Randy Smith: The Evolution Of College Football

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

As we are almost half-way through 2014, we are a mere few months away from the birthday of the biggest sport in the world; college football. When Rutgers beat Princeton on Nov. 6, 1869, no one alive on that day could have believed what they had just started. The game was played without helmets, for Pete’s sake. 145 years later, and college football is about to embark on perhaps its biggest adventure.

The BCS system to determine a national champion is no more. At the end of the 2014 season, four teams will be chosen by a rather large committee to compete in a four-team playoff. College football fans have been lighting up the airwaves on sports’ talk shows debating the pros and cons of the new system as well as making bold predictions about the four teams that will be involved.

The Bowl Championship Series, (BCS) lived to be just seventeen years old. Most fans and coaches are glad it’s gone, though Tennessee fans can always brag about the fact that their Vols won the first BCS title with a win over Florida State. Auburn fans are very likely rejoicing the end of the BCS era as they remember back to their 2004 squad that finished 13-0 and was on the outside looking in as  USC routed Oklahoma 55-19. USC held the title for just a short while as it was eventually vacated due to NCAA rules violations by the Trojans. By the way, Utah and Boise State were also unbeaten in 2004 as well.

Evolution takes a long, long time even in college football. The game will never be perfect, but with a playoff to determine a national champ it’s a bit closer. The next major step toward perfection will be when college football decides to expand the format and allow more teams an opportunity to play for a title. Four teams are better than two, but eight would be much better than four.

Not every coach is behind the new playoff format. Coach Jimbo Fisher of the defending National Champion Florida State Seminoles said, “I’m a traditionalist, I guess. I believe winning the conference and being 11-2 and winning the Orange Bowl, that’s still pretty dadgone good.”

It may be coach, but if you do that every year and never play for a national title, you won’t last long in today’s game. 

Opinions are just like…well you know; everybody’s got one. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is we should have been in a playoff system years ago. However, evolution isn’t like that. You just can’t jump from a decent system to a brand new modern day system without a little trial and error. Going through the BCS format for seventeen years was long enough to determine we still had a lot of work to do.

So, when the smoke clears following the end of the 2014 season, we will move into the next era of college football. Four teams will begin the first ever college football playoff and on January 12, 2015 a new king will be crowned.          

UCLA Coach Jim Mora when asked about the return of quarterback Brett Hundley for his senior season said, “I think he’s going to get hopefully, 14 more games before he moves to the NFL.”

Mora miscounted; if you play for a national title, you would play 15 games. “Oh yeah, there’s playoffs,” he said as he laughed. “That’s right...change that; hopefully 15 games.”

Don’t forget to buckle up and fasten your chin-straps. It could be a wild ride!


Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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