Something very weird is afloat in the world of college football.
It's been ancient history since the ancient eight that is the Ivy League ceded the game to the massive state universities that dominate it today.
and that domination throughout all the years that followed WWII has become massive. the Old State U rolled over the likes of Northwestern (Michigan 68 Northwestern 7) or Vanderbilt (Alabama 75 Vanderbilt 3) with regularity.
And to make it even tougher for the privates, the publics kept pouring more money, exercising their far greater bases and the cash available into them into massive 100,000+ seats in their stadium. Tennessee, Ohio State, Penn State and others joined Michigan as even the Big House expanded to keep at the head of the pack.
Private universities were marginalized in the game. Only two kept their status: Notre Dame, of course, an institution like no other (but one ironically that shoots itself in the foot today by refusing to join a conference) and USC where tradition and the LA market have kept it ahead of the game.
Short of these two, for much of the later part of the 20th century, only one other school stands out. Miami. But it, too, seems a special case and may have had to sell its soul a bit to get in the upper echelon of college football. Miami seems to operate more like a public university in this respect than a private one.
And yet, something strange and weird and incredibly sweet has been happening in this big is better and dog eat dog world of ours. An odd new trend that warms the heart:
the rise of the private university in the land of the giant public u's.
This year no school exhibits the trend so much as the one down on The Farm in Palo Alto. If Stanford beat Oregon, the Cardinal would be #1 in the nation and deserving every part of it. Then again, Stanford has always been a special place, great Calif climate, all that prestige and Bay Area location.
But there is so, so much more than Stanford.
TCU is a powerhouse, blasted out Utah which is heading to Stanford's own Pac 12 next year, and did so in SLC. TCU is the ultimate BCS breaker.
Northwestern stopped being the Big Ten's floor mat some 15 years back and won 3 BT titles since them. Pat Fitzgerald has his act together in Evanston as Jim Harbaugh does in Palo Alto. The thought of a future year with a Stanford-Northwestern Rose Bowl is hardly out of the question. It's almost enough to want for this Big Ten and Windy City guy to wish to see the resurrection of the University of Chicago, the mighty Maroons back to their Big Ten roots. This would recreate the old crosstown rivalry between Chicago and Northwestern and put Chicago in the status of Bay Area (Stanford vs. Cal) and LA (USC vs. UCLA)....but we'd be doing it with TWO private universities rather than the one each for the Golden State metro areas.
Baylor rose us this year, won a number of Big 12 games, was actually a contender in the B12 South and beat Texas. Wake has been competitive in the ACC by any standard. Rice and Tulane are leap years ahead of the era when both were run over by SWC and SEC foes respectively.
And while Vanderbilt's status hasn't dramatically risen, risen it has, even if it is basically from lower depths to just plain depths.
Sure, some disappointments remain. Syracuse is down. Notre Dame is a joke, but frankly a joke of its own making (if in politics "It's the economy, stupid" is the manta, in college football, "It's being in a conference, stupid"). BYU suffers as Utah joins the Pac 12.
But on the whole, this is one helluva private party.
What gives? Why the rise in the privates, just at the time when the OPPOSITE should be taking place? What do you think is behind this delicious new trend?
and on a personal note: GO U NORTHWESTERN!!!
Last edited by edsg25; 11-07-2010 at 06:46 AM..