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College Football: More Balanced Than Ever

By Patrick Snow

As a kid growing up in the South, the question of whether you liked college or professional football better just would not have been asked. The NFL was always watched and enjoyed, but it never compared to the passion and excitement of Saturdays in the SEC. As I started working in the sports media, I met more and more people (Northeasterners especially) who swore that the NFL was twice as compelling as collegiate ball. It’s an interesting debate, but it’s one where the dynamic seems to be changing.

We’ll start with the college argument. It has the best season of any sport as every week is a playoff game. There is also the atmosphere (bigger stadiums, bands, gameday traditions, lower ticket prices, etc) that even the most ardent NFL fan will admit is superior. Additionally, the rivalries in the South tend to produce classic games where heroes and their game-winning plays are remembered forever. Greats like Peyton Manning, Herschel Walker, and Bo Jackson will always be associated with their school, where in the professional ranks, they may change jerseys 3 or 4 times. And lastly, there are no 23-year multi-millionaires playing on Saturdays. No matter what you think college kids may get paid (insert Alabama or Reggie Bush comment here), you will not see an underperforming kid ruin a team like in the NFL. Coaches are still in charge in college whereas a 1st round signal caller in the NFL will play, even if he hasn’t earned it, just because of where he was drafted and his signing bonus.

As teams like the Titans, Panthers and Buccaneers went to Super Bowls, the popularity of NFL has grown in our Swampland region. Fans that laud the pro game as better tend to argue that the college game has too many blowouts and only a few dominant teams. They say that there are ‘cupcake’ games and not enough competitive balance. I’m wondering what those fans think of this season. It seems that if the Colts, Patriots, or Cowboys are not playing, the game is viewed as second-level. In fact, there may be only one rivalry-- Pats/Colts and their “Super Bowl 41 ½”—that really matters currently in the NFL. Will there be a compelling matchup in the AFC North, AFC West, or NFC West all year? Meanwhile, college games could not be having better finishes or closer races for conference titles. Each Saturday has been wrapped in drama this season as the race for the BCS has been a rollercoaster ride.

My intention is not to bash the NFL. I think it’s very entertaining and watch it every Sunday. I believe that fans can enjoy both games every weekend. It’s just that as the Northeast media tends to sell the college game as a notch below, fans in our Swampland footprint have every right to believe what they have seen and lived for years: nothing beats the passion and excitement of Football Saturdays.


* A trio of interesting NFL statistics: Dallas has won 7 road games in a row; Carolina has lost 5 home games in a row; and the Titans have turned the ball over 19 times this season, but have allowed ZERO touchdowns on the ensuing possession. That will win you some football games.

* Rashard Lewis has meshed well with his new teammates in Orlando, and the Magic are the NBA story in Florida. Obviously getting Dwyane Wade back will make a big difference for Miami, but you have to wonder if the Heat will be too far gone when ‘Flash’ returns.

* Make sure to check out University of Memphis point guard Derrick Rose this week when the Tigers play at Madison Square Garden. The freshman already seems to be a team leader and is an amazing talent.

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