Monday, October 1, 2007

Parity Saturday

I'm back after my own little September bye week. I spent the week recuperating, drinking, celebrating birthdays, saving the world, and watching the hour-long premiere of The Office. However, I did watch something called football on Saturday, and as you might have heard, some shit went down. A lot of shit, actually. So much shit, Nick Saban found time for it.

The weekend of upsets was shocking, intense, and a sign of the future. A future where cars can fly, and a future where Bob Barker is still somehow alive. It is also a future where "parity" in college football will be commonplace. I hate that word parity, though. There will still be programs like Oklahoma, USC, Florida, Ohio State that win 10-11 games a year, win conference titles, and fight for national titles. But, that murky area of teams rated 5-40 is going to be a mess. A beautiful mess if you like good football, but an ugly mess if you like order.

The talent gap between the have's and the have-not's is shrinking, and it's shrinking quickly - at the rate your peep does in cold water. The biggest reason is the limitation on scholarship players allowed for each program. But that's been in place for a long time. I think the biggest reasons are academics and hurt feelings. I guess off the field issues, too. You have a player like Willie Williams at Miami. He has more arrests than Suge Knight, but a building program like Louisville will take a chance on him. Then you have a player like Slick Shelley. He signed with Tennessee as a 4* WR in 2005, and never climbed into the WR rotation. He's now at Tulsa, and will be on the field next year. More players are transferring than ever before, and they're going to mid-major schools with inventive, unique head coaches.

It's not just the mid-majors, either. Bottom rung BCS conference schools are getting better, save Iowa State. Mississippi State beat Auburn pretty good, and Auburn turned around and beat Florida, who had looked very impressive just 2 weeks earlier. Colorado, a 2-10 last year (although not 2-10 worthy statistically) beat 4-0 Oklahoma, who everyone had recognized in the top 4 ultrateams that the SuperDevil had created. Kansas State scored by land, air, and special teams to kill Texas by 20. A Kansas State team that allowed 23 points to a pathetic Auburn offense held Texas to 21. And Illinois got a signature win for Ron Zook by upsetting Penn State.

The madness is everywhere, and it isn't going to stop. After Appalachian State beat Michigan, I looked at my friend and said, "It's starting, in 10 years, this will be like college basketball." And it will be, at least as much as it can be. We won't see a 65-team playoff, or any playoff, for that matter. But we will see mid-majors beat BCS conference teams more often. And not just Toledo-over-Iowa State wins. More like Troy-over-Oklahoma State wins. There are so many great athletes in this country right now, and they want to play football. You can find plenty of 4.45 kids who the huge schools overlook because they don't run a 4.42. You find those kids, put them in your system to get them the ball as early in their career as possible, and you flourish.

The change is happening, and I for one am excited to see it.

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