This morning on the Mike and Mike show on ESPN Radio, Mike Greenberg decided it was the time of year to ask the question that seems to get asked at least once per season as we weave toward the end of the college football year.
“What if (fill in the blank dominant college football team) lined up against (fill in the blank struggling NFL team)?”
A few years back when the Miami Hurricanes looked unbeatable, people wanted to know if they could beat the woeful Cincinnati Bengals. Now that the Bengals are good that question is silly. So this year’s incarnation of the question was the USC Trojans vs. the injured and struggling New York Jets.
So Greenberg is asking the question and sensing that it is coming, co-host Mike Golic interrupts and says “No.” before Greenberg can even finish asking the question. USC would get killed by the banged up Jets team. There is no way that the college team could ever stack up against an NFL team.
I agree with him, and I wish that this question/argument would just go away forever. It isn’t even close. The NFL team will have 11 NFL capable players on their side of the ball and the college team will not. Let’s take this year’s question. Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart are both going to the NFL next season and they will be drafted in the first round, assuming no career-threatening injuries are sustained in their bowl game. The argument goes that they are NFL-quality players. While I will agree that they are going to be high draft picks and certainly capable of performing in the NFL, they are far from being NFL-quality players.
Think of it this way. How many NFL rookies come into the league and make an immediate impact? Not very many. Carson Palmer sat for an entire year before he started to play well. Despite the fact that he was a great college player, there was an NFL learning curve. Not to mention the fact that he didn’t have to try and weather that learning curve with 10 other rookies. He had an offensive line, a couple wide receivers and a running back who were all past the rookie curve. The USC Trojans have zero players who are anywhere on the NFL learning curve. Every player on every NFL team has the experience bonus over every single USC player.
So now think of the USC Trojans with 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players who have far less experience and far less talent in many cases than their counterparts across the way. The NFL players on the practice squad are at least as good as many of the players on the Trojans.
The other portion of the argument is that you can’t play this out on paper. The proponents of this College vs. Pro argument say that stacking a team against another team is different than going position by position and declaring a winner. I can agree with that to an extent. There is something to be said for the chemistry that a team builds over the course of a season or a 4-year college career. But, the same thing can be said for the NFL team. In my mind that is a wash. Same with coaching.
Don’t fall victim to this argument this year or any subsequent year. A college football team doesn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t matter which college team dominates the world next year and it doesn’t matter which NFL team falls apart next year.