Schwartz: Five College Football Storylines That Need To Go Away

August 27, 2017

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

College football is (kinda sorta) back. Stanford beat Rice in Australia late last night. So, we’re off and running.

It returns en masse this week, on Thursday and Saturday, and with its return comes the return of The Narrative. The Narrative creates storylines that steer college football’s off-the-field conversations from now through the championship game.

Some are fun. Some are interesting. Some are downright annoying.

And some?

Some are old. Stale. Played out. Thrown in our face year after year. That’s what this short piece is about – college football storylines whose expiration dates have come and gone, yet somehow still find a way to survive.

It’s time for college football to let go of these five talking points:

1. Kirk Ferentz’s contract

This is HawkeyeNation, after all, so let’s start with the Hawkeyes.

By now, we’ve heard the complaints about Ferentz’s contract ad nauseam. He’s overpaid. His agent should get an award. What was Gary Barta thinking?!?!

Blah blah blah.

As Dan Matheson explained almost exactly one year ago, the Ferentz contract works for Iowa. Ferentz has earned it. But beyond that, the length, price, and other parameters of the deal make sense for the UI’s economic position and on-field goals.

So when Iowa rushes out to a 6-1 or a 2-5 start this season, and someone tries to reignite the Ferentz contract narrative, ignore it. The contract is fine.

2. Nick Saban can’t enjoy success

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Hey, did you know Alabama’s football coach carries himself like a sourpuss? It’s true. Even when the Crimson Tide wins the national championship, Saban can’t have fun.

We’re nearly into the third decade of “Saban face.” Let’s just accept it.

The man is intense. He enjoys winning, but he enjoys setting goals and working hard even more. So let’s let Saban be Saban so that we can go back to making fun of Lane Kiffin.

3. Spread offenses put up points but don’t prepare players for the NFL

*sigh*

Yes, we know.

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Northwestern, Texas Tech, Washington State, etc. Unlike the Ferentz contract and Saban moodiness storylines, which are predicated somewhat on misconceptions, college’s spread offenses are, in fact, highly effective.

And yes, spread quarterbacks and other offensive skill positions rarely are able to translate their skills to the NFL.

It’s just … well … we know already. Like the little sibling who says, “I told ya so” a hundred times, it’s time that we accept this phenomenon as fact and move on. Let’s talk about something else.

The spread-offense narrative has become boring. Nobody is convincing anyone of anything anymore. That’s the true sign that a storyline has run its course.

4. The NCAA should pay college players

It’s not that college players shouldn’t be compensated. They should be.

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However, this argument is antiquated. The NCAA will never pay players. Instead, the argument should be that NCAA athletes should be allowed to trade on their own names.

Endorsements. Appearance money. Video-game likenesses. If they can make money off their talent, let them make money off their talent. Let the NCAA-pay discussion fade away.

5. P.J. Fleck’s enthusiasm

For all of Jim Harbaugh’s eccentricities, the one thing he isn’t is disingenuous.

Sure, he rubs people the wrong way. He’s a goofball. He is a completely unique, abrasive, quirky, devoted, intelligent personality. But he is who he is.

Fleck, Minnesota’s new head coach, smells like a fraud. The attempts at viral videos and supposedly creative (and publicized!) team-building exercises are sad and – worse – unoriginal.

There are two ways for a college football coach to get positive attention. First, win. Second, give sports media something fresh. Fleck is no dummy. He’s going to spoon feed sports media and reap the attention.

And we’re going to have to watch it play out, day after day, week after week.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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