The last time USF fielded a Division I football team was 59 years ago, but in that time the sport has gone from time-filler in the baseball off-season to the behemoth of American sports.
The sport has taken over the country since USF last put helmets and shoulder pads on a team of their own and despite not having a collegiate team of their own to cheer for, USF students are not immune to football fever.
When the fall weekends roll around, tons of USF students find themselves in front of televisions watching 22 men on a field butt heads for roughly three hours. Junior Leonard Gray says the physicality is one of the things which draws him to the game. “It’s one of the most physical sports with guys competing the whole time,” he says.
Most USF students who love the game of football will watch both the college and professional game and the schedules set up so it’s easy for them to watch both. Saturday is a day for the amateurs, alumni, bands and students to pack stadiums nationwide and put on a show for the millions watching on television. Games start at 9 a.m. PST and will run all day, often not wrapping up until 11 p.m. and sometimes after midnight if Hawaii is playing a home game.
With at least 14 hours of football and sometimes more on Saturday, you would think that USF students would have their fill, but that’s not the case.
After spending hours upon hours watching games on Saturdays, USF students roll out of bed again on Sundays to pick up on some more action from the gridiron. In fact, while all interviewed said that while they do enjoy both college and professional football, an overwhelming majority said that they are partial to the NFL and will watch games all day. That means waking up for the 10 a.m. PST start, sticking through those 1 p.m. games and holding on for the Sunday night finale at 5 p.m. Toss in a Monday night game and USF students get their fill of football, but why the NFL over college?
The leading reason that USF students prefer the NFL to college football is simple. “It’s a higher level of play because you get the best of the best,” says freshman Will Peterman.
When you consider that only roughly one in every 18 Divison I college football players make it to the NFL, it stands to reason that the NFL is in fact made up of the best players in the world. For as difficult as it is to earn a Division I football scholarship, only a fraction of those exceptional athletes even get their shot at the NFL as the goods are weeded away to make way for the greats.
Sophomore Patrick Farley points to the speed of the NFL game as the tiebreaker for him. “Pro football is a little bit faster and that little bit makes it more exciting and fun to watch,” Farley explains.
When differentiating between the two, though, Farley has an interesting take. “A lot of people don’t like all the money in the NFL and like college football better because of it,” Farley points out, but, “with all the money in college football now, there isn’t that difference anymore.”
Coming off of an off-season in which USC was sanctioned by the NCAA for Reggie Bush taking money from agents, among other indiscretions, and a weekend in which North Carolina played without 13 players as they are investigated for improper relationships with agents, the innocence of college football is starting to wear off.
The changing landscape of college football just gives the NFL a boost, even if it didn’t really need one. Over 75 percent of USF students questioned prefer the NFL to college football and while their team allegiances vary from the warm beaches of the San Diego Chargers to the frozen tundra of the Green Bay Packers, one thing is clear: on the USF campus, the National Football League reigns supreme.
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