When I opened my ESPN ScoreCenter app last Saturday afternoon to check college football scores, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the absurdity of some of the results.
#4 Ohio State pummelled Florida A&M 76-0. #7 Louisville did the same to Florida International 72-0. Louisiana-Monroe was at least able to get on the scoreboard, only losing 70-7 to #20 Baylor.
In all, five of the top 25 ranked teams – the three mentioned above and #16 Miami and #17 Washington – routed their cupcake opponents by a combined score of 405-20.
Yes, teams are running more plays and more dynamic offenses nowadays, but can that really justify these blowouts that have become an every week occurrence?
It seems implausible that Ohio State fans would get much satisfaction out of defeating Florida A&M – which would be akin to the Otter varsity team crushing the Hillcrest JV.
As is usually the case in life, if you follow the money, you’ll arrive at the source. In this instance, we have what I all the “sacrificial lamb theory of college athletic program development-” where a no-name school volunteers its team to play – and be completely annihilated by – a major conference team. It then collects a six-figure check and uses the funds to offset the burgeoning costs of its athletic budget – because that’s the only way to prove to the outside world that you are a real university.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and the real issue is that top brass at major schools have large inferiority complexes stemming from excessive bullying in middle school, and now must regain their self-esteem by picking on weaker teams.
Whatever the motives, the system isn’t all bad. It does provide emerging programs with an on ramp to the national stage. Every now and then, a team such as North Dakota State will take out an FBS opponent – which they do to the Gophers quite regularly. The usual outcome, however, is the beatdown typified by this week’s results.
For the optimists out there, it should be pointed out that none of this weekend’s outcomes broke the all-time record for the most lopsided victory. That record still belongs to the 1916 Georgia Tech Engineers, who defeated Cumberland College 222-0.
But Georgia Tech at least had a retributive motive for the madness – the Engineers intentionally ran up the score to get back at Cumberland for using professional ringers in a baseball game earlier that year.
No such rationale existed for the senseless brutality that occurred this past Saturday.