College football is struggling in the Northeast. Big time.
I personally have trouble getting really into college football. I’m a huge sports fan and open to new trends – I started following the EPL early in middle school and got into the NBA despite coming from a family that did not watch much basketball. But for some reason, I can’t get into NCAAF. And I think it may because of where I grew up.
The Northeast has seen its fair share of Superbowl dominance over the last ten years – the last two-thirds of the Patriots’ dynasty and the takeover by the Giants and the Steelers in the battle for “team of the decade.” Travel farther west and you see Peyton finally getting his ring with the Colts and the NFL’s most widely owned team winning another.
The odd state out here is Ohio, home of a fanbase that has seen disappointment after disappointment. The Indians certainly have a case here, but the Browns may be the biggest embarrassment today. Luckily for the state of Ohio, there’s college football, where Ohio State has dominated the last ten years…at least relative to its northern brethren.
College football in the northeast falls victim to the other big four (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). A lot of the NCAAF’s following comes from students who want to take in their full college experience, or dedicated alumni or family of alumni who come back for every game. But if you look at the professional sports teams in these Northeastern states, there is a lot of success, which can cloud any successes college teams have.
The big team for Massachusetts is obviously BC, Doug Flutie being a legend in the state’s sports, from the Hail Mary to the smaller stage of the Drop Kick. There’s also Matty “Ice” Ryan, who’s currently having his career year. But since moving to the ACC, things haven’t been pretty for the Eagles, and they’re merely a team that other top 25 organizations can beat up on. Hey, at least UMass had Victor Cruz.
Speaking of New York teams, the state with the winningest professional baseball team hasn’t fielded a solid college football team in a while. Syracuse is the first college that comes to mind, which has produced notable pros including Larry Csonka, Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Donavan McNabb. AND CHANDLER JONES, GO PATS.
Pennsylvania is where this argument slips up a bit, having fielded decent teams in Pitt and Penn State. There are plenty of players from both sides that made pros, and it’s still a huge part of the Pennsylvania’s sports culture. If you ask most people from Pittsburgh who is their number one team, they’ll most likely say the Steelers. Expecting to win the Superbowl every season can do that. You could ask people in Philly the same question but they’ll probably yell or throw garbage at you. True story.
What’s disappointing about being from a region where college football is not a big deal is the that you miss the culture that surrounds Saturday. It’s an all day party and because they’re not dealing with freezing temperatures in the heart of the season, it’s a lot of fun. Sure, there’s tailgating for the pro football teams, but it loses a bit of its communal feel when it’s a pond of a pregame, rather than an ocean.
It’s just a different experience to be a part of a college football community, as there is little-to-no room for fair-weather and casual fans. Hell, an Alabama fan poisoned a tree to show how dedicated he was…ROLL TIDE. But seriously, that was an extremely creepy happening.
NCAAF football fans live and die by the rankings and the chance to be in a bowl game. The playoff system could make each game even more manic, while also being more inclusive. States like Mississippi, Alabama, and Oklahoma don’t field pro teams, so following the top 25 can be the top priority as a sports fan.
It could be the age of the fans, that the teams generate more revenue, or could be that the southern colleges are just more fun. But what is known, is that when it comes to the Northeast and the Southeast, the line between college and professional football is clearly drawn.