The College Quickie - Ohio State, Howitzers, Golfing with Spurrier, and More

Welcome to the College Quickie. I’m Damien Bowman (@damienbowman) the Editor-in-Chief of the College Football Roundtable, and I hope this serves as a kind of-daily place where you can come and get some quick thoughts on the world of college football. We don’t do a ton of actual football breakdown, and this column won’t serve as that either. I’ll post a few links to some of the stuff I read on a daily basis, and offer a line or two of commentary. Let’s have a discussion in the comments, on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter.

The Big Ten - Better or Worse Than it has Been?

Surprisingly the Big Ten is playing the most neutral site games this weekend. A while ago, I opined that the B1G was more a basketball conference than a football conference, and it’s doing everything it can to – at least this week – prove me wrong. I hope they accomplish that mission. College football is better off when the Big Ten is strong all the way around. Do I think that will happen right away, of course not, and the additions of Rutgers and Maryland probably won’t do the conference any favors this, but in a year or two, the conference could be in a much better position. I think the conference performs well this weekend. Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers win, while Wisconsin loses a close on to LSU.

  • Michigan is electing – or not electing – to not choose its captains until after its matchup with Ohio State. Head Coach Brady Hoke says the team lacks cohesion and thinks having certain players appear above others hurts morale. I’m not sure what I think about the move, but I guess it won’t matter if Hoke isn’t around at the end of the season. Hoke is going into his fourth season in Ann Arbor, and a lot of the smart football people say he’s on the hot seat. I’m not sure what his magical number is this year, but it’s hard to believe he’ll be back next year unless he wins nine including the Ohio State game, which happens to be in Columbus this year.
  • Ohio State travels to Baltimore to play Navy. In 2009, the Buckeyes barely beat the Midshipmen, but this year’s game could prove especially difficult with the loss of quarterback Braxton Miller. Meyer and gang recognize how difficult it is to prepare for Navy, and why the game they play is much more important than the game of football.
  • Ohio State’s Band, known as “The Best Damn Band in The Land,” will also be traveling – by bus – to Baltimore, and in this piece by The Buckeye Battle Cry, they cover the controversial firing of band director Jon Waters, and will reveal if the band will play a new show or re-use one from last season. For the record: I totally disagree with Waters firing. I’m a fan of the process, and I don’t think anyone at Ohio State followed that process. I’m confident this firing wouldn’t have happened under former president Gordon Gee.
  • Other than it being James Franklin’s first game as head coach at Penn State, there really is nothing exciting about their matchup with Central Florida. Sure, the game is in Ireland, but to try and compare this game to the 2012 matchup of Notre Dame and Navy would be foolish. The most interesting part of this matchup is that the Nittany Lions are flying a 747, and they’re leaving from Harrisburg. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Harrisburg, but that isn’t exactly where I’d want to fly a 747 from. This column explains more of the complex issues teams face when traveling to a country five time zones away.
  • For the Big Ten, their automatic tie-in with the Rose Bowl ended once it was converted into a semi-final game in the new College Football Playoff. ESPN asks if the game has lost its luster, to which I say, I think it lost it years ago when it became part of the BCS. In an era where everyone gets to go to a bowl game, the exclusivity of the Rose Bowl was tarnished. Then they decided they wanted to play in the same stadium two weeks in a row, and now it’s a semi-final game. Sure, the Rose Bowl is still the Rose Bowl, and it isn’t like they’d cancel the parade even if they had an earthquake, but let’s be real – the Rose Bowl hasn’t been the same for nearly 20 years, and I’m not sure it will ever return to where it was.

The football in the south is better, but what about the people?

  • Florida State – In the era of lets pay all the college football players for their service, maybe we should try and pay the families of those who died while practicing the game we love. In SBNation’s latest long form piece, they chronicle the struggle of Devaughn Darling’s family. Darling died during a 2001 practice at Florida State and is waiting for the State of Florida to pay the nearly $2 million dollars they agreed to as part of a settlement. I’m not sure which is more offensive, that the State of Florida only has to pay $2 million or that Florida State immunity ends at $200,000?
  • Is there a chance West Virginia beats Alabama this weekend? None, but in the interests of fairness, I thought I’d share something that our friends at The Smoking Musket wrote. If you’ve been living under the college football rock, you’ll know that Alabama hasn’t exactly appointed one person to be their quarterback, and that’s the basis for the Musket piece. It’s true, Saban is actually from West Virginia, but don’t think he or the Tide will be showing any love to the Mountaineers in Atlanta. Bama by 21.
  • Texas A&M – There’s no Johnny Football, but Kyle Field has a new Howitzer (yes, really) and a new 12th Man statue. Honestly, every school should have a Howitzer, but I might be a bit biased.

Yes, I choose this picture on purpose.

O'Bannon et al.

  • Have questions about the business side of football, scholarships, and O’Bannon, well this column at Rocky Top Talk gives you a good background on how UT’s athletics department will deal with salaries, stipends, and scholarship guarantees. Trust me, it would have taken me a year to put together, so I let someone else do the work and just link to it. This battle over paying players isn’t over, and no matter which side of this you come down on, $5,000 stipends aren’t enough to cover much of anything. Hell, most of you will drink that much this football season.

Of Course there's an ESPN mention...or 2

  • One of ESPN's newest and most visible hires is Paul Finebaum. You don't have to be from SEC country to know who Finebaum is. He has a radio show that's as popular as the late Paul Harvey. The Tennessee grad sat down with Ed Sherman over at Awful Announcing and explained how the deal with ESPN came together, and how he ended up on the SEC Network and College GameDay. If there's one thing I love about Finebaum, it's his willingness to lay it all out there. Sure, he biased, but you know where he's coming from. Would you rather he lie or be straight about it. Like Clay Travis of Outkick The Coverage and Jon Cooper, Finebaum is a true SEC fan, and for that they get all the respect in the world from me.
  • This weekend ESPN & the SEC will broadcast its first game on the SEC Network, but Big Ten Network will be at the beginning of its eighth season. It is amazing to think that in 2007 when the network launched that the Big Ten and FOX were having trouble finding enough carriers to sign on, and now I couldn’t imagine watching a bunch of second tier games anywhere else. Look, I’m not a fan of all these conference networks, but they do two things: 1. Provide football junkies like me a place to watch second-tier games, 2. Provide athletes in the Olympic sports a place to show off their talents to the country. In my book, reason two is significantly more important than reason one. Yes, the Longhorn Network still exists, and yes, it still sucks.

A College Football Playoff resource to help confuse you

I’d imagine most of our readers don’t need a primer on how the new playoff will work, but if you do, here’s a good resource to bookmark. When I get into arguments with Nate about how it will all work, I’ll certainly refer back to this page. I’m still not sure if the new system is better than the old system, but at the very least I’ll know more details about the new one.

Isn't that enough?

In closing, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed many of the changes around here, but we’re in a period of transition. Jeff is leaving, and I’m back. Nate’s moving up, and we’ll have a bunch of new writers writing about a bunch of teams and conferences that they love. College football is the greatest because the passion of the fans never changes. People who grow up Ohio State or Alabama fans CANNOT become Michigan or Auburn fans. We all have our biases when it comes to college football, and thankfully it’s one true time we can show them without regret. I’m asking you to work with us through the changes as we re-organize, add writers, and improve our content. Change isn’t easy, but enjoying college football is. Here’s the College Football Roundtable from last night. It won’t be ready for audio download for another day or so, but rest assured it’s back to being produced at least once per week if not more. Enjoy the games.