These are not in any particular order, but they’re all good reasons why I enjoy the college game more than other sports, specifically the NFL, although I am also a big NFL fan as well. Of course, a lot of this is dependent on where you grew up. If you grew up in Nebraska, you are basically guaranteed to be a big college fan.
As for me, while I grew up in the Detroit area and while I love my Lions, it’s a little more fun rooting for a team like Michigan that I know has a good chance to win each weekend.
Without further ado, here’s the list:
50. Rivalries. Real ones with lasting appeal. Watch a Michigan-Ohio State or Alabama-Auburn game and you can just feel the passion and intensity eminating from your TV screen. Watch a Dallas-Washington game on Monday night that the networks try to pass off as a real rivalry and it will seem like any other game.
49. The possibility of a perfect season, at least more than the one time it happened in the NFL.
48. College towns teeming with life and energy on a crisp autumn day.
47. Bands playing timeless classics on real instruments, setting the scene and far surpassing generic, soul-less arena music.
46. The fact that NCAA Football games are not called by John Madden or any of his countless knock-offs.
45. Rowdy student sections with creative chants and endless energy.
44. Crowds that actually sober up as the game goes on instead of getting progressively more drunk and annoying.
43. Games that mean the world to both teams, even in week one, when national title hopes can be on the line.
42. Trick plays galore that actually work with a high degree of success.
41. More scoring, yet more big plays on defense. More big plays period, actually.
40. Fans from different regions trash-talking about why their team and conference are better and neither giving an inch, while continuing to argue despite their biases.
39. Rare matchups between powerhouse teams you don’t get to see very often, like Texas vs. Ohio State. Those games were big-time events that surpass anything you see in the NFL besides the conference title games and the Super Bowl.
38. Old-time college buildings on campus setting the scene.
37. Massive stadiums like Michigan Stadium, Neyland Stadium, Kyle Field, and The Horseshoe are bigger than their their NFL counterparts and ooze old-school charm.
36. Great announcers like Brad Nessler who emphasize substance over style.
35. Watching young players burst onto the scene from nowhere and becoming stars before our eyes.
34. The way college teams impact so many people at the school, from the administrators down to the students.
33. The option, even though teams don’t run it as often as they used to.
32. Exciting overtimes that give both teams a legitimate shot to pull out the win and play both sides of the ball.
31. January 1st and its plethora of incredible bowl games.
30. College Gameday on Saturday morning and its tremendous atmosphere, much better than those NFL preview shows and their corny joke-telling hosts.
29. Exciting entrances like the Sooner Schooner, Michigan jumping up and hitting the MGoBlue banner, Notre Dame touching the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign, and others.
28. The fact that there are often a dozen good college games to watch each Saturday on free TV unlike the NFL which shoves boring divisional games down our throats, doesn’t switch over from blowouts nearly fast enough, and many times only has one game on at a time (while an informercial is on the other channel). The Sunday Ticket would be nice to have but then there’s the little problem of rain or other weather ruining your viewing experience.
27. Lee Corso putting on mascot heads and playing to the crowds.
26. The possibility of big upsets. They don’t happen all that often but when a lesser team does knock off a giant, it’s a monumental feat and can change a program’s future.
25. The possibility of getting student tickets for far cheaper than you could ever get NFL ones for. And in much better seats to boot.
24. Homecoming games and seeing old friends (for the older folks who end up coming back, that is).
23. Live animals on the sidelines! Buffaloes, longhorns, bulldogs, you name it.
22. Cheerleaders that actually do stunts instead of just standing around pretending to be cheerleaders.
21. All the debates about who’s really number one in the country.
20. Pre-season polls that are usually way off but still drum up tons of interest and debates.
19. Following the high school football recruiting game year-round.
18. All the pagaentry and color on the field provided by a game between two well-known teams.
17. Classic, awesome uniforms like Penn State, Michigan, USC, etc. that almost never change or go out of style.
16. Tailgate parties at the big stadiums that dwarf those held at NFL stadiums.
15. Waiting to see how the polls shake out after a chaotic weekend of upsets.
14. The conference championship games which are almost all held on the same day for a football feast.
13. Long-time coaching legends staying at one place (Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden) for decades and making runs at the all-time records.
12. The fact that even regular season matchups are often remembered for years to come and are used as evidence to determine which programs and conferences are better all-time.
11. Pre-game marches to the stadium with the band.
10. Free drinking water outside the stadium (At least at Michigan Stadium where I go often)!
9. Rivalry game trophies that are relics of the past.
8. Service academies going head-to-head to settle old grudges.
7. That sense of hometown pride fans get from watching so many home-state products on their favorite teams.
6. Dynasties that never go away. Teams like Miami, Penn State, Notre Dame, USC, Florida State etc. may have a bad year here or there, but you know they’re going to bounce back at some point.
5. The possibility of someone putting together something resembling a dream team is always there, like when USC played Texas a couple years ago in the Rose Bowl. In college where teams are able to recruit as many stars as your roster can fit, great teams pop up with great frequency and it’s fun to see if anyone can knock them off.
4. Spread offenses and other interesting systems that NFL teams don’t even bother to try most of the time.
3. The unknown of new, young players stepping in and making the prognosticators look stupid.
2. The Heisman chase and the trophy presentation. Still the only MVP award that people care much about, even if the winners haven’t had the best NFL careers.
1. Fans rushing the field and tearing down the goalposts after a big win. Do things ever get that exciting in other American sports (except the NCAA Basketball tournament)? Certainly not very often.