Category Archives: College Football

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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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.”

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Wednesday morning buffet

Let me light the chafing dishes… ah, there.

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

Sixty-eight commercials.

Just remember, when you hear worries that the average college football game is getting too long, that’s not a concern for the fans.  It’s a concern for the broadcasters.  And they’re the last people who are going to sacrifice.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

“We have to go to a wedding that weekend.”

Wouldn’t it just be easier to wait until the spring?

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UPDATE:  Here’s the SEC version.  If you’re interested, my advice would be not to admit that here.

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Filed under College Football

“I think our fans are expecting shorter games…”

Ah, football games are getting longer again.  That means it’s time to roll out more bullshit.  Larry Scott is ready to do his part.

“You’ll always get traditionalists who won’t change it,” Scott said. “I don’t find it concerning or daunting that there are some that would oppose it. I think the job for commissioners is to take a step back and look at it holistically. The health and welfare of student-athletes is first and fans are a close second in terms of keeping games appealing. Three-and-a-half hours, to me, is too long.”

Commish, please.  You don’t give a rat’s ass about the fans or the players here.  This is about television, pure and simple, specifically, how to keep your broadcasts within a specific time window.

“That 3:30 timeframe is kind of the magic number as we schedule games for television,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “There’s a continued creep. We’ve had peaks and valleys to it. We have to get our hands around it. If I’m looking at it from a fan perspective, when you get beyond three hours, are you starting to lose people’s interest?”

Now there’s some inspired spin, baby.  Yeah, I get really antsy if a game goes a few minutes past three and a half hours duration.  Just ask Rogers Redding, of all people.

“People at one level, there’s some concern about it,” national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding said. “But then you ask the question, who’s really complaining about it? Fans aren’t. Fans devote a whole day to a game. What’s another five minutes?”

If this is really about us fans, why are the folks in charge considering a running clock again, when we all thought that sucked the last time they tried it?

College football has gone down this road before. In 2006, the sport disastrously used a running clock after changes of possession. The rule reduced games to a 3:07 average and infuriated fans and coaches in the process.

The irony here is that it’s not the game that’s really causing the problem now.  You know what is?  Here’s a hint.

The high-pressure, commercialized world of FBS is playing a much longer game than other NCAA divisions. While FBS games averaged 3:23 in 2014, the Football Championship Subdivision was 2:55, Division II was 2:45 and Division III was 2:41.

Hmm… what sets the commercialized world of FBS apart from college football’s other divisions?  Oh, yeah.  Commercials!

Similarly, the 2012 and 2013 seasons had nearly identical stats for plays, scoring and pass attempts. Yet the game length in 2013 actually decreased by one minute from 2012, not increase by six minutes as it did in 2014. What gives?

“Commercial break lengths and the number are undoubtedly increasing,” said Richard Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute. “Networks have to generate additional advertising revenue to pay for rights fees that are escalating. Simply put: gotta pay the piper!”

Benson agrees that television is the biggest reason for longer games.

“Our TV partners need it, but we also need to make sure we manage it,” Benson said. “A lot of times it’s coming out of commercials that games are delayed. The networks are always going to push the envelope and they’re paying the bills. They need to get as many spots in as they can.”

More commercials and less football, that’s what fans want, right?  Right?

“I hear it a lot from fans: ‘What am I supposed to do for that three minutes? I can’t drink anymore. I can’t have anymore Cokes and peanuts. My God, let’s get going,'” Thompson said. “We’re trying to serve two audiences.”

No, you’re not.  You’re trying to maximize your revenue stream.  And that’s why we’ll come out on the short end of the stick with whatever change results from this.  Thanks a lot, fellas.

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Filed under College Football