Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Spring scrimmage against another team?
By Edward Aschoff
Let's face it; spring games aren't exactly exciting.
Sure, getting to see your team kind of go hard at the end of a month of spring practice has its moments, but it's mostly a snoozefest for those in the stands. You usually don't learn a ton from spring games and the best players often skip them.
But what if the NCAA decided to tweak these games. Maybe, let teams travel to other stadiums and actually play another team? Put it on national television and we're talking more money to spread around. I know, it sounds crazy, but you have to admit it beats seeing Team A collide with Team A over and over again. It actually makes a spring game watchable!
Well, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he thinks it would be a good thing if teams were allowed to play other teams to end the spring. His criteria would be that teams could only play out-of-conference opponents but within a reasonable driving distance, such as 100 or 200 miles, the revenue generated from the game (and I'm sure there would be a lot) could be given back to the schools or donated to charity, and rules for the game would be agreed upon by the coaches of each team before the game. If a school doesn't want to partake in the festivities, it doesn't have too, but it sure is missing out.
Here's some of what Swinney said about his idea:
"The good thing about doing something like this is that in the spring time, you don’t have your whole team there. Like last spring, for example, we were missing 31 guys for spring ball. So we were very, very thin. This year, we have more bodies on hand. But still, every time you practice against each other in a scrimmage, you’re 100-percent invested with your personnel, as opposed to if you go and scrimmage somebody else. You’re scrimmaging their defense, while your defense is on the sidelines. When your offense is out there, your defense is on the sidelines. You’re not 100-percent vested with what’s going on. I just think there’s something good with that.
"Plus I think a scrimmage would be a great way to further teach our guys and prepare them for the season … to be able to implement your schemes against another opponent, and it could be against anybody."
Swinney's right. Coaches would have more time to analyze everything that's happening on one side of the ball without having to constantly watch both the offense and the defense at the same time. That's a win for coaches, especially when their dealing with youngsters or plugging in new players. Also, you don't run into the whole issue of the defense knowing what the offense is going to do and vice versa.
Sure schools are going to wonder about revenue when having to play on the road, but that's where national television comes in. I'm sure that wouldn't be an issue. Putting these games on for the country to see means more money and it certainly helps with recruiting -- something every coach would love.
And remember, this is a scrimmage, so play as many people as you can. It won't affect your season record ... because it's a scrimmage.
Worried about injuries? Things getting a little testy? Don't be. It's Division 1 football! Injuries happen in practice all the time and teammates turn on each other all the time. Both happen regardless of who's on the field.
"I think it would be fun. I think the players would enjoy it. I think the fans would enjoy it," Swinney said. "But that’s just one guy’s opinion."
And it's a good opinion.
Here are some fun matchups that could happen if such a thing were possible:
- Alabama-Florida State: OK, so this would be a 300-plus-mile journey, but these are two good football names and they share plenty of recruiting battles. Surely that would be enticing to both coaching staffs.
- Arkansas-Oklahoma: A little more than 200 miles separates a great offensive spring game.
- Auburn-Georgia Tech: Atlanta isn't far at all from Auburn and that Georgia Tech running game can prep just about any defense.
- Florida-Miami: Another 300-plus-mile trip, but it'd be well worth it for both schools. This rivalry needs to be revisited more than it is.
- Georgia-Clemson: These two play in private basketball scrimmages every year, so why not translate it to the football field?
- Kentucky-Cincinnati: This isn't much of a drive at all, so it's really a no-brainer for both schools.
- LSU-Tulane: Another no-brainer in the travel department and a good time is liable to break out afterward.
- Mississippi State-Southern Miss: The Bulldogs play Ole Miss every year, so switch things up and head south before the year starts.
- Missouri-Kansas: Renewal of a pretty good rivalry.
- Ole Miss-Memphis: Those around both programs know this has been a pretty heated rivalry. Spring together would be great!
- South Carolina-North Carolina: Battle of the Carolinas. Sounds good to me.
- Tennessee-Virginia Tech: Not a taxing drive and it gets the Hokies into SEC territory.
- Texas A&M-Texas: I'll let the Aggies fans tell us why this one would be so great.
- Vanderbilt-Louisville: Relatively new coaches surpassing expectations. Nice.