We could fill a novel with reasons why we love college football, and many already have done so.
But we’re not here to love college football today. We’re here to offer some constructive criticism. As the great American poet Bret Michaels wrote: “Every rose has its thorn.”
This particular rose has 19 thorns, and they are…
1. Halftime length
Marching bands are cool.* But do they need to fill up 20 minutes of our week? The millions of viewers at home are ready for the second half after 10 to 12 minutes, tops. It’s something the NFL has down pat.
*This is widely debated.
2. Dead rivalries
For various reasons, historic rivalries are sometimes left on the vine. As opposed to college basketball or baseball (or pro leagues in which rival teams play multiple times a season), college football scheduling typically allows for one strong non-conference opponent, so there’s little room to maneuver when a timely deal isn’t struck. Whatever the issue, we’d be happier campers if Michigan/Notre Dame, Texas/Texas A&M, Oklahoma/Nebraska, Missouri/Kansas, West Virginia/Virginia Tech, etc., worked it out soon.
3. Conference realignment
This goes hand in hand with the above complaint. But it’s safe to say that most fans have realignment fatigue, especially with the most interesting rumors revolving around Memphis instead of, say, Texas or Oklahoma.
4. The NCAA justice system
No one knows whether Ole Miss will be punished further by the NCAA, and that confusion is partially a result of several mishandled investigations and arbitrary penalties in the last decade. Not to mention the upside-down priorities (ex. student-athletes are often penalized for actions of a previous — and unpunished — coach) that dictate action from Indianapolis.
5. National polls
Neither of the two major polls (AP and Coaches) hold any weight in the post-BCS era. They are invaluable for marketing purposes, but it would be nice if we could tone down the importance of that pair and use the College Football Playoff committee’s rankings (you know, the ones that matter) all season instead. Which brings us to…
6. The College Football Playoff committee
Subjective analysis without transparency is a bad mix. Is a group of 12 people in a room really better than a computer? At least the BCS formula was consistent.
7. Middle-school scholarship offers
It just happened again. How is this good for the development of the athlete? Beyond public relations and marketing, how is this a good use of time for state employees? The 12-year-old you just offered is still six years away from sleeping through his chem lab.
8. Cupcake scheduling
Stop playing 73-0 games in November (and September, for that matter). It’s bad for ratings, and the check you cut to FCS schools feels more enabling than it feels like charity.
9. New Mexico State
It’s nothing personal, but the Aggies have not enjoyed a winning season since 2002 and have not won eight games in a season since 1965. How does this team still exist?
10. Specialists that can’t kick
No one expects high-school kickers to make field goals, while everyone expects NFL kickers to be robots. In between, we have an infuriating group that vacillates between “Hey! Nice!” and “What in the hell just happened?” There are exceptions, but in general: college kickers are bad, college punters are bad, and they are ruining your life.
11. Quarterbacks that can’t throw
We’re upping the ante. Besides specialists, quarterbacks are the only players on the field that can’t hide their deficiencies (relative to the NFL) by going up against a similarly deficient opponent. Subpar blockers face subpar rushers. Subpar wideouts run routes against subpar cornerbacks, etc. With quarterbacks … the dude can either throw a 20-yard out route or he can’t. Most of the time, it’s the latter, and too many games are ruined by big, strong, athletic passers who fit the “mold” but are completely lost on the field.
12. Targeting penalties
The rule is good for player safety. There’s no question that players who target other players’ heads and necks should be removed from the game. But the punishment is a little harsh when referees are forced to make split-second decisions on intent and body placement. Even after review, the rule is often misapplied, and it’s disappointing for all involved when that happens.
13. Turf that isn’t green
14. Disputed national championships
We’re still arguing over how many rings School X has actually won. How does every sport but college football have this figured out?
15. Neutral-site games
Most of the pageantry of college football revolves around campus life and campus crowds. When on-campus games are removed in lieu of games at AT&T Stadium or the Georgia Dome or EverBank Field, we lose a lot of the fun. On a related note: Indoor college-football games need to disappear completely.
16. The death of ‘NCAA Football’
It doesn’t matter who needs to get paid … just bring the video game back. 2K Sports included real college logos and uniforms in its most recent NBA game. How do we not at least have a generic ‘NCAA Football 17’ game in stores this August?
17. The satellite camp debate
While it’s fun to see coaches slinging Twitter arrows at each other, the actual debate of “how are we going to regulate these?” is both dry and pointless. Time is currency, and it’s not infinite. Allow coaches to spend it working at camps if they want to. Their lives are devoted to the year-round football cycle at this point, anyway. Dan Hawkins has a message for those who don’t want to do the extra work.
18. All the damn bowl games
Yes, many people are willing to sit on the couch and watch the QuickLane Bowl/Foster Farms Bowl/GoDaddy Bowl/Famous Idaho Potato Bowl/Russell Athletic Bowl, but there has to be a better way to keep our attention in December.
19. Push passes in the Dr. Pepper challenge
You’ve allowed this to go on for too many years, guys. Just move the dang thing back 5 yards.