I’m not sure I agree entirely with this premise as phrased, but there’s no denying it’s thought provoking.
On the business side, college football has become a national enterprise, with comprehensive, multibillion-dollar media deals increasing exposure and a collaborative postseason system designed to crown a true national champion.
At its foundation, however, college football is still very much a regional sport across the United States. And because regions tend to go about their football differently, as they do with things like food, lifestyle and dialect, there is a simple explanation for why teams from the South have won national championships in 13 out of the last 14 years.
College teams from different parts of the country ostensibly compete for the same top players, but players tend to stay close to home. Those pipelines in the South, spanning from the Carolinas west to Texas, are pumping out rocket fuel.
“It just means more” is not just a slogan in the Southeastern Conference. It helps explain the current state of college football.
I think there’s a lot more tension going on between the two than is reflected merely in recruiting. But, I do think it’s fair to say that despite the money interests aligned on the national side, it has yet to overcome the sport’s regional appeal. Old habits die hard, and all that.
The question is, assuming the likes of ESPN need a little help to remake the sport’s approach, what could help them with the reshaping? Here are a couple of thoughts that popped up in response to Russo’s piece.
From a purely commercial perspective, the NFL is the most successful sports franchise in this country’s history. If the commercial perspective is all that matters to the folks running college sports, then emulating the NFL to grow college football beyond its current financial standing isn’t bad advice. For the rest of us, it sucks, of course, but since when did that matter?