So, how did the change in the media make for the strangest year (in my humble opinion) in the history of college football?
Simple -- more exposure for more teams.
This year's season has been one of the strangest ever. Kansas (yes, Kansas, a basketball power and football doormat) has a chance to play for a national championship this year. Nearly every team that has risen to #1 has been beaten. This didn't happen once, but over and over again, like never before. Here's why I think it's happening.
When I was growing up in the 70s, teams were lucky to get a couple of televised games a year. ABC-TV had the contract with the NCAA, and there was only so much time for college games. Teams that wouldn't attract a big national audience might not get a televised game all year.
Suddenly, in the late 80s and early 90s, the major teams had most -- if not all -- games televised, and many lesser schools were getting significant television exposure. Rather than a total of 30-40 total games being televised each year, 30 or more games were being televised each week.
So why did this change college football? Exposure.
In the 1970s and before, an outstanding athlete realized that he needed to play for a major college to get any national television exposure (and, as a result, professional scout attention) at all. As a result, great players were willing to sit out their freshman and sometimes sophomore years to play at a major national powerhouse. Today, since so many teams get TV coverage, a great high school player can choose to go to a school that is not a traditional powerhouse, play immediately, even as a freshman, and still get a reasonable amount of TV exposure.
And look what's happened. This year alone, a Top-10 Michigan team got beat in the first week of the season by Appalachian State. Top Five teams like USC, Southern Florida, Ohio State, and Florida have all lost, and the list goes on. Personally, I think it's the ability for small, even unheard of, schools to attract and get exposure for athletes that felt they had to choose a larger, established school just a few years ago. This year, the all-time record for career rushing was set by a kid playing for Chadron State College in western Nebraska.
A major shift in college football, and it's just an example of what's going on just about everywhere... are you looking at what media changes mean to your company or your clients each and every day?
You should be.