While driving to the airport to pick up my grandmother and take her back home on Sunday, I was listening to ESPN Radio with Mel Kiper Jr. and Andy Pollan.
The topic they were discussing was where college football fits in with the national sports hierarchy, as far as popularity goes.
Mel's take was that the NFL was #1, by a long shot, then came college football, then college basketball, then came Major League Baseball, then the NBA.
Andy's take was the NFL, then the NBA, then MLB, then college football and then college basketball.
Mel grew up in the Baltimore area, where Andy grew up in the New York City area. I think that is worth noting.
Mel thought Andy was nuts, and Andy said that college football was only popular in pockets across the country.
My cell phone battery was way low; otherwise I would have called in. I was dying to enter into this discussion.
I would agree with each of them that the NFL is by far and away the most popular sport in America. Their revenue sharing platform and the limited number of games is key. Each and every playoff game in the NFL is like game seven of the NBA, NHL or MLB playoffs…its one and done. That is why the NCAA college hoops tourney is so popular.
I would rate college football #2, college hoops #3, MLB #4 and the NBA #5.
Andy's assertion that college football is just regionally popular and that Mel was too close to the college game, therefore his opinion was jaded, borders on the absurd to me. Mel added that recruiting helps make college football a year round sport. Andy asked ‘Do you think Arkansas fans are sitting around in a café talking about recruiting like it's any big deal?'
Uh, yeah Andy, I do. Those of you that have followed Hawkeye football via this website know that to be the case.
Recruiting has become a season unto itself.
As I thought about it, I could think of just one region in the country where college football might not be a really big thing; the Northeast, namely, New York.
Not all New Yorkers are like Andy. But it did not shock me to hear his sentiments.
Penn State and Syracuse are probably the two main draws in NYC. Rutgers could be a sleeping giant out east, as they have a large enrollment, at least by Iowa standards, and are in the NYC TV market, though they are a Jersey school.
If I were to put on a New Yorker's hat and rate the sports, I would go NFL #1, MLB #2, College Hoops #3, NBA #4 and who gives a rats patoot for the rest.
Basketball is very big out east, and you have the Philly influence that comes to play, in addition to St. Johns. The Knicks have always been big there, too.
But I think Andy is dead wrong on the college football front. America is in love with the sport, and an ESPN radio analyst with such a big audience should realize that.
LA is more in love with the Trojans and Bruins than they are with the NFL. Football is king in Texas and in the south. The Big Ten is a league that loves both football and basketball, and has led the nation in college hoops attendance for a long, long time, and trails only the SEC in football attendance per year.
I think the prerequisite stadium capacity in the SEC is about 80,000…but the Big Ten does a great job in its own right.
So Andy, yes, college football is huge across the nation, in every nook and cranny, save New York City. Life does indeed exist beyond your borders.
Speaking of college football, Hawkeye Nation the Magazine will begin its second year in August with our Iowa Football Preview.
Thanks to all of you that made our first publishing season a great success. We were the fastest start up magazine to four-digit subscribers in the history of Citadel Publishing.
We learned a lot this past year, and are excited to apply that experience to our second volume of issues.
The cover of that issue is to the right, and we hope to have a ‘swarm-like' flavor each and every year for our preview. After all, the Iowa Football program is all about team, and we feel that singling out just one player for the preview would go against what the Hawks are all about.
If you have yet to subscribe to the magazine and would like more information, CLICK HERE. It is truly a one of a kind publication that has been well received throughout the Iowa Athletic department, due to the great degree of professionalism that goes into each and every issue.
You will not read game stories in the magazine; we cover those online. The magazine is more about taking you behind the scenes of the athletic programs, in addition to focusing on the personal stories that make the Hawkeyes great.
We have several exciting features planned for the 2004-2005 publishing season and we hope that you come along for the ride.
We told you about Clinton Solomon's return to the Hawkeye football team on Friday.
He is a welcomed addition to the wide receiving corps, but don't look for him to be the savior.
What he does add is depth to a unit that was in need of it, as he showed promise as a true freshman in 2002. We all remember his one-handed grab on the sideline against Utah State that went for more than 40-yards. That play is a big reason that so many Iowa fans are excited to have him back.
Like most true freshmen, he had an up and down season on the field in 2002 and at times appeared to lack focus.
Let's hope that a year away from the Hawkeyes, and having to watch them from nearby Iowa Central Community College put a fire in Solomon's belly and will have him focused from the get go.
He starts training with the Hawkeyes today (Monday, June 7th).
Several incoming freshmen will also begin training with the team for the summer workout segment that begins on Monday.
If you didn't get a chance to read it over the weekend, be sure to check out the latest tidbits and rumors regarding Iowa football from ‘The Shadow' that was posted in the HN Clubhouse on Saturday: CLICK HERE
It's hard to believe that in two months, the Big Ten will hold its annual college football media gathering in Chicago…summer has yet to begin and college football is just around the corner.