It’s a sad state of college football

by Gary Shelton on December 30, 2023

in general

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Yeah, I still love college football.

But does it count if I love it less than I used to?

Oh, I’m a sucker for rivalries, Florida and FSU, Michigan and Ohio State, Auburn and Alabama, Georgia and Georgia Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma. I’ve covered all of them. I love Old Oaken Buckets and Touchdown Jesus and the Vol Navy. I love UGA and Ralphie and Mike the Tiger. I love FSU’s Sod Cemetery and the 12th man at Texas A&M and Howard’s Rock at Clemson.

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But I don’t like the NIL.

I hate the shifting college conferences.

The transfer portal gripes me endlessly.

I detest opt-outs for college bowls.

I abhor the moving target that is the college football playoffs.

Ah, but the game is cool. I like the moving argument that is the Heisman Trophy, I like Rocky Top for the first 457 times I hear it, which takes us to the second quarter of the season opener. I like the flaming spear at FSU.

I like George P. Purdell, the guy who gets paged at every Georgia Tech game. I like Wisconsin’s “Jump Around.” I like that the visiting locker rooms at Iowa are painted pink. I like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” when it is played at West Virginia, although the landmarks mentioned are mainly in the western part of the state of Virginia.

But for crying out loud, who came up with the transfer portal. It’s like recruiting all over again. Once, it was just to get talented players who had over-committed a second chance. But did you see that Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord is transferring after throwing for 3,170 yards. It’s like a six-time bride who is addicted to wedding cake.

And what’s with the colleges themselves transferring? Does Stanford really need to be the same conference as Syracuse?  How about Cal and Clemson? USC and Rutgers? I know geography isn’t everything, but doesn’t it matter at all? And does anyone feel bad for the two teams that are left in the Pac-12?

Look, most years, four teams is plenty for the playoffs. This year, it isn’t. FSU earned its shot. So did Georgia. 

Instead, those teams will play in the most inconsequential bowl season in memory. There was a time, of course, when we looked forward to bowl games. Now, they also seem meaningless. Not even the players care about hanging around to play. The politicians who leapt to their feet demanding legal recourse for FSU evidently care more than the players care about the matchup with Georgia.

Of course, some of them were getting paid a lot anyway. Hey, we all realized players were getting the short end of the stick when it came to the money college sports was earning, but did any of us want a player auction?

So, yeah, I’ll keep on watching college football. I’ll tell the stories about Bear ad Bowden and Spurrier (I covered all three). I’ll compare Herschel to Bo to Emmitt, and Tebow to Ward to Wuerffel.

But I’ll do it with less enthusiasm than I used to. Like a lot of fans, my love is fading.

I wonder if that concerns anyone?

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