You don’t have to tell me, I know very well that the National Football League reigns supreme in this country compared to all other televised sports. The NFL is a gold mine and it is just not the league’s outrageous TV ratings that proves this. All you have to do is talk to your friends, look on social media, watch Sportscenter, or listen to any sports talk radio show to get that the NFL is king. The sheer fanaticism that resulted when preseason games started earlier this month showcased the wild popularity that the NFL enjoys.
Acknowledging this, however, I must include myself in the minority and say I believe there is something better in the sporting world than the NFL. There is something that I find more entertaining and more gripping. In fact, it is not even a different sport. I would watch college football over the NFL any day.
This is probably the understatement of the year, but a major reason why the NFL is so popular is because of fantasy football. This phenomenon has brought in so many people to the sport. I can’t believe all of my friends who eat, sleep, and breathe fantasy football. Shout out to my roommates who spend 5x as much time managing their fantasy teams as they do studying. However, even without FF, people still prefer the NFL to college football. In my book though, I always look more forward to Saturdays than I do Sundays. I have many reasons for this.When it comes to the actual play, college football is better than the NFL because the style of play is so unique throughout the country. The NFL is just so homogenized. With free agency and a coaching fraternity where pretty much everyone is connected to each other in some way, you don’t get contrasting styles of play. Rather, the NFL comes down more to who makes the most big plays and who has the best players. With college football, you are going to get something new each week. You could have a team that is built on running it up the gut going against a team with an option offense. You might have a team that goes from the gun each play and passes 80% of the time matching up against a team that utilizes the wildcat offense. You could have a no huddle offense against a team that waits until the last second of the play clock to snap the ball. Each game is completely different. While each game between two different opponents features contrasting styles, you can look at the broader picture and see that each conference has a different style. This is why I love the opening week of the season and the ending of the season so much….you get to see teams from different conferences and different geographic regions bring their totally different styles of play and clash over the course of sixty minutes. I eat this type of stuff up.
Even before the games start, the buildup for a college football Saturday carries with it so much more excitement and intrigue than the hype before a new NFL week kicks off. ESPN’s College Gameday might be the best sports show in the business. On the Saturdays where we have home Griz football games I always watch “Gameday” before heading off to work, it gets me so excited for the day. How can you not get pumped watching Fowler, Corso, Herbstreit, and Erin Andrews on site at the campus of the biggest game of the week surrounded by jacked up students? I love how they go 100 miles per hour covering all the significant games across the nation while Corso plays to the crowd. The various NFL pregame shows on about four or five different stations just don’t get me psyched for the upcoming games. They take place in studios and the excitement and atmosphere is just missing.
College football is much more interesting to me because of what it takes to succeed. College football is so much more dependent on leadership, hard work, and drive than the NFL. I respect the heart of a champion so much more than the god-given natural talent of a champion. I like seeing people such as Tim Tebow succeed. His leadership and charisma rubbed off on everyone on those Florida teams and it made them all better. These personality skills that Tebow possesses magnified his physical skills and probably motivated him an extra notch while at UF. In the National Football League, they could care less. Without the option to utilize his personality skills in the NFL he just has his physical skills to fall back on and unfortunately they are not enough to cut it. These NFL guys pretty much had their whole offseason and mini camp training sessions wiped out because of the NFL lockout. Many of them are saying it is of little impact to them. Could you imagine where college teams would be if they had spring ball, summer conditioning, and most of fall drills canceled? It would be a disaster. I love the fact that college teams can still hold two-a-days and still wear full pads to practice a couple times a week. I admire that college football players balance school and a social life with their athletics.
College football players play for so much more than NFL players do. They play for their school, they play for their fans,and they play for their passion for the game. NFL players play mostly for a paycheck and for that next big contract extension. Go ahead and insert all the jokes you want about the rough offseason college football endured with improper benefits, the fact of the matter is that this is the exception and not the rule. No, majority of these athletes do not have shady boosters offering them thousands of dollars and new cars. Most of the kids in college football are laying it out there each day based solely on their love of the game. How can you not respect that?
Another thing I prefer over the college game to the NFL game is the spirit. Any given college football game is much more spirited than an NFL game. Please do not confuse someone’s spirit level with their craziness level. College football is based on spirit while the NFL is based on pure bedlam. When you go into a college stadium you are going to be surrounded by passionate fans who are motivated by tradition, pride, and love for their school. When you go to an NFL game you are going to be surrounded by die hard middle aged men in jerseys whose lives depend on whether or not their team wins that day. While student sections at college football games get rowdy, not even 110,000 fans packed into The Big House at Michigan can muster up half of the drunken chaos that defines NFL games. I am completely fine with this. Give me the marching band, the cheerleaders, and the quirky mascots over the canned music filled, scream-until-you-die, anarchy-ridden atmosphere of NFL games.
The way a college season plays out is much more suspenseful than an NFL season. In college football, every single week is extremely important. Mess up once and your school’s season could end in disappointment. While this is kind of a bummer of a deal to see your team lose once and then be disqualified from a possible national championship berth (talking BCS right now), for a college football fan in general I think it is awesome. The storylines from week to week never get old. The anticipation and then the reaction of when the polls are released always generate great debate. In the NFL you can clinch a playoff spot and then rest your starters for sometimes several games, what a joke! This is never an option in college ball.
Finally, watching college football as opposed to the NFL is just so much more aesthetically pleasing. Seeing unique stadiums with years of history packed with fans clad in school colors engaged in chants is so much better than watching an Indianapolis Colts game in a dome or a game played on a field that still has a baseball field cut into it. Especially on television, a college football venue screams personality while an NFL field gives off a cold corporate feel.
I am so excited for this Saturday. With no home Griz Football game, I will be glued in front of my TV all day long. Block me on twitter now if you do not want to receive numerous tweets regarding my reaction to the games throughout the day. College football is here! From now until January it is going to be very easy to follow the best advice in the world; Don’t Blink.