Many things are better today than they were in the somewhat-distant past — TV visuals, video games, computers, golf equipment, and the country’s beer selection to name a few.
But along with customer service, product durability, reality TV and pop music, one thing that has gotten worse over time is college football.
There was a time when I enjoyed college football more than the NFL. Those days are long gone, as a bloated schedule, absurd postseason, oversaturation and conference chaos have spoiled a once-great four-month experience.
The first step toward today’s diminished collegiate product was the switch to a 12-game schedule in 2006. Since then, viewers have suffered through far too many pathetic offerings like two weeks ago, when 17 ranked teams beat unranked opponents by an average of 35 points. That sleep-inducing Saturday included the trouncing of hapless patsies by Ohio State, Louisville, Miami, Washington and Baylor by a combined margin of 337 points.
Instead of creating more interesting out-of-conference match-ups, the 12-game slate has only increased the number of unwatchable pummelings unleashed on FCS programs willing to endure punishment for a million-dollar payday. It also gives programs a chance to add a meaningless win toward qualifying for one of a couple dozen equally-meaningless bowl games.
A quarter-century ago, there were 17 bowls, the majority of which were entertaining contests that were required viewing. This year there will be 35, many featuring pairings of teams that should be in the weight room instead of thinking they really accomplished something by appearing in what’s little more than a three-hour commercial for whatever rotating corporate entity has lent its name to the nauseating affair.
The overabundance of bowls is matched by the season-long flooding of the airwaves with garbage games. Game day Saturdays used to be an event. Now, finding a good game is as difficult as finding something watchable on regular TV. There are far too many Honey Boo Boos and not enough Sopranos. If you’d told me growing up that I’d eventually wish there was less college football on TV, it wouldn’t have made sense to me. Now, sadly, most of the time it’s just another thing taking up space on the cable guide.
We are also in the midst of a disturbing time for athletic conferences, and in the epicenter of one of the most sickening realignments. We all tolerated the silliness of the Big Ten keeping its name after adding an 11th team two decades ago, but the upcoming inclusion of Rutgers and Maryland is so over-the-top stupid that it’ll be hard to take it seriously. It’s no longer a tight, regional grouping of likeminded academic and athletic institutions … it’s a far-flung, money-grubbing whorehouse unified only by TV deals.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid the college football landscape will get worse. There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Teams aren’t going to cut to 11 games; big programs will continue to schedule punching bags for their 12th contest; ghastly match-ups and garbage bowls will continue to pollute TV screens; and the pimps that run the NCAA and conferences will keep raking in the dough.
The good news is, it’s a big world and there are entertainment options aplenty. I wanted to work on my golf game more, anyway.
— Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Westside Flyer. He can be reached by calling 272-5800 ext. 190 or by e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.