As every other red-blooded American male, I love football; collegiate and professional. And in some cases “professional” (see definition 2a) and collegiate football are one in the same.
But to be serious, both the NFL and College Football have had influence on the way the other is played over the years; sometimes in an almost cyclic cause-and-effect sort of way.
The NFL transitions to a certain style of play, demanding a new version of player. In turn, for major universities to recruit the best talent, recognize this change. In order to truthfully tell recruits they can get them to the NFL, begin recruiting the new form of player.
Those “mad scientist” college coaches invent new ways to combine the new generation of college players with those of the contemporary style to best execute the coach’s system. Thus, inventing a new type of football player that changes the way the game is played in the NFL, causing them to desire an even newer type of player…wash, rinse, repeat.
But there are many aspects of professional football the NCAA have not adopted, but should.
The most pertinent element the NCAA should implement is a real playoff structure. Instituting a four-team “playoff” where the selected participants are still decided by computers is not enough.
As well, no longer having to wait six weeks or whatever it is before the beginning of the playoffs/BCS bowls would be a welcome change. The NCAA should either begin the season later, or—preferably—give the student-athletes more bye-weeks so their bodies have more time to recover and so they can be more involved in campus and academic life.
Also, not stopping the clock after every first down is reached in order to bring the run-time of a game down to three hours would be splendid as well.
But there is one major element of college football the NFL should take on.
No, it’s not the ability for teams (universities) to move from division to division, conference to conference all willy-nilly. Nor is it a ridiculous system of voting and computers choosing who should play for the Super Bowl.
Rather, it is how the NCAA divides the season between conference and non-conference play or—in the case of the NFL—divisional and non-divisional opponents.
One thing I absolutely loathe about the NFL, as a Green Bay Packers fan, is when the Packers and Bears/Lions/Vikings play at Lambeau Field in early September-when the temperature is usually in the 80s and sometimes as high as the low-90s.
Those games are meant to be played in the cold, snowy November, December and January months of the Midwest.
Likewise, when those teams visit Chicago—or when the Ravens play the Steelers and the Colts played the Patriots once upon a time—we should be able to see body heat evaporating from the head’s of players like a whistling teapot, and the “trenches” should resemble a stationary steam locomotive. The signs of “real” football.
The cold causes the hits to feel and sound harder, and tests the fortitude of the players. And when it concerns a rivalry, fans want those hits to not only seem to be made with more force but to be able to hear it.
Also, by leaving the final six weeks of the season to divisional opponents, you will increase the levels of intensity. Players will know they will see their divisional opponent within a few weeks, instead of possibly eight or more—such as the case of the Packers and Bears in 2012 when they played their first game in week two then had to wait until week 15 for their next matchup.
Therefore, if any bad blood boils up in the first meeting, it will not have enough time to simmer before they play again.
Withholding the divisional games until the last six weeks of the season will also allow the teams in the division greater control in deciding who wins that division title—if there is a tight race—and place greater emphasis on winning the division; it will seemingly begin the playoffs six weeks earlier.
This is just an idea—rather a hope—I would like to see the NFL consider.
What do you think? Would you like to see the NFL enact this sort of change? Or is there some other change you would like to see the NFL make?
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