Longer season impacts freshmen
More Division I-A football freshmen will see increased playing time in the future simply because there will be more games. The college football schedule is set to grow to 12 games next season. Coaches’ apprehensions will grow along with it. “They are making it more difficult on football players every year,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Coaches are afraid not only of losing — an additional game provides the chance to do just that — but also of losing key players because of the extra game, thus forcing younger ones, who might have redshirted and developed further physically in the past, into the game.
“You are going to have injuries more,” Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer said. “And if you don’t [play everybody], you are going to be very fortunate to make it through the season with just the guys that start the season.”
The driving force behind playing 12 games is pure economics. Athletic departments need more money. In Division I-A, 40 percent of athletic departments reported a profit in fiscal 2005, according to the NCAA. Football, more so than any other sport, has the earning potential to bring programs into the black.
“I can understand we need to raise more money. We are all for that,” Tuberville said. “It will add some pretty good nonconference games.”
That last statement is up for debate. Concern has grown that schedules will become watered down with I-AA opponents. In the Pac-10, that concern has led to boosting the conference schedule from eight to nine games. The Big 12 also has debated such a move. In the SEC, seven programs have a I-AA opponent for next season. That’s a presumptive a win and a financial windfall courtesy ticket sales, potential television money and concession revenue.