Anyone who has ever played the sport at some level will tell you about the butterflies.
To me, the excitement never was so bad I had to throw up before the game, but a surprising number of my teammates did.
As a high school linebacker, though, I knew all about the butterflies. You feel that queasy feeling in your stomach until the first hit and then you are fine.
It’s the way football works.
When I got to Temple, I was too short and too slow to play, but experienced the same kind of butterflies as a fan before the first game of the season.
Lately, though, the anticipation has waned because the game has changed a lot for my favorite college football team. Hell, it’s still my favorite sports team but I am more than a little annoyed at the changes in the game since I received my Temple sheepskin. In no particular order, they are these:
I know this is a necessary rule but a nice clean hit is a football play. Lately, though, the line between clean and dirty has been blurred due to the targeting rule. I completely understand it with the CTE and all but it’s not the football I grew up with and too many players are thrown out of the game when the worst thing that should happen is a 15-yard penalty.
The Schism Between The Haves and Have Nots
There are 127 teams in the FBS and 64 of those teams—the ones in the so-called Power 5—are treated fairly the others are not. If one of the “others” (UCF) can win all of its games—including wins over the two teams eventual champion Alabama lost to—and not be given an opportunity to compete in the Final Four, college football has lost all sense of fairness.
The Bowl Situation
With 80 and soon-to-be 84 bowls, college football has turned into a reflection of sports in society as a whole where a lot of “participation trophies” are handed out. Back in the day, it was so hard to get into a bowl that the 1984 Temple team beat a 9-2 Toledo team, 35-6, and Toledo got to play in the California Bowl while Temple stayed home. In 1986, Temple beat another 9-2 team, Virginia Tech, 29-13, but stayed home while Virginia Tech played in the Peach Bowl. Now, 40 teams get a participation trophy.
Pilfering of Players
Back in the day, when a player made a commitment to Temple, the commitment lasted through signing day. Over the last decade, up to five players a year have decommitted from the school and signed elsewhere. The most high-profile of those was Arkum Wadley, who ended up at Iowa. What happened to “your word is your bond?”
A short trip to Rutgers or Syracuse or Pitt used to be on the agenda for every other season. Now those teams are in far-flung leagues playing against schools they have very little in common with. On the other hand, Temple has to travel to places like Memphis and Tulsa. It’s just not the same anymore. Pitt suffers from losing its rivalries with Penn State and West Virginia more than Temple does with Rutgers and Syracuse, but college football is better off with those regional rivalries and it does not look like they are coming back.
Sadly, that’s the state of college football in 2018. While kickoff against Villanova will be exciting, the way the game has evolved is in the other direction.
Still, no better sport but the fact it was better in the good old days than it is now is something that can be viewed as objective, not subjective.
Wednesday: The Ideal Temple Uniform