Wow, what a year it has been for college football. Okay, it’s kind of cliché but what I thought would be a rather quiet off-season after a bogus BCS National Championship game, turned into a major circus yet once again. Yes, there were ups and downs but mostly downs. I think this off-season fully solidified the fact that college football is all about the money. I’m going to do my best to hold on to the tradition as tight as I can before it all goes away. Seriously, I’m not trying to bum you out. We did get some great news too.
I could start with the good but I’m going to truck through the bad as quick as I can. Yup, the Penn State situation is finally about over. The NCAA came down hard on Penn State, even after their matriarch up and kicked the bucket. Joe Paterno’s legacy ifs fully tarnished, but the life of college football will be even more so. You see, what Penn State did from top to bottom was expose the vast dark underbelly of college football. They kept a monster on campus all for the big money of big time football. They were too sacred to do the right thing and ended up making the worst out of a situation.
Now it’s all changed. Whatever beast the NCAA was keeping chained up came out and swallowed the school as a whole, even with former players and media douchebags still complaining to this day. On the face it looks like they were emulating big brother NFL and their iron fisted rule. But when you dig deeper, you see that the Presidents finally unleashed the dogs to show that the schools have more power over football. It’s not the first in growing war. The Presidents of the universities are trying to save face and not let the football programs take over campus.
The problem is that while that’s happening on their right hand, on the left hand they are signing the checks that the television networks are sending them. Just take a look at the new playoff system. The only way it could’ve been done was for bigger television revenue. As soon as the Champions Bowl was announced, a yearly bowl between the Big 12 and SEC like the Rose Bowl, you could see the BCS going away and a new bigger money generating monster coming this way. So we have playoffs and the Presidents are making the most out of it, all the while trying to cut off the power that brought them in the dough.
But you know what? That’s what the offseason does. No, I’m not completely dismissing those actions. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. With 8 months out of the year chomping at the bit, all we’ve got is a 24 hour, Twitterized news cycle to fill the time. So now we get to see what really happens when the dirty work is done. I think that’s for the better. We are cleaning up the bad and accepting the reality of the business. So the offseason, much like last year’s offseason with conference realignment, pounds home the fact that business affects change and that not everything is all great and dandy.
So next week, we get our relief. For 8 months of pain, we are rewarded with 4 months of pure ecstasy. Is it worth it? I’ve spent more than half this column talking about all the dirty and nasty things of college football. Am I to say that all of that turmoil makes what’s coming so much better? I guess you can look at it two ways. One, it’s a distraction from the real world and real world college football actions. The other would be the kind of feeling you get after a hard workout and empty stomach when you plop your freshly showered self down at the table to eat a hot meal. No pain no gain.
It is a little bit of both. College football in its purest form is about the thrill and drama of competition and the pageantry that surrounds it. I’ve been to games where all colors are welcomed to tailgate to their hearts delight and enjoy this almost church like outing. Oh by colors I mean people and jerseys. We all in our daily lives strive to be our best. It makes sense to celebrate that notion with others by watching teams compete for that same idea. Sure, we may not have the same talents, but we use ours to encourage theirs. And we do it hard. It’s truly a spectacle.
But we also go to escape. While we try to do our best, we will and have failed. Everyday we are either told we are failures or witness failures of others. There will always be something trying to hold you back or bring you down. And sometimes it wins. So we take our weekend to lick our wounds and escape to keep our minds focused on hope. Sure, your job may suck or you may have problems at home, but you can go out for 6 hours on the weekend with some friends to place hopes and dreams on one moment when your team wins. Yeah, it may be better served to patch things up, but you need to recharge as well and you can take that energy home to do things right. Therapy with a brisket on the grill and your friends at tow sounds like a great way to recover for me.
So let’s all shake off this offseason. I flushed my ill wills down the toilet just now and you should too. It’s not some nasty cult or some simple caveman pleasure. It’s just college football and we’ve got another great 4 months ahead of us. Fill out your top 25s, start talking smack to your buddies, and start wearing a groove in your favorite bar stool or Barcalounger. We don’t know what to expect but I do know that it will be well worth the ride and we’ll be spending another 8 months recovering.