Category Archives: College Football

“Football is our common currency.”

If there’s anything that puzzles me about our infrequent, yet oft-heated debates over politics here at the blog, it’s that some of you confess that your awareness of the political leanings of other folks colors your perception of them as football fans.

Honestly, that’s weird to me.  I have close friends who run the gamut of the political spectrum.  We may differ; we may argue.  But our friendships are never affected by that.  And I look at all the commenters here the same way.  Nobody is coming to GTP for our insightful political commentary.  We’re here because we love college football.  And that’s how I take everyone, no matter the political insults thrown my way.

That’s why I recommend you take a couple of minutes to read this essay that appears in the current issue of Garden and Gun about what it means to be a football fan in the South.  And maybe take it to heart the next time you go back and forth with somebody of a different political persuasion in a comment thread here.  ‘Cause that’s really why I’m here.

121 Comments

Filed under College Football

College football’s meaningless will whip your sport’s meaningless ass.

Who watches all those damn bowl games, anyway?  Well, somebody does.

March Madness is huge, right? This year, the multiweek extravaganza has had its usual share of upsets, an exhilarated coach falling off his rolling chair after a victory and the presence of a dominant Kentucky team. Nearly 11.6 million brackets were submitted to ESPN.com’s annual contest. So what in college sports could be a bigger fan draw than the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament?

How about a bunch of bowl games? Yes, college football bowl games — nearly all of which had no meaning other than providing athletes with a postseason experience.

It is an imperfect comparison: a tournament with a natural direction of 68 teams reduced to a final pairing versus a bowl system that only this year introduced a four-team playoff to decide a national champion — the only instance in the history of bowl games when a winner advanced to the next level.

So it is worth noting that none of the 38 bowl games carried by the ESPN empire last season had fewer viewers than the 1.1 million who tuned in for the inaugural Camellia Bowl from Montgomery, Ala., while nine early-round N.C.A.A. tournament matchups generated audiences below that figure — Texas Southern-Arizona, a TNT telecast, was ranked last at 501,000 — based on the available data from 40 of the 48 games played before Thursday.

And I thought brackets über alles.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The typical casual fan filling out an office tournament bracket doesn’t care about watching all the games, just seeing the results.  College football, with all its warts, still manages to attract more dedicated fans.  The basketball numbers will improve as the tourney progresses, but the bottom end is what it is.  The difference is that college football keeps adding minor bowl games and we keep watching as they get added on.

The lessons to be drawn from this – why we have all those bowls, why ESPN invests in all those bowl games, what happens to fan interest in the wake of postseason expansion – are pretty obvious.  Unless you come from the “nevermind, The New York Times sux” school of sports analysis, that is.

23 Comments

Filed under College Football

Wednesday morning buffet

Dig in, peeps.

  • Jay Rome wants to have fun this season, instead of “It’s always been about going out and trying not to hurt myself anymore.”
  • I got excited seeing the word “wheel” used in the context of Georgia’s offense, but it turns out all Seth meant was that Schottenheimer is tweaking the terminology of the play calls, not the system itself.
  • Dennis Dodd insists that football is a money loser at most schools, but those schools still want football.
  • Steve Spurrier is going to call the plays again this season.  Why did he ever stop? “It wasn’t going very well … You make a bad call and say, ‘Awe, dumbass. Why’d I do that? Maybe someone else can do it better.’”
  • Spurrier’s calling the plays, but he doesn’t know to whom yet.
  • SI.com’s Zac Ellis drops in on Athens to let us know how Georgia’s offense is progressing so far.
  • Corch wants you to know you’ve got nothing to worry about in the player injury department:  “The game is safer now. I can give you 28 years of experience. The game is safer now than it’s ever been.”
  • Nothing says school pride like having your mugshot taken in a logo’d t-shirt:  Parole Tide!!!

14 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, The Body Is A Temple, The Evil Genius, Whoa, oh, Alabama

It takes two teams to tango.

Let me take the opportunity to say that Princeton is playing the kind of spring game, one with an actual opponent, I wish every school played.

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Filed under College Football

The tragedy of losing precious time

Even as I don’t agree with everything contained in the statement released by the Oklahoma football players about the by now infamous racist chant of members of a university fraternity (expelling the frat boys for speech is a First Amendment violation, in my view), I can’t help but be impressed by the amount of thought that went into the student-athletes expressing their sentiments.

Still, I can’t help but wonder about something they’ve said.

…We have not practiced this week, and will not be practicing today as we will demonstrate silently on Owen Field during our normal practice time. We will not forget about this during spring break, and upon our return to the practice field on Monday, March 23, we will continue to address this issue in our media opportunities and by wearing black during our practices. We cannot express how grateful we are to Coach Stoops and the coaching staff for supporting each and every action we have taken, even when these actions may have seemed extreme. We simply cannot wait to get back on the practice field in our pursuit of a national championship, but even a national championship is not more important than using our platform as student athletes to make our university and our nation a better place…

Again, the sentiment is admirable and Coach Stoops deserves plenty of credit for giving his players the opportunity to explain themselves, but I can’t help but compare this situation with the one surrounding Northwestern’s unionization vote.  More particularly, about how that sat with Pat Fitzgerald, the coach:

“I don’t think any team dealt with a bigger distraction than we did a year ago. We dealt with it fine, but I think it hurt our team’s performance on the field. Why do I feel that way? It’s a huge allocation of time. We only have so many hours to be with the guys, and we were taking the time to educate them on situations that had nothing to do with football. For me, that’s the biggest tragedy for those seniors. Tragedy is a hard word, but that group will never get that time back. I look at a guy like Trevor who had a lot put on his shoulders. He and I haven’t spoken about it, but I’m assuming his tank was on empty by the time he got to the season.”

Somehow, I’m guessing that if anybody’s referring to what’s happened at Oklahoma as tragedy, it’s not being directed at the football players, even though these are both “situations that had nothing to do with football“.  But if your standard is what Fitzgerald says it is in evaluating the activity, how are the two situations any different, particularly if you’re part of the “You can’t have the animals running the zoo in a college education” crowd?  Either way, preparation time is being taken away from the seniors, time they’ll never get back.

Right?  Or could it have been about something other than allocating time?

Like I said, I’m just wonderin’.

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Filed under College Football

Bigger playoff, fewer bowls?

When Nick Saban isn’t narrowly pursuing his self-interests, I find he often has thoughtful things to say about college football.  This is one of those times:

“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to coexist with a bowl system and a playoff system,” he said. “I think you’ve got to have one or the other. You know, if we’re going to have an eight-team playoff, 16-team playoff, I don’t think you’re going to have bowl games. I’m not advocating either one. I’m just saying it’s going to be difficult for those two things to coexist.”

I think that’s right.  But I’m not as sure as I used to be that the people running college football care nearly as much about the bowls as they once did.  And I’m also not sure that those folks have really thought out the implications of playoff expansion as it would affect the bowls.

I’m assuming Saban’s talking about the top-tier bowl games.  The lesser sites will continue to exist as long as there is an appetite to broadcast them on ESPN and there are seven-win and mid-major schools to fill them.  But you’re already seeing the trend of the conferences taking greater control over the bigger bowls, which may be a precursor to outright replacement with playoff games.  (And with expansion will come a greater likelihood of at least some of those games being played at a team’s home site, not at a bowl.)

More shedding of tradition, in other words.  Some, no doubt, will welcome that as progress.  But what it will really represent is another step in the sport’s journey from being based on strong regional ties to being one based on national appeal.  If you ask me, something meaningful will be discarded in the process.

As Jim McElwain put it, “The issue there is that I think it will lose a lot of what is college football,” he said. “I’d hate to see that.”

55 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Wednesday morning buffet

Let me light the chafing dishes… ah, there.

27 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Urban Meyer Points and Stares