College Football: Parity is Bliss

Joe MorganSenior Analyst ISeptember 30, 2008

When Tim Tebow took the snap from center on fourth-and-1, my heart was in my throat.

However, after the Ole Miss defense stuffed the defending Heisman Trophy winner at the line of scrimmage, it dropped down to my stomach with a resounding thud.

My Florida Gators, the No. 4 team in the nation, had lost to unranked Ole Miss—at home.

As shocking as the outcome was, Florida's loss to the Rebels was not the first major upset to take place this past weekend.

In fact, it wouldn't be the last as Alabama went down to Athens and manhandled a good Georgia football team, handing UGA VII the first loss of his mascot career.

However, despite the frustration that accompanied the Gators’ setback, I couldn’t help but smile.

Once again, parity will play a major role in college football.

But what exactly is parity?

Parity is defined as "equality, as in amount, status, or character."

That definition epitomizes the current state of college football.

If I’m not mistaken, the events of this past college football weekend would have fit in nicely with the topsy-turvy 2007 season, and that is just fine with me.

It’s safe to say that the last season was not an anomaly.

Rather, it was a trendsetter. A preview of things to come.

Parity has returned in full force.

Nothing is guaranteed in college football anymore, which will only benefit the fans and the NCAA in general.

Without a doubt, college football has one of the most exciting regular seasons in all of sports, a luxury that the fans enjoy in lieu of a playoff system to determine the national champion.

In addition, what better for the sport to extend that excitement not only to clashes between rivals and conference powers, but also to smaller schools and traditional middle-of-the-road conference foes as well?

The underdog has become lethal in college football, constantly threatening to hamper each title contender’s BCS hopes.

Because of their recent success, most athletic directors will think twice before scheduling the likes of Appalachian State (LSU is so bold) or East Carolina to open up the season.

In contrast, college football’s finest will do their best to schedule unproven “cupcakes” to pad their win-loss records.

However, scheduling relatively unknown schools can be equally dangerous, as the supposed favorite’s team and fan base have no idea what to expect.

This so-called "cupcake" could be the next Appalachian State.

Not only do the powers that be in college football have to worry about losing a trap game in the season’s opening weeks, but also the reduced disparity between the top and bottom teams of each conference.

FBS schools that normally don't compete for conference titles annually are beginning to turn the corner.

Examples include Kansas and Vanderbilt, who have recently made some noise in their respective leagues.

The Jayhawks finished 12-1 in 2007 and are the defending Orange Bowl champions while the Commodores have started the season 4-0 and currently hold the first place spot in the SEC East.

Heck, even Wake Forest, better known for their performance on the hardwood, now claims the title as the best team in the ACC, a league that includes traditional football powers Florida State, Miami (FL), and Clemson.

Not to mention, the non-BCS conferences around the nation have formed a dynamic group of BCS-busters, including Boise State, Utah, Hawaii, and others.

Their success against college football’s powerhouse programs has led to an excellent opportunity for each of these schools to garner national attention for both their school and their respective conference.

The recent triumphs of schools such as Wake Forest, Kansas, and Boise State prove that the playing field has been significantly leveled and that there are almost no certainties left in one of the nation’s most popular sports.

But why is this parity so great for college football?

Honestly, assuming that you are not a Beaver or Trojan fan, raise your hand if you were planning to watch the entire Oregon State-USC game before you learned that the Beavers were up 21-0 at the half.

I didn’t think so.

The fact of the matter is that close/surprising games are, naturally, more exciting than your run-of-the-mill blowout.

The average fan will automatically tune in if they see that East Carolina leads West Virginia 24-3. The same goes for Florida trailing Ole Miss 31-30 and Maryland leading Cal 28-6 at the end of the third quarter.

It’s that simple.

We love chaos; it‘s a part of our human nature.

If something goes wrong or the element of surprise is involved, we are all glued to the story with a fervent interest.

And that is what makes college football so great.

So, when we watch ESPN College Gameday on Saturday mornings, we cannot take Kirk Herbstriet’s word for it that Purdue will beat Notre Dame. Lee Corso may not be spot on when he takes Clemson over Alabama.

We cannot even entirely doubt Lou Holtz when he declares that Notre Dame will finish the season with a record of 11-1.

The truth is that we never really know what is going to happen.

Last weekend was a telling testament to that.

Here’s to more college football weekends just like it!