July 14, 2013
With Southeastern Conference Media Days at hand, college football will dominate the sports conversation in these parts for the next six months.
In 43-plus years of covering college football, I've seen the game change dramatically in so many ways. Some are good. Some are not so good. The same things apply, really, to college athletics in general.
Here are one man's thoughts about some of the good and some of the bad in the game that so many love.
Good: On the field, the game is more popular than it's ever been, better than it's ever been and played by more skilled and better trained athletes.
Bad: College students who happen to be good football players are turned into national icons. For some who lack the maturity to handle it, it is too much and too soon.
Good: Increased sophistication of scouting by coaches and others has made it much less likely that a prospect can be overlooked and miss out on a chance he deserves.
Bad: An eighth-grade running back has his picture put on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. Is that really a good thing for a 14-year-old?
Good: A decision has been made to try to reduce the possibility of catastrophic head injuries. Targeting ballcarriers above the shoulders won't be tolerated and shouldn't.
Bad: The rulesmakers went too far and put the power in the wrong hands. Instead of being penalized, players who are said to be guilty of targeting will be ejected from the game. It will be a judgment call by officials who often aren't very good at judgment calls. It won't be long until a team loses a game because it loses a player to an ejection that tape will show shouldn't have happened.
Good: College football players are better students across the board than they've ever been.
Bad: The public perception remains that many players aren't real students. The fact is that, with the rules that are in place, if a player stays eligible for four years he is going to be close to earning a degree.
Good: A four-team national championship playoff is coming.
Bad: The field will be chosen by a selection committee, all of whom will have connections of some sort with particular schools, instead of by a larger group that would diminish biases. The comparison to the basketball tournament or baseball tournament selection committees is irrelevant. The basketball tournament has 68 teams and the baseball tournament 64. No comparison.
Good: TV networks are paying billions of dollars to the nation's most prominent conferences.
Bad: Not enough of that filters down to the players. That doesn't mean players should be paid like professionals, but there are ways for them to benefit from that flood of cash far more than they do.
Good: Up-tempo offenses like the one Gus Malzahn will employ at Auburn have added excitement to the game.
Bad: Coaches who don't like having to deal with those offenses have fabricated injury concerns in trying to get rules passed that would dramatically reduce their effectiveness.
Until next time ...
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: