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Friday, August 2, 2013

College Football 2013: Random Thoughts

With the college football season less than a month away, there has not been a shortage of story lines. Whether it is the off season troubles of Ohio State, Alabama's quest to pull off a rare three-peat, or Johnny Football being, well, Johnny in the Spotlight, college football has taken center stage in the summer of 2013. And here are just a few observations from your resident college football guru as summer camp begins in most universities this week:

Alabama's quest to three-peat as BCS national champion will be harder than it looks.

Not since the 1934-36 Minnesota Golden Gophers has an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivison) team won three straight national titles. The Crimson Tide will try to end that drought this year, but it won't be easy.

To even get to the BCS National Championship game, Alabama will have to navigate the tough-as-nails Southeastern Conference schedule. The whole notion that Alabama will play a hard SEC schedule despite not playing either Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina seems at first to be laughable. Yet the fact of the matter is they still have to travel to Texas A&M and play Louisiana State. Add to that they could also see Florida, UGA, or South Carolina in the SEC championship, and I'm not so sure you would call that an easy schedule.

The odds of a 1-loss Alabama squad making it to the BCS title game this year aren't as good as they were last year. I have heard almost ad nauseam how Ohio State(whom I will get to in a bit) might have trouble getting into the national title picture should they go undefeated due to their poor scheduling. Yet am I to believe that Alabama, who hasn't had an undefeated team since 2009 and plays in the SEC, has better odds of running the table than Ohio State, who plays a schedule similar to last year (when they went 12-0)? If two BCS eligible squads go 13-0, and Alabama wins the SEC at 12-1, my money is on the Crimson Tide being on the outside looking in.

Ohio State football, despite its recent troubles and all the hatred toward it, isn't going anywhere.

The Buckeyes have had a rough couple of months, with four players being suspended/removed from the team for running afoul of the law in some form. That being said, the team is still in pretty good position to make a run at the national title. Braxton Miller, in his third year and second under head coach Urban Meyer's spread offense, should show dramatic improvement in his decision making ability. The run game will be fine even without Carlos Hyde, as I expect Rod Smith and company to step up in a big way. The defense should be much improved as well, as the upperclassmen finally understand what is expected of them from the new coaching staff. And their schedule does shake out very favorably, even with the two bye weeks sprinkled in.

Yet despite all the positives the Buckeyes have going for them, there are still those people who want to hate on the program. Many of them live right here in Columbus not far from me. Those people can continue to hate. I will not apologize for what is perceived weak OSU football schedule, as I didn't make it and I can't control it. I am also tired of apologizing for the misconduct of players on the football team. Bottom line is I know the majority of the student athletes that go to Ohio State are upstanding individuals, and whether you know that is not my problem.

Before I go any further, I should also note that people often like to 'dog' the Buckeyes to get under my skin. They like to use past or present results to knock my so-called 'expertise' of the great sport we call college football. Well, I will let you in on a little secret. I don't know that much about college football. Neither does Kirk Herbstreit or Desmond Howard. Bottom line is that anyone can pontificate about who will win the national title, but until the games are played no one really knows who is going to win. Don't believe me? Go to and look at both Kirk's and Desmond's preseason predictions for 2012.

By the way, how does Urban Meyer go from being 'one of the best coaches in the game' at Florida (where he won two national titles, btw) to just a 'fine coach' at Ohio State?  Did he not just lead the Buckeyes to the only undefeated season in the FBS in 2012? Go back and look at the Purdue game. Most people say that OSU shouldn't have won that game, yet had Jim Tressel been the coach in that situation they most likely lose. Heck, even Alabama was in a similar situation against Texas A and M last year and lost, with their starting quarterback (AJ McCarron) in the game no less.

But I digress on to more pressing points like

The NCAA is one big joke.

From Johnny Manziel being able to capitalize on a nickname, to the botched Miami of Florida investigation, to the light punishment handed down to North Carolina, the NCAA has a serious credibility issue. They bring the Hammer down on a school such as Penn State for something that has nothing to do with recruiting, yet the Hurricanes become 'Party U' and they are still dragging their collective feet on the matter. Not too mention that Johnny Manziel could have a secret stash of cash due to his success in trademarking 'Johnny Football' yet no one has looked into that.

I guess I really shouldn't care, as the NCAA as we know it going to be obsolete shortly. What worries me, however, is that some of the same knuckleheads (my new favorite term) who run the NCAA are also the ones that will form 'Division 4' as it is now called. If this is the case, how can we be sure the new association polices its member schools better than the other ones? And as far as paying players go, how will this new alignment be able to work out an agreement that doesn't violate Title IX?

To drive home my point of the ineptitude of the member schools of this unofficial 'Division 4,' let's look at the recent playoff system to be adopted in January of 2015. This calls for the top four teams to play each other in a semifinal format where the winners play for the championship. Yet how are the top 4 teams decided? Correct me if I am wrong but two athletic directors from each of the major conferences will make up part of the playoff committee. How can we trust such individuals, many of whom know that a playoff means a significant payday for not only their conference but their respective school, to make a unbiased decision on the matter? What if one of the ADs happens to be butthurt like Bret Bielema (formerly coach of Wisconsin, now coach at Arkansas) and votes against a team in his conference just out of spite?

But enough on the matter, I 'll let you debate that on your own.

Finally it costs way too much to go to a football game these days.

Many of these schools are charging more than professional teams do to get into a game. And while I will admit the popularity of college football has never been higher, I 'd forgo paying $80 to watch my team play at the stadium if I can watch it on TV for free (or $20 I guess after food and beverages) any day. Especially if I know the outcome will more than likely already be determined before halftime. Hey Division 4, Division $$$$ (what you should rename your association), Nike Football League or whatever, here is another suggestion: actually schedule games that can hold fans attention for an entire three hours.

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