ESPN.com has been discussing which is better...NCAA football or NFL football. To every single person, the answer is easy. Some people easily like one over the other. But which is really better??
CHAMPIONSHIP: The NCAA still insists on having 30+ bowl games to determine nothing. Over the past 15 years, they tried the normal polls, the Bowl Alliance and the BCS [which they've tweaked in every season since it has been around] to determine the National Champion. And none still have worked. This year, they are unveiling an extra game played a week after the BCS games are done. Why?? That's dumber than anything. In fact, it is worse than the current BCS system.
The NFL holds this little event called the Super Bowl. Now, it may be overhyped just a tad....but it still is the most watched event in the United States and no programming brings an entire nation to a stop like it.
RIVALRIES: The NFL has some mean rivalries. Cowboys-Redskins, Chiefs-Raiders, Bears-Packers....with new mini-rivalries popping up every now and then.
But, they don't touch the NCAA. Not only do they have rivalries....they have some old artifact that meant something to a couple of guys at a bar 100 years ago as the prize. An Old Oaken Bucket. A Shelleleigh. About 40 "Victory Bells". They are meaningful. Even though they aren't as big as they once were....the Army-Navy game is still an event on the college football landscape. And as a UNC fan, there is still nothing better than beating Duke at anything....even if they blow at football.
MONEY: The NFL is a gazillion dollar entitity. But their players get a chunk of that too. Not all are living phat....but many are [and most make more than us in a year].
In the NCAA...the players really see none of that. And spare me the "free college education" bit. Not all use that freebie like the NFLers use money. A lot do....but I'm sure a $300,000 one year NFL salary would pay for some college too.
OVERTIME: Here is an interesting one. The NFL's overtime rules are essentially just an extra quarter. The have a coin toss and the same rules. Of course, the drawback people have is that....coin toss. The coin toss many times determines the outcome of the game more than anything. With these pro kickers, all a team has to do is get to the opponents 35 yard line before it feels like they can win the game. Overtime games in the NFL tend to be anticlimatic...unless a kicker misses.
In the NCAA, they do the "both teams get a shot" mode....which is very exciting. And nerve racking. That's a good thing. The bad thing is how skewed things can get. You can get those 58-57 outcomes if teams match up in each overtime period. Of course, how many fantasy football fans would love those extra TD stats on their teams???
STADIUMS: Here is a tough one. The NFL has mainly a bunch of newer state-of-the-art stadiums. That baked potato in Arizona. The magical glass palace of Ford Field. Even ancient Soldier Field has been gutted into a new stadium.
The NCAA prides itself on epic stadiums....and huge ones at that. Whether it's the Rose Bowl, Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium or Neyland Stadium.....they are huge monuments nestled in the hills. Most aren't luxury boxed out and do have a feel of tradition. Still, I rather have those beautiful and comfortable NFL stadiums any day.
HALFTIME: In the NCAA, the bands fill the field. The drumlines perform. The baton twirlers...well, twirl their batons. Mascots play. To be honest...I have no idea what happens during NFL halftimes. I'm usually in the can when I'm at the game....and with NFL Sunday Ticket...I just turn to another game.
COACHES: The current longest tenured NFL coach is Bill Cowher...who has been in Pittsburgh for 12 years. Joe Paterno has been at Penn State since 1950. Cowher was born in 1957.
Ahhhh...but Ivan Maisel cannot fool me. College does have it's great, great coaches...but they don't have Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs, Bill Walsh [well, they did....but he was better in the pros] or Paul Brown. And those gimmicky coaches don't fair too well when they step up to the NFL. See Steve Spurrier.
TRADITIONS: Oh, the NCAA has it beat. I mean, the War Chant at Florida State...Rocky Top....Roll Tide....cheerleading pushups....or all the other various little things that colleges do during their games.
The NFL doesn't really have much of that. Sure, there are some....like the Redskins' band and "Hail to the Redskins" song.....but nothing like the college kids.
CHEERLEADERS: The NFL pretty much has a strip show for their cheerleaders. The NCAA has traditional cheerleaders.....and guys cheering.
NUMBERS: In the NFL, our QBs wear 1-19....our backs wear 20-49....or lineman wear 50-79...and our receivers wear 80-89, or now 11-19.
In the NCAA, you could have a linebacker wear #1....a running back wearing #5....a kicker wearing #89....a QB wearing #22....and tight ends wearing #49.
THE HEISMAN: The Heisman award is bigger than the NFL MVP award. I mean, fans can peel off most of the past 10 Heisman winners...yet would struggle with the NFL MVP winners over the same span.
However, the Heisman is a joke. It is a contest determined by TV coverage and the team's success...not as much as the individual. No offense to Reggie Bush....but how could he win the Heisman on a team with two other great offensive players??? Meanwhile, Vince Young goes empty handed??
Winner: NCAA, but we need a recount
OPPORTUNITY: As ESPN pointed out, over the past 5 years....only the Cardinals, Bills, Lions, Texans and Saints have not made the playoffs at least once. That is 27 of 32 teams that have reached the postseason. In the NCAA over the past 5 years....only 16 different schools have finished in the consensus Top 10.
The bigwigs stay the bigwigs in college. In the NFL, the team who finished 2nd [the Super Bowl loser] seems to struggle the following year. With the salary cap....every team really feels that either they have a shot this season....or not too far away from doing it. In college, there are the USCs, Notre Dames and Michigans who know they'll always be bowling....and the Dukes, Temples, Baylors who pretty much know they'll be left out.