By Jim Weber
Do you remember that time in school when you spent countless hours on a science project and walked into your classroom with your head held high on a job well done – only to find out another kid in your class already made one ten times better than yours and had everyone crowded around his desk?
That’s the feeling I got on Wednesday as a college football fanatic that had to watch “NFL Fever” once again take over America.
There was ESPN’s “NFL Kickoff” at 7 PM, an hour-long pre-game show on NBC featuring musical guests No Doubt and Mariah Carey from Rockefeller Plaza starting at 7:30 PM and then, finally, a season opener between the Giants and Cowboys that was built up like the NFC Championship Game. That Democratic National Convention thing? Cut to that during halftime.
As if five hours of televised NFL action wasn’t enough, we were also bombarded with NFL power rankings, predictions of who will win next February’s Super Bowl and last-minute fantasy drafts all day on the web.
Good luck finding coverage on this weekend’s college football games in the last 24 hours. That’s because after one glorious week of having the American public all to itself, college football has once again been shoved from the spotlight by the 10,000-pound gorilla known as the NFL.
Let’s be honest: The NFL doesn’t have an offseason anymore. Between “Bountygate,” the Indianapolis combine, the NFL draft, free agent signings (i.e. Peyton Manning to the Broncos), trades (i.e. Tim Tebow to the Jets), training camps and exhibition games, last week felt like the only seven days we’ve actually had off from the NFL since the “offseason” started last February.
Now, college football’s spotlight is gone again.
And that’s just sad for college football fanatics like me that endured the painfully long eight-month offseason and finally had my thirst quenched last weekend with Week One of the college football season.
Last week at this time was pure bliss. We were all talking about the college football opener between South Carolina and Vanderbilt last Thursday night and the “Cowboys Classic” between Alabama Michigan on Saturday. That South Carolina-Vandy game grabbed huge ratings and had the entire country talking the next day about a blown pass interference call that helped the Gamecocks prevail. When was the last time you remember the whole country talking about Commodore football?
And then there was Kent St. LB Andre Parker, who went viral on the internet for running 60 yards the wrong way with a muffed punt – one of the classic wacky plays that make college football so distinct and great.
While the college games last week weren’t great, it was glorious to watch college football last Saturday from noon until 1 AM – continuously, for some of us – and bask in the pageantry and passion associated with it. On Sunday, I woke up to see the Alabama-Michigan game get top billing on ESPN and sports websites and people broke down the season openers and Heisman Trophy candidates, instead of NFL pre-game shows.
Now less than a week into the college football season, the sports media is making it feel like college football is already on hiatus again. There was the massive buildup of the Cowboys-Giants game on Wednesday. Now comes the postgame analysis on Thursday. Friday will be full of anticipation for NFL season openers and the start of NFL fantasy football that combines to dwarf college football. As soon as people wake up on Sunday, they will forget that Saturday’s college football games ever happened. (It doesn’t hep that this week’s college games aren’t very good, with the marquee matchup looking like No. 6 Georgia at Missouri.)
Look, I’m not trying to hate on the NFL. The Washington Redskins are my favorite team in any sport and I will watch each of their games this year at a bar by myself to witness the beginning of the RGIII Era.
But it’s sad that America’s second favorite sport has to constantly live in the shadow of the NFL. And while there’s been talk about college basketball pushing its season back to have less overlap with football, there’s nothing really college football can do given the academic calendars of colleges.
Instead, college football fanatics like me have to just sit in front of the science project we poured our heart into and admire it with clenched teeth while watching everyone else once again crowds around to pat the teacher’s pet on the back.
Jim Weber is the founder of LostLettermen.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber.