On Saturday night in Bristol, Tennessee, they played a college football game in the middle of a racetrack.
Not the kind of track you see around so many college and high school football fields across the country, but the kind of track built for cars to approach speeds that would get you thrown in jail if you attempted to reach them on your local expressway.
And it was pretty cool, I have to admit. When they first announced plans to hold the Battle at Bristol between Tennessee and Virginia Tech Hokies , my initial reaction was more along the lines of “you’ve got to be kidding me” than it was “that makes sense!” It just seemed like such a silly idea, one that was created not because it was what’s best for the two teams involved, or their fan bases, but just so we could say, “We actually did that.”
I still don’t believe playing the game at Bristol Motor Speedway was what’s best for the teams, but I’m happy we did that.
It was ridiculous in a fun way. I didn’t attend the game in person, and based on what I saw from photos taken by fans and fellow media members, it couldn’t have been the greatest game to watch in person. My CBS Sports colleague Dennis Dodd tweeted a photo from his vantage point in the press box, and it was an immediate reminder that even if Bristol is considered a short track in the world of NASCAR, the thing is still a half-mile round. His press box seat looked like it was a quarter-mile away from the football field.
Even Kirk Herbstreit, calling the game on ABC, said he could barely see the field, and I feel like being able to see the game is a major part of calling it.
What I’ve yet to hear from anybody there, though, was that they had a bad time. While the game may have been what was most important for the teams — and for those watching at home on television — it was more of a backdrop for those in attendance, and they were fine with it because of the spectacle of it all.
Which I can relate to. Not too long ago when the NHL first began doing the Winter Classic, in which two of its teams would play a hockey game outdoors on New Year’s Day, I attended a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings played at Wrigley Field. While my seats for the game would have been fine for a baseball game, they were less than ideal for a hockey game. The rink itself was located in the middle of the infield, quite a ways a way from the seats, and being on the first level it was hard to see past the sea of media and television crew members on the field between the front row and the rink. Throw in the boards on the side of the rink, and you were lucky if you could see half the surface of the ice.
It was nearly impossible to follow the action in any way other than watching the upper bodies of the players, so at least you knew where the action was going, if not what the actual action was.
Still, even though I could hardly tell what was going on, and I was freezing — New Year’s Day in Chicago isn’t exactly the kind of day you want to spend outside for hours — it was still a great time. The game became secondary to the event, which was in itself epic.
I can’t help but believe that’s how the majority of those at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night felt about it as well.
And now that we’ve done it, what’s next? What can we do to take what happened at Bristol and create an even bigger spectacle?
I’m thinking we can stick with the racetrack theme, but we can go bigger.
As I mentioned earlier, Bristol is on the shorter spectrum of NASCAR tracks, and can only accommodate one football game on its infield. What if we went to Talladega, though? The length of the track at Bristol is listed at 0.533 miles. Well, Talladega is a “superspeedway,” and one lap around that sucker is 2.666 miles. The back straight-away itself at Talladega is longer than the entirety of Bristol.
And the infield? It’s the size of some towns, man. You know how many football fields you can fit on that sucker?
I’m no math whiz, but I believe you can fit at least seven fields inside that thing with room to spare, and we only need seven fields for my idea.
What we do is, we play seven games inside Talladega at the same time. Seven SEC games. Yep, we schedule a week where every SEC team is playing a conference game, and we throw them all inside Talladega to play the games at the same time. We can broadcast them all on CBS, and have Verne Lundquist return to join Gary Danielson on a broadcast reminiscent of the NFL Red Zone channel.
No commercials or anything, just action to action, touchdown to touchdown. You won’t have to focus on the worst parts of SEC football (like the South Carolina Gamecocks offense); you can just go from game to game focusing on key plays or situations. If you miss something from one game, don’t worry, there are cameras all over the place, we’ll show the highlight as if it were live.
I’m pretty sure Verne and Gary would lose their minds, and the fans in attendance would have no idea what’s going on, but for those at home watching on television, it’ll be a spectacular three hours.
Then we could work on having the Big Ten play seven games simultaneously inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After the success of these spectacles, we could begin work on not only playing seven games inside a race track at once, but doing so while a NASCAR race takes place around it.
When it’s all said and done, we’ll be able to say, “We actually did that.” And that’s what matters.
College Football Fan of the Week
We don’t know her name, but after reading this, we’d kind of like her phone number.
Middle-aged female Tennessee fan: “I brought my gun in case we lose, because somebody might die.”
— Alex Martin Smith (@asmiff) September 10, 2016
It’s comforting to know that when her gun was fired — and we’re all sure it was fired — it was done so in celebration.
Proof That Purdue Would Dominate the SEC of the Week
On Saturday afternoon, LSU finally came to the realization that Brandon Harris might not be its best quarterback and turned to Danny Etling to lead the offense. Etling didn’t have a great game overall, but he performed better than Harris had been, and that was good enough to beat Jacksonville State.
What I love about all of this is that, a few years ago, Etling was a quarterback at Purdue. He had earned the starting job as a freshman, but after some poor play, he lost his gig to Austin Appleby. Appleby would get a win against Illinois, but he wouldn’t hold on to the job very long himself, eventually losing it to David Blough. Blough is still at Purdue, while Etling has transferred to LSU and Appleby transferred to Florida.
While I long for the idea of Appleby starting for the Gators against Etling in a great Purdue Transfer Quarterback Battle that would perfectly reflect the current state of the position in the SEC, I can’t help but laugh at the fact that Etling, who at one point was effectively considered the third-best QB on Purdue’s roster, might now be the best QB on an LSU team that had title aspirations heading into the season.
Play of the Week
There’s been a lot of discussion about the end of Central Michigan Chippewas ‘s win over Oklahoma State Cowboys , and for good reason. The refs screwed up royally, and Central Michigan shouldn’t have been allowed to have an untimed down at the end of the game. I do not blame the Big 12 or MAC for suspending the officials, nor do I blame any Oklahoma State employee or fan who is furious about how things went. I also don’t believe we should go back and retroactively eliminate the play from existence just because it shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.
As we saw in this game itself, officials are fully capable of major screw-ups already, and now you want to give somebody the power to change results of games after they’re completed? No. Thank. You.
What’s lost in all of the fallout, though, was the play that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. It was epic, and we all need to watch it at least one more time.
Stat Line of the Week
You probably think I’d go with Louisville Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson , who threw for 411 yards and rushed for another 199 while compiling five total touchdowns in a win over Syracuse Orange on Friday night. Maybe you expect me to go with Arizona State Sun Devils RB Kalen Ballage , who scored eight touchdowns against Texas Tech Red Raiders . He was our SEC Player of the Week after all.
But you’d be wrong.
Oh no, for this week’s greatest stat line, we’re going the other direction. I can understand if you turned off the SEC on CBS game between Florida and Kentucky Wildcats early because it wasn’t much of a contest, but you missed some magic from Drew Barker .
Before Barker was shown a seat on the bench, the Wildcats quarterback threw 10 passes, completing two of them. That means he had fewer completions to his own team than he did to the Gators, as he also threw three interceptions.
Drew Barker: 2 of 10, 10 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
GIF of the Week
High-fiving is an art form that takes years of practice to achieve gracefully. These two Oregon Ducks fans seem to be beginners.
Photo of the Week
OK, Lamar Jackson may not have won our Player of the Week award, but this photo is hard to top.
Sad Fan of the Week
Rutgers Scarlet Knights would go on to beat Howard by running away with things in the second half, but I can’t help but believe this won’t be the last time we see a Rutgers fan questioning their existence this season.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Florida State Seminoles
4. Houston Cougars
Until next week!
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / The Monday After: Hell, let’s play seven SEC games at once in Talladega