Time is a flat circle.
Those were the words uttered by Rust Cohle in the critically acclaimed “True Detective” series on HBO in 2014. And honestly, it’s all I could think about last week when posed the question, “With everything that has taken place in the college game, with the transfer portal and NIL, does it make you lose interest in the college game?”
As Cole crunched a Coke can to illustrate his point, he explained, “Everything we've ever done or will do, we're gonna do over and over and over again.” That might as well be a prophecy for the current state of college football, so I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. But boy, we got there fast, didn’t we?
One week into the New Year I’m writing about how wonderfully entertaining the bowl games were this season. Another week after Georgia drums TCU, 65-7, and Louisiana Tech’s Landry Lyddy and LSU’s Walker Howard enter the transfer portal on back-to-back days. So do the full circle alongside me and please try and avoid motion sickness.
Last week on The Morning Drive with Aaron and Jake, Aaron Dietrich asked me that question I alluded to earlier. The laughter that followed was genuine.
I literally just published a column one-week prior stating the beauty of college football at its peak. When it’s hitting on all cylinders — like we saw in back-to-back semifinal games on New Years Eve — it is undefeated. The pageantry and passion cannot be matched, so when the play on the field offers us valuable, meaningful play to the highest degree, how can any product, including the much-beloved NFL, compete with it? The problem is we get those “valuable meaningful” games far more frequently in the NFL. Look no further than the Jaguars erasing 27-point deficit against the Chargers last weekend… (That a boy, Doug Pederson.)
Competitive games and juicy off-the-field storylines go hand-in-hand with the NFL product, which is a major reason why it dominates television ratings.
After experiencing the highs that New Years Eve offered, college football is on the comedown, and I’ll be honest, the transfer portal news quite frankly has me numb to it all by now.
After Sonny Cumbie called Lyddy a sponge in the off-season and gave him an opportunity to lead a struggling team as a true freshman, Lyddy has entered the portal. The first person I thought about when I read the news was the Louisiana Tech fans that endured six losses in the final seven games of the season. You know most were thinking, “Yeah, this is bad, but the future is bright with Lyddy.” So much for that…
As for Walker and LSU, I’m somewhere in the middle on this one. It’s not a “nightmare” as some in the media suggested, but it’s also potentially consequential if Garrett Nussmeier follows suit.
LSU is in good hands in 2023 with Jayden Daniels as the starter and Nussmeier serving as a backup. There’s a likelihood that Daniels could get injured again with how frequently he runs the football, so you want to have an experienced backup that can go right in and lead the offense. If Nussmeier enters he portal, well, you’re stuck with an inexperienced true freshman for the time being. And that isn’t ideal for a team that has national championship aspirations.
Then again, LSU can always sign someone else. LSU didn’t land Daniels until last March after all.
And I suppose that’s the problem. A lot of players don’t have the same loyalty as fans do. And I get it. Money becomes part of the equation and changes everything. It’s just something disheartening about watching a guy who dominated the high school football landscape in Shreveport shun Louisiana Tech one day before former Tiger Jamie Howard’s son enters the portal for potentially greener pastures.
Now more than ever fans need to buy into the brand over the player, and to me, that feels like a loss for college football.
Don’t worry — I’m sure we’ll be back to singing the praises of the sport again when LSU and Florida State collide in a potential Top 10 matchup in September.