I've spent most Saturday's this fall either in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida watching the Seminoles or on my couch watching their away games. My Sundays usually consist of watching some NFL games but the only team I really care about is my fantasy team, the Jokers.
Essentially, I only watch games if one of my players are in them. I got to thinking on why I spend more time watching college football, even if FSU isn't playing, then the NFL. The NFL should be more exciting to watch with more experienced players and coaches.
While growing up in Seattle or Dallas, one can feel a connection to the Seahawks or Cowboys because they are the home town team. Most fans of a collegiate football team are not from that town, as more than often, it is a small town. But a majority of those fans went to that college.
It is one thing to grow up in a city that has an NFL team and root for them, it is another to spend years of your life living on or around a university. The years spent at that college essentially shape the rest of your life. That connection you have with the university runs deeper than being from the same city of an NFL team.
As a student, you go to class with these players. You bump into them in the grocery store. You play against them in intramural soccer. You are cheering for your peers.
As an alumni, you cheer to root your alma mater on, because you see those students yelling at the camera on ESPN and knew that was you 20 years ago. You found corners in the library to bang the cute girl from your poetry class in. You go into college and most people come out a completely different person.
If your college is a lowly 1-7 and upsets 9-0 USC, the students rush the field to celebrate with their peers. If a 1-7 Kansas City Chiefs beat an 8-0 San Diego Chargers, not one fan will step foot on that field unless they want to get arrested.
True, the NFL has rivalries in the Colts/Patriots, Cowboys/Redskins, and so one but there is distinct hatred between college rivals. Auburn/Alabama, FSU/UF, Harvard/Yale, Michigan/Ohio State, Colorado/Colorado State...there are a plethora of heated rivalries across the nation in the NCAA.
A factor that adds to this is the multiple sport factor of certain colleges are rivals in one sport but either do not play or don't care about that rivalry in another.
The bragging rights of winning against your schools arch-nemesis can either bring a year of taunting your friends, co-workers, or a random guy in Wal-Mart wearing a Texas Tech shirt.
I had an ex who lived in Ohio, and as a child she was taught anti-Michigan songs. I remember as a child in the 90's in Florida, every November, most of the kids became split on rooting for FSU and UF at the end of the season.
You would wait until that Monday when class resumes to either take the verbal lashings from your friends, or dish it out at recess. Most of the kids had no affiliations with UF or FSU, it just felt natural to pick one Florida team or the other when you always see shirts of each team in Wal Mart.
Every Game Matters
If a strong team in the NFL loses one Sunday, their season hopes of a national title are essentially still in tact. Even if they lose, two, three, four, or possibly seven games.
If an NCAA team loses seven games, that coach is looking over their shoulder for a pink slip. If a high ranking team loses one game, they could still get into the BCS title game as long as its before November. Example:
UF loses to Ole Miss 31-30 on Sept 27th.
Penn State loses to Iowa 24-23 on Nov 8th.
I had SportsCenter on when I was home for lunch today and they were predicting Florida to make it to the BCS game. Penn State is being projected to possibly play in the Rose Bowl. Both teams have only one loss on the season but it was that timing of the loss which is crucial in college football and adds that extra pressure for players and fans during each game.
The NFL does have one thing I wish existed in NCAA College Football. A clean slate every season. Each new season in the NFL, every team starts 0-0. While it is true in the NCAA that every team starts 0-0, but AP Preseason Rankings prevent some teams from getting recognition as others.
The Raiders can go 1-15 one season and make it to the Super Bowl the next season. Boise State can go 1-11 in one season, and 12-0 make it to a BCS Bowl game the next season, but it would take a few undefeated seasons in a row for Boise State to get serious NCAA BCS Title Game consideration.
So I want to know. Do you prefer to watch/attend college football games over the NFL or are you the opposite?