Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Early-Season Mismatches Shortchange Fans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Early-Season Mismatches Shortchange Fans

Article excerpt

There is so much to enjoy in college football.

And it's OK that many fans extract a large measure of this enjoyment by reflecting on what has gone before. It is one of the sports that comes most loaded with nostalgia - along with baseball and golf.

It will shock and amaze younger folks that the time was when everyone got dressed up to go to games. Men wore hats and suits and ties. Women wore elegant dresses decorated with mum corsages. Sportsmanship - anybody remember this? - was central. And after a home win many players and fans would walk across campus and ring a victory bell. We're not making this up.

It was so much fun.

Yet, while these days are but very faded memories, laudable aspects gratefully linger. Paramount among them is that, for the most part, the same teams are the best teams year after year. The case can be made that that's boring. On the contrary, in a world where too much changes too fast and too often, any sort of stability is welcome. Nebraska, invariably good, is No. 1; Florida State, invariably good, is No. 2; Michigan, invariably good, is No. 3. The beat goes on.

Scan the Top 25 in the Associated Press poll, and the only somewhat new face is TCU, No. 22.

In the past decade, the only two teams to emerge from oblivion or worse to serious high national rankings are Kansas State and Virginia Tech. The pace of change in the college game's hierarchy is glacial, which gives us a warm and comfortable feeling like being wrapped in a raccoon coat and hollering cheers that have words in them like sis-boom-bah.

True, the derogation in the game admittedly is reason for gloom: Players who are not academically qualified to play video games get to go to excellent colleges because they know how to play football; athletes quit school after two or three years to sign professional contracts; games that used to be played entirely on Saturday afternoon now, sadly, are played on Saturdays from dawn to exhaustion and sometimes on Thursdays and Fridays, too.

But we must be careful not to act like those who saw the automobile as an inferior advancement to transportation by horse power, or airplanes as a risky scheme. …

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