Sports Illustrated launched a salvo that resonated with college football and basketball fans alike. Both the Braxton Miller and Jadeveon Clowney covers made it pretty clear that heading into March, football is still on people's minds.
Sure, the "Sorry Hoops, Two More Weeks To Wait" at the top belies a sort of competition between the two sports, where an apology is needed. However, ultimately this is not about college basketball being bad. It's not about ratings or scoring or even a true battle between the separate entities.
Ultimately, like most things on the American sporting landscape, it's about football taking the lead and everyone else playing the background.
We've seen it for awhile with the NFL. The league locks down the news cycle for their schedule release. They televise their scouting combine and folks watch in droves, myself included. They force other sports to avoid Sunday competition for fear of losing viewers to the behemoth that is the NFL.
Recently, we've seen it trickle down to the collegiate level as well. Conferences releasing their finalized schedules has become a big deal. The entire expansion game has revolved around the football product. Spring games, those oddly structured exhibitions that most fans aren't sure what to take away from, have become a television staple. Hell, teams like Ohio State and Alabama are battling cross country for spring game attendance records.
Oh, and of course, spring practice has captivated America.
Depth-chart battles, freshmen (both redshirt and early enrollees) who can step up and Heisman talk are at the forefront of people's minds. As Aaron Torres over at Crystal Ball Run points out, college football is, without a doubt, a 365-day-a-year sport. It's a league, like the NFL, that is relevant on a daily basis across America.
Even with the swipe by the subtext, this is less about marginalizing college basketball folks and more about recognizing just how far football has come at the collegiate level. It is the game that commands folks' attention, and through that attention it commands the dollar and ultimately steers the ship of collegiate athletics.
The game has a long way to go, and a lot of issues to fix, but as the Sports Illustrated cover reminds us, it is healthier than it has ever been. Whether you're an Ohio State Buckeye or a South Carolina Gamecock, or neither, if you're a college football fan, that health is something to celebrate.