Remember the good old days when the elite of college football used to ease into the season with opening games against Cupcake U and Homecoming Tech?
Of course, that was before television opened its bank vaults and handed out checks that soon will exceed $40 million a YEAR per SCHOOL.
TV wants ratings, which are best generated by prime time match ups between Top 25 schools. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Which is why college football fans are frothing at the mouth over what is being labeled in some quarters as the greatest opening week in the history of college football.
Consider these match ups:
Florida State-Ole Miss
One of the great cliches in the major golf tournaments is that you can't win the tournament on Thursday, but you can lose it.
For a few of the teams involved in the above mentioned games, a loss could greatly diminish their chances to make the Final Four college football playoffs.
In fact, an entire conference could be virtually eliminated by Labor Day.
Yes, we are taking about the Pac-12, which is not considered to be in the Top Tier of Power 5 conferences this season.
Let's look at what we have, regarding the Pac-12.
Stanford is one of the favorites. Yet, the Cardinal can not afford to do what it did last season when it slept walked through its opener at Northwestern. Kansas State is not regarded as a contender in the big 12, but any Bill Snyder coached team is dangerous in its opener.
UCLA is only regarded as a marginal Top 25 team. Yet, the Bruins open their season against Texas A&M in College Station, Tx.
And then there is USC, which gets to open its season against defending national champion Alabama in the Jerry Dome in Arlington, Tx.
The argument is that an 0-1 start can more than made up with an 11-0 finish. The problem for the Pac-12 schools is that there isn't a great deal of equity in its remaining regular season schedule. If the Pac-12 is labled as having an off season, winning conference games will not trump wins over schools from the SEC, which can afford one or even two losses and a school such as Notre Dame which can also stay in the chase with a couple of losses.
But for the Pac-12 schools, losing the opener will be a damaging blow. Conversely, if USC pulls off the upset and UCLA and Stanford take care of business with ease, gaining a win over a quality or even elite Power 5 conference opponent could be worth even more in December than it will be in September.
So let the countdown to the season begin and let the season start--with a bang, rather than a whimper.
Big 12 News: The list of 17 schools the Big 12 wants to talk to about expansion has to be a joke. Video conferences for presentations? Are you kidding me? This is PREZ BS. Such moves take weeks and sometimes months of planning and can not be done overnight.
What this continues to sound like is the Presidents not wanting to offend some of their brethren. I still remember the late Jim Brock, the colorful head of the Cotton Bowl taking a visit to Boston College in 1984, Brock made his visit on Harvard-Yale weekend and visited the Harvard campus wearing his green Cotton Bowl blazer.
Not surprisingly, that prompted the Harvard students to ask Brock if the Cotton Bowl had the Crimson on their candidates list. ""Sure, do'' said Brock with a smile, "right here under the H's.''
My feeling is that all the additional schools the Big 12 has mentioned are listed alphabetically. The serious contenders remain the serious contenders: Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, UConn, Memphis and UCF, with Houston and BYU each having issues which must be overcome.
What also seems more certain is that if expansion does come it will be limited to two schools.
Here's another issue which must be considered for UConn. What if UConn does not make the Big 12 cut? Will the Huskies go back to the American Athletic Confference as a full member and simply move on?
If Uconn is shut out, I think the Huskies will ask the AAC for football only membership and reach out to the Big East in the other sports. If the AAC says No, and I can't see why they would agree to let UConn participate in football only, the Huskies will have reached a crossroad with no clear cut destination.
Temple is one of the schools on the Big 12's list. The Owls have made great strides, reaching 10 wins last season, including a rare win over Penn State. But the Owls also lost 19 seniors and Temple has not reached the stage where it can simply reload....Want a sleeper in the Big 12? Watch Oklahoma State which has 16 starters returning from a team which went 10-3 last season and made it to the Sugar Bowl...Do you think Kansas State will be motivated? The Wildcats had their first losing season since 2005 last season....Another sleeper could be Nebraska. The Huskers lost 7 games last season and 4 were by 3 or less points.[/membership]