You know Canada, Germany, and Japan have American football leagues, and you know about players from Australia, Polynesia, and West Africa. You know about the international world championships of American football. And you know the NFL’s been trying to make London happen forever, along with Mexico City and Toronto.
But did you know 2016’s season-opening game, Cal vs. Hawaii in Sydney, isn’t the first game between American colleges in Australia, let alone anywhere near the first college game played outside the United States?
Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the United Kingdom have college leagues for American football, so there’s technically college football happening all over the world anyway. But if we just look at times American colleges have played games elsewhere, we have a map like this, spanning from the 1870s in Canada to this year’s games in Sydney and Ireland (Boston College-Georgia Tech in Dublin):
Data via Wikipedia and elsewhere
There’s been a steady trickle of these games since the 1874 Harvard-McGill series, which McGill still claims included the first-ever football game, snubbing 1869’s Rutgers-Princeton. (Yep, college football was played in Canada almost 20 years before it was played by Deep South colleges.)
They went dormant for a while after World War II, but a five-game European tour between Texas A&M-Kingsville and Henderson State re-sparked the fad, which included a long-running bowl-ish game in Tokyo until 1992.
Ireland’s about to have hosted four games since 2010, the glorious Bahamas Bowl exists now, and any sort of a success in Sydney will probably mean more games in the Pacific. So Cal-Hawaii won’t be anywhere near the first or last of these games.
Where next? Well, Texas' former AD wanted Mexico City, the Pac-12 wants to spread itself all the way to China, and there's talk of the Big 12 expanding all the way to Connecticut.
Wait, why are we doing this thing in Australia anyway? Here are four reasons.
Bill C’s final returning experience rankings now have Louisville at No. 1. Hmmmmmm!
So Alabama really might start a true freshman QB? Yep, and here’s why that’s terrifying for the SEC.
The NCAA asked some SEC West players to snitch on Ole Miss. Oh, that will definitely go fine for everyone involved and have no repercussions whatsoever at other universities.
UNC’s head coach defended his hire of the disgraced Tim Beckman as a volunteer, and then Beckman left pretty much hours later.
Michigan State has hijacked and modified a beloved Michigan slogan. Just tweet, Jim Harbaugh. Go ahead and just tweet what you’re thinking about this.
The new Playoff rankings schedule is out, and yeah, they’re gonna plunk a top-25 show right in the middle of Election Night.
If the Oakland Raiders move to this golden basket in Las Vegas, UNLV might luck into a huge stadium upgrade.
I don’t know why all these coaches are giving their opponents the most precious of secrets and surrendering gigantic tactical advantages by naming their starting quarterbacks*, but TCU’s going with Kenny Trill, Auburn picks a guy who wasn’t very great last year over the guy who had the good JUCO game last year, Virginia Tech chooses an interesting JUCO transfer, and Wisconsin picks a fifth-year senior over a freshman.
* I’m kidding lol
I linked you to this collection of NCAA Football dynasty stories yesterday, but please allow me to quote this comment by Ryan Larson, which is the finest video game story ever and the grandest tale of petty revenge ever concocted:
Most people want to turn teams into powerhouses, I went the opposite direction. After starting my career in NCAA 13 as the offensive coordinator for Memphis, I spent eight years turning the Tigers into a four time national champion. However, each year I won the national championship, I had to play Alabama in the title game. I found it interesting that after eight years of competition, teams like Alabama, Notre Dame and Texas never lost more than two games and never had worse than a Top 5 recruiting class.
Well after conquering every mountain in Memphis, I decided to look for new opportunities in the coaching world. One job that popped up was particularly interesting. The animated version of Nick Saban had retired and Alabama, obviously impressed by my continued beating of them in the National Championship and the general sexiness of my computer generated face, offered me the job. It’s not like it’s hard to win titles at Bama, so I decided to take on a new challenge, destroying everything Nick Saban had worked so hard to create.
I took the job and I began walking the fine line between keeping my job and doing enough to ruin the program for good. I dove into recruiting and as a truly amazing coach and even better person, I decided to make the dreams of 1-star recruits come true by offering them scholarships to play for the Crimson Tide. These guys couldn’t start for their high school teams but I wanted them to come start for the premier team in the country. I still had to get a couple of high level recruits to not get fired but they were immediately cut. I won eight games a season with Nick Saban’s prized recruits but didn’t win a single bowl game, ensuring that Alabama slowly fell from college football’s peak to mid-level team. After four years of this, I had cycled through any quality talent left at Alabama and now the roster consisted entirely of 1-star players and the team’s overall was a 57. D-minuses all around for the Crimson Tide.
My work at Bama done, I promptly jumped ship to lowly (as low as it got in the SEC West in ’13) Ole Miss, which meant I could play Alabama each year and beat them each year in humiliating fashion. Bama never recovered. They won five games over their next four years, and I laughed maniacally in year five as I watched them lose their final game to Auburn to go 0-12. That season I hung 100 on the Crimson Tide and forced 11 turnovers with on my way to my first title with Ole Miss. I last played that dynasty 10 years after I left Alabama. Their best season was 3-9.
This is my greatest achievement.