Earlier this week, football writer Andy Benoit wrote an article for MMQB as to the fact that the NFL is WAY better than college football. Well, in his exact words…
“From a strategic entertainment standpoint, pro football annihilates college football.”
Yet, as he noted in his piece, he has watched “zero college football games.” Well, that should make him the expert on the differences, it appears.
I work for the Texans and watch multiple NFL games a week. However, I have covered college football for two decades and still call college games on Saturdays when the Texans have a home game or a Monday/Thursday night prime time game on the road. Not an expert on anything, by any means (just ask my wife), but I’d like to think I can give a more nuanced look at the two different sports.
I’ve often said that they’re two different games and the most glorious things I’ve ever seen on a field of green.
Yet, there are things that I would say give the NFL an edge.
1. Game length - rarely does a game go over the 3:15 mark. College games can go on FOR-EV-ER.
2. Every single week, Team A can beat Team B - each week is a battle.
I’ve talked with Marc Vandermeer about this one often. When he was the voice of the Miami Hurricanes in their heyday, there were really only two or three games on the schedule that carried the kind of pressure that all NFL games carry. EVERY single week is a monster in the NFL, no matter what. Look at a top college team’s schedule and there are six or seven games that are going to be blowouts by halftime. The NFL is ANY GIVEN SUNDAY.
3. NFL Overtime isn’t great, but it’s WAY better than college’s put-the-ball-at-the-25-yard nonsense.
However, here's what separates the college game from the NFL...
1. Innovation within its offensive schemes, in particular. The thing about football is that most innovation flows upward from the high schools to college and then to the NFL. You’re now seeing that in the NFL right now. As Chiefs coach Andy Reid once noted, the NFL is about 5-7 years behind college football. Now it’s catching up and the explosive offenses in the NFL are displaying many of those college concepts.
2. College rivalries are long-held grudges that extend well beyond the field. Because many families have attended those universities, there’s seemingly a stronger connection to the school’s teams, creating an even more contentious rivalry.
3. Fight songs, the Tomahawk chop, the smoke out of the Miami tunnel, the Boomer Schooner, Bevo, Saturday nights in Death Valley, touching the rock before running down the Hill at Clemson, Farmers’ Fight...the traditions in college football are unmatched.
-- I love bowl games, but they pale in comparison to the pressure felt in the NFL Playoffs
-- I love that college players, in particular, college defensive linemen can wear any number they want. University of Houston’s Ed Oliver wears No. 10 and that’s awesome. I wish Jadeveon Clowney could still be No. 7
-- I love the NFL’s schedule formula and that there’s no ducking or hiding any team in the league. In college, there are too many cupcake games for my liking
-- I love the option and QB runs from shotgun that have been prevalent in the college game for decades
-- I love the play cards and pictures that colleges have come up with over the past decade
-- I love a great two minute drive with no timeouts and the clock not stopping in the NFL
-- Hard to find more hatred than in Auburn-Alabama
-- Hard to beat Manning v. Brady or Rodgers v. Brees
-- I love the NFL Draft
-- I hate the hat tricks high schoolers pull when choosing a college
-- I hate seeing lineman three yards downfield and the quarterback still able to throw the ball in college (I’m a former safety, that’s no fair)
-- I love college tailgating
-- I love NFL tailgating
Finally, something they both had in common. In all honesty, one doesn’t have to be better than the other; they both are equal parts great and flawed.
Take it from someone that has lived in both worlds.