I couldn’t get enough of it.
It didn’t matter who was playing, what day or night it was on, or what package I had to have with my cable provider to watch it, if there was a NFL game on, I was tuning in.
That was a few years ago.
This past weekend, I watched one half of NFL action, which was the first two quarters of the Patriots-Bills game, and the only reason why I saw it, was because there was a TV right above my table as I sat in a Boston café for brunch. Had that establishment not had the game on, I would have seen no football all weekend. Well, professional football that is.
Why am I not watching the NFL? Is it because they give us the boring Titans and clumsy Jaguars on a Thursday night and the reeling Vikings and pathetic Bears on a Monday?
No, because two years ago, I would have watched both games, even if each team were 0-8.
So why am I not watching?
The answer is simple. The product just is not as entertaining or exciting as college football. I find myself Monday mornings checking the schedule for next weekend’s collegiate games. I plan my Saturday errands and activates based on the times of best match-ups that I want to watch. And most importantly, I’ll sit there and watch any college game, any night of the week. The same way the NFL use to be.
Why is the NCAA a better viewing than the NFL? The players don’t get paid, they don’t flash their personalities (for the most part), their coaches are the household names not them. So why is it a better game?
The first, and possibly most important part, is the drama. This NFL season has been all about it. From Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension for the deflated football scandal, to Josh Brown’s domestic abuse story, this season has seemed more of a grocery store tabloid than what is actually happening on the field.
In college football, these stories are forgotten about with player or coaches suspensions or expulsions, or Universities being penalized with post season punishment. Sure there are cases where some teams or players get a lighter discipline than possibly deserved, but these situations do not become the storylines of the season. I don’t want to watch a soap opera on Sunday, and that is what the NFL has become.
Now, let’s talk about parody. How many teams in the NFL really, and I mean really, have a legitimate chance of playing in the Super Bowl. Out of 32 teams, maybe 4? The sport has become so watered down of competition, it makes watching a Monday night game between the Vikings and Bears almost meaningless because neither team has a shot of a legit post season run. The only reason you watch that game is because of fantasy football.
College football is different. Take last weekend for example, 7 of the top 10 teams were on the road, and three of them lost. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked teams were all in the visiting locker rooms, and won their games by a combined 19 points. The most exciting game of the weekend was Saturday night on primetime when #3 Clemson barely skated out of Tallahassee with a 3-point win over #12 Florida State. Every play of every series was exciting, because their seasons were riding on the outcome of that game. If Clemson loses, they likely get bounced from the college football playoffs, and if Florida State loses, they have an uphill climb for a top bowl game. Every play, of every series mattered. When was the last time the NFL had that?
This past weekend, only 7 of the 13 games played in the NFL were decided by a touchdown or less. The week before, only 6. In college, 5 of the 8 games featuring top 10 schools were decided by less than 7 points. Every game matters in college.
What is the most important position in football? The quarterback, of course. That is where the MVP award and the Heisman Trophy generally go to. Many great college quarterbacks go on to find success in the NFL, such as Cam Newton, so it isn’t necessarily the position that changes at the next level, but the way it is played.
In college, when a big play is needed late in the game, maybe it’s a crucial first down or a momentum swinging touchdown, the first option generally is for the quarterback to take the snap, tuck the ball, and out run any defender to the pylon. The NFL has different rules and the quarterback is no longer a 19 or 20-year old on scholarship for a free education, but a multi-million-dollar franchise asset, so they can’t take the same liberties and risk injuries on big hits.
“But college football stats are video game-like.”
That is always the response my NFL-defending co-workers use when I suggest the NCAA is a better product.
Let me ask you, would you rather watch Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles throw for 337 yards and three touchdowns, in a 36-22 loss to a mediocre team, or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson pass for 378 and 2 touchdowns in a 3-point win on the road against the #12 team in the country. It is a no brainer. I don’t care if the combined score of the game is 100 points, if it is back-and-forth and entertaining, it is must-see television.
This weekend #9 Nebraska plays #6 Ohio State on ABC and #1 Alabama plays #15 LSU on CBS. I don’t care who is playing Thursday, Sunday or Monday night, there will be no better football being played than those two games.
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