clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let's replace college football spring games with big multi-school events

Listen, let's at least have fun thinking about it.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We are in the heart of spring practice, which means every weekend, there's a crop of spring games across the country. These employ a wide variety of strange rules designed to cover up the fact that spring games are lame.

Some places are starting to do away with spring games, like Arizona, which replaced the game with a practice that had fans calling plays, trying to kick field goals, and overpowering actual offensive linemen.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has another crazy idea to spice up spring: Play against other teams. (Other people have proposed this before, but Freeze has clearly thought it through.)

I’m a proponent of playing another school at the end of each other’s spring practice, charge $5 and give every bit of the money after the travel team gets their expenses paid to a charity of choice. I think that we would all get a lot out of that and you can play one on ones, twos on twos, threes on threes and just get a lot done.

I'm going to guess for most people, that would be preferable to trying to figure out how many points a two-hand touch sack is worth to the defense.

What if we made neutral-site doubleheaders, sometimes pairing big schools with small locals?

Hugh Kellenberger proposes a big Mississippi spring event:

There is a generation of people in Jackson that fondly remember the days of Ole Miss and Mississippi State playing doubleheaders at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Coliseum. [...] could this be a way to bring it back? The SWAC schools could organize to play on Friday, with a Saturday doubleheader featuring the Rebels and Bulldogs playing a yearly rotation of Southern Miss and a regional school (Tulane, Louisiana-Monroe, Memphis, South Alabama, etc ...).

Bringing together teams from across regions to play a light game in the spring would work in lots of places, so I tried to put together some other groups you might watch.

We probably shouldn't expect Michigan and Ohio State to face without somebody getting carried away, and we'd want to make sure November rivalries remain special, but they could at least share a vicinity. (These could also function as joint recruiting camps, while the NCAA figures out its satellite camps thing. So let's look at some interesting recruiting regions.)

Birmingham, Alabama: Alabama vs. UAB and Auburn vs. Troy

The scenes for a game between UAB and Alabama in the Blazers' stadium alone are worth it, considering a lot of folks think the State Board of Trustees (briefly) shut down UAB football for the supposed benefit of Tuscaloosa. This would be spicier than pepper spray. We got the most farfetched one out of the way first.

Atlanta, Georgia: Georgia vs. Georgia State and Georgia Tech vs. Georgia Southern

None of these fan bases seem to like each other, which is all you need. Also, a game between option-based Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern might end in an hour and a half, and that's what's most important.

A rotating list of cities in Texas: A bunch of Texas schools in various combinations

You could get at least three great games out of the major programs in Texas, and even more if you keep digging down into Group of Five teams. Have the games kick off on a Friday night and go all weekend. It would be great! Also, Texas and Texas A&M can either play each other for once or keep calling the other ones cowards and haters. Whatever works.

Somewhere in Florida: Florida vs. UCF, Florida State vs. USF, Miami vs. FIU/FAU, or big schools vs. each other and small schools vs. each other

There's a lot of juice between the big three schools in the Sunshine State, but it's been a while since Florida and Miami played. USF and UCF can't stand each other either. That's an odd number of teams, though, so we'd have to have the Floridas International and Atlantic duke it out for the honor of playing one of the big teams.

Any big California town: USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, etc.

There's a number of good G5 programs in California you could mix in, but there's such perfect congruity with these big-four programs that you might not have to.

Cleveland or Detroit or thereabout: Michigan vs. Notre Dame and Michigan State vs. Ohio State

Ohio and Michigan teams have more than enough in-state competition to work with, but why not bring Notre Dame back into the equation for some old-timey hate in the springtime? This assumes you could get Michigan and Notre Dame to agree to anything, which, well, maybe!

Basketball regional: Indiana, Purdue, Kentucky, Louisville

The recent flareup in basketball between Indiana and Kentucky would make this a fun scenario, even if the actual football isn't great. But whatever, it's April. You'd watch Purdue-Louisville.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah, BYU, Boise State, Utah State

This checklist includes a triumvirate of in-state rivals and a marquee program from one state over. Any combo of matchups here would sell.

Deep in Middle Appalachia: Any mix of Penn State, Pitt, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech

Most of these programs have deals to play games over the next decade anyway. Just get them started early and let the fun grow organically. There's some good pre-1990s realignment hate here that people have forgotten about in addition to the obvious rivalries, and that's a rich natural resource just waiting to be tapped.

What else would be fun?