Disclaimer: This isn’t meant to be a post about why the NFL sucks or why CFB is better than the NFL. I enjoy both very much. However, over the years I’ve noticed I’ll watch any CFB game no matter the team and I can’t say the same for the NFL. I began to think about why that was, much of which will make up the rest of this article. Again, these are my views and are not meant to communicate that they should be your views as well.
Football is the most popular game in America. Many in our country pour hours into following high school teams, college teams, and professional teams. As the NFL season winds down following the Super Bowl on Sunday, it will mark the end of another football season. But talk of football in this country is year-round and this is another cog in that discussion. Why do I think college football is great? Here are some of the reasons:
Variety of Offensive and Defensive Styles
I look forward to turning on any college football game on a Saturday because I never known what I’m going to see. CFP is filled with a variety of styles and schemes. Pro-styles, spread schemes, triple options, two-back systems and pass-heavy systems. 4-3s, 3-4s, 3-3-5s, 4-2-5s. (If any team in CFP runs a wing-T offense or a 46 defense, please let me know).
Even in the MWC, a multitude of schemes on both sides of the ball are present. There is a traditional I-formation with something called a full-back (that’s a joke, I know what that is), many spread concepts as well as multiple scheme/formation teams. There are two triple-option teams, an air-raid and now rumors of a return to the run and shoot style. Defensively, the conference sees teams play 4-3, 3-4, and two different 3-3-5 schemes.
There is some variety in the pro-game to be sure, but it’s on a much smaller scale. It’s fun to watch teams having to scheme against different offenses and defenses each week. It leads to more creativity and challenges, leading to players growing and developing their skills as a result.
In what might be a downside to some, I think it adds to the game. Sure seeing your favorite player leave is disheartening, but the flip side is constant opportunities for quick improvements and reloads.
Your secondary is awful for a year? Help is on the way! The All-American QB is going pro? Another one just committed in the current class. A team went 5-7 this season? Out with the old and in with the new, next year looks much more promising.
Recruiting keeps the hype train going and the potential of a team high. Now of course new isn’t always better and some years are still rebuilding years. However, more often that not, improvements or developments can be seen in some area of the team each year. The present can be good or bad, but the future always looks brighter.
Plus, with recruiting, it keeps the team and CFP relevant year round with news and updates. And if your team is having an awful year, at least following recruiting can keep you interested and entertained and give you hope that next year will be better.
Every sport has rivalries but with such a large number of teams and decades of games give CFP more rivalries than others. “Rivalry weekend” is one of my favorite weekends of the year. I enjoy watching the Iron Bowl, Bedlam, The Apple Cup, Civil War, “The Game” even though I often don’t care which team wins. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment with big rivalry games.
Even the lesser known rivalries are fun. In the MWC, Boise State and Fresno State play for a Milk Can and UNLV and Nevada play for a canon (A CANON!). There have even been teams and games that have developed into good rivalries currently. SDSU and BSU. Wisconsin and Ohio State, Boise State and Washington State.
Rivalries are a huge part of CFP and no matter what the record of the teams are going in to the game, those games matter. On a certain level, they end up mattering to fans who aren’t even invested in either team. New rivalries can be developed from years where teams hopes were crushed with a late-season loss, as one game can have an impact on the entire season.
If professional sports, teams can buy their way into contention, although it doesn’t always work. If a surprise team comes out of nowhere, they suddenly become relevant and burst on the national scene, usually for the long term. The Golden State Warriors are the latest example of this. In the NFL, the Seahawks come to mind.
However, in CFB, it is extremely difficult for a new team to break through the ranks of the blue-bloods. While that is frustrating and disappointing, it also gives us what I would call “powerhouse underdogs” year after year. Boise State is the most obvious example of this, and other teams burst on the scene each year as well.
Upsets seem to carry a different weight in the college game. Perennial underdogs having the opportunity to beat perennial top-dogs never gets old and an CFP gives us that opportunity more often than the pro-game does.
While many fans have been life-long, a large majority of fan-ships were formed when a person arrived at a college. I’ve been a life-long fan of many professional sports teams, but there seems to be something different about going to a specific university and having a personal investment in their team after attending that university. Being in a stadium on game-day, being constantly around the team and atmosphere on campus form a different kind of fandom that can’t be captured in a professional team where the personal investment is present, but different. Ohio State has countless fans who attended “THE” university (see what I didi there?). The Chicago Bears don’t have as many fans who played for or worked for Da Bears.
These are just some of the reasons I prefer college football to pro football. Again, both are great. It’s not an either/or situation but there are some things in CFB that just can’t be replicated in the NFL, which is the tie-breaker for me.
Your turn: Why do YOU love college football? Leave a comment below.