Does anyone remember June, July, or even last March? We were all chomping at the bit for football to resume again!
Now roll around the first two weeks of college football, and I see that many people believe it is boring. Wake up and take notice—football is here!
There is nothing wrong with the non-conference schedules. As a matter of fact, they have been this way for a long time, and I find this year and last year quite exciting.
Many people will remember the 2007-2008 college football season as a season of upsets. It started unfortunately with my favorite team, Michigan: ranked number five in the country, harboring big expectations with the return of Hart, Henne, Manningham, and Long, and a I-AA team to start the season.
Many people commented and asked, why a I-AA team? Why not play someone like USC? Well, by the evening of that fateful day, while I was drowning my feelings at a local watering hole, I as with everyone else realized that non-conference opponents, no matter who, should not always be taken lightly.
The season went on and proved to be an exciting and unpredictable year of college football. How many times did the top five reshuffle towards the end of the year? Who expected USF to reach No. 2 at the beginning of the year?
How many teams actually came away from that season unscathed? Not many, and I argue that this season will be similar to the last.
I believe that the playing field, though unbalanced in I-A (I refuse to use new abbreviations), is becoming more level than ever. Obviously anyone bored with the season so far has not watched Michigan-Utah, Ohio State-Ohio, Washington-BYU, or any East Carolina games.
Every big school loads the cupcakes on their schedule in order to work out major kinks on their team so that the kinks won't cost them a game. These schools are starting to figure out it isn't always a guarantee now.
The freedom that colleges have to pick their non-conference games is great! The NCAA does not need to regulate this. This is not a professional sport.
When colleges and universities schedule their non-conference games, it reflects the character of the schools and the willingness to stick their necks out. Not to mention it is always fun to poke fun at your rival's weak schedule with your pal.
You must also put yourself in the shoes of the coaches and players of each school. Playing St. Mary's School of the Blind does not mean you are not risking everything. Ask Jim Tressel about Beanie Wells against Youngstown St.
Injure a player in a "glorified scrimmage," and you may feel good about winning the game, but feel worse for losing a key player.
Put yourself in the shoes of Pat Hill, head coach of Fresno St. He will tell you that he loves playing bigger teams, even though the odds of winning seem insurmountable. He has gained more national attention and money for his school by sticking his team against formidable opponents.
Hill sees the possibility of reaching recruits where once unreachable, and with those new, better recruits, becoming a competitor amongst the big boys. He has already begun to prove this with wins over Wisconsin, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, and many more.
The relationship between big schools and small schools is like yin and yang. It provides bigger teams the chance work out kinks for the long haul to the BCS bowls, and it helps small schools financially and athletically so one day they can schedule lesser opponents. This would be one more reason NCAA should stay out of this "issue."
I would also be curious about the merchandise sales for Appalachian St. after the victory over Michigan. I would place a bet most of it came from Columbus, Ohio.
In closing, there are many positives to the non-conference matchups we see early in the seasons. There are negatives, such as when weak-sighted coaches cannot see the scoreboard enough, so that they have to rack up 66 points unnecessarily.
Overall, though, the process is a positive. Want more proof that an obscure team can get famous after one game, even if it loses? Ask Frank Solich. Go Bobcats!