What changes should be made to spring football?

Earlier today we talked about intriguing spring storylines in the morning portion of our weekly roundtable. This afternoon, we return as TSS Associate Editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join Kevin Causey in our weekly roundtables discussing all things college football.

We concentrated on storylines this morning but this afternoon, we take a look at changes that can be made to spring football…


Question: If you could change one thing about spring football what would it be?  

Bart Doan:

On Twitter @TheCoachBart

Never willing to rest on my laurels of utter stupidity and always trying to push the envelope to new heights, the one thing I’d change is something that makes no sense practically or financially, which thus makes it wrong: the NCAA should make it illegal to allow teams to charge for entrance into the Spring Game (if the team has one).

Look, I get it. Some 15 to 20 years ago, charging a gate price for fans to watch what’s basically a glorified practice would have been asinine. Until folks started figuring out people wanted to see it, and then it became, “well, how much do they want to see it!!?!?”

Granted, Spring Game prices aren’t putting you under, and yes, employees have to work those Saturdays to make the operation go … but heck, shouldn’t a PRACTICE (insert something from Allen Iverson) be the one place people who otherwise can’t go to games can show up, get in, and be around the program?

It’s not the biggest deal in the world, honestly, but the more opportunities fans have that otherwise aren’t able to afford to take the entire family to something around the program they love, the better college sports become both in the short-term and long run. For instance, fans that can’t get into see their teams play in the Final Four can go see them practice if they want, and the only cost is the effort it takes to get there (and obnoxious parking prices, possibly, I suppose).

Why can’t this be done with football? Truth is, it can. It’d just take some people thinking with their hearts instead of their wallets. Which … yeah … forget I mentioned it.

Terry Johnson:

On Twitter @SectionTPJ

If I could make one change to spring practice, it would be to allow teams to scrimmage other schools at the conclusion of camp.

This idea isn’t exactly new, as some college football coaches have wanted to do this for a long time. In fact, Dabo Swinney went so far as to outline an actual framework for these scrimmages/games back in 2012.

Regardless of whether the coaches agree to a simple scrimmage or a full-blown game, the new format would be a tremendous upgrade over what’s in place right now. Sure, by hosting an intra-squad scrimmage, coaches are able to evaluate more players. But the downside is that these contests tend to be incredibly boring. With nothing at stake, the play calling is usually so conservative that it makes Ted Cruz look like Howard Dean.

No one wins in that situation.

On the other hand, scrimmaging against another team would provide a little more excitement. Yes, coaches wouldn’t implement the entire playbook for an outing that has no impact on the team’s win-loss record. However, because coaches are highly competitive people who can’t stand to lose, they’ll throw in a few wrinkles to ensure a strong showing in the contest.

In addition to making the final practice of the spring more exciting, allowing teams to scrimmage against another school will provide the coaches with a better opportunity to evaluate players in game-like situations. After all, playing against another team’s No. 1 unit provides a much more accurate assessment of strengths and weaknesses than facing second and third-stringers.

Isn’t the point of spring practice to figure out where the team is right now so that it can make the necessary adjustments in the fall?

While the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”, I don’t expect my proposal to be adopted by the AFCA any time soon. Although it has its proponents, too many coaches seem happy with the way things are now.

Kevin Causey:

On Twitter @CFBZ

I’m all in on both suggestions above. If games are kept as intra-squad scrimmages then they should absolutely be free. Or, an admission should be charged for adults (with kids free) and the proceeds should go to charity. Many schools and coaches already do a lot for charity so why not let them do more by having the fanbase help out those in need.

Terry spoke about taking the spring games and making them basically pre-season games against other schools. This is the biggest change that should be made in my opinion. In the NFL, they have four pre-season games against other teams in addition to scrimmages against other teams where one team will visit another’s camp. They have pre-season games in the NBA and in MLB and they even do it in college basketball.

I think the benefits would be big because it’s totally different when you play against a team that you aren’t familiar with then a team that you know too much about. This would really be a chance for position battles to be decided in a “game environment” as we know that some players simply play better when the TV cameras are running and fans are in the seats cheering.

This would give newer players a glimpse of what a real game feels like before opening day and it would also help newer coaches ease into their positions. It’s a win-win.

Really the only question would be where and who to schedule and that could be left to the schools. If Georgia and Clemson aren’t playing in a given year wouldn’t you like to see them suit up in a pre-season game? Open up the ability to play these games and then you can charge money for them (with still hopefully some of the proceeds going to charity).

Princeton went to Japan and played a Japanese football team for their spring game. Can’t Georgia or Clemson go 80 miles to play theirs?


Previous Roundtables

Which returning starter at QB will show the most improvement in 2015?

Which first year starter at QB is poised to have a breakout season?

Which non-Power 5 QB do you want as the face of your franchise?

Which Power 5 quarterback do you want as the face of your franchise?

If you could have attended any game in the history of college football what would it be?

Reliving our favorite college football memories

Who was the greatest team in the history of college football?

Who was the most underrated team in college football history?