There is a lot of clutter around college football these days.
Big clutter. Important clutter. But clutter just the same.
The game will continue to be played like it has for over 100 years. There will be blocking and tackling, kicking, and passing.
There will be tailgate parties and cheerleaders. The band will strike up “Fight On” at USC games and the I will be dotted at Ohio State.
So, despite all the neck wringing and high blood pressure about conference realignment, the transfer portal and NIL (names, image likeness), the game WILL GO ON.
While the 2023 season looks to be the last of the “good old days”, fans from coast to coast are still trying to figure it all out.
Why did those folks who control TV and TV revenue throw out tradition and history and rivalries for what?
The answer, of course, is simple. It always is when the question begins with why. Money, more money, and even more money.
Schools that were making only $24-$30 million annually on TV deals will be raking in north of $50 million in the near future.
The carnage left after the dismantling of the Pac-12 still has fans scratching their heads.
Three of the most prominent coaches in the history of the Pac-8, 10, 12 have served on the Board of Directors of the Lott IMPACT Trophy – John Robinson, Terry Donahue, and Mike White.
Robinson won 4 Rose Bowls at USC, Donahue won 3 at UCLA and has the most wins in the history of the Pac-8, and White was named National Coach of the Year in 1975 when he led Cal to its first conference championship in 18 years.
“I feel sorry for those teams left behind (Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State were not included in the mass exodus to the Big Ten or the Big 12)”, said White, who was an assistant at Stanford before becoming Cal’s head coach.
“Sure, I have an emotional tie to both Cal and Stanford, but what about Oregon State? They were a ranked team last year, won 10 games, what about them?”
Stanford has won the Director’s Cup 26 of the last 29 years. The Cup goes to overall athletic accomplishment in all sports.
Another familiar face to the Lott IMPACT Trophy, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, currently on the faculty at Stanford, has been asked to help the school navigate its options moving forward (independent, join another conference?). Dr. Rice was the keynote speaker at the annual Lott Banquet in 2012.
So, let’s forget about the clutter for now and enjoy football ’23. And let’s watch the 42 great young men who have been nominated for the 20th anniversary Lott IMPACT® Trophy.
Some of the quarterbacks from the left behind schools:
John Elway, Jim Plunkett, Andrew Luck (Stanford); Steve Bartkowski, Aaron Rodgers (Cal), Terry Baker (Oregon State), Drew Bledsoe, Mark Rypien (Washington State)
Lott IMPACT® Trophy Notes
*2005 Winner DeMeco Ryans (Alabama) enters his first season as an NFL Head Coach, guiding the Houston Texans.
*2004 Finalist Jim Leonhard (Wisconsin) has moved from the coaching staff at his alma mater to Illinois where he’ll serve as Senior Football Analyst. He won’t be there long as the 40-year-old Leonhard is considered a top candidate for a head coaching position in college.
*2010 Winner J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) has retired and moved into the TV booth where he’ll be an analyst on CBS. Watt finished his career with 114.5 sacks and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times.
*2014 Winner Erick Kendricks (UCLA) will be back home this year playing linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers after a distinguished career with the Minnesota Vikings.
*2004 Winner David Pollack (Georgia) is no longer with ESPN but made quite an IMPACT on his fellow broadcasters. Said Rece Davis: “Truth is, he’s as good a man and as good a friend as I could’ve ever hoped for. He’s a brother to me for life. He’s a man of God. He’s a selfless teammate, an exemplary family man.”