Why college football is perfect -- just the way it is
Posted: Monday October 24, 2005 8:28PM; Updated: Tuesday October 25, 2005 8:59AM
Just how big is college football? Big enough for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to administer the coin toss before last Saturday's Alabama-Tennessee game.
How popular is college football this minute? Very popular. Maybe as popular as it has ever been.
Last Saturday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to the Tennessee-Alabama game. A week earlier Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) had a sideline pass for the USC-Notre Dame game, even though he attended neither university. Not that "Sideline Jesus" was any help to the Irish.
Nor was Regis Philbin, a Notre Dame alum who uses his wildly popular Live with Regis & Kelly talk show to fulminate each Monday on the fortunes of his beloved football team. Are you like me? Do you have 80-year-old great aunts asking you if you think Brady Quinn will skip his senior season?
Oh, college football is popular all right. Last week noted sports periodical Entertainment Weekly included the entry "College Football" on its Must List along with Breaking Bonaduce and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. On the Oct. 17 SportsCenter, during an NFL Countdown segment, host Dan Patrick had the audacity to ask analysts Michael Irvin and Mike Ditka what was to me a rhetorical question: "Is the NFL being overshadowed by college football this season?"
Of course Irvin and Ditka both said no, but what would you expect? And the fact that Patrick even introduced the notion is enough for me. Fact is, with the exception of those two, plus John Clayton, Ron Jaworski and Sal Paolantonio, most of us are far more intrigued by the college game this autumn than the NFL.
Which brings me to my first point: When you envision the loveliness that is Angelina Jolie, do you find yourself wondering, If only she were a blonde?
See, because Jolie is beautiful. Indisputable video evidence of that assertion exists. Last year, Esquire named her "Sexiest Woman Alive", which is like getting an ESPY for pulchritude. And gentlemen prefer blondes, or so I've heard. So you might be tempted to assume that were Ms. Jolie to don a blonde wig, she'd be even more comely.
I don't think so.
And I'm not just saying that because I sat through Life or Something Like It a few years back.
So my question is: How come everyone is forever trying to put a blonde wig on college football?
The pundits were breathless in the aftermath of the USC-Notre Dame contest. On the Monday following the game it was the lead topic on ESPN's Around the Horn (what I like to call "Pardon the Eruption"), Pardon the Interruption and SportsCenter -- this was two days later. This was after a Sunday of NFL and a weekend of baseball league championship series games had been played in the interim. And yet USC-Notre Dame led these programs. All that for a college football game in which one of the participants would not even have garnered a No. 4 seed if college football determined its champions the way college basketball does.
On "Pardon the Eruption", Los Angeles Times columnist J.A. Adande took to affixing the blonde wig to the sport. Adande noted that, yes, it was an unforgettable game, but then he reversed field almost as quickly as Reggie Bush. Adande lamented that, because there's no college football playoff, we're all going to be deprived of the golden opportunity of seeing these two teams meet again in the postseason. Host Tony Reali agreed with Adande and awarded him those oh-so-valuable points without even challenging the fallacies in his argument, such as:
1. So if there were a playoff, Notre Dame and USC would definitely meet?
2. So if there were a playoff, there's even the chance that the two best teams would meet (more on this below)?
3. So a sequel would be guaranteed to capture the irreproducible magic of this tilt? Do you recall Florida-Florida State in the 1996 Sugar Bowl? Or, better yet, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2?
4. What have you done with T.J. Simers? (Sorry, that's my own issue.)
We are more than halfway through the 2005 college football season. Thus far, what has transpired on the field has generated that deserved Must List mention. But take a look at the rankings; you'll see that six teams (USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Georgia and UCLA) are still undefeated. And, just as the leaves leave the trees and the days grow inevitably shorter, the clamor of excitement over satisfying games such as Texas-Ohio State, Tennessee-LSU and USC-Notre Dame (to name just a few) will begin to yield to a clamoring for a national playoff.