I love college football. When the leaves turn orange and yellow and the temperature drops, I don't call it fall or autumn, I call it college football season. If you catch me in a great mood on a Saturday afternoon, it's because one of the 57 teams I root for just won a game. If I look like I don't even want to make eye contact with you, it's probably because your wearing a Michigan T-shirt.
Christopher Walken once said, "I have a fever, and the only prescription is more college football." Or at least that's how I remember it.
Even through all the greatness that college football puts us through, it could get more awesome. I know, crazy, right? How could college football be better than it already is? That's like asking how sliced bread could be more incredible.
Well trust me, it can be.
These next 25 thoughts and ideas will have my fellow college football fanatics scratching their heads, stroking their beards and thinking of a near perfect world. Enjoy the article, everyone, and I leave the opening slide with this statement:
College football would be more awesome IF...
Lane Kiffin, Esquire magazine's 2010 Sexiest Woman of the Year, infamously bolted from Tennessee after one season to join scandal-ridden USC in 2010. Ever since he left this question has been held above his head: Is Lane Kiffin really a good coach?
The football world was ready to find out what this hot shot had in store for the Vols after he was handed the job following a 5-7 record. Lane Kiffin showed improvement in his first year, leading Tennessee to a 7-6 record and had some appealing recruits coming in—or so Tennessee thought.
Now that Kiffin has taken over at USC he still has yet to have a fair opportunity to put together a solid program. He has to deal with sanctions, bowl-game bans and the struggle that comes with bringing recruits to a shady program. It will be at least a few years before we can all see what kind of a coach Kiffin really is.
Not only can we not see a hyped up coach work his magic, but it makes the SEC East noticeably weaker than the West. All we can do now is wonder of what would have been if Lane Kiffin would have stayed in Volunteer Nation.
Well, he wouldn't be the sexiest woman ever, we can all agree on that.
While we're at it, let's talk about the man who is indirectly responsible for Kiffin's arrival on USC's campus.
Pete Carroll suspiciously booked it out of USC to be a head coach in the NFL. Fine with me, he's moving on to bigger and better things, but the timing of it is way too fishy for someone not to realize it. Carroll hightailed it in the midst of all the scandal and drama about Reggie Bush and Co.'s improper benefits, and you have to think he knew the hammer was going to be dropped on the Trojans.
If he were still at USC you would see the man who potentially ruined the program bring it back to life. It would be a feat never seen before, and from what it looks like we may never see someone see a program rise, fall and rebuild under his reign.
My mom always told me to clean up the messes I make, but apparently no one ever said that to Pete Carroll.
Think of last year's Virginia Tech vs. Boise State season opener. What do you remember from it?
Odds are you thought of the sick jerseys both teams sported, and if you didn't think of it then you are definitely thinking of them right now.
Nike's Pro Combat line has revolutionized the look of college football, period. They are lighter, sleeker and just flat-out more appealing than your everyday uniform. If Nike joined with every school to remix their uniforms we would stray away from the boring and traditional and give fans something that will make their jaws drop to their knees a few times a year.
Or schools could do it everyday, like Oregon. Or maybe that would just be too epic.
These days Joe Paterno is to coaching as what Henry Ford is to the automobile. Both are pioneers in their respective areas, but both are close to irrelevant today.
I'm sorry, Penn State fans—and some of you will agree with me—but Paterno is barely a coach anymore. The man has turned into a walking monument throughout the years that gives us puzzling quotes in the press room after games he hardly is responsible for.
If we had the Joe Paterno from the '80s or '90s, PSU would most likely be a top-ranked team in not only the Big Ten, but the whole nation. Instead of the Joe Pa of the good ol' days that used to will his team to victory we have a Joe Pa that stands with no headset on the opposite side of the field that the game is on.
It's nothing short of incredible that an 84-year-old man is pacing up and down the sidelines as a head coach, but his best coaching days are long gone, and it is time for Penn State to write a new chapter in its amazing book.
I have a question: How can you have a great game, but take one of the greatest aspects of college football away?
That's easy, you hold it at a neutral site and take away both teams' home-field advantage.
I'm not talking about the Red River Rivalry, because that's just tradition. I'm talking about games like last Saturday with LSU vs. Oregon, the game that was held in Texas of all places. I get it, the stadium is sweet, but it is quickly turning into a novelty building.
The only way that game could have been more hyped up is seeing two teams duke it out in someone's backyard. Tiger Stadium and Autzen Stadium are two of the loudest venues in sports and quite a sight to see on a Saturday night. Whether it was in Louisiana or Oregon it would have been great to see a rambunctious crowd root either team on.
As of this year any sort of taunting or celebrating on your way to six points will not be penalized on kickoffs or extra points. Instead, the 15 yards will be tacked on to the previous play, leaving them at least 15 yards away from the end zone. Great.
This rule is more than likely to cost a team a touchdown, or possibly a game if a player gets a little too jacked up about his accomplishments, and that is totally bogus. This rule extends a lot further than signing the ball and doing a gymnastics routine in the end zone, because those should be flagged. Referees will now be flagging anyone holding the ball in front of them or getting a skip in his step on the way to the end zone.
Basically the NCAA is enforcing restricted human emotion.
What's next—will they fine programs for players crying after a tough loss? Will they move the ball back five yards if the offensive coordinator spikes his headset in to the ground? Will a coach be suspended for clapping his hands after a great play? Who knows.
Do you think they could have done it?
Do you think Cam Newton could have led his potent offense to another BCS National Championship?
Do you think Nick Fairley could have caused enough havoc on defense to lock down every SEC team?
Do you think it would be a lot more interesting to see Auburn's top two players come back for an encore season?
I certainly think so.
Now to the flip side of the Iron Bowl, what if this three-headed monster would have stayed put to go for a second crystal ball in three years?
My guess is Alabama would be the undisputed No. 1 team in the nation with its top five receiver, running back and defensive lineman. Instead, the Crimson Tide starts the season as the No. 2 team and has three first-rounders of the 2011 NFL Draft in their alumni.
Still not a bad deal for either side, but man would they have made a great run to be named the best college team ever.
Yes, I just went there.
Why stop now with the "he should have stayed" fantasies?
Ryan Mallett left his two favorite targets, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams, to head to the NFL and left unfinished goals back in Arkansas. Financially it was probably smart of him, but if there was a vote to pick whether or not he should have left it more than likely would have kept him in college. The talent that would have been available in the SEC West would rival that of the NFC West, and needless to say it would have been a dogfight to see who gets the title.
I guess we can only dream, though.
On the gridiron there are only so many ways a player can express himself, and since 2010 players have one less option to do so. Dubbed "The Tim Tebow Rule," players are not allowed to personalize their eye black into saying messages or make Kiss-esque faces out of them.
So forget thumbing through the Bible to see what your running back is trying to tell you (probably "thou who seeks the end zone shall retain it with all thy glory and nauseating juke moves") and what area code he is from, just get used to looking at boring, old-fashioned eye black again.
It was fun while it lasted, though.
I guarantee you no one has enjoyed the small demise of U of M football more than I have. If I could withstand the pain, I would have no problem getting a tattoo commemorating Rich Rodriguez's stint in Ann Arbor. It was great seeing them lose so much, but for the sake of college football this nonsense needs to stop.
I'll be honest, college football is a whole lot more interesting when the Wolverines are a threat to the top 10. If Brady Hoke can right the ship, the Legends division has the potential to be a top division in college football with Michigan State, Iowa and Nebraska.
It would be nice for the Big Ten to get one of its top dogs back in the spotlight, but the thing we miss the most is the relevance of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. I'm shocked this is still called a rivalry, for that matter.
For the past decade the Buckeyes have cracked out nine victories in the last 10 years over the maize and blue. The last time the game decided something meaningful, George Bush was in office. So please, Hoke, please get Michigan on the right track—we miss the competition and thrill.
Actually, come to think of it, some people are so sure about Michigan's comeback that it brings me to another point...
My goodness, we get it. Michigan has a new coach. It's getting a new offense. We should be expecting improvement.
That's great, but some networks are just pounding its rebuilding process so far into our heads that when we clean our ears out we will see maize and blue on the Q-tip. Heck, if I just moved to America and turned on ESPN I would think Michigan is going for its fifth straight national championship based on how much coverage it receives.
You may say I'm biased, ignorant of the fact it is a historic program, or whatever you want to throw at me. Fact is that I do understand how big Michigan is, but there are a lot more teams out there you can cover that have been deserving respect. I can't remember if I have ever seen a segment done on Texas A&M, the last time I have seen Mississippi State get any recognition for resurrecting its program, or any coverage on ESPN about co-Big Ten champs Wisconsin or especially Michigan State.
Why don't these programs get the coverage they deserve?
Because they are too busy showing us clips and interviews from a program that has been a bottom feeder the last few years. If a team that went 15-22 is getting this press, then why aren't schools like Northwestern getting the same?
It's not Michigan's fault that schools are robbed of the attention they deserve, its the television programs that call the shots of what goes on the air.
Speaking of networks...
The new Longhorn Network could be best described as University of Texas' best friend and the Big 12's worst enemy.
Teams are jumping out of the Big 12 like it's the Titanic, and a big reason for that is the new television station that will focus on nothing but UT football. One football program that has a huge problem with it is Texas A&M, and it's reasoning is because it gives Texas a huge advantage with recruiting and exposure.
The network will give unparallelled exposure to this team, and reports say that they will even broadcast prep games. Bringing a channel dedicated to nothing but Longhorn teams is a great way to give your team and recruits exposure, but its also a great way to break up one of the most historic college football leagues in the land.
Back to the scandal in USC, this one should be a no-brainer.
Before the NCAA cracked down on the Trojans for Reggie Bush and his teammates receiving cars, cash and everything in between, USC was a powerhouse. It was a team no school wanted on its schedule, but a team every college football fan wanted on their TV schedule.
Now picture this: Stanford, pre-sanctions-USC and Oregon all in the same conference.
That would send Pac-12 Championship ratings soaring through the roof of Bush's booster-paid mansion.
David Shaw seems to have things going in the direction they were in 2010, don't let that thought escape you. The thought I want to plant in your head is the image of Jim Harbaugh chasing the BCS title for one more year.
He had all the tools returning to him like the nation's top quarterback, Andrew Luck, and team-leading rusher Stepfan Taylor. The only threatening hurdles in their way is Oregon and a mediocre Notre Dame team. The Stanford Cardinal are looking to go to the top without Harbaugh, but a head coach with experience certainly would make their trip a lot easier.
It was probably an easy decision for Harbaugh to head to the NFL and fulfill a dream, but from a fan's standpoint, we wish he would have stuck around for just one more season.
If you think an NFL fantasy football league is fun and intense, imagine creating a fantasy team by picking from 120 FBS teams.
I'll just leave you with that thought.
Throughout the years bowl games have turned in to a borderline mockery—not because of how the teams are selected to play in them, but the fact that there are so many bowl games that more than half of all teams participate in them. The fact that 58 percent of FBS teams make a bowl has turned the end of the college football season into a advertisement carnival.
If the NCAA eliminates enough bowls so only eight win teams make it, we will see a more interested and excited bowl game crowd. Come to think of it, I can't say I have ever heard someone say, "Gee, I'm excited for the Beef O' Brady Bowl," or "I had the TV installed just in time for the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl."
We most likely won't see bowl games disappear solely based on the fact it is a money generator for the NCAA and television stations, and it's even more likely we will lose interest in bowl season as more games are tacked on to the schedule.
Just like Michigan, it would be a better season if the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can get their feet back under them.
Brian Kelly is definitely picking up the slack Charlie Weis left, but a loss to South Florida certainly doesn't promise an elite season. Being an independent team already gives Notre Dame something flashy about itself, but that just isn't enough anymore.
In order for Notre Dame to be considered a great program by today's generation, it needs to finish in the top 10 soon; otherwise, we will see a storied program whittle away very slowly.
By now we all know who Nevin Shapiro is—the man who will send Miami back to the stone age with the sanctions it will be receiving.
Miami isn't the powerhouse it used to be back in the '80s, but it still held its place in the college football world. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes will more than likely hit USC status with their penalties due to the actions of Mr. Shapiro.
The Miami booster gave the gifts of money, parties, prostitutes and everything else under the sun to numerous Hurricane football players. That is one over-eccentric fan and an even bigger liability "The U" has on its hands now.
Year 1 in the Mountain West, and the conference is already sick of Boise State winning at home.
Conference officials are breaking up the Blue Men routine that Boise State has displayed because "it gives them an unfair advantage." Yes, that is really their reasoning behind the jersey ban.
Now whenever Boise is playing at home people may think, "Oh yeah, they're not wearing blue because people are crying over the advantage." The rule is just annoying and it shows that Mountain West teams are already making excuses before the season even begins.
Meanwhile, Hawaii and Colorado State will continue to wear green at home on their green fields.
It is very simple to foresee what would have happened if Ohio State's former coach Jim Tressel reported the wrongdoings of his players:
- Terrelle Pryor would still be at the quarterback position
- Tressel would still be manning the sidelines
- Ohio State would be ranked in the top 10
- Ohio State would be favorites to win the first ever Big Ten Tournament and possibly a BCS title
- Buckeye Nation wouldn't have this feeling of uncertainty
If Tressel did what he was expected to do, the Big Ten would be more intimidating in the eyes of the nation, no doubt about that. Now it's up to Luke Fickell to revive the program and send his Buckeyes back to the top, even with the deck stacked against him.
And I'm not talking about taking over at Ohio State or any other school that already has a huge program. I'm talking about Urban Meyer putting his abilities to the test and coaching at a school like Indiana or Iowa State, a school that has been a bottom-feeder of a big conference.
The odds of Meyer taking a job at either of these schools is about the same odds of Lou Holtz saying anything negative about Notre Dame, but it's still fun to think about. Watching Meyer attempt to turn a program from rags to riches wouldn't be a miracle as much as it would be charity work.
Again, not likely in the slightest bit, but it would be awesome to watch.
Saturday is the greatest day of the week, no question. You can wake up, watch College GameDay, start watching football at noon and not leave your couch until midnight rolls around. You might as well rename it "AwesomeDay."
There is, however, one way the college football weekend could get better, and that's by playing some premium games on Friday night.
A prime example of why this would work comes from last Saturday night, when Oregon and LSU were throwing down at the same time Boise State and Georgia were. Rather than flipping back and forth and missing one big play here and another there, Boise State could have played on Friday or vice versa. Having two of the biggest games in the season playing at the same time was excellent, but having them on two different days and giving them the individual focus they deserve would have made the weekend a tad better.
Ever since violations have been pinned on a couple teams throughout the nation, fans can't see greatness without seeing a price tag. Its just like the steroid era in baseball—no one could picture 20-plus home runs without picturing the needle.
It's a shame that teams have stooped down to so many levels just to swipe a recruit from another school, and it's an even bigger shame that non-offending teams will be accused of it if they land a great player.
There really isn't a whole lot to say here other than I wish we could have a season where that wasn't even a question, but we all know very well that questions of doubt and scandal will be running through headlines for the next couple years.
Is it really that hard? Is it possible for coaches to just be honest and not cheat the system? Can college football ever return to the good ol' days where players chose a school based on the program, not the paycheck?
If we didn't have a list full of "wish he didn't do..." or "if he never took..." we wouldn't be wondering how such a great sport could get better. We wouldn't have to worry about storied programs and traditions saying goodbye because someone screwed up down the line. Instead of speculation we would have respect.
College football could be the greatest sport in the nation if it was cleaned up.
You stuck with me for 25 slides, so I think it's time for you to give me your two cents.
What do you think would make the game better?
Did I mention something you think would make the sport worse?
Do you disagree or agree with anything I said?
Let me know in the comment box below!