Schwartz: College Football’s One Constant? Change

September 5, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

It feels a little weird, doesn’t it? We’re heading into Week 2 of Iowa’s football season and the Hawkeyes are preparing for Big Ten opponent Rutgers, not Iowa State.

It’s also hard to determine what’s stranger: Rutgers in the Big Ten, or Iowa using a Big Ten game to warm up for ISU instead of the other way around.

Or touchbacks on kickoffs going to the 25-yard line.

Or the deep empathy fans now feel when a player gets his bell rung, aka, when his brain crashes against the inside of his skull. Imagine a whole peeled orange being hurled against a concrete wall.

Or college games that now routinely go north of 3½ hours so that the networks can squeeze in just one more commercial. And then just one more. And one more. And one more.

Or television contracts so lucrative that if some conferences decide to play their games inside empty stadiums, without a single fan paying for a ticket, they’ll still turn a profit.

As the Hawkeyes prepare to attempt to improve to 2-0 this Saturday, as they try to focus on the Scarlet Knights right in front of them instead of the Cyclones approaching in the distance, we’re reminded that the only constant in college football is change.

Continue reading below

Related In HawkeyeNation Forums

Whether it’s the recent changes listed above or those from decades ago, every era of college football reveals its uniqueness by what it leaves behind. New media opportunities in the 1960s and 1970s delivered West Coast football to the rest of the country, threatening the long-held dominance of the East Coast and the South. Rising ticket prices – as high as $10 a game – spurred fans to revolt against the game’s perceived professionalization and re-embrace tenets of alleged amateurism.

In the 1980s and 1990s, CBS, ABC, and ESPN saw college football as a barely tapped resource, poured millions into the product, and made hundreds of millions as their reward. One of the programs they promoted, Miami, a team so destitute the university considered dropping it down to Division II, broke every unwritten rule in the book. They taunted. They celebrated without remorse. They ran up the score on good ‘ol Notre Dame. And from 1983-2001, they won five national championships.

Continue reading below

So here we are as Hawkeye fans and college football fans in this weird place – this weird, constant place. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes will play Rutgers, one of 14 teams in the Big Ten, in Iowa’s earliest conference game since it opened the regular season against Indiana in 1980, in a stadium with upgraded food and video departments because it’s the only way to get people out of their homes and away from their awesome TVs and into Kinnick Stadium.

Never mind that Rutgers probably shouldn’t have a Big Ten football team in the first place; their 7-36 conference record through five seasons suggests they lack the infrastructure to compete. Never mind, too, that out of the 210 minutes the Hawkeyes and Knights are on the field there will be 11 minutes of action and nearly six times that amount in commercials shown.

This is college football in 2019. One can only imagine what it will look like in 2049. No kickoffs. Elaborate patriotic ceremonies before and during the game. Virtual-reality viewing that puts fans at home not only “in” the stadium, but on the field.

Continue reading below

One could say that we’re in a fluid period for college football, but that would be wrong. College football has always been fluid, like when Theodore Roosevelt threatened more than 100 years ago to ban the sport if it didn’t find a way to get safer, or when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1984 that the NCAA didn’t have full control over the negotiation of television contracts.

College football is a sport of change as much as it’s a sport of tradition. Nowhere will that be more apparent than Kinnick Stadium this Saturday.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

Trending in Forums View All >

HawkeyeNation Archives View All >

Hawkeye Junior Cordell Pemsl Suspended Indefinitely

Rob Howe

September 20, 2019

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa announced in a press release from its athletics department that Cordell Pemsl, a junior from Dubuque, has been indefinitely suspended from the men’s basketball team. The release indicated that Pemsl was arrested by law enforcement early Friday morning in Iowa City for operating while intoxicated (OWI). He went on to… Read more »

Hawkeye Nation Staff Six Pack of Picks for Week 4

Rob Howe

September 20, 2019

HN crew selects a half dozen college football games against the spread.

Bigger Ten: Week Four Picks

Jon Miller

September 19, 2019

Miller and Deace offer up their Week Four Confidence picks, and Deace sprinkles in some betting line frosting.

What We Learned: Hawkeye Coordinator Press Conferences

Rob Howe

September 19, 2019

Brian Ferentz, Phil Parker and LeVar Woods update their areas of control.

Video & Transcript: Phil Parker Press Conference

Rob Howe

September 18, 2019

Hawkeye defensive coordinator meets with media.

Video & Transcript: LeVar Woods Press Conference

Rob Howe

September 18, 2019

Hawkeye special teams coordinator meets with media on Wednesday.

Video & Transcript: Brian Ferentz Press Conference

Rob Howe

September 18, 2019

Iowa offensive coordinator meets with media during bye week.

HN Prospect Pod: Iowa a Special Place for Texas QB Deuce Hogan

Rob Howe

September 18, 2019

Getting to know future Hawkeye signal caller.

TOP