Picking on Someone Your Own Size
On Saturday, the two top ranked college football teams in the country routed grossly overmatched opponents with the University of Florida defeating Florida International (oops, sorry–FIU as per the media guide) 62-3 and Alabama shutting out Chattanooga 45-0. It’s ridiculous for contests of this nature to happen at anytime but particularly this late in the season, especially when teams don’t even play a full conference schedule.
I understand how and why these matchups come about. The large schools pad their stats/rankings and their home attendance with an “ass-whuppin’” on a small school that gets a big payday to serve as fodder for them. But it’s not very compelling viewing for fans of either team. There are already enough unsavory things in major college athletics. Do we really need to see schools go out of their way to prostitute themselves in pursuit of more money?
Anyone who has ever played sports at any level has probably been on the short end of a blowout; I know I have and I can think of nothing redeeming in the experience. It’s also a no-win situation for the big schools from a competitive standpoint. If they win, they’re expected to and if they lose they’re embarrassed. Even on those rare occasions when, say an Appalachian State scores an upset over Michigan (although to look at MU now, maybe it wasn’t) or Cal-Poly nearly does over UW, the focus isn’t on how well the smaller team played, it’s on the larger school for performing so poorly.
It’s time for the NCAA to step in and put an end to such mismatches. In my opinion, most fans would rather see their schools play more games in-conference than beat up on an underdog opponent (or conversely, get smoked by a bigger school). If the schools aren’t willing to restrict themselves in this regard, then it’s an opportunity for the NCAA to prove that it’s about more than sqeezing every last dollar out of the “student-athlete” (and fans) and restore some integrity to the competitive balance of it’s sports.