Saturday, October 19, 2013

Potato Skins vs. Pigs-in-a-Blanket

With the weather finally cooling down, I have been more inclined to do what the good lord intended on football Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (and occasionally Monday), which is bake, finger foods. What is football season without snacks and refreshments- just a bunch of dudes sweating and shouting in clothing that is often too tight.

            However my finger food anecdote is what leads me, interestingly enough, to an age-old debate on which is better, NCAA football or the NFL. For the sake of time I will simply tell you I concluded that the NCAA was like fully loaded potato skins. There is just so much going on what with the sour cream, chives, bacon bits and cheese all mashed into a salty wedge of potato; so many individual talents trying to stand out and yet all playing on the same team.

While on the other hand there is the NFL much like a traditional pig-in-a-blanket. The recipe has remained unchanged for as long as the Americas have been around and while the ingredients are simple enough no one turns down the master craftsmanship of a mini sausage in flaky crescent bread.

Let’s break it down by what we know- football is the greatest sport known to man. It’s a sport that rings in a season. It unites a city, and galvanizes a fan base. It warrants multitudes of parties a year and dominates the water cooler conversation on Mondays and just about every other day if given the chance.

Football season consists of fewer games than any other major sport, yet it has become a year round obsession by fans nationwide, and a year-round job for its players, coaches, beat sports writers and Campbell’s soup.

Just the thought of the season gives goose bumps to even the most hardened of men and well-rounded women.

So with that said let us stack the facts for what we know about potato skins aka NCAA football and pigs-in-a-blanket aka the NFL.

The NFL has the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bears. There is plenty of history here for some very marketable names. The League dates back to 1920 when it was first known as the American Professional Football Association.

The NCAA has the Michigan Wolverines, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and the University of Texas Longhorns. Even more history here as the first documented game of “football” was played in 1869 pitting Rutgers against Princeton.

In addition to the history advantage, there are over 100 teams in the NCAA compared to only 32 in the NFL. Think shopping at an HEB compared to a Piggly Wiggly. As far as teams go the advantage goes to NCAA.

The NCAA has crazy shirtless youngsters with chests painted their team colors as they chant in unison to their fight song, hold up signature hand signs and do just about anything to be put on the big screen. They scream that their team is number one when in actuality they have yet to make the Top 25. They pack into stadiums like sardines, and in some cases can cause small towns to become the most populated in the state on game day. Sometimes the only reason anyone visits that town is to catch the football game.

The NFL has scary-intense, creative fans that often drop everything to be at their team’s game. They take pride in having traveled hundreds of miles, camped out for days and wearing something ridiculous all for the love of their team. They also dominate the apparel industry as players’ names are allowed to be on jerseys.

Bottom line though- even with the NCAA having almost four times as many teams as the NFL, we never see over 100,000 pack in for an NFL game as we do commonly in college games. As far as fans go I’m going to say the advantage here is NCAA.

The NCAA has some of the most talented athletes in the country fighting for the glory and their future every week. They have blue chip prospects and five star recruits. They have college visits, and National Signing Day, but they don’t have the best, and they are only there for a handful of years.

The NFL on the other hand does have the best. They have the draft, free agency and trades. You can have a star play 10-15 years for your team or you can bring in a player you have hated on for years.
Being able to follow special players for a career rather than a four-year period makes the players in the NFL household names. Whether loving them, or loving to hate them, you are able to form a stronger bond in the NFL. As far as players go I’d say advantage NFL.

The NCAA has the rich history of its bowl games. Every year college football teams fight for the possibility of going to a bowl. The National Championship is decided by the winner of the BCS Championship, which I don’t always agree with. Its participants are tabulated by a formula factoring in polls and rankings.

The NFL has a true playoff system. Basically, the top six teams from each conference battle in a single elimination tournament that culminates in the mother of all bowls, the Super Bowl.

The NCAA appears to still have difficulty deciding its champion. The Super Bowl accounts for nine of the top ten most watched shows in the history of television. The championship advantage clearly goes to NFL.

So here we stand with no tie-breaking advantage. I suppose in the end the great debate continues but what’ll it be: pigs-in-a-blanket or potato skins.