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Post Five things college football could do without this year

Wednesday April 18, 2007

Last week I mentioned five things that Georgia football could do without this year. Why stop there? College football is a great sport, but even it has its warts.

1. Knee-jerk rules changes like 3-2-5-e. This is low-hanging fruit since the process to rescind this failed experiment is now complete. But the almost universal distaste for the changes had a few additional undertones. The first is a growing irritation with television advertising. More than a few fans noticed that fewer plays didn’t mean less advertising. We know that these huge television deals help to fuel the beast. Advertising has always been there, but the scrutiny and backlash brought on by the new rules really put ads into the spotlight. The second is the realization that college football isn’t the NFL, we like it that way, and we should resist attempts to package it up into three-hour blocks.

It seems as if the next target of the rules committee laboratory is the play clock. 25 seconds isn’t good enough. Now coming out of timeouts, we’ll have a 15-second clock. Nick Saban and others have suggested adopting the NFL’s 40-second clock. I understand the rationale regarding the 15-second clock, but all of this tweaking has me asking, "exactly what is so wrong with college football that we’re suddenly treating it like a beta software release?" The game between the whistles is fine. The postseason? That’s another story.

Mark Gastineau

2. Ballin’. Since the days of Mark Gastineau, celebrating a sack has become an art form. That art took an ugly turn last year worthy of an NEA grant. Is there anything more awkward-looking or out of place than a 6’4" defensive end in full pads simulating a basketball jump shot? The ballin’ celebration, started by the New York Giants, trickled into college football last year. Let’s hope it died as quickly and completely as the Giants’ 2006 season. Is air guitar next?

3. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. It was a nice story and surely a special run for the few fans of those schools, but the crowd at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville for the ACC Championship game more closely resembled what you’d expect for a high school marching band exhibition. With a four-loss FSU team winning the title in 2005 and Wake taking the trophy last year, the conference badly needs to produce a contender again. The addition of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College was supposed to turn the ACC into the next superconference while decimating the Big East. While the ACC does have a bigger upside and has two huge dormant programs in the state of Florida, it’s Big East football enjoying the higher profile. Will shakeups at FSU, Miami, UNC, and NC State change that?

4. Tuesday morning football. It’s easy for a fan of a major BCS-conference program to take for granted the value of a televised game. There is another tier of programs who must market themselves not only to recruiting prospects but also to pollsters. Such is life for the mid-major: does a team win ten games if no one sees them? Boise State is hardly an unknown now but will play nearly half of its 2007 games on days other than Saturday. Fans and the traditional campus gameday environment become secondary to the small chance of exposure. As fans of schools who can count on at least regional TV coverage for most our Saturday games, we can’t be too quick to condemn smaller programs for jumping at a national television slot no matter the time or day. Still, it’s not a positive development for a sport that draws so much of its appeal from the Saturday gameday experience.

5. Premature BCS politicking and whining. Call it the Tuberville Effect, but it’s almost given that a coach who starts complaining about their position in the BCS during October is sure to lose and lose soon. This goes for fans too though. Eight or nine undefeated teams in mid-October does not mean OH MY GOD WE HAVE A BCS CRISIS!!! Teams will lose. They always do. I’m certainly no fan of the BCS, but college football invariably reduces a huge mess in mid-season down to a much more structured picture by year’s end. Chill and let the process play out as it does most every year.

There’s also plenty that college football could use more of, and we’ll get to that next time.

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