This upcoming weekend is one of the most beautiful weekend in all of sports. College football rolls into the second week of its season, while the National Football League (NFL) finally kicks off.
This weekend brings back great memories of cool, crisp October and November days. The two different levels of football can entertain just about every fan, but the NFL has certain advantages that collegiate football can't touch.
Now, many of you are probably snarling at me. I come from Vermont, where the biggest local college football game consists of Maine at New Hampshire. Sure, Boston College isn't too far down the road, but since they play in the ACC... it's fairly irrelevant to Vermonters.
When I came to Lee, one drastic difference in the sports world was the passion for college football. It was something I'd never seen before. I realize its South Eastern Conference (SEC) territory down here, but the intensity for University of Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and some of the other major SEC schools was equivalent to the deadly rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees... and anyone from New England can back me up.
But, lets get down to business here. There's one major reason why college football can't touch the NFL is the playoff system. Go ahead, roll your eyes. So cliche, huh? But lets think about this. Let's use Week 1 of the college football season for example.
Two games in particular will be the focus of the rest of this blog. #16 Oregon went to #14 Boise State in Week 1. In a hard fought game, Boise State was able to pull it out in the end. The first half of this game was an "ugly" defensive battle filled with a lot of heart. #14 Boise State has some late scores of the 1st half to go into halftime leading 13-0. #14 Boise State held on, winning 18-9. #16 Oregon's season? OVER.
I mean, seriously?! The 16th ranked team in the nation doesn't receive the strength of schedule necessary to reach the "National Championship Game" without going winless. Oregon isn't in the strongest conference (PAC-10) and because they lost already... they can't be placed in the National Championship game. It's over for Oregon. It's a shame. They could play to the best of their ability and CRUSH everybody else on their schedule... their reward? Probably a BCS bowl... but certainly not the "National Championship Game." Why play the games?
Here's another great example. #3 Oklahoma was upset, 14-13, by a very underrated #20 BYU team. All the credit in the world should go to the #20 BYU team who physically dominated the game, to the point where they knocked out Heisman trophy winner QB Sam Bradford. Now, lets forget about that injury to Bradford for a minute. #3 Oklahoma has a very tough schedule. They play in the BIG 12, a tough conference with National Championship talent in teams like Texas. #3 Oklahoma's season? It's over! The biggest reason #3 Oklahoma lost the game? Probably because they lost their star QB in Bradford. If he doesn't get hurt, maybe they overcome #20 BYU's physicality and pull it out.
So, basically, in college football, it's 1 loss and you're done. Lets give a quick NFL example. Steelers beat the Titans last night 13-10 in overtime (OT). This opening game is quite possibly an AFC Championship game preview. And because the NFL is smart enough to have a playoff, that scenario is actually possible.
I don't care if I'm in the heart of the SEC and passionate college football fans. The bottom line is: until college football declares a playoff system, it can't be respected as a sport that properly rewards who the best teams are. And that's the Sp0rts Bl0g for ya...