Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Friday Iron Bowls, revisited

So you probably figured this out already, but my Friday post reacting to the news that the Iron Bowl is now slated for two years' worth of Friday afternoon kickoffs was not one where I've spent hours delicately handcrafting its every word for maximum beauty and insight. It was a knee-jerk. And as I would come to find out, a knee-jerk that put me pretty well in the minority--current polling at War Eagle Extra puts those against CBS's machinations 3-to-1 ahead of those in favor.

The case against the move is summed up tidily by a surprisingly angry Todd at RBR:
To be blunt, this sucks. This sucks for the fans that will have to adjust their Thanksgiving travel plans, this sucks for the people who aren't fortunate enough to be able to take that day off to watch the game, this sucks for the state of Alabama's economy, and this especially sucks for the players who will now likely be forced to miss out on Thanksgiving with their families. Yet of all those involved, those that are least affected are unsurprisingly the ones with the most to gain. Alabama and Auburn will each grab an extra $500,000 for the deal, while CBS gets the ratings grab that the Iron Bowl represents on a day when most people are out shopping and gets to dump the so called rivalries like LSU/Arkansas and Tennessee/UK off to Saturday when people are more likely to watch.
These are all valid concerns. Yes, I think some of them have been overblown the last couple of days; on the "can't get the day off front," I can't imagine there are that many jobs out there that absolutely require an employee to be on the clock the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving with the Iron Bowl on but absolutely don't the following Saturday. And $500,000 isn't the sort of money athletic departments can just sneeze at--why, that gets you 1/10th of the way to a $5 million buyout all on its own! Let's also not forget that Iron Bowls have landed on Fridays before, and the world continued to spin.

But for the most part ... yeah, it does pretty much suck. If we were talking about just the $500K, I'd redact last Friday's post and reset the JCCW's default position on the subject to "opposed."

But even given the semi-compelling arguments against, and the couple of days to mull things over ... I'm still behind the switch. I still think it's the right move for the Iron Bowl.

Why? Because it's the Iron Bowl. It's bigger than a random Saturday afternoon/evening timeslot opposite six other games. It's bigger than the South's version of Oregon-Oregon St. It's bigger than just another excuse during "Rivalry Week" for Lee Corso to tell us to "throw out the records."

We know all that already, of course. But I'm greedy, dammit. I want the rest of the country to know it, too. The game deserves it. And the best way to show the rest of the country how big it is to, well, show the rest of the country the game. (Certainly, having both teams suddenly become consistent top-10 programs would do the trick as well. But this is much, much easier.)

And not just for these two years, either--if the game goes back to Saturdays in 2011, we might as well admit it's "The Battle for the Boot"'s bigger brother, and that will piss me off. But 15 years from now, with the the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving reserved for the Iron Bowl every year between now and then? With two (hopefully) competitive, highly-ranked teams to show off? And the same old bloodthirstiness surrounding the game on all sides? Every eye in the college football world will be turned to the Iron Bowl. And why not--because that's how big it is.

Black Friday in the state and family travel issues and, especially, the kids' Thanksgivings are all important. But if you ask me, giving the game its due and making it the national event it ought to be is even more important. I'd want to ask the players involved: if you were choosing between missing a few Thanksgivings, or playing in college football's new-and-much-improved answer to the annual Turkey Day Lions game, which would you take? I think if the Iron Bowl sticks on those Friday afternoons, 10 years from now it won't even seem worth debating.

1 comment:

easyedwin said...

I am with you. I will be there even if it is at midnight on Sunday. IT IS NOT JUST A GAME!!
It is a happening, an event, a social occasion of epic proportions in this state. I'm just saying......fill up the HARE and bring on the bear; oops; or a reasonable facsimile {skelleton not excluded} LMAO