Big and small in college footballI was able to speak by phone about three hours ago to my old friend Matt Daley, my former radio partner, who decided to go back to school and get a second degree this year. His first degree is in mass communications, his second degree will be in sports management. Matt chose one of the best sports management programs in the country to get that degree- the program at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Matt was able to get tickets for today's game between Ohio State and Bowling Green at Ohio Stadium (which Ohio State leads 21-0 in the second quarter as I write this), and he called to brag just a bit about the great seats that he was able to snag (you know it is a call to brag when the first words out of your buddy's mouth are "you'll never guess where I'm sitting"). His call spawned a discussion about why large schools like Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, or Georgia play small schools like MTSU, Bowling Green, UAB, or Georgia Southern.
We are prone to write off these small opponents that play our favorite college teams as "gimmie games" and frequently enough they are just that. What we forget is that the reason such games take place has as much to do with the smaller schools as the great powers of the game. If the small schools never had the opportunity to play the old powers, they would never generate enough money in today's college football climate to keep their programs and their small conferences (such as the MAC) alive. Bowling Green, for example, was given over $600,000 to play Ohio State today-enough to run their football program for the rest of the year. Small schools are where the game was born, and it would be a miscarriage of justice for those institutions never to have their day in the college football sun.
Aside from that, if there were no big vs. small games in college football, we would never hear of the impossible upset, which very occasionally does happen.