There is a strong effort by many in the media to push for college football to be more like the NFL.
I will never understand this. College football and the NFL aren’t the same and God willing they will never be the same. The regional ties inherent throughout college football help separate it from every other sport. It’s unique in the U.S. in that regard. But many want it to be more like the big, bad, and ever-popular NFL.
Ty Duffy (of The Big Lead) wrote a piece on the changing dynamics coming to college football due in large part to viewers ditching cable, cutting the cord, and what that trend means to the bottom line at ESPN. It’s an interesting piece, but Duffy can’t help himself when he goes on a bit of a side track talking about CFB schedules. Here’s the bulk of it:
If college football were the NFL (or a mere competent business), Michigan would get the “Patriots” treatment. Their schedule would be flush with high profile games. They’d be playing in prime time as often as feasible. College Football is not the NFL.
Presuming Wisconsin is good, Michigan probably plays one competitive football game before meeting Michigan State Halloween weekend. There’s no reason for a non-Michigan fan to tune in to at least eight of their games. Despite eight home games, it’s unlikely College GameDay will visit Ann Arbor.
This notion that the only way for CFB to matter is if people watch it on TV is the crux of the NFL-ization of college football. I don’t want college football to become the NFL, what with its stale ambiance and uniformity.
College football is more popular than ever, but I’m not sure that’s made it better than ever. The more it becomes like the NFL the less appealing it gets for many long time die-hards.
The dilemma Duffy presents also doesn’t hold much water to me. The beauty of college football is every game is important. Will people not initially tune into Michigan playing Indiana? Probably, but why does that matter? The Michigan-Indiana game this past season was one of the best in all of college football. That’s the beauty of the sport. Going 10-6 (or 9-7, even), backing into the playoffs and getting hot at the right time has become an NFL tradition. The regular season means very little provided you get into the playoff. I don’t want college football going down that path, and I don’t think I’m alone.
The college football regular season is precisely why the sport is as good as it is. The pressure faced week in, week out is unique, and screwing with that harms the game. I’m open to the playoff and think it might be a net positive for the sport, but I’m still skeptical. Moving toward a more NFL-like system would be devastating in the long run. Not everything has to be about maximizing the amount of money. We always seem to forget that.