Spring Football The Answer For “Have Nots”?
SMU head football coach, June Jones recently said in a radio interview with Tampa radio station WDAE the “have nots” of college football (SMU’s American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, The Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and the Sun Belt Conference) should consider playing their games during the spring, away from the “Power 5″ conferences (SEC, Big XII, Pac 12, Big Ten and ACC).
At first glance, the idea seems far-fetched at best and unworkable in the least. However, after the initial “preposterous-ness” of Jones comments wears off—it makes sense at some levels.
A: The “Have Nots” need to do something soon to avoid extinction at worst, becoming “white noise” at least. This proposal from Jones at least gets the conversation started.
B: Spring college football has a huge advantage over failed professional spring leagues. The USFL and XFL didn’t work because fans never really bought in for the long haul. One of the main reasons? The fan bases were conjured out of thin air! SMU, Louisiana Tech, UL-Lafayette, Ohio University, Boise State, etc. already HAVE fan bases. In other words, the product already has buying customers.
C: Television networks are looking for inventory. Fox Sports 1 has nothing compared to ESPN’s inventory, especially in the spring when college hoops and the NBA dominate the 4-letter’s airwaves. Counter-program with SMU vs. Louisville/Louisiana Tech vs. Marshall football? There are worse ideas. ESPN would be foolish not to consider spring college football on ESPNU or ESPN2. When the NCAA Tournament rolls around on the CBS family, ESPN shows… the NIT? The watered down version of casual basketball fans’ be-all, end-all event? If you’re at home, watching television on a Saturday afternoon in late March and you’re partially interested in college basketball, you’re watching the NCAA tourney, not the drunk uncle version on ESPN. That same partially interested college hoops fan is more than likely a college football fan. If he or she is given a choice to watch the aforementioned double-dip of regular season college football compared to a #1 Seed face a #9 Seed in the NCAA Tourney, there’s more than a snowball’s chance in Shreveport the fan will tune into football.
I’m not ready to jump feet-first into Jones idea as the perfect solution. But something needs to be done… soon. At least the spring football proposal is a building block.