10. College football starts a week earlier
Sure, the NFL has preseason games. I’ll be the first to admit that the first preseason game is always exciting for me simply because it means the end of the late summer abyss in the annual sports calendar.
But let’s face it: After week two of the NFL preseason, I’m pretty much over it. The coaches are sparing their best players, and nobody really seems to be playing to win.
College football always starts on Labor Day weekend, a full week before the NFL regular season. Whoever said “all good things come to those who wait” must not have been a college football fan.
9. Saturdays vs. Sundays
To me, there’s nothing better than going to bed on Friday night knowing that you have nothing to do on Saturday except watch college football.
On the weekends when my team is on the road, I make sure I have all the food and drinks necessary so that I don’t have to get out of my chair unless nature calls or I need a refill.
One day I’ll get one of those relief tubes like the Astronauts have. If I also get a butler, I won’t have to get up at all!
On Sundays in the South, there’s usually church first thing in the morning. Then, if you’re like me, Sunday is the day that the wife usually presents you with the “honey-do” list that you feel compelled to do since you sat on your duff all day Saturday.
Even if you find a few hours to watch your favorite NFL team, you still have it hanging over your head that it’s back to work in the morning. That feeling always tends to take the wind out of my sails.
8. Better Rivalries
I will concede that there are some good rivalries in the NFL, but the lack of institutional tradition results in a void of true emotion.
The NFL will never have an Ohio State vs. Michigan, a USC vs. UCLA, an Egg Bowl, or an Iron Bowl.
‘Nuff said on this subject!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to many college as well as NFL stadiums around the country, and there’s no comparison. NFL stadiums are generally in a downtown or commercial area with little to no character outside of the venue.
The majority of college stadiums are on a college campus, which generally provides an environment that is peaceful yet energetic. This is especially true if you attended the college that you are seeing the game at—great memories!
Tailgating is the backbone of the college football experience. I know there are plenty of NFL tailgaters, but again, there is no comparison.
Most college football games have more people tailgating than the actual stadium capacity. The only time I’ve ever seen anything close to this in the NFL was in Green Bay.
I have also found that the setups at college football tailgate parties are much more elaborate. Most of the tailgate parties I see at an NFL game have corporate sponsors.
Do I really have to go into detail here? I know that there are a handful of arrogant prima donnas in college football, but the vast majority of them play for pride. It’s also fun to watch a player come in, basically as a high school kid, and watch him develop into a young man.
I think Nick Saban said it best. (Paraphrasing) “The decision to return to this level came down to this question: Do I want to coach a bunch of immature, undisciplined football players...or do I want to coach college?”
4. Marching Bands
One of the most noticeable environmental differences between a college football game and an NFL game has got to be the marching band. The beating of the drums alone stirs up nostalgia from my old days in the student section.
3. Fight Songs
NFL teams have cheers, but few, if any, have a full-blown fight song. Once again, these traditional tunes are what really get the crowd fired up—even when their team is playing poorly.
This could have been merged with No. 4, but I felt it was significant enough to give fight songs their own ranking.
2. Bowl Season
The holidays are always a festive time of year, but the cherry on top has got to be the college football bowl games. Even the small, pre-Christmas bowls give you a reason to have a few lagers on a Tuesday night while your wife is at the mall—again!
There’s nothing better than finishing a big New Year’s Day meal, loosening the old belt, and plopping down on the couch to watch the first few January bowl games. It’s much better than making small talk with the relatives!
1. The Fans
The other reasons in this list all feed into why college football fans are better than NFL fans. The common denominator, however, is passion. Just like the players, college football fans are much more passionate about their team.
One of the reasons for this is that most NFL teams are city-based. If you grew up in an NFL city, then you are probably a big fan of that city’s team. That’s normal. You might even be a huge fan!
But the main difference is that many college football fans actually spent several years as a student in the respective institution. Being an alumnus of a college or university makes you part of a family, and even the crusty old Microbiology professors who are not big into sports will normally cheer for their Alma Mater on game day.
This passion is especially evident when you have a large university located in a small town. The university is usually the heart of the town, the largest employer, and the cornerstone of the regional economy.
Being the nucleus of the community generally leads to much stronger emotional ties for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.
Football season is finally here. We'll see you on campus!