All posts by Jesse Wojdylo

Alabama Football is Really That Good

Every week I watch college football I am amazed at the inconsistencies of programs that should be national title contenders. This past week Georgia and Stanford went down to teams that were not as talented. Seven of the top 25 lost and several teams had their national title hopes dashed. This is week in and week out in college football which is what makes it the greatest regular season in sports. Who would guess an undefeated Michigan team would lose to a Penn State team that was just throttled by Indiana? For those that may not know, Indiana is terrible in football. The ups and downs of college football are amazing but one team remains consistent – the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Nick Saban Changed the Alabama Culture

Prior to Nick Saban arriving in Tuscaloosa, Alabama the Crimson Tide were about as inconsistent as most teams are today. Saban won a national championship at LSU in the early 2000s and he tried out the NFL. His time with the Miami Dolphins was short as he wanted to get back into the college game. The Crimson Tide were willing to pay him and his assistants which lured this defensive genius back to the college ranks. In his first year at Alabama he had some growing pains. Some people will remember that loss to Louisiana Monroe in Bryant Denny Stadium. His first full season at Alabama was not extremely successful. They went 7-6 and won the Independence Bowl. Since then, Alabama has been the best team in football. There is no argument to be made.

Since that difficult first year the Alabama Crimson Tide have never finished the season outside the top 10. They have won three of the last four national championships and they are sitting at the top of the polls right now. Most would agree that Nick Saban is the best coach in college football. Some could argue that he is the best modern day coach. If he wins another national championship this year I would argue he is in the conversation as one of the best college football coaches in history. With recruiting and the NFL changing college football as we know it, it is nearly impossible to consistently keep a team in the top 10. To win four of five national championships is unheard of. No one, I repeat, no one would have been able to do this other than Nick Saban at Alabama.

How Does Alabama Remain Consistent?

Alabama owns the line of scrimmage. They recruit stud offensive and defensive linemen every year. When their quarterback is having a bad game they can simply hand off to a five star running back and let him carry the load. Even if the offense cannot move the ball they can resort on the defense finding a way to win the game. Minus the Texas A&M game this year the Alabama Crimson Tide have given up 26 points. Yes, 26 points in five games. This either says that Texas A&M has an amazing offense or Nick Saban is a genius for adjusting his game plan to win that game in College Station. Maybe there is a little bit of truth in both.

There are very few teams in the country that can run the ball and stop the run year in and year out. Nick Saban’s recruiting efforts have lead him to multiple national championships. It is important to note that recruiting at Alabama is much easier than recruiting at Memphis or Kentucky. That said, coaches before Nick Saban did not dominate the SEC the way he is doing it. It is a combination of Saban being a stellar coach and winning big games early in his career. If Saban had gone 7-6 the first three seasons he was at Alabama things might have been a little bit different. That was not the case and now he is talked about as one of the best coaches in history.

Something else that Nick Saban does is instill culture. He knows what type of product he wants to put on the field. He does not deviate in any way. Even when his team is losing a game he does not change his game plan. Earlier this year the Texas A&M Aggies were up 14-0 on Alabama and most coaches would have completely ditched the playbook. Nick Saban did not. He had confidence in his senior quarterback AJ McCarron and he remain patient even though his team was down by two touchdowns and Kyle Field was rocking. As soon as the Alabama offense walked on the field being down 0-14 you could feel the confidence of the team. This was not a team that was going to let the Texas A&M Aggies run all over them. They methodically worked down the field and scored a touchdown. Five drives later and the Alabama Crimson Tide were up 28-14. They never looked back.

Nick Saban is a defensive minded coach but he knows all aspects of the game. This is something that some coaches struggle with. A few defensive minded coaches are not good with clock management or special teams. That is not true with Mr. Saban. He realizes that all facets of the game are going to come into play at one point or another in a championship season. His teams do not have to be #1 in the country in all facets of the game but they have to be above average and consistent. Just watch the Alabama punt team or the kicking team the next time you watch a game and you will see a team that is very well coached.

Why Are Some Teams Not Well Coached?

This a question that has been asked millions of times by fans over the last several decades. Some teams have the talent but they are just not well coached. Some fans may not even understand what being well coached means. Before I explain why some teams are not well coached let’s look at what it means to be well coached. Great coaches make each player aware of the situation. If it is 3rd and 22 in the third quarter there is absolutely no reason the offense should call a timeout. This is a timeout wasted because the odds of converting a 3rd and 22 are slim to none. Instead of wasting a timeout that will be needed later in the game it is better to take a five yard penalty. There isn’t much difference in a 3rd and 22 and a 3rd and 27.

Understanding the situation at all times is imperative for a good team. There are some times it is smart to take a penalty and sometimes it is a terrible decision. When the opposition has the ball and they are in a 3rd and 4 situation all defensive linemen should realize the quarterback is going to use a hard count to get them to jump offsides. This is common sense and everyone knows it. That said, each and every Saturday there will be a defensive lineman that jumps offsides on a 3rd and 4 to give the opposition a first down. Something else that is important is to understand is where you are on the field. If you are on offense and you are deep inside your own territory, ball protection is key. It is absolutely essential. A turnover is handing the other team points. With this being the case there is no reason to take risks throwing the ball or trying something silly. A good coach will make his team aware of that during fall practice drills.

Practice makes almost perfect. I think some of the better coaches in the United States practice the way their team should play. They explain time and situation throughout the entire practice period. Nick Saban has obviously practiced offense with his team being down more than 10 points. He has also practiced key third down situations. Even when he was at LSU his defenses were known for being one of the best third down defenses in the country. If a defense can get off the field on third down there is a very good chance the team will be above average. If a defense is committing penalties it is going to be quite difficult to get off the field during third down situations.

One of the reasons I feel that teams are not well coached is the coaches are not smart across the board. They may be smart when it comes to their area of expertise but they are not smart with the entire game of football. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched a game when the head coach did not know how many timeouts they had left. I have also seen games where the head coach did not know that the clock stopped with every first down. This is common knowledge that every college football fan knows. Why would a coach use a valuable timeout when they just got a first down? This happens time and again. Alabama knows the rules of the game and they have a coach that is great during practice. This is the reason they are just that good.

What NBA Team Will Surprise in 2013-14?

The NBA regular season starts on October 29th, 2013 and millions of diehard fans are looking forward to this season. The biggest game of opening night is the Chicago Bulls traveling to South Beach to take on the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat. Most experts and fans feel as if both of these teams are going to be very good. Per the usual, teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to make a run at the playoffs but some will want to know what team or teams are going to surprise in the 2013-14 season.

Portland Trail Blazers

In the last few years the Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to put together a good team. Last year they had the rookie of the year, Damian Lillard and this year they are hoping to put some pieces around this amazing point guard. The major concern for the Trail Blazers is their youth. Young NBA teams can take some time to develop as they have not played a large number of games together. Once these young athletes get to know each other’s style of play the sky could be the limit for Portland. There is only one player on the team that is over the age of 30 and the season is grueling.

As I mentioned in a previous article on Barry’s Tickets, a young NBA team has a distinct advantage in the second half of the season. The question is, can the Blazers win enough games in the first half of the season so that the second half actually means something? If the Trail Blazers can get to the All Star game in contention for the playoffs they should be able to make a decent run in the second half of the season. Having fresh legs will make a world of difference this season.

Utah Jazz

The NBA has become a point guard dominated league. In the 70s, 80s and and 90s NBA teams wanted a center that could dominate the paint. Shaq was a force as he helped the Lakers win multiple titles. Many experts feel as if Kobe has never been the same player without Shaq in the middle. When Kobe has a great season it is often when there is a presence at the center position for the Los Angeles Lakers. That said, many teams have accepted that a point guard is now much more important than a center. The big men get hurt easier and they don’t have the ball in their hands nearly as much as they used to. I am truly shocked that more NBA teams do not draft a prolific point guard with their top pick. One team that went out and got a point guard in the 2013 NBA Draft is the Utah Jazz.

Trey Burke was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves but was traded to Utah. In my opinion, this was a great move for the Utah Jazz as a point guard can completely change a team; much quicker than a center or a big man. After watching Trey Burke play for the Michigan Wolverines last year I can say that he will make a huge difference for a team in the NBA. He lead his Michigan team to the Final Four and he has a floor presence unlike most athletes his age. I do not feel as if Trey Burke will be a high scorer in the NBA but he will be able to get his team in the correct offense. I think Trey Burke will be a similar player to Chris Paul. There is no way that we can predict he will be as good as Chris Paul but even if he is half as good he will drastically improve the Utah Jazz.

New Orleans Pelicans

Most people know of this team as the New Orleans Hornets but they have changed their name to the Pelicans for this season. That might be a little bit of foreshadowing for the season that is coming. If you look at the roster it is littered with college basketball stars. Names like Austin Rivers, Jeff Withey, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday immediately catch the eye of anyone that enjoys the college game. As we all know, you cannot put an NBA team together with just college basketball superstars. While many college players will go on to have great NBA careers there are some college stars that simply do not fit the mold of an average NBA player. Height, weight, wingspan and overall athletic ability are often much more important than college stats.

If the Pelicans can find a true point guard to run the show this could be one of the most improved teams in the NBA. The Pelicans were downright bad in the last two years as they won 21 and 27 games respectively. With this being the case it is not going to take that much to improve. After shipping Chris Paul to the west coast this team has struggled to find its identity. As mentioned with the previous two teams, a point guard is now very important in the NBA. In fact, I would say that a point guard is more important than a center or a power forward. When I was growing up the power forward and shooting guard positions were essential as these were the positions in which most points were generated. Points come from everywhere on the court in the current state of the NBA. With the hand checking rule changing the way defense is played it is no longer difficult for teams to score 100 points.

A point guard is needed to distribute the ball and get the offense going. With the Pelicans being a young team one would think they are going to try to get up and down the court. This makes it even more important to have a solid point guard that does not turn the ball over. Finding that great point guard can be difficult which is why some teams cannot seem to turn the corner and make the playoffs. Some in New Orleans have wondered if it is going to end up being the curse of Chris Paul. There is little argument to be made that Chris Paul gave New Orleans their best years of basketball. They have yet to come close to that quality of basketball since they let him go to the Los Angeles Clippers. Speaking of the Clippers.

Los Angeles Clippers

It is hard to say that the Clippers are going to be a surprise team as they are already one of the best teams in the west. I think this is the season they can make some huge strides towards getting to the NBA Finals. Now that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have played with each other for a few seasons they should be able to get off to a quick start. If the Clippers can get off to a start that is above .600 in the first 25 or 30 games they have a chance to win the Western Conference.

Most experts are predicting the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the west but there is an opening for the Clippers. What is quite unique about 2013 is the fact that coming into the season it is accepted that the Clippers are the best team in Los Angeles. It has been a very long time since this was even considered by the fans and the experts. Anyone that has watched NBA basketball for the last four decades knows that Los Angeles is dominated by the Lakers. If Kobe Bryant is not 100% healthy this year the Lakes are going to struggle just to make the playoffs. There are even rumors that they might go out and get Carmelo Anthony. If this happens we know there is truly trouble in paradise.

What to Expect in 2013-14

This is going to be a very exciting year for professional basketball. LeBron James and the Miami Heat are getting older so they are vulnerable. Dwayne Wade has had all kinds of injury problems. It would not be surprising to see him sit out several games this year just because of health issues. If the Heat run into any injury problems that leaves the door open for some younger teams to grab the best record in the NBA. I think it is safe to say that the 1990s Bulls team has nothing to worry about when it comes to the all time best record of 72-10. The only way a team will come close to that type of record is a team that has enough young players to make it through the entire season without injuries.

I don’t think we will see the Heat make it to the All Star break without injuries. Keep an eye on some of the younger teams as they may surprise you in the upcoming season. As mentioned in this article, point guards are going to rule the league this year so take noticed of the teams that have a true leader at the point guard position.

MLB Playoffs vs NFL and College Football

The Major League Baseball playoffs are getting close to crunch time as the World Series will get underway shortly. Throughout much of the MLB playoffs I have noticed Fox Sports and TBS advertising the games that are coming up. Finding sports viewers that prefer the MLB Playoffs over NFL and college football can sometimes be a challenge. Even though the baseball playoff games are much more meaningful it is still the case that diehard sports fans would rather see action packed football even though the NFL is not even halfway through the season. The college football season is hitting the halfway point and SEC football games are getting TV ratings that are better than some of the baseball playoff games. Why is football so popular in the United States when compared to baseball?

Baseball is a Very Long Season

The major league baseball season starts around April 1st of every year. The college baseball season starts in late February. This means baseball fans can start consuming baseball before the snow has melted in some areas of the country. College baseball concludes with the College World Series in late May and early June. Fans that want to continue to watch baseball will have the opportunity to watch professional baseball games all the way through the summer and into the months of September and October. This means baseball season spans the seasons on spring, summer and fall. There are no other sports that span more than one and a half seasons.

When I was younger I throughly enjoyed playing fantasy baseball as it gave me something to do during the summer months. I grew up in a very rural area and there was not much going on. Instead of getting in trouble I decided to hop on the Internet and find a game that allowed me to use my number crunching skills. There were years in the mid 1990s when I was one of the top 100 players in fantasy baseball. I used to check the stats on a daily basis and I could predict who was going to have an amazing year on the mound. As the years passed I realized that fantasy baseball took way too long.

When playing fantasy baseball in the 1990s you had to adjust your team on a daily basis. There are often players that get placed on the 15 day DL or will sit out a few games causing an entire fantasy baseball team to struggle. If you were not willing to check your fantasy baseball team at least three times a week there was a good chance that you would end up getting beat by the team owner that had the time to simply update his team with players that were in a lineup. These owners didn’t have a better team, they just had the ability to update on any given day.

This process helped me to realize just how long and time consuming baseball was and is. Baseball games take around three or four hours to complete and there is a lot of downtime. There are 18 interruptions in the game with an interruption coming after just three outs. There are interruptions in football but it tends to be after something exciting has happened. Teams call a timeout or slow down the game when the other team is scoring or about to score. In baseball, an interruption can come when nothing happened in an inning. For the younger generation, this can be very boring.

The NFL Season is Short Enough to Stay Interesting

The NFL season starts in September and concludes during the final week of January or the first week of February. What makes the NFL very interesting is there are only 16 games in a regular season. This means that fans of a particular team have the opportunity to watch eight home games. Compare this to 81 home games during a major league baseball season. It is often true that people will be more excited about something that happens eight times a year when compared to something that happens 81 times a year.

Something else interesting about the NFL is the anticipation that is built for each game. ESPN and other sports channels now have hours of coverage leading up to the games on Sunday. When I was a child it was only Sunday morning TV shows that previewed this week’s games. Now we see shows every day of the week. There are shows that document the injuries for each specific team. Personally, I feel as if this is too much but some NFL fans absolutely love it. They only get 16 weeks to enjoy their team so they are going to soak up as much information as possible.

NFL fans are armed with plenty of knowledge when the game comes around. They know which team is expected to win, they know who is on the injured reserve and they know the weather conditions. Fantasy Football has truly changed the way some of these avid fans consume the game. If they know the weather in Pittsburgh is going to be cold and windy they can guess the two quarterbacks in the game are not going to have great stats. The defenses and kickers in this game might end up being the stars of the show. The numbers game that is Fantasy Football has encouraged fans to watch more games and consume more content related to the sport.

What I have come to realize, over the last decade, is that fans are not watching just the NFL to understand Fantasy Football and the growth of their favorite team. They are watching the college game as well, because they know in the near future these college players will be on their team. It is amazing to see how many NFL message boards will analyze specific college players to fit the needs of the team. Once again, this is taking it a little too far for me but it happens every day of the football season.

Will the World Series Garner Interest?

The St Louis Cardinals have a very large following. This means the World Series will get some interest from fans of the National League. As much as people say they want a different team in the World Series or Super Bowl, they really do not. The ratings show that more people watch when the most popular teams are in major events. The best thing for Major League Baseball will be a St Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox World Series. This would get the best ratings and it would bring in a few fan bases that normally would not watch. The Red Sox being in the World Series would put New York Yankees fans in their seats hoping the Red Sox lose. If the Red Sox were not in the World Series Yankees fans would care a lot less.

One of the biggest problems for the World Series is the expansion of the college football and NFL season. There are now NFL football games on Monday night, Thursday night and all of Sunday. College football games are on Thursday and Friday Night and all day Saturday. This does not leave a whole lot of time for sports fans to watch baseball. Even when the World Series is on I still devote the majority of my TV consumption to college football. If there is a good college football game on TV it always trumps the World Series or any type of baseball. This is all too common with my generation.

Major League Baseball has also been slow to react to the technology era in which we live. Baseball is a traditional sport and a large majority of fans are not in their teens and twenties. This is much different from football. When you visit a college football or NFL stadium on any weekend you will find many age groups represented. When going to a baseball stadium it is often the case that adults and seniors are the ones that are at these events.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ have changed the way people talk about sports. While the MLB is trying to increase interest on social media they don’t even hold a candle to the NFL and college football. The MLB Twitter account has 3.2 million followers while the NFL Twitter account has 5.2 million followers. The distance is even more significant when we compare college football to college baseball. This means the younger generation is actively engaging about football online but not as much when it comes to baseball.

The World Series will be a big event for Major League Baseball this year. With the Cardinals playing in the series there should be plenty of interest. Whether or not the MLB can parlay this interest into something bigger has yet to be seen. Over time it will be interesting to watch to see if the MLB can meet the challenges they have.

Portland Trail Blazers Preseason Brings Hope

The NBA preseason is coming to a close and most fans are gearing up for the exciting tip of the 2013-14 regular season. I have predicted that the Portland Trail Blazers are going to have a breakout year. I was hoping to do some research on the preseason stats of this Trail Blazers team but it does not look as if that is going to happen. The only stat I can find is the overall preseason record for the Trail Blazers. At this point they are 4-2 with a final preseason game against the Golden State Warriors on October 24th. After six preseason games there is not a single website on the Internet that has team or player stats. Am I missing something?

The Internet Era

Prior to my research of NBA preseason stats I was a firm believer that almost anything could be found on the Internet. I am quite efficient with Google and search, in general. This makes me believe that either preseason stats are not recorded or no one cares about the NBA preseason schedule. It is hard to fathom the latter. With millions of diehard fans looking to consume as much content as possible how on Earth could no one care about these games?

Social media is chock full of people blasting out short bits of information about sporting events. Unfortunately, no one has full game stats. They might mention that Damian Lillard has 16 points at the end of the third quarter but that is doing me no good. Either I have lost my ability to find data online or there are no stats for this particular team. I will admit that the Trail Blazers aren’t the favorite to win the West heading into the regular season but they do have the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year. From the few articles I could find about the NBA Preseason it looks as if he is lighting it up.

Damian Lillard 2013 NBA Preseason

One of the few articles I could find related to the Trail Blazers this preseason explained that Lillard had a tremendous game against the Sacramento Kings. Lillard had 16 or his 28 points in the third quarter and he lead his team to a 109-105 victory. The Kings are not expected to be a contender this year but the Trail Blazers scoring 109 points in a preseason game puts a smile on the face of many fans in Portland. The game against the Kings brings up some interesting points.

Lillard is the point guard of the Portland Trail Blazers but he is going to be asked to do much more during the 2013-14 NBA season. Unlike Chris Paul and other distributing point guards, Lillard is going to be asked to put up 30 points a game in some games during the season. Whether or not he can do this consistently has yet to be seen. When teams focus on Lillard he is going to have to adjust his game to score while also being willing to distribute to JJ Hickson and LaMarcus Aldridge.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Injuries

Something I am greatly concerned about is LaMarcus Aldridge and his injuries. Big men have struggled to stay healthy in the NBA. This is especially true in Portland. In previous articles I have mentioned that a big man is no longer a necessity in the NBA. A point guard and scorer is much more important with the new NBA hand checking rules. If teams have a player that can beat a defender off the dribble it makes the offense much more efficient. I think it is safe to say that NBA centers and power forwards are not beating anyone off the dribble.

LaMarcus Aldridge sat out the game against the Sacramento Kings to rest his sore right knee. This could be an ongoing theme for him in 2013-14. Big men are known for having knee problems over the course of their career. Luckily, Aldridge is a very young player but that does not mean he will avoid situations that could cause further injuries. Bumping into knees of other players is very common in the NBA. When athletes are leaning up against other 6’10”, 275 pound men there is going to be some type of contact with the lower body. Some of the best big men in history had terrible knee problems throughout their entire careers.

Something the Trail Blazers might do is rest Aldridge every few games or so. We are no longer living in an era in which NBA players can compete in all 82 games of the season. Even the most durable players need a night off every so often. When I was growing up Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were on the court every single night. This just does not happen these days. I can remember Jordan playing when he had the flu. One of the most epic performances by Jordan was in the NBA Playoffs when he had the flu and could barely walk. He was known for playing out of this world when he was sick.

Today’s NBA players are not going to play through pain or sickness. In all reality, this is probably a good idea as health is a much bigger concern today than it was 15 years ago. Players are doing their best to keep their body healthy. The NBA season is very long and enduring. Playing through an injury might cause further problems down the road. If LaMarcus Aldridge feels as if his knees are not in the best of condition there is nothing wrong with sitting out a game or two. Losing two or three games is not going to end the season for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Home Court Advantage

If the Portland Trail Blazers truly want to make a run at the playoffs in the 2013-14 season they will need to defend their home court. If they make the Moda Center, formerly the Rose Garden, a tough place to play for opponents it will go a very long way towards producing a playoff product. Fans love to attend games in which the team is not only competing but winning. If attendance numbers start to increase it will make the atmosphere even more difficult for the opposition.

During the amazing runs by the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s they almost never lost at home. At the time the United Center was rocking every single home game. When Michael Jordan was announced as part of the starting lineup the crowd went crazy. When I was a child, the Bulls were one of the first teams to actually turn off the lights for the introductions. This was a huge event and everyone got to the game early so they could see the light show and the introductions. Songs ended up becoming very popular just because they were part of introductions.

The technology era has changed the way many fans consume professional sports. It is no longer the case that fans need to attend the game to watch their favorite players. In the 1990s my parents had to purchase a special satellite package in order to see most of the Bulls games. Even though we paid the extra money there were still times when the games were not on TV. Today, it is a given that every game will be available for fans willing to pay money. If they cannot watch it on their TV they can watch it online or listen to the game on SiriusXM satellite radio. This has made it difficult for some small market teams to get fans in the seats at a sporting event.

There is one cure for getting fans in the seats – winning. If the Portland Trail Blazers can put a winning product on the court there is no argument to be made they will sell more tickets. A team in playoff contention is much more fun to watch than a team that is floundering near the bottom of the division or conference. This is why the Portland Trail Blazers have gotten younger in the past few years. A young team that is playoff bound will bring tens of thousands of people to the arena. Unfortunately, if this young team shows too much immaturity and they give away games you can be rest assured fans are not going to fill the seats during the 2013-14 season.

Something that diehard NBA fans like to track is away attendance. I hate to keep going back to the mid 1990s Bulls but they were the template on how to run an organization. When the Bulls went to another arena they almost always sold the game out because people wanted to watch Michael Jordan and company. No matter how bad the opponent the Bulls would bring the fans into the stadium. This is something the Trail Blazers need to work on but having Damian Lillard at full tilt might be just what the doctor ordered. If he goes off for 40 points a few games this season it will put fans in the seats.

The First 2013 BCS Standings and My Analysis

The initial 2013 BCS Standings are out and I was shocked. I never would have guessed the Oregon Ducks would drop below the Florida State Seminoles. Since the beginning of the season I have been impressed with FSU quarterback Jameis Winston but I never would have guessed he would lead his team to a #2 BCS ranking when the first polls were released. Oregon has done nothing but win easily yet they are behind FSU. Even though Oregon is #3 right now they still have the opportunity to move up. The Ducks will play both UCLA and Stanford in the next two weeks so their strength of schedule will increase drastically. The biggest loser in the initial BCS standings is Ohio State as they are stuck between a rock and a hard spot.

Ohio State and the BCS

It is very hard for me to feel sorry for Ohio State because I feel as if they would not be able to compete in the national championship game. Even if they go undefeated they will have beaten nobody. That is correct. They play in the B1G conference which is as weak as ever this year. I saw a tweet recently stating that the B1G Conference had four teams in the top 25. Interestingly, three of those four come in between #21 and #25. This means the B1G Conference has one team in the top 20. Obviously, that one team is Ohio State. Even if Ohio State runs the table and wins the conference championship game their schedule will likely be too weak for them to get into the BCS National Championship game.

I would have sympathy for Ohio State if they would schedule someone outside their conference. I know Ohio State fan will claim they scheduled a decent Cal team from the PAC 12. Give me a break. If you want to schedule a team from the PAC 12 why not schedule Oregon, Stanford, USC or UCLA? Heck, I would even accept Arizona State or Oregon State. Instead you go out and find a Cal team that has been struggling since the Aaron Rodgers days.

Also, the MAC loves you for handing them money but play someone besides Ohio University or Miami (Ohio). There is no reason Ohio State cannot schedule an SEC game. The academic department needs to suck it up and schedule a game at Auburn or at Florida. Even if they scheduled a game at Vanderbilt or Mississippi I would be impressed. Instead they find a way to get directional Michigan on the schedule. In the long run this really doesn’t help Ohio State in any way. If you think it does just go back and look at the BCS games in which they played an SEC school. Ohio State is going to have to step up their level of play in the regular season if they hope to compete with the big boys during the bowl season. That will definitely be the case when the college football playoff starts in 2014.

Does Florida State Deserve the #2 Spot?

When Florida State went into Death Valley and throttled the Clemson Tigers they proved they are one of the best teams in the ACC. That said, some are still wondering if they are really a contender for the national championship. Clemson was #3 heading into that particular game but Clemson has not exactly had a strong reputation for winning big games. Now that Florida State has brought Clemson back to reality it will be interesting to see how they play over the next few weeks. Up next is NC State before the Miami game. The NC State game is a definite trap game as the Miami game could be a top 5 matchup. This will be two top 5 matchups in three weeks for the Seminoles. If they can pull lopsided wins out in each of these games it is safe to say they have their swagger back.

The one concern I have about the Florida State Seminoles is their strength of schedule. Much like Ohio State, it may come down to the end of the season and Florida State has not beat anyone that good. If Clemson spirals downhill and Miami ends the season with a few losses, Florida State will not have had a big win all year. To conclude the season Florida State will take on the Florida Gators. At the beginning of the year this looked like a huge game; not so much now. The Gators have already lost three games and they are reeling. Some believe Will Muschamp is on his way out in Gainesville. Florida State needs to hope Florida gets it together before the end of season game.

The SEC and Alabama Remain Atop the BCS

The Alabama Crimson Tide keep on rolling. It is amazing to see them throttle team after team in the SEC. On Saturday, October 19th they did it again to the Arkansas Razorbacks. Other than the Texas A&M game the Alabama defense has been out of this world. Another shutout against Arkansas on Saturday and it looks like this Alabama team could be better than the team that won the national championship last year. If the offense continues to improve we might as well hand another BCS title to Nick Saban and crew.

As if the Alabama dominance is not enough now we have to look at Missouri from the SEC. Missouri and Texas A&M are the newest additions to the conference. Almost every SEC guru felt as if Texas A&M had the best shot to win the SEC as a new member rather than the Missouri Tigers. After seven games it is the Tigers from Columbia, Missouri that are in the drivers seat to head to Atlanta to play in the SEC championship in early December. When looking at their remaining schedule it looks promising that the Tigers will have a shot at the Crimson Tide. Missouri’s two road games are at Kentucky and at Ole Miss. If you know anything about Kentucky you know that should be an easy win; especially with basketball season having started when the game will be played.

The SEC had a weekend of turmoil recently as many of their top teams went down. As I have said many times, the SEC is amazing top to bottom so it should come as no surprise that some of the best teams take a beating. There have been years in which a two loss SEC team has gotten into the BCS National Championship game. I do not think that will happen this year but there is a strong possibility that a two loss SEC team could be better than an undefeated team from another conference. We won’t name conferences.

Early BCS Rankings Don’t Matter

It is very important for all sports fans to recognize that early BCS rankings don’t matter all that much. The BCS will figure itself out by the end of the year. The only thing the BCS is asked to do is to place the #1 and #2 teams in the championship game. When all is said and done that is exactly what will happen. Ohio State, Oregon and Baylor fans have no reason to complain. If we get to the second week in December and they are undefeated and not #2, then they might have a reason to complain.

I find it very interesting that college football fans will find a way to complain about almost anything. If their team were #1 in the country they would complain they did not receive enough first place votes. If a team is not #1 there must be something wrong with all those that are submitting a poll. Unfortunately, college football fans are some of the most biased people in the world. It is best to take off the tinted sunglasses and look at the big picture. While a college football playoff will be fun there is nothing we can do about it right now. Heck, there is nothing you can do about your team going undefeated. Enjoy college football for what it is and stop worrying about all the things you cannot control.

The only thing you can control when it comes to your team is being in the stadium cheering on your alma mater. If you are a diehard college football fan that wants your team to get to the best bowl game possible you should make it a point to attend every game. Teams that get the best bowl bids are often teams that have fan bases that travel well. There is a reason Clemson and Georgia get some of the better bowl bids even when they have not had the best season. Travel with your team, cheer them on and you will find a great location for your January 1st bowl. If you are unhappy with the teams performance do not go to the game and stop donating money. That is the only way a change is going to happen in the athletic department. That is another story for another time.

The B1G Conference is Really That Bad

Every year I hear B1G, formerly the Big 10 Conference, fans rant and rave about how they are just as good as the SEC. This comes on the heels of getting demolished in the previous bowl season. In 2013 it was more of the same. Some of my close friends that live in B1G Conference territory were talking up the conference from top to bottom. After seven weeks we can all laugh at them. The conference is just as bad as it has ever been. There is no way they can compete with the SEC. In fact, the B1G might be considered the fifth best conference in college football in 2013. It is a tough pill for many to swallow, but it is the truth. Sometimes it hurts to hear our favorite teams or conference is subpar but we need to accept it. Here are a few reasons the B1G Conference will continue to struggle in the years to come.

Recruiting Kills the B1G Conference

I entered college in 2000 and that was the changing of the tides when it came to recruiting. I can clearly remember sitting in my dorm room and having a debate with my roommate that teams north of Tennessee and North Carolina simply could not compete in terms of recruiting. Why would a high school senior want to go play in State College, Pennsylvania over Miami, Florida? He could enjoy the nice warm beaches and beautiful women in Miami or he could suffer through the cold winters in Pennsylvania.

Years ago, when travel was much more difficult, these northern schools could recruit because coaches would convince players to stay home. There is no more staying at home. Home is the entire United States. A college football player can hop on a plane and travel the entire country in less than a full day. In fact, if he is a very good college football player that has the ability to go pro he may be able to get from one end of the country to the other in just a few hours because of personalized aircraft. This was not the case in the 1980s and even early 1990s. It is also true that recruiters used to encourage kids to stay home so their parents could watch them play.

Today there are more games than ever on TV. If mom and dad cannot travel to the away games they will be able to watch little Johnny on ESPNU, Fox Sports 1 or the SEC Network. If little Johnny is going to a team that will compete in a BCS conference there is a very good chance that 90% of his games will be on television. Now that mom and dad can watch the games on TV there is no reason to worry about travel. This makes me ask the question, why would any high school student want to play in a cold weather climate?

I can understand the argument to play in cold weather if that is your brand of football. If you are the type of player that excels in cold weather climates it might be a good idea to play for Penn State or Notre Dame. Unfortunately for these schools, those types of players don’t really exist anymore as most high school football players want to run up and down the field and score 30 or 40 touchdowns a season. It is no longer the case that three yards and a cloud of dust is attractive like it was in the 1970s.

Where Do High School Players Want to Go?

As mentioned earlier, most high school kids want to go to the cool and exciting college campuses. When visiting South Bend, Indiana in late November there is going to be a chill in the air and most of the students will be bundled up. Take this same trip to Tuscaloosa, Tallahassee or Miami and you are going to see a much different campus. There will be many students wearing jeans but tshirts or short sleeve shirts will be common. It may even be the case that some of the girls are walking around in shorts or skirts. The only girls walking around in shorts or skirts in the northeast or midwest will be considered crazy.

Trust me when I tell you that teenage boys are going to go where the girls are. I think we all have a story about one of our friends deciding to go to college because of that lucky lady. Most of the time that lucky lady never ended up with our friend but it did cause him to go to a specific school. With Facebook, Twitter and social media now being a huge part of the recruiting process high school athletes know where they want to go to enjoy the scenery. In fact, some universities have created groups of females to help show recruits around campus. This is just another attractive feature of a campus in the south. These female groups started in Texas and the SEC. It comes as no surprise as girls love their football in the south.

If young men want to go where the girls are and enjoy the beautiful weather why would they decide to go to Michigan, Penn State or Notre Dame. In the past these three school dominated in terms of recruiting and having teams in the top 10. These are three of the most storied programs in all of college football with more wins than any other teams. Why can they not bring in the big named recruits anymore? It is all about location. If Notre Dame were located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana you can be rest assured they would have a top 5 team every year. If Penn State were a university in south Georgia or Florida they would be in the BCS title game every other year. Unfortunately, there is nothing they can do about their location. This makes recruiting very difficult and it may cause programs to change their mind when it comes to the overall direction of the football team. A good example of this is Oregon.

How Oregon Built a National Title Contender

The Oregon Ducks realized that playing traditional smash mouth football was not going to work because of their location. They could not recruit stud offensive and defensive linemen every year so they needed an alternative. The alternative was a very unique offense that was built on speed rather than on power. Oregon was more than willing to take players that normally would not play at the big schools like USC, Texas or Oklahoma. They used these smaller, faster players to develop a brand new style of offense. Instead of trying to run the ball on first and second down they decided to spread it out. The Oregon offense throws to set up the run. They also have a spread offense that rarely uses two tight ends. Heck, most of the time the single tight end is lined up as a wide receiver.

This new style of offense is very attractive to high school athletes that might be extremely fast but not that strong. When anyone watches an Oregon game during the fall months they can clearly see that most of the players are slim yet quick. This is something that Alabama, LSU and Florida would never had to do. These SEC schools can recruit five star offensive and defensive linemen every single year. This allows them to play a different brand of football. High school athletes will go to these schools just because of their location and history.

Oregon vs Ohio State

Oregon recognized that location was not in their favor so they went a different direction. We are seeing something very similar going on in Columbus, Ohio right now. Urban Meyer has brought the read option to Ohio State and he is recruiting more speed players. This will allow him to get enough speed on the field to compete with the big boys from the SEC. Something interesting about Ohio State is they do have the history to get some great five star recruits. If you can combine five star recruits with a unique offense the sky is the limit.

The only problem that Ohio State has right now is the location. Columbus, Ohio is not the most attractive area for high school athletes. When you think of vacation hotspots Columbus is not at the top of the list. Although this could cause problems in recruiting Urban Meyer knows how to get athletes for specific roles in his offense. Over the next two or three years it will be interesting to see if the location of Ohio State holds them back when it comes to a national championship run.

Something that will likely hold them back from a national championship run in 2013 will be their conference. The B1G has shown they are not ready to compete with the SEC and other power conferences. Until the B1G has several good teams (in the top 15) it will be the case that no one is willing to give Ohio State respect. They are not playing the toughest conference schedule so they may not be worthy of a spot in the BCS National Championship game.

Defense Wins Championships in the SEC

Every single year we learn that defense wins championships in the SEC. Not long ago I wrote an article about Georgia struggling on defense. They had no problems outscoring teams but eventually there was going to be a game in which the defense needed to take over. That game was Saturday, October 12th, 2013. The Missouri Tigers came to Athens, Georgia and the Bulldogs were decimated with injuries. Most of the skills players on offense were hurt and the team needed the defense to step up big. When playing in the SEC there are going to be games when the offense struggles. It is just the nature of the beast. Early in this game it was quite obvious that Georgia was going to be challenged by the Missouri Tigers.

Georgia vs Missouri 2013

Like many of the Georgia games in the early part of 2013 the Missouri game was high scoring. Unfortunately, the high scoring was in favor of the Tigers and not the Bulldogs. The Missouri Tigers were up 28-10 at halftime and Georgia QB Aaron Murray was struggling without his regular offensive weapons. As the second half opened the Georgia coaching staff recognized they needed to get on the scoreboard quickly. At one point in the second half Georgia had trimmed the lead to 28-26. They went for a two point conversation and ended up failing. Down just two points most Georgia fans felt good about the possibility of a win as Aaron Murray has been very good in the 4th quarter this year.

With less than seven minutes to go in the 4th quarter Georgia got the ball back down eight points. With this being a one possession game many fans expected Aaron Murray to lead his team down the field to score the final touchdown and two point conversion to tie the game. That did not happen. Murray was flushed from the pocket and threw an interception. This basically sealed the deal and Georgia went on to lose. Their top 10 ranking has been relinquished and their national title hopes are gone. Most feel as if they do not have a chance to win the SEC East either. That remains to be seen. What this Georgia vs Missouri game told us was that any team that wants to compete for an SEC championship needs a defense that can win games.

Running the Ball in the SEC

The Georgia Bulldogs also struggled to run the ball against the Missouri Tigers in their loss. Having the inability to run the ball and stop the other team is a recipe for disaster in the SEC. Most of the past champions were teams that were very physical. Even though they could throw the ball when they really needed they could still line up and get two yards when on the goal line. With the new age, fast paced offenses out there I have seen a few teams that can’t line up on third and one and run for the first down. This is something that just won’t fly in the SEC.

There are some conferences that can be won by throwing the ball all over the field, but that is not the SEC. Southern football is a little bit different. Stadiums in the SEC get very loud so the opposing teams struggle to call plays that involve lots of patterns and intricate passing routes. When a team is at home it is much easier because the crowd is silent when the home team has the ball. When you head on the road it is a much different atmosphere. Some teams try to simulate the loud stadiums with noise at practice but nothing compares to a Saturday night in Baton Rouge or other SEC university towns.

Over the last few decades most people that have watched SEC football on Saturday afternoon on CBS Sports know that running the ball is important. When they do the graphics at the beginning of the games one of the keys to the game is always controlling the line of scrimmage. Even though Texas A&M and Missouri have come into the conference and have thrown the ball they have yet to win a conference championship. Many people can put up the stats but when it comes to winning the SEC Championship you’d better be able to run the ball well. This is why I have always said that the best teams run the ball and stop the run. Even if their QB is having a bad day they can still win the game. This does not happen with teams like Texas A&M and Georgia.

Alabama Continues to Dominate

Week in and week out we hear about teams that could challenge Alabama for the SEC and BCS Championship. Alabama keeps winning and the contenders keep dropping. This past weekend it was Stanford and Georgia. There were experts that thought Stanford was physical enough to play with some of the SEC teams. Then they go out and lose to an unranked Utah team. That is no disrespect to Utah as they are a good team but they did lose to UCLA at home. It is not like Utah is the creme of the crop on the west coast. We all know what happened to Georgia which means they will not get to play Alabama in the SEC Championship game again this year.

Nick Saban has built a powerhouse in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It is amazing to see how consistent this team is. They can dominate the line of scrimmage which means they can win games ugly or they can win a shootout. This year they beat Texas A&M 49-42 and they beat Ole Miss 26-0. There are not many teams in the country that can play several different styles of football. Ultimately, Alabama would love to play physical football and beat their opponent into submission. This is what they have done in three of the last few national championship games. If teams from other conferences play Alabama in the BCS National Championship game they learn what the SEC is all about – physical football.

It is so very hard to win every week in college football. I have repeatedly said that college football has the best regular season as everything is on the line. With the pressure building there are many 18 to 22 year olds that would crack. Whatever Nick Saban is telling these kids is working. It is shocking to see them dominate the way they do. Once you are the best there is no way to go up. Keeping any young man grounded is difficult and Saban has to do it with individuals that have been the best their entire college career. Whatever psychology books he is reading I would strongly suggest other coaches check them out from their university’s library.

Defense Will Always Win SEC Championships

Many of my friends feel as if Oregon or Clemson could go into the SEC and win because of the different style offenses they run. I couldn’t disagree more. These teams have had the opportunity to play SEC opponents in big games and they have lost. I know that every year is different but to be the best you have to beat the best. When Oregon or Clemson can win a BCS bowl game against an SEC team they will have an argument to be made. Make a note that the ChickFilA Bowl does not count. It needs to be a big time bowl game in which the SEC will be prepared to play. Some of these lesser bowls are not all that important to an SEC team that could be vying for a national championship.

When looking at recruiting rankings the first position I look at is the defensive line. Almost every single year Alabama, LSU and Florida dominate defensive line recruiting. It comes as no surprise that these are the teams that end up winning the most SEC games by the end of the year. Every once in awhile a Texas A&M or South Carolina will sneak into the SEC Championship game but they are not consistent. If you want to know who is going to be in the top 10 in college football in the next few years just look at the defensive line recruiting rankings. There is a very good reason a defensive line can dominate a game.

Not only can the defensive line stop the run but they can completely disrupt the passing game of the opposition. Strong defensive tackles to go along with fast defensive ends works magic in college football. We have seen this from LSU for many years. The defensive ends get up the field while the defensive tackles clog up the middle. The quarterback of the opposition has to worry about getting hit on every play and he starts looking at the pass rush rather than looking downfield. This is exactly what happened to senior quarterback Aaron Murray in the Missouri at Georgia game and we saw the outcome. If you hope your favorite team has conference championship aspirations in the near future just check out the defensive linemen they are recruiting and developing.

Does the USC vs Notre Dame Game Matter in 2013?

At one time the USC vs Notre Dame game was one of the biggest games of the year in college football. Unfortunately, in the past 20 years it has often been the case that only one of these two teams is at the top of their game when they clash during the regular season. There have not been many top 10 match ups in recent years. Even when the game is competitive one team usually comes in ranked significantly higher than the other. The same will happen in 2013. In fact, this game will likely get overshadowed by an ACC game. Who would have ever guessed the ACC would rule the primetime ratings of this week’s Saturday slate? Trust me when I tell you many more people are going to be interested in Clemson vs Florida State than USC vs Notre Dame.

USC and the Lane Kiffin Debacle

The Lane Kiffin era did not last very long at USC. After Pete Carroll abruptly left the program to head to the NFL the Trojans felt as if they could replace Carroll with one of his disciples and have the same success. They did not have a problem luring Lane Kiffin away from the University of Tennessee, but it did not work out as planned for either party. Lane Kiffin came in with huge expectations but one issue after another made it difficult for him to lead the Trojans back to national championship status. As soon as Kiffin arrived on campus USC was under investigation. After getting stripped scholarships most USC fans were willing to give Kiffin a few extra years to turn it around.

Whether or not he should have been given these extra few years is an argument for another time. What we know now is that Lane Kiffin was not the man for the job at USC. He was an amazing recruiter but he was not a great coach. I think I saw the writing on the wall very early when Kiffin would go for a two point conversation after about half of his team’s touchdowns. There is absolutely no reason to do this at a big time football program. This is the type of stuff small schools do just to try to get attention. Lane Kiffin was acting immature and that does not lead to success as a Division I college football coach.

USC decided to let Lane Kiffin go earlier this year and it should have happen. Some would argue that it should have happened sooner. Even though USC was hampered by scholarships being reduced they were never the team that lived up to their talent. Year in and year out the team was in the preseason top 25. By the time the season ended they were lucky to finish in the upper half of the Pac 12 conference. Two years ago the Trojans finished the season strong and they were preseason top five last year. That didn’t last long as Matt Barkley actually got worse during his senior season. This was all I needed to know to make my final decision about Lane Kiffin.

Is Notre Dame Back?

Last year many people thought Notre Dame might be back to their championship ways when they finished the season undefeated. So many people were excited about the BCS National Championship game against Alabama that it was one of the highest selling tickets in the history of the BCS. As we got closer to the national championship game more people began to recognize that Notre Dame did not match up well with the Alabama team that had won two of the last three national championship. Some experts were even predicting a blow out in the national championship game. When all was said and done it was exactly that. About 10 minutes into the game it was quite obvious that Alabama was in a class of its own. They were not going to be challenged by Notre Dame in any way.

Does this mean Notre Dame is not back? Well, maybe or maybe not. Brian Kelly has only been at Notre Dame a handful of years and he is still building the program. Seeing Notre Dame in the top 25 is nice as a college football historian. Unfortunately, Notre Dame fans are not happy with a team that is just in the top 25. They want their team competing for a national championship every year. I honestly don’t think that is going to be possible as the landscape of college football has changed drastically. It is no longer the case that high school football players only see games on NBC, ABC and CBS. In the past, this was the way Penn State, Notre Dame and USC recruited. They were the only teams that were on TV every single weekend. With ESPN and Fox Sports now airing games all day on Saturday high school football players can watch any team play from the comfort of their home.

Growing Up a Notre Dame Fan

I am in my early 30s and I grew up in a very small town. While we did get ESPN we did not get other sports channels. On a Saturday afternoon in the fall I had the option to watch NBC, which always had Notre Dame games. The local ABC and CBS stations had games in the ACC but ACC football has never been great. This meant that I watched Notre Dame week in and week out. I eventually became I diehard fan as I could name all the players on the team. Names like Kevin McDougal, Jerome Bettis and Lee Becton come to mind. With NBC paying millions for these broadcasts it stands to reason they would push the Fighting Irish as much as possible. During my younger years Notre Dame only won a single national championship and that was in 1989. After that they were in the top 10 every single year and challenged for a title.

The change happened when Lou Holtz decided to leave Notre Dame. The coach after Holtz was Bob Davie and it was a steady slide through the Davie years. NBC and Notre Dame still have a very strong relationship but there are so many options for college football fans. At the moment I can watch ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1, the Pac 12 Network, the B1G Network and all the local affiliates. At 3:30 pm on a Saturday there are about seven or eight games that fans have the opportunity to watch. When I was growing up I had the opportunity to watch two or three and one was always Notre Dame.

It is also important to point out that regional games dominated in my younger years. If I wanted to watch Oregon or Texas A&M I was out of luck. We would have to order a special package and it was just too much for my parents to afford. Rather than getting upset about not seeing these teams play I simply let it go and knew nothing about them. I did not have the Internet at the time. The only way I could get score updates was to wait for Sportscenter at the end of the night. This was a time when there were not daily sports shows dedicated to the college football updates.

With so many options available it is obvious that high school football players and athletes do not have to watch only one team. There are dozens of games on every weekend and sports fans can use the Internet to get updates at any time during the day. Finding out insider information in the early to mid 1990s was nearly impossible. Unless you knew someone walking around the campus you had no idea what was going on behind closed doors. Now, every single program has a specific website dedicated to recruiting and analysis of the team.

Ratings for 2013 USC vs Notre Dame

The USC vs Notre Dame game will kick off at 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 19th. As mentioned previously, the Florida State vs Clemson game will likely be much more widely viewed. If all things work out the Clemson vs Florida State game will be a top 5 matchup while the Notre Dame vs USC matchup will feature a team that has recently fired their head coach and another team that is trying to find its identity as a program. I am a diehard college football fan and I love tradition. I would throughly enjoy watching this game if it actually mattered. Notre Dame will not be playing for a championship this year and USC will be playing for a mid level bowl. This makes the game unappealing to me as a fan.

I also have the opportunity to watch two of the best quarterbacks in college football in Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston in the Clemson vs Florida State game. This is not a difficult decision at all. Also, the geographic differences in Notre Dame and USC make it unappealing. Neither is in the south and neither is in the hotbed of recruiting. These are just a few of the many reasons the TV ratings for the USC vs Notre Dame game will be subpar.

Are College Football Uniforms Getting Out of Control?

Sometime in the early 2000’s college football programs decided it was time to ditch the traditional uniforms and go with something completely different. It started as a single alternative uniform. Sometimes it was all black and other times it was all white. Then a few programs expanded their helmet selection. Matte black got popular and then came chrome. Before we knew it, almost every university in the country was wearing crazy colors. Some teams were wearing colors that weren’t even their school colors! In the last two or three years it has gotten completely out of control. Teams will do anything to get attention even if this means they have to grab a bucket of paint and throw it on a helmet to see what happens. When it all comes down to it, the only reason teams are doing this is to be the “cool kid on campus” that gets the recruits.

Recruiting and Alternative Uniforms

The Oregon Ducks were one of the first teams to try out alternative uniforms. There is a very good reason for this. The creator of Nike, Phil Knight, is an Oregon graduate so he is willing to let the Ducks become the test case for all kinds of crazy uniforms. During some of the bowl games in the early 2000’s the Ducks would wear “throwback” uniforms that were all yellow with a huge Duck on the helmet. This garnered tons of interest which caught the eye of the Oregon football administration. Getting attention is very important in college football as there are well over 100 programs. If it takes a unique uniform to get attention there are many teams that are willing to go that route.

College football recruiting has changed drastically over the last three decades. Years ago high school students were not recruited until their senior year and many of them wanted to go the university in which their parents received their degree or to the school they grew up cheering for. That is no longer the case. In fact, some recruits will change their mind three and four times during their senior year just because they want to do something different. High school football players are attracted to the shiny object. Sometimes that shiny object is a brand new helmet worn by Arizona State or a unique pair of cleats worn by Notre Dame. This sounds a little bit superficial but it is the reality of recruiting in 2013 and beyond. There are a large number of high school athletes that will choose a college based on the glitz and glamour of the school rather than the education.

High school athletes also get caught up in the moment. If they are on a recruiting trip and the team runs out in alternative uniforms they see the reaction of the fans. This might entice them to sign their letter of intent to that particular school. Strong recruiting coaches know when a team will be coming out in an alternative uniform. They schedule all the big recruits that weekend and hope to show them a unique experience. Prior to the proliferation of the alternative uniform, recruits would come during any given weekend out of the season and just watch the game. My how things have changed.

Traditional Football Uniforms

When I was at NC State from 2000-2004 I can remember making fun of teams like Notre Dame, Alabama and Penn State for being too traditional. Penn State has worn the same uniform since the beginning of their program. They have a white helmet with a blue strip down the middle. This has never changed. The same is true with Alabama. They have a crimson helmet with the players number on each side. No matter what year you watch an Alabama game you are going to see the exact same helmets. At the time it was very boring. Who wanted to wear the same thing every single week? Well, now the traditional uniforms are the new “cool” uniforms. With Maryland and Texas Tech wearing different uniforms every single week some fans have forgotten what their traditional uniforms look like.

The University of Maryland has gone above and beyond to avoid being traditional. The creator of Under Armour graduated from the University of Maryland and his goal is to put the craziest color combinations together when it comes to the Terrapins uniforms. They have worn everything from all black to camouflage. Their helmets are sometimes a completely different color from their uniform. Their cleats are a complete joke. Everything from red to yellow to neon colors have been worn by the Terrapin players. I know the ultimate goal is to get attention but they have taken it too far. In the next few years I would expect to see the Terrapins tone it down a notch rather than spending all of this money on a uniform that will last for about three or four hours.

I am glad to see some teams wearing traditional uniforms today. This does not happen very often. My alma mater, NC State, has given into the alternative uniforms and they look terrible. They have even worn pink uniforms. While the cause was great I feel as if a ribbon or a sticker can be worn to support a cause. Once again, when I was in school things were much different. NC State had two sets of uniforms. At home, they wore white pants and red jerseys. On the road they wore red pants and white jerseys. This was tradition and it rarely changed. During a very important game or a nationally televised game the Wolfpack would come out in all red uniforms at home. This got the crowd pumped up and it was something the players enjoyed. It is important to note that all the equipment staff had to do was set out away pants with home jerseys. They did not have to come up with a completely new outfit.

One of the defining moments of my NC State career, as a football fan, was when the Wolfpack came out in all white versus UNC in Chapel Hill. I still have several pictures from this game. It was one of the biggest games of the year and the coaching staff realized that all white would get the team fired up. Maybe once or twice a year the team would come out in all white or all red. Unless it was a very important game, the team wore traditional colors. That is not the case today. On any given Saturday NC State and other teams will wear alternative uniforms just to get a little bit of attention. This makes me cry inside. The big games are no longer big because the unique uniforms are worn every single week.

Other Ways to Get Attention

Rather than coming up with the craziest color combinations possible there is one way to get interest from high school recruits – win! The Alabama Crimson Tide have never had alternative uniforms. They wear the same uniforms week in and week out yet they still have some of the top recruiting classes in the country. They have won three of the last four national championships. All they have to do is continue to win. If the Alabama Crimson Tide continues to win they will never had to worry about wearing some crazy looking uniform to get the attention of high school kids.

Unfortunately, some programs have struggled to produce a consistent winning product on the field so they feel as if they have to go in a different direction. Many of these programs will come up with the “hottest” colors possible when it comes to a helmet or uniform. They will also hire coaches that are a little bit out of the ordinary. They may run a unique offense or dress in an unusual way. We have often heard that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. After my four years of undergraduate studies at NC State I can confirm that any publicity is better than no publicity. Just last week the NC State Wolfpack lost to Wake Forest and no one cares. Apathy is the worst thing for a college football program. It is better to have fans that are up in arms about the success of the program rather than fans that could care less what happens on any given Saturday afternoon.

One of the reasons the SEC continues to be the best conference in college football is because their fans. Some would argue that SEC fans care too much. Well, this is the exact reason SEC schools get some of the best coaches in the sport. The athletic departments are willing to pony up the cash because they know fans will pack the stadiums every Saturday. This is not true in the ACC and PAC 12. Getting fans to a stadium is like pulling teeth in some other conference. Rather than trying to do it through crazy college football uniforms it is best to just win.

Are Sporting Events More Enjoyable Live?

Throughout my younger years I did everything in my power to go to live events. Whether they were concerts, sporting events or even musicals. There is just something special about being at a live event. Unfortunately, some live events have gotten out of control and it is hard to enjoy oneself when there are 50,000 to 100,000 people that are out of control. I am not old by any means, but I am much older than I used to be. I know, that is rocket science! In my youthful days I was more than happy to get down in the mosh pit and crowd surf at a concert. I would stand in the student section of a college football game. I would even go to a major pep rally in which fans were not in the best of conditions. At the time, I enjoyed the experience. Now, I get frustrated as some people simply do not know how to act in public.

Live Sporting Events

When I was in elementary school I started to go to live sporting events in the form of high school volleyball and basketball games. I had an older sister that was very good in both sports so my mother would drive us to all of the games. I would try to pay attention for some of the game but I was an 8 year old boy looking to get into trouble. Even though I was not 100% into the games I still learned what it was to attend a live sporting event and be respectful of those around me.

After growing up attending live sporting events it was something that was in my blood. During my middle school and high school years I was either playing sports or watching sports. During any given week I attended three to five live sporting events. On Tuesday and Thursday it was volleyball games. On Wednesday it was a cross country meet. On Friday it was football. There were even Saturdays that I would travel to a different town just to catch another sporting event like a golf tournament or a tennis match. Let’s just say that I had to be doing something at all times and many times this involved live sporting events.

When I walked on the campus of North Carolina State University I immediately sought out the sports schedule to see what was going on. I joined the Student Wolfpack Club so I could accumulate points for going to live sporting events. I would watch volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and any other event just to get away from the classroom. On Saturday I would spend the entire day tailgating and gearing up for the football game. There were very few Saturdays in which I was not at an NC State football game. No matter where we were playing I was at the game. I traveled as far as Columbus, Ohio and Tallahassee, Florida to watch the Wolfpack play when I was in my undergraduate years. Even as a busy college student I was still attending three to four sporting events a week.

As I grew older I was unable to attend as many sporting events because life called. Sometimes the job gets in the way of attending those games. After moving to Chapel Hill about 16 months ago I decided that I would try to attend as many sporting events as possible. I make my own hours so I have the ability to go to events during the week and even during the day. This past fall I attended a volleyball, soccer and field hockey game all within 24 hours. College football and college basketball are gearing up as well. During the spring months I focus on lacrosse but I will also go to track meets and tennis matches. From a personal perspective, I truly enjoy going to sporting events where there are not a ton of people. During women’s lacrosse games, in the spring, there will be between 50 and 100 fans. This is Heave to me. When there are 50,000 fans things start to get out of control.

Are Sporting Events Too Big?

When the UNC basketball season starts there will be 20,000 fans ready to watch the Tar Heels take on the Kentucky Wildcats. With this many people excited about an event I try to stay away. I can watch this event on my HD TV and I do not have to deal with parking and getting in and out of the game. I also don’t feel like dealing with all the people around me that have no clue as to what is going on. The few times I have been to UNC basketball games I have sat in the student athlete section. I have some friends that are student athletes and they know what is going on when the basketball team is playing. If I were to sit in regular seats I probably would not be able to stay for the entire game.

The same is true when it comes to college football. When I was at NC State I went to Columbus, Ohio to see the Wolfpack take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. The attendance for that game was in excess of 100,000. I sat in the middle of the Ohio State student section and it was difficult to swallow all the things that were being said in that section. I am a very open minded person but some of the college students were downright dirty. I can assure you that this does not change as you get outside the student section. I have been to several games in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have heard similar or even worse commentary. When sports and alcohol are mixed some people just do not know how to act. I attended an Oregon vs Tennessee game in Knoxville a few years back and I promised myself I would never attend a game in that stadium again. Well, since then I have done all I can to avoid going back because of the experience.

There are many people that only want to watch sports if they are at the event. I am the exact opposite. When I am at some of these sporting events I enjoy people watching but I am not as interested in the game. I tend to watch the jumbotron and I do not focus on the field. Part of this is because I love to analyze a game. If I am sitting in a seat at the game I am unable to see everything that is going on on the field. In my college days I would always get seats as close to the 50 yard line as possible so I could keep an eye on all the goings on. My friends were shocked at how much I noticed during these games. If a player was limping or not in for a play or two I would notice it immediately.

HD TV Continues to Get Better

One of the main reasons I do not enjoy major sporting events anymore is the home HD experience has improved so much. TV channels like ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS Sports offer close up video of all the events I enjoy. I have attended a few golf tournaments over the last few years but nothing compares to sitting back and watching the final round on CBS Sports on a Sunday afternoon. The announcers have their eyes on everything on the course and you do not miss a good shot. If you are attending a golf tournament it is highly likely that you will be following one group of golfers. I think every golf fan or golfer should attend a few golf events in their life just to see what it is like for the professionals to hit the ball. After you have been to a few events you will understand why watching on TV is so enjoyable.

Something I would suggest all sports fans do is to go to a live event for their favorite team or player once. When I go to a golf tournament I love to walk the course on a Thursday or Friday so I can sit back and watch it on TV over the weekend. You have a much better understanding as to how hard the course is after having walked it the previous day. You will also get to experience seeing some of the things you would never notice on TV. In the golf world most people may not realize how much talking goes on while the players are on the course. This is especially true during the rounds early in the week. When attending a football game some people are shocked at how loud the stadium can get during certain times of the game. If a team needs a stop on 3rd down some of the NFL and college football stadiums can make your ears ring. Make sure to partake in some of these sporting events to truly enjoy watching on TV later in time.

 
By Jesse Wojdylo