The Season of Controversy (2013 NCAA Football Preview)

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The NCAA Season is underway and once again one of the most exciting and debated leagues in football will continue on for another year. The NCAA is a league that seems to always be under fire as scandal seems to follow them at every turn. In many ways it is rightfully so as the NCAA is one of the strangest leagues in football as they rely on essentially free labour to make billions of dollars. The NCAA is in a major transition period as they look to continue putting on great football while still keeping the fans. Whether it is compensation for players or the National Championship playoff system the NCAA is constantly under pressure to make everything right. The NCAA is on the cusp with a lot of change in the future as they hope to continue their great game and continue to be successful. The NCAA goes into 2013 with a lot exposed to the world and more and more people asking questions about how responsible the organization really is. Making money off of the backs of young students has put a lot of focus on the NCAA but it is not the only story of the year. There is the last season of the BCS as it looks right now while the dynasty looks to continue. Meanwhile a young star is in trouble and beginning to see the world turn on him after some great success and a legendary program stands at a fork in the road. There are all of these and a lot more stories will be here throughout the season as another year of NCAA Football is upon us. It is another year of superstars and emerging talents. Another year of thrilling football and a major upsets that change the national outlook in an instant. A season that  some will use as redemption while others will use to assert their dominance. One that will be sure to keep everyone entertained and provide plenty of drama both on and off the field. As another season begins these five stories will constantly be talked about and will be something to watch throughout the season.

 

The Last one for the BCS

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The BCS Championship Game and the BCS Bowls have been one of the biggest points of contention since they began in 1997. Since that point a committee and a computer program have selected the top two teams in the nation. For many that meant trouble from the start as it would mean that some teams would fall through the cracks. This would happen for time to time as good teams would not end up in the top of the rankings due to strength of schedule and the size of the program. It would lead many to claim that the system was broken and eventually would bring the NCAA into national focus. Even the President would have his say on the BCS system and that seemed to be the final straw as the NCAA would change the system. It wouldn’t happen right away as they would decide in 2012 that the BCS system would be modified to create a playoff. Instead of the top two ranked teams the modified system would include the top four ranked teams with two playoff games. The system will start in the 2014 season making 2013 the last season to see the BCS Championship system. For many it will be a great sight this last National Championship game determined by rankings alone will come far too late. For others it will be time to look back at some of the good games that came about thanks to the system. Either way you look at it this season will be the last without a playoff as 2014 will bring a new system that may not stop there as the NCAA begins to change their ways to try to please the fans and bring their names out of the headlines.

 

Off-Field Issues Continue

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For years the NCAA has been making billions of dollars off of the backs of student athletes who get nothing from that pot. It is true they get free education from their schools but when many are struggling to pay rent and pay for groceries the difference between the two different types of people is expressed clearly. The poor players who may never get to the NFL will struggle to balance a job, practice, and school in order to graduate and stay healthy. There is a massive difference between the players who put on the show and the members of the NCAA who manage the show and some players have taken it to the courts. With TV deals, video game deals, and merchandise deals the NCAA is making a lot of money off of the players and some players want some of that money back. Two lawsuits would dominate the offseason as the Keller and O’Bannan lawsuits would shine a spotlight on the economic structure of the NCAA. The Keller lawsuit would focus on the use of player likenesses in EA Sports video games. Started by Sam Keller the lawsuit would claim that the use of these players in a video game was against the First Amendment. The O’Bannan lawsuit would see NCAA basketball player Ed O’Bannan claim that the deals with EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co. were against the law as they would not bring any compensation to the players. This lawsuit would see several football players join in challenging the way that the NCAA has been making money off of the players. Both lawsuits would bring the dirty secret of the NCAA would be brought to light and will remain in the spotlight until something changes.

 

The Dynasty Continues

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The Alabama Crimson Tide have dominated the NCAA for years as they have been one of the biggest reasons as to why the SEC has been the most feared conference in the division. The Tide have done this in a very different way than the way that most teams are going. The NCAA has been heading in the direction of fast pace constant pressure teams that try to outwork the defences they face. Offences are going no huddle more and more as teams attempt to tire out defences. They look to try to give the defence no time to prepare for the next play as they rush to the line and fire off a play as fast as they can. The Crimson Tide take a different, more traditional, approach to the game. The Tide try to grind out wins with an old school attitude to offence and defence. They see the defence as the most important part of a team as they look to their defence to help them win games. On offence they believe in running down the clock and keeping possession using the running game to grind out wins. They support this run game with a good passing game to form a great all around team that has won the National Championship three of the last four years. The Crimson Tide have come through everything with Nick Saban at the top as countless teams have tried and most have failed to unseat them. Teams will be looking at them again as they rank #1 once again this year and are looking to three-peat as National Champions. They will have to go through a lot of teams but they have always proven to be better as another season starts and the dynasty rolls on.

 

The Irish in Recovery

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Last year the Notre Dame Fighting Irish would erase decades of futility for a program that used to always be in the championship race. For Notre Dame failure is not being a National Champion but that would fall away as the program would fall into a period where they did not make much noise on the national stage. They would remain a constant Bowl attendee but most of the time it was simply for their name and it was never a major bowl. Last year that would all change though as the Irish were led by a great defence and a young talented QB to go undefeated. They would be one of two teams to go undefeated on the year with Ohio State being the other one but with the Buckeyes suspended the Irish would sit at the top of the rankings. In second place would be the mighty Crimson Tide who were going for their second title in a row. The Irish would seem to be completely blown away by the game and by the Tide who would rock the Irish 42-14 to win the National Title. Now the Irish come in to the 2013 season off of one of the most lopsided games in BCS history. What should have been a celebration of the return of a great legendary program ended in an embarrassing showing capped off by the Manti Te’o scandal. It was not the ending that many had expected for the Irish and now they go into 2014 looking to pick up the pieces. A national title is unlikely as they will need to prove they belong but without their star QB, Everett Golson was suspended for academic reasons, it will be a tough go as they may need to go undefeated again to gain back respect.

 

Johnny Football Under the Telescope

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He was one of the biggest stories of the 2012 season as the man known as Johnny Football would burst on to the scene and win the Heisman Trophy. It wasn’t until Johnny Manziel led the Texas A&M Aggies past the Alabama Crimson Tide that everyone took notice. After that game Manziel would begin to climb up the Heisman Trophy rankings until he would sit at the #1 spot. As the bowl season approached Manziel would travel to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation looking to become the first ever freshman winner. Johnny Football would go into the offseason as the best player in the NCAA and it may have made him crack. It was either that or the simple fact that Manziel starting acting like a typical teenager but with cameras and video surrounding him. Either way Manziel has had a rough offseason from being kicked out of parties and booed to allegedly signing memorabilia for cash. The NCAA does not allow players to sign memorabilia for profit, which is a hole other story, and players have been punished for this in the past. At Ohio State a number of players including star QB Terrelle Pryor were suspended for signing memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. Manziel would reportedly do the same as reports would surface that he had signed memorabilia in exchange for cash. Manziel was at risk of losing his Heisman Trophy and the entire 2013 season. The investigation would turn up no proof of any money exchanging hands and the NCAA would hand out a 2 quarter suspension as Johnny Football will have to miss the first half of his opening game. Although he got off with essentially a warning this time Manziel is one of the most recognizable figures in the NCAA and the spotlight is on this season as everyone sees if he can handle more the pressure.

 

Preseason Rankings:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Oregon Ducks
4. Stanford Cardinal
5. Georgia Bulldogs
6. South Carolina Gamecocks
7. Texas A&M Aggies
8. Clemson Tigers
9. Louisville Cardinals
10. Florida Gators
11. Florida State Seminoles
12. LSU Tigers
13. Oklahoma State Cowboys
14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
15. Texas Longhorns
16. Oklahoma Sooners
17. Michigan Wolverines
18. Nebraska Cornhuskers
19. Boise State Broncos
20. TCU Horned Frogs
21. UCLA Bruins
22. Northwestern Wildcats
23. Wisconsin Badgers
24. USC Trojans
25. Oregon State Beavers

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