I am a college football junkie. Have been for a loooong time. That is why I watched a bit of the Utah vs. Utah State game last night.
Utah State pulled off the win in OT, and it was a pretty big upset. Utah just went undefeated a few years ago and got jobbed out of a national championship by the corrupt BCS system (that goes away in a few years to be replaced by another corrupt system, but that is grist for another post). Utah has had a consistently good program over the last decade, and recently received acceptance into one of the major conferences in college football, the PAC 12. Or is it 14 now? With these conferences re-aligning as often as they do, guys like Gerry will have lots of logos to re-design as time moves forward. Still, none are worse than that turd that the Big Ten uses. But I digress.
The reason that the upset last night is important is that it underscores how the talent level is evening out in major college football.
At the top, you have a certain block of elite players that go to the big programs in the SEC, and places like Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, and a few other programs. These players have no intention of ever going to class, are likely drug addled (PEDs, ganja, etc.) and have no real plan in life besides playing pro football.
After that, you have the "second class" of schools fighting for the next tier of athlete - some of these players could go to the pros, but it is unlikely. And there is a third tier of schools, that get everyone else.
But the second and third tiers are not as bad as they used to be. If you watched the game last night, Utah State's third tier guys matched up very well physically against the second tier Utah players. They were very well coached and made very few errors (this is also key when you are physically disadvanaged). Illinois won 24-7 over Western Michigan last week. While the result itself wasn't fully unexpected, the fact is that our offense only generated 17 points - again, an example of the third tier competing with the second tier.
Wisconsin almost lost to Northern Iowa last week. Wisconsin is a borderline first/second tier program, while Northern Iowa is certainly a third tier school.
There are a lot of examples of these types of results happening more and more often. So the questions are twofold. First, why? Second, what will be the result?
Why. I think that high schools and people on their own know how to train athletes better. The internet is absolutely full of free information on how to eat and train properly and anyone that wants to fully apply themself can certainly do it. Hell, I trained myself to survive climbing fifty thousand feet on my bike over 10 days in France in mountains. Twice. If I can do it, anyone can.
What will be the results? The NCAA will continue to game the system so the mid majors can NOT get into the "good" bowl picture (still lots of crap bowls out there) and most certainly the playoff picture. Revenue is NUMBER ONE with the NCAA and we can't let a program like Boise State get in the way of the money train, when you have the Oklahoma's and Florida's of the world who will bring legions of fans and $$ to the bowl games. And don't forget TV ratings.
I find this trend to be an interesting one and also find it a bit refreshing. The bookies in Vegas will have to work a bit harder to earn their paychecks, and we are getting more competitive games to watch, when just a decade ago it would be just "assumed" that any Big Ten team would wipe out any MAC team.