October 17, 2002

Why College Football stinks.: I don't entirely agree with the thrust of this article -- while the college game isn't much fun to watch, really, until late October when the bowl season starts shaping up -- I have to grant a lot of the points made, especially the maddening lack of what any casual NFL fan would consider the fundamentals of the game.

posted by Jaquandor to football at 10:38 AM - 14 comments

Yuck. The point of college football isn't supposed to be to satisfy fans across the country with the robotic perfection of the NFL (not that I'm knocking the NFL), but to engage in athletic competition for the sake of athletic competition. Now that I got all that out without choking, can I ask what the point of the article is? "College football isn't the same as the NFL so I don't like it." Whoopee. It's a different game and it sure as hell helps to have a team to root for so that when they overcome all those physical failings and mental mistakes you feel rewarded instead of barely satisfied. (Admission: I got about two paragraphs in and gave up because the article sucked. Why aren't Slate writers perfect? Instead of getting the hard-hitting journalistic perfection and global coverage I've come to expect from the New York Times, Slate offers wildly inconsistent stories that often leave me unsatisfied. They should stop publishing because they're not the NYT.)

posted by yerfatma at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2002

I finished it. I'm not sure why, since I think yerfatma basically said it much better than I could in his last paragraph.
But my two cents anyway: as a native Miamian, I had a hell of a football weekend. Anyone who couldn't enjoy both the UM/FSU game and the Dolphins-Broncs game probably really isn't much of a fan of football in general. Football, to me, is about uncertainty; it's about stuff that may or may not work, may or may not happen. Sure, the odds of success are a little better in the NFL, but there are still interceptions, there are still missed field goals... look at the last minute of the Fins-Broncs. The whole reason that everyone was saying 'this was the most exciting regular season game in years' was because of the uncertainty, the possibility of failure. I don't see that that's a whole lot different in college, even if the possibility is greater.

posted by tieguy at 12:14 PM on October 17, 2002

I love college football. I like the NFL and watch it if it's on, but I'm passionate about college football. I love having 5 games going on, and watching the BYU-Hawaii games until 2 in the morning. I love College Gameday. So someone doesn't like college football. Big deal! I don't watch NASCAR, but I don't write articles about it. College football captures the energy of the moment so much better than the NFL. I mean did anyone watch the Florida State - Louisville game, Louisville getting a great win during monsoon conditions. And there are lots of games like that EVERY SINGLE WEEK! Most college players do not move on to the NFL, so this is their moment in the sun. The fact that a team like Oklahoma St. can upset a juggernaut like Oklahoma, and Rutgers can lose to West Virginia 80-7 explains that most of these guys are not professionals and never will be. But it sure does make for exciting football.

posted by patrickje at 01:06 PM on October 17, 2002

Wow, that's a pathetic article. You could replace "college football" with, say, "men's magazines" or anything else in the first graf and be off and running on your own version of Mad Libs. I guess the point is that he hates college football because some teams win and others lose? Or maybe he likes sure things, meaning that Syracuse had no excuse losing to Temple. But, you know, the guys on both sides of the field are usually scholarship athletes. He's like the Simpson character who says "Ha-ha!" when somebody falls down. Whoa, now that's criticism.

posted by thescoop at 01:32 PM on October 17, 2002

Nice counterpoints here from everyone, but I didn't think the Slate article was that bad.

posted by jackhererra at 02:40 PM on October 17, 2002

I didn't think it was that bad either. I can enjoy college football, but the fact is, college players aren't as accomplished as professionals (and how could they be?). Nothing wrong with that, and conditions are similar in the baseball minor leagues -- but the difference is that nobody takes the minors seriously, or cares when some prospect drops an easy fly or throws a ball over the first baseman's head. College football is taken so seriously it's scary. I had a great time watching football at my alma mater, Occidental, because our team was lousy (the only team we could beat was Cal Tech, which was even worse, though they had great cheers) and nobody cared about football anyway (it was Vietnam time), so you could sit with a few other onlookers and enjoy the game in peace and comfort. I shudder to think what it's like being crammed into the stands at, say, Ohio State. But that's just me.

posted by languagehat at 03:19 PM on October 17, 2002

me too, jack. I think it was a lot more tongue in cheek (giving crap to some sloppy play over the weekend) than anything. I'd rather watch college football than the NFL, but there are some plays that just make you groan. Of course, I also went to Baylor when they blew a lead with the ball on the three yard line with seconds to go, thankyouverymuch mister recover the fumble and run the ball back ninety some odd yards as the clock rolls down (it was against UNLV, 1998 IIRC). Sheesh.

posted by Ufez Jones at 03:19 PM on October 17, 2002

I never really appreciated the allure of college football until I went to college in Iowa and saw firsthand the Saturday-afternoon traffic on Interstate 390 before the Hawkeyes played, or if I happened to be driving along I-90 in Indiana on Notre Dame gameday. I do enjoy the college game later in the season, but I have to admit that I find the first half of the year -- when the Seminoles beat the Southern Georgia Plumbing College Pipeheads 97-0, or something similar -- pretty mind-numbing. The whole "any given Sunday" thing doesn't really apply in college football, so the allure seems to be more to do with alumni loyalty or, in the case of a place like Iowa where there is no NFL team, regionalism. (I've lived most of my life in Buffalo, NY, an area pretty much devoid of big-time college athletics.)

posted by Jaquandor at 03:57 PM on October 17, 2002

i got to chime in say this article is sort of lame. and i'm not even that big of a college football fan. just the sheer size of college football itself is unattractive. what is there, like 108 teams in ncaa div. 1-a? 44 point spread for last weeks miami game against uconn. that's the only reason they, whoever 'they' are, give 'you' a reason to watch. although i will say i'm looking forward to the notre dame/air force game this week. in the article i found the reason's he disliked college football are the reasons i like college football. whatever that means.

posted by oliver_crunk at 06:50 PM on October 17, 2002

The whole "any given Sunday" thing doesn't really apply in college football Mainly because everyone's so hungover. Pedantic, I know, but it was there.

posted by yerfatma at 09:01 PM on October 17, 2002

I enjoyed the article. Big-time college football programs are backed by enough money, staff, and shady insider shenanigans to be considered professional teams. I'll bet more money is spent on the Florida Gators program than on the Calgary Flames. Why shouldn't we expect more of these teams? I live in Florida and am becoming a college football junkie because of something they put in the water here. However, too many big games are decided by shocking displays of ineptitude rather than talent, especially in the kicking game, and the overtime gimmick lends itself to games decided by error. Besides, that debacle in Furman is the Herman Edwards fumble return all over again. It deserves a place in sports lore.

posted by rcade at 09:39 AM on October 18, 2002

Hey, I liked that Furman debacle. I am planning on attending App State next year, so I LOVED that goof by the Paladins. As for the overtime rules, I think that if you had two overtime periods of ten minutes before you went to the tie breaker, it would be more satisfying. As long as they put in a rule that prevented sudden death play like in the NFL.

posted by jasonbondshow at 01:58 PM on October 18, 2002

I think the point of the article is that it needed to be said. Not in that "these are college kids" way, either, but that it's pretty weak shit when you consider the amount of resources and attention poured into and onto these programs. It was funny watching Mark May and Trev Alberts on Gameday, each having a coronary in an effort to beat the other to rip Florida State's coaching staff for the last minute of the Miami game. The problem is that aren't too many staffs you can count on to have their shit together -- the list effictively ends at Belotti, Stoops, Beamer and Franchione among coaches working in leagues you'll actually watch. (Coker and Friedgen could join this list soon, but they're working on year two. The other problem being that one plays with a loaded deck while we're waiting to see the other's teams play a competent game against an above-average good team.) Like tieguy, I also enjoyed UM/FSU and Denver/Miami both. But the difference between the 'Canes/'Noles game and the 'Fins/Broncs game is underscored by the final minutes. The 'Noles will spend the next year kicking themselves for that last six minutes as a good game plan buckled underneath awful defense, bad clock management and a kicker who lost his cool. You could point out Denver's nightmarish two-minute stretch in the middle of the fourth quarter. But in the final five minutes, it was more the players making great plays, not guys making colossal honks. (As for the contention that "anyone who couldn't enjoy both... probably really isn't much of a fan of football in general," that's like saying that one's time spent reading Wine Spectator is wasted if you don't dig Boone's Strawberry Hill.) I don't agree with Rodrick when calls the time wasted. There is something to be said for the setting -- regionalism of Oklahoma, pep bands at Florida A&M, song girls at USC (though they've fallen), and the rivalries like Alabama-Auburn -- that connects fans in a way the NFL cannot imitate. But it is what it is, no matter how much pageantry you drape around it.

posted by jackhererra at 02:16 PM on October 18, 2002

One of the things I love about college football is the huge number of teams. Of course, I'm an alumnus of the school ranked dead last in I-A in offense (117 out of 117), the University of North Texas, so any effort to whittle the number of teams down wouldn't be pretty for the Mean Green.

posted by rcade at 03:47 PM on October 18, 2002

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