I just got back from vacation this week and started catching up on my college football feeds to see what I had missed while I was away. Aside from the major stories going on, I saw a few stories in particular that I sort of rolled my eyes at. I will not go so far as to single them out individually, as I do respect those who wrote the stories and the outlets where they can be found, and I do not wish to look as though I am criticizing either. To me, however, they were stories that are run every year during the offseason, and I feel as though they have been done so long that it was time to finally put together a list of the top college football offseason stories that have become painfully routine and no longer hold my interest. I quickly came up with five.
Top 5 offseason #content strategies:
1. Big 12 expansion
2. Jim Harbaugh vs. SEC
3. Mt. Rushmore
4. Dream matchups
5. Coaching hot seats
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) June 16, 2016
The next morning it dawned on me I completely forgot to mention one of the biggest waste of time filler pieces there is in the college football offseason…
Yesterday I ranked the top five off-season forms of #content for college football. Can't believe I left out "Way-too-early top 25 rankings."
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) June 17, 2016
1. Way-Too-Early Top 25
The college football season saw a national champion crowned four hours ago, which means if you have not already posted your way-too-early top 25 for the next season by now you are already behind the competition. The rush to push out a top 25 for the next season, likely with the recently crowned national champion locked in to one of the top three spots, is as routine as anything during the offseason, and it continues to be painfully redundant and uninformative. If you publish a way-too-early top 25, you are not accounted for the incoming recruiting class, a handful of transfers to and from programs, potential coaching changes sure to come and who knows what else. The absurd thing is the author is admitting this is a waste of space because the title alone suggests this is way too early to mean anything (but please give it a click anyway and leave an angry comment about disrespecting your favorite program).
Perhaps next season I will keep tabs on the various way-too-early top 25 polls and compare it to the actual; top 25 teams the following season.
2. Big 12 expansion rumors
We all have the Big 12 to blame for this. The conference spends more time deliberating and leading on Big 12 hopefuls for months and months until they become years and years. If BYU has not been invited yet, perhaps the ship has sailed. Connecticut? UCF? If we are breaking these schools down as ideal Big 12 candidates, perhaps we should find something else to discuss. Feel free to throw in any other hypothetical realignment story you have read under this category too, especially the ones mocking up a quartet of 16-team conferences. That always generates some buzz.
3. Satellite camp debates
I do agree this is a topic worth further discussion as we evaluate whether or not some form of regulation on the operating procedures for satellite camps may be needed, but this has turned into a cycle of offseason arguments that goes something like this.
SEC: Satellite camps are bad.
Jim Harbaugh: Crybabies.
SEC: You need to think about the children, and let us see our children!
Harbaugh: Fight me
SEC: You’re only saying that because you’re isolated in cold Michigan
Harbaugh: Whatever. I’m going to go wear a local-themed jersey to wow the kids now.
Or something like that. It reached a point this spring where Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked to comment on Harbaugh’s reaction to previous statements made by Saban. It’s like high school gossip. Did you hear what he said about what you said? What are you going to say next?
This tends to be a topic that pops up between signing day and the NFL Draft. In this exercise we debate which school is best known for each position on the field. This leads to an endless supply of debate over what school should rightfully be called Quarterback-U, Running Back-U, Linebacker-U and so on. It also keeps graphic artists at schools busy as they use this material to pump out fresh recruiting material, and with multiple outlets leading us to the possibility of multiple schools earning the same title, there will be plenty of discussion on the subject.
5. Mt. Rushmore
Another staple of the college football offseason is Mt. Rushmore season. This is when outlets will start going through each program and coming up with a fresh take on what four personalities would best represent the history of said program. It’s a great way to fill some space around President’s Day or any other patriotic-themed holiday.
6. Dream matchups
It is bound to happen at some point over the summer when somebody starts dreaming up some college football matchups they would love to see. Often times this is a mix of rekindling some old rivalries (Texas vs. Texas A&M, Pitt vs. West Virginia) and other times it is simply just pairing up power programs that rarely or never play (Alabama vs. Oregon is a lock for this category). These stories can be pounded out quickly and cater to selected fanbases who want to cry foul on their old rivals at every opportunity.
7. EPL Relegation in College Football
The crossover of college football fans and fans of the English Premiere League has helped pave the way for another seemingly annual content strategy in which the college football hypothetically adopts a relegation system. In it, the bottom teams in the power conferences are bumped out of the conference in favor of top-ranked teams from the Group of Five conference or conferences that sits in the same geographic region. As far as I am concerned, the only one of these worth following is the one authored by Bill Connelly for SB Nation. He has been keeping track of his own relegation record for years and thus has the most comprehensive look on the idea of relegation in college football. This is all for fun, of course, but this will never ever happen in the sport.
8. Preseason all-conference teams
One of the biggest wastes of time in college football may be the publication of preseason all-conference and preseason All-American teams. These are essentially just watch lists published by either select outlets or the conferences themselves. All this turns out being is a masterful way to drum up press releases to send out to media types, who then are encouraged to write up a story about a player or players being named to some watch list. I am guilty of falling for this ploy time and time again, so I am hardly one to rip it entirely. It works every darn time.
9. Recruiting star rankings vs. NFL Draft
For some reason there are people who choose to make a big deal out of the recruiting star rankings when it comes to the NFL Draft. In truth, being a five-star player does historically have a higher rate of success when it comes to being drafted by an NFL franchise, and four-star players tend to have a better chance of being drafted than three-star players and below. And you know what? Sometimes a Carson Went comes along and goes against the grain. Sometimes a player like J.J. Watt blossoms along the way and flies in the face of star rankings. I always feel arguing over recruiting rankings when discussing the NFL Draft is a weird argument, but only because the argument seems to miss the target.
Let’s settle this once and for all and put aside the future columns ripping the recruiting ranking system. The recruiting rankings are used to evaluate high school talent, not pro talent. The recruiting experts are evaluating high school players that have yet to fully develop and projecting what kind of college football player they will be. Some might make some comparisons to NFL players in their notes and perhaps even suggest a recruit could potentially be on his way to the pros, but the main thing they are focused on is how good of a college player they will be in the next few years. When these players leave college, they are bigger, stronger and faster than when they were coming out of high school, and some players take immense strides to improve during their college careers. Because of that, they are a different talent to be evaluated by NFL scouts and coaches, who are also looking at some slightly different aspects of a player leading up to the draft than the recruiting experts may have been paying attention to during the recruiting process.
10. The Field of 64
College football is great and we finally got a playoff format off the ground to crown a national champion. Still, few would argue the NCAA basketball tournament is pretty terrific. The field of 64 has been expanded twice to get to 68 teams, but every year in the month of March you will be sure to see outlets put together their own football Field of 64. This has been done in multiple ways. You can take the most recent college football season and seed the top 64 teams and play out a hypothetical football bracket. You can also take the best teams over the course of time, eras, national champions, single players, traditions, fight songs and so on. Be as creative as you can, because you know other outlets are going to be doing the same with what they believe is a unique approach as well and you need to stand out as best you can!
What did I miss?
Did I miss any good annual offseason stories that you particularly enjoy or roll your eyes over? Mind you, I left out stuff like spring meetings and media days for the most part, because those do typically give us some good points to discuss. And actual preview content is expected over the summer too, so no need to mention that. Leave your comments below to add to this list if you have anything that qualifies.