It’s the end of January, which is a great time to be writing for a college football blog, what with all of the breaking developments and interesting goings-on this time of year.
[long, uncomfortable silence]
Please, you have to help me. Spencer’s gonna have my knees!
[extremely smooth segue] Anyways, I got to thinking the other day - one of the criticisms often leveled at sportswriting and sports-adjacent-whatever-it-is-I-do-here-writing is that the people behind the computers often never played the sport. That’s true! I never played college football. Neither did many of you, I suspect. Wouldn’t I love to have been given that chance, though?
Of course, I’m 35, built like a non-super-powered Peter Parker, and I have the grace and coordination of a newborn foal. There’s a reason I wrote for the school paper instead of playing football.
Still, I had to wonder - if I could play for any college football team in history, who would I play for? My two favorite teams, personally, have been the 2009 Cincinnati Bearcats and (I’m sorry) the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Both had undefeated regular seasons, punctuated by a number of thrilling, down-to-the-wire contests. That’s a problem. You see, they definitely couldn’t have spared anything. A few plays going a different way, and we’re talking about a Bearcats team that could’ve lost narrowly to Connecticut, West Virginia or Pitt - or a Buckeyes team that could’ve lost in overtime to Miami, for instance. If they’ve got a wholly unqualified player at one position, history plays out entirely different.
So here’s the question I’m posing to you, the reader:
If you could play for any team in college football history, BUT you have to be a regular starter for the whole season, what team would you choose and what position would you play?
There’s a few angles you can take here, right off the bat:
THE EASY WAY OUT: 1901 MICHIGAN
The 1901 Wolverines went 11-0, outscoring their opponents by an aggregate of 550-0. It is safe to say that even my fumbling presence would not be enough to swing their closest game, a 21-0 victory over Ohio State. Also, I’m average-sized by present-day standards and I’ve had all my vaccinations. I might actually be good on this team. They’d give me one of those old-timey football player nicknames like “The Presbyterian Pugilist” or “Stanley The Quarterhorse” or “The Action Cookbook”. This is a safe bet.
Also, it sucks and is lame. The largest crowd they played against was 10,000. If I wanted to do that, I’d have picked Al Golden-era Miami.
NOTHING BUT A GOOD TIME: BOBBY COLLINS-ERA SMU
It just seems like it’d be a lot of fun, they’d probably still win a ton of games, I’d get to drive a cool sports car around 1980s Dallas, and I could probably play on the line and miss my blocking assignments to let Craig James get steamrolled a few times.
DOUBLE AGENT: 2009 TEXAS LONGHORNS
Did you know that if even one thing changed in their season - say, them not getting an extra second put back on the clock so that they could kick a game-winning field goal against Nebraska in the Big XII title game - that Cincinnati likely would’ve climbed enough in the BCS standings to play in the national championship, potentially drastically altering the course of coaching moves and realignment in the ensuing years? You didn’t know that? I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned it before. Here, take this pamphlet.
Anyways, I’m also a Browns fan, so I’m probably also letting Colt McCoy take a few extra hits. It’s nothing personal.
CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: 1968 USC TROJANS
Playing for a dominant team in Southern California in the late ‘60s sounds like about as much fun as a lifestyle could be, and maybe I could have some chats with some of my teammates about anger management and impulse control.
PRESENT-DAY ALABAMA KICKER
I can’t be that much worse.
RECENT PAST OLE MISS
[holding big canvas sack that’s shaped like money] It’s just always been my dream to play in [checks notes written on hand] Voip Hammerhead Stadium.
I just think it’d be great to earn the chance to play in a Rose Bowl.
1973 OHIO STATE
I just think it’d be great to play in a Rose Bowl.
If I’m going to be a part of history merely by showing up and not through any actual sense of merit, I might as well do it right.
Please, offer your suggestions below.