Resolved: College Football is way more exciting than Pro. Pro Football Talk agrees.

Submitted by wolverine1987 on September 15th, 2017 at 1:17 PM

So H/T to friend of mgoblog Jane Coastan, who retweeted this so I saw it: I think this position is not even debateable recently, College Football is in every way superior as a product. But I know there are many NFL elite types who would disagree. what do you guys think?

Currently, college football is genuinely exciting far more often than pro football is. NFL needs to be concerned about that.


I Like Burgers

September 15th, 2017 at 2:21 PM ^

There's also variety of offense too.  The majority of what makes this week's game against Air Force fun and enticing is that they run a wierd ass option offense and you just never know how your team is going to do against it.  Same goes for spreads or pure manball offenses.  Or just freaks of nature like Lamar Jackson who can overpower a defense all on his own.  You don't get any of that in the NFL.  Every team basically does the same exact thing at varying levels of proficiency.


September 15th, 2017 at 1:22 PM ^

The School spirit, the teamwork, and the money aspect.

For those three reasons I love college football and am only marginally interrested in pro football.

"Once you leave here, you will never play for a team again" Bo


September 15th, 2017 at 2:19 PM ^

I think the school spirit is the biggest factor. A lot of people go to these schools and are apart of the same student body as the athelets. Add in spending 4-5 years on the campus at a very impressionable age and you have people that are very passionate about the team.

Goggles Paisano

September 15th, 2017 at 2:56 PM ^

I am so with you on that.  It is starting to remind me of the NBA  (not quite but approaching it) in that if the NBA folded, I wouldn't mind one bit.  I don't know where the gap between college and NFL started to grow, but when I was younger, they were closer to even for me.  


September 15th, 2017 at 1:29 PM ^

The NFL is more sophisticated, and for those who enjoy the "technical" side of things it's fascinating to pay attention to. Following guys like Chris Brown really help bring that part out.

But the actual games have always been, on the whole, more of a drag to watch. The pace of play isn't as good--there are fewer plays with more commercials. 

And while every game does have a lot of significance relative to other sports, the world doesn't weigh on each game the way it does in college. And there are just some dud games where the action isn't good and the relevance isn't there. 

Also, the league is so QB-dependent that teams without a solid QB just plain struggle. Every year you know the Pats and Packers will be dangerous, and you know a team like Cleveland is going to stink. 


September 15th, 2017 at 1:43 PM ^

One a technical level I agree that the players in the NFL do more because they (a) are playing a higher-caliber opponent, (b) they have more time to practice/prepare, and (c) the coaches and staff are such that they can employ more resources.  But if you look at the evolution of gameplans and styles, you almost always see the NFL copy or integrate successful elements of college games and not the other way.  All of the spread elements you see in the pro game, both out of the shotgun throwing as well as the more classic running QB, started in college.  The Cover 4 defense that MSU ran, while certainly not novel in general concept, was popularized there and then you saw NFL teams integrate parts of it.  About the last major NFL innovation I remember is the Tampa 2, though there might have been others.  So I think the high-end technical innovations happen more and more in college, and then when you have mature guys who can treat it as their job, it gets refined.


September 15th, 2017 at 1:56 PM ^

Innovation is not a specialty of the NFL and offenses have a much stronger tendency to look similar to each other. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1. It's a high-pressure business and real innovation involves a lot of risk. Risk is something that mid-level programs in college can afford to take. Northwestern was a perfect place to integrate the zone-read option because the cost for failure was the same mediocrity they were accustomed to but the reward for success was a dramatic win against wait I have no memory of any such event.

Oregon rode its system to a decade of unprecedented success that only petered out last year.

2. The intensive nature of NFL preparation produces advantages in matchups that do not require "systems" to create and helps to quickly nullify real innovation when it occurs.

The coaches and players study tons of film. They install an entire game's worth of plays in a week, all designed to deal with the specific matchups and schemes their new opponent will bring to bear. Jim Harbaugh is considered really aggressive in installing a dozen new plays a week and scouting everything about the opponent in college; EVERY COACH does this in the NFL or they get fired.

That means that offenses and defenses find matchups to take advantage of, not by running an unfamiliar system, but by meticulous work during the week.

And it means that teams with a unique scheme (Chip Kelly did this) quickly lose the advantages that scheme brings as intensive film study comprehensively identifies the weakness of the scheme and the ways to attack it. Oregon always tipped plays in college (fishduck's famous videos described this completely years ago when Oregon was killing everybody) but in the NFL the coaches had the material and schemes to use that information to shut down Kelly's run games. 

A new innovation can work for a game or two out of surprise, but once someone figures out the counter to it the novelty is over. Remember when the Dolphins tore up the Pats using the wildcat formation with Ronnie Brown? People thought it was the dawn of a new era in the NFL; instead it was solved within a year and basically went away.


September 16th, 2017 at 8:08 AM ^

I feel that this is kind of the limitation of college football. The talent disparity will win more games in college than the NFL, independent of coaching. That is because there is no draft and teams are on many different levels of resources. 

As for innovation, for every Bob Stitt, and Chip Kelly there are 30 other coaches running everything from air raids to that veer you ran in high school, and everyone is copying each other. Then, when something is successful, it spreads because there isn't consistent talent (both players and coaches) things tend to linger. As you point out, tricks and wrinkles get figured out in the NFL and that means the playbooks become limited to the best risk/reward given the opponent. I don't see that as the case in college football where you can still run the wildcat with success against Rutgers but it ain't foolin' Wisconsin. 

Goggles Paisano

September 15th, 2017 at 3:04 PM ^

In addition to this, it also seems like every week in the NFL is the same.  They all play in sterile commercialized buidlings and many teams have the same field turf.  Most NFL teams run similar schemes which makes the product similar from week to week.  In college, you get the campus atmosphere, difference in stadiums, and vast differences in schemes.  Look no further than tomorrow's intrigue in watching the triple option go against one of the best defenses in the country.  The college product changes every week and the significance of these games is through the roof.  

Mike Damone

September 15th, 2017 at 6:08 PM ^

forget Novo.  Kicked as a true freshman for that 1979 undefeated CMU team that was led by Gary Hogeboom, who went on to play for Dallas.  Funny thing was that the Panthers drafted Ali Haji-Sheikh to kick, but lost in negotiations to the NY Giants - Novo was the second choice, but a terrific backup option.  Novo was a hell of a kicker.

Wolverine In Iowa 68

September 15th, 2017 at 1:52 PM ^

I was there through pretty much all of those down years.

After Gene Stallings retired, Mike DuBose came in and ran things into the ground, bringing about the sanctions.  They hired Franchione to replace him, but when he found out how bad the sanctions were going to be, and how under the microscope he was going to be, he bailed in the middle of the night after 2 years.

Then they hired Mike Price, he of the "It's rolling..." quote with the prostitute that never coached a game and got fired for moral turpitude, only to get replaced by Mike "he's one of Bear's Boys" Shula who couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag.

Shula got dropped and they had Joe Kines as an interim coach for 1 game before Saban came in in 07.

It was a revolving door for a bit, where they had something like 5 head coaches over a 4-year span, and settled on Shula because of his connection to Bryant (the equivalent to our Hoke moment) before righting the ship.


September 15th, 2017 at 1:29 PM ^

I got 2 Lions season tickets when the silverdome opened. When 2 Michigan tickets became available to me in 1980, I dropped the Lions like a hot potato. Lived happily ever after.


September 15th, 2017 at 1:33 PM ^

Worth noting that this tweet occurred during an ugly Thursday game. The Thursday games have been aesthetic disasters, both for their awful uniform concepts and the play on the field, which I think legitimately suffers from the short (one crucial day shorter than college) layoff.

I like football and I enjoy watching the NFL but the Thursday night package is basically must-not-watch tv and honestly I don't mind because it clears up my schedule a bit. 

I generally stick to watching Red Zone, which has become the best sports television product in existence.

L'Carpetron Do…

September 15th, 2017 at 1:41 PM ^

I miss the old school Thursday night college game on ESPN, always gave me a little mid-week dose if I was jonesin' hard for Saturday.  I also preferred when MNF was a bigger deal - after a lot of games Sunday I don't want to have to tune in again at night on Sunday.  ESPN's Sunday Night games were always a nice finish to the day and were usually good games but not like the primo matchup of the week.  Plus, I liked having something to look forward to on Mondays. Its just not the same anymore. 

I never watch the Thurs NFL game now.  I checked who was playing last night and was like 'nope'.  Didn't even turn it on.


September 15th, 2017 at 2:20 PM ^

I watched Boise and New Mexico last night and it was entertaining. Craig Roh's younger brother is a tight end for Boise and scored 3 TDs - one on a run. New Mexico runs an option offense which is fun to watch. NM's starting quaterbacked got concussed so in came Toby Gerhart's younger brother to play QB  - and was not all bad.

Overall pretty entertaining - better than MACtion.


September 15th, 2017 at 1:36 PM ^

I look at it like this - I can waste entire Friday nights and Saturdays watching college football and not even blink. I can get through a Lions game as I have trained myself to do over the years, but I cannot get through a non-Lions NFL game very often anymore outside of the few that actually end up being reasonably entertaining because, for the most part, they aren't terribly entertaining. 


September 15th, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

When has this ever been in question? The drums of the marching band the chanting students the thunder of the team as they run through the tunnel. College football is the greatest sport on earth period!