With UAB announcing its intention to reinstate its football program, that got us to thinking about other things from college football's past that we would like to see return to the game. Here are five things we thought of:
The return of Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry. On an annual basis. Play it the first game of every season. Yes, the losing team would suffer, but college football as a whole would rejoice that the game was back. During the 1970s and 1980s, it was an epic rivalry, with national-title implications every season. The game lost some luster starting in the 1990s because OU slipped and Big 12 administrators -- for some reason -- didn't mandate that the teams play every season.
Now, it would be a great way to kick off every season (play it at a neutral site every third year; Kansas City, Arlington, Houston -- it wouldn't matter, the fans would show up in droves), and it also would be an intriguing matchup of big-time programs from the Big Ten and Big 12.
Reinstating the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry would also be a welcomed development. It's a tragedy that the two biggest football programs in the one of the most football-mad states refuse to play each other after Texas A&M's departure to the SEC several years ago.
The return of the wishbone -- at least at a few more schools. Georgia Tech and the three service academies run a version of the triple option, but we want to see a few more powerhouse programs go back to the offense that was so popular in the 1970s and into the 1980s. For instance, just think if Nick Saban had reverted to Bear Bryant's old offense at Alabama last season, with fullback Jalston Fowler leading the way for tailbacks Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon. Oh, the trampling of opposing defenses that would've ensued. Quarterback Blake Sims would've been even more effective as a runner. And think of all the single coverage stud wide receiver Amari Cooper would've seen! Anyway, a lot of spread components come from the single wing, so maybe it's not that much of a stretch to think some team actually will incorporate some elements of the wishbone in the next few seasons.
A return to "normal" coaches' salaries. We understand colleges can pay what they want to their coaches; it's a free-market economy, after all. But come on -- $5 million and $6 million coaches and $1 million coordinators? The whole salary structure is out of control, and it seemingly never will end. And with the ever-bloated salaries comes the never-ending quest for huge support staffs and new facilities, which, of course, can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead of paying the exorbitant coaching salaries, let's return to the days where a $2 million coach was an eye-opener and dole out the cash evenly to the players -- in all sports and at all NCAA schools.
The reinstatement of the Mirage Bowl.Players such as Doug Williams, Barry Sanders and David Klingler were among those that took part in the Mirage Bowl/Coca-Cola Classic over the years as one of the more interesting games around: a regular season contest staged in Tokyo, Japan. We've seen the rise of international bowl games the last few years (in Canada and most recently the Bahamas), but few have come close to matching the novelty of playing across the International Date Line. The NFL has been playing more and more games in London, so why shouldn't a few college football teams find a nice big stadium outside the United States to stage a game? It would be fantastic to start or end the regular season with a game like this, even if coaches wouldn't be thrilled with the idea.
Bring back tear-away jerseys.Things just were not the same ever since the Greg Pruitt Rule was created ... a.k.a. the banning of tear-away jerseys. The NFL rule inspired by the former Oklahoma and Cleveland Browns tailback has outlawed the infamous jerseys for nearly 40 years, but who wouldn't want to add a little more excitement to a play where a defender is trying to grasp at a skill-position player? Of course, tackling is already pretty bad in the college game and this would only make things worse, but on the flip side, highlight-reel plays of players escaping defenders and making it to the end zone should skyrocket. The equipment managers might not like the idea, though.