn to love college ball.

The polls and the BCS are controversial - they always will because someone thinks they're getting screwed. It's life, get over it.

My favorite thing about college football is having the opportunity to see these guys before making it to the pros. Hell, I'm still tickled that I was on campus at during the same time Dallas Clark (Colts) and Nate Kaeding (Chargers). It creates that connection for me.

Unfortunately, both Missouri football teams are at the bottom of the barrel for talent, so college ball is my escape. By my nature, I can't get on the fair-weather bandwagon with the latest 'it' team. It's like voting Republican just because your parents did - and that's not right!