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It’s spring football season, which means that many of you will be taking a break from march madness to obsessively follow practice for the next several weeks. Such is the life of a college football fan bereft of actual games for a longer time period than any other fan of any other sport. Even after nearly two months since the BCS title game, we’re still nearly six months away from actual games. Whereas the baseball, hockey, and NBA seasons never seem to end, college football is over in a flash, here for an instant and then gone.
We love college football so much that hundreds of thousands of you will make pilgrimages to your favorite team’s campus to watch a scrimmage at the end of spring football practice. Hell, millions of you are so desperate for college football that you’ll even watch these games on television. It’s clear, we all want more college football.
Which got me wondering — why don’t college football teams play an actual game against another team at the end of spring practice?
Think of the fun, think of the money, think of how much more exciting this would make spring practice for players and coaches.
It’s basically a bowl game in March or April.
Only instead of giving all the money to the bowls, you pocket the proceeds and rack up additional television revenue.
Remember, the actual results of bowl games really don’t matter one bit. Unless you’re in the upcoming playoff or the BCS title game, bowl games are glorified exhibitions already. Yet everyone still watches. Why? Because we all love college football. So why couldn’t we play an entire round of college football games in late March, April and early May? Think about the television scheduling, you could have an entire month of great games in April, when otherwise nothing much is going on.
Six weeks of college football games in the spring?
It’s kind of like heaven, right?
Sure, coaches are going to resist the idea of playing one more game on which they’re being judged, but so what? They’ll get used to it. If anything, it could help to motivate their teams to take spring practice more seriously. You think players would rather play their twentieth intrasquad scrimmage in the spring or get challenged by a completely different team? Plus, coaches can learn much more about young players from actual game situations than they can from convoluted spring games and with all the turnover in coaching staffs it gives teams a chance to work out the kinks before the season begins. Remember, unlike the NFL college football teams don’t spend a month getting ready for kickoff with preseason games.
As for injuries, they happen already, it’s football. You’re just as likely to get hurt playing in an intrasquad spring game as you are playing a game. Plus, you have several months to get over any injury that might occur. Would some guys get hurt? Of course. But probably not any more than are getting hurt already. If you’re worried about a star player getting hurt, hold them out of the game.
Here are several ideas of how to set up college football’s spring games:
1. You could play a spring conference challenge.
It’s almost impossible to get good out-of-conference games going in college football these days. That’s especially the case when it comes to playing home-and-homes on campus. I actually think that these games are going to become rarer in a playoff era, because many teams are already faced with nine conference games and don’t feel the need to challenge themselves out of conference. After all, if you go undefeated in a major conference, do you really think you’re getting left out of the playoff?
So why not set up an actual conference challenges?
Can you imagine the television value of the SEC vs. the Big Ten every spring? Or the SEC vs. the Pac 12, Big 12 vs. ACC, ACC vs. Big Ten, you name it, an entire slate of conference challenge games would be outstanding and give fans a reason to watch all of the games.
Sure, the results wouldn’t matter for the actual season, but the results would matter to fans.
Plus, with all the players who are enrolling in December and January now, this would also be a showcase for new freshmen.
2. Play against your own conference, but do home and road spring games.
As conferences have grown in size, many schools have lost the ability to rotate through the entire conference. As is, in the SEC, for example, it will presently take six years for a team to play every team from the opposite division. That means players will graduate without playing every team in the conference. But if you add in four spring games, two at home and two on the road, then you’ll play every team during your time on campus. What’s more, this would set up unbelievable tailgating opportunities and give your fans an opportunity to visit a conference campus they otherwise might miss.
Think the Grove in April might be a little fun? Think SEC fans might enjoy the opportunity to party in the spring.
If another conference won’t do it, the SEC should set up its own conference spring games with a tailgate road show on the new SEC Network. A month of football games in the spring? That’s tough to beat.
3. Set up cool trips for your fans.
If, as I believe, out of conference games on campus are going to become rarer and rarer in a college football era, why not set up cross-country games to give your fans a chance to see a new environment?
Play a Pac 12 school or in a region of the country that you normally don’t get to play in. Pick an area that you think could help for recruiting. Unlike the college football season when there are multiple weeks in a row of games, lots of fans could schedule a weekend off in the spring.
Given months to plan, I think these games could become highlights of the schedule.
4. But no one will care about spring college football games!
These games will be wildly popular. Again, look at the American sporting calendar in April, when most of these games would be played. You see any football there? You see any sporting event, aside from the Masters, that people build their schedules around now?
Spring is dead for big-event sports.
If anything, these games would become so popular that coaches wouldn’t treat them as exhibitions, pouring the same amount of attention into these games as they do a regular season game. Which means that over time these games would get better and better.
The time has come for spring football to take over the month of April.
I’m ready, are y’all?