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The College Football Internet Challenge
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on ArenaFan.com, Wednesday, August 24, 2005

With the college football season right around the corner, I would like to offer you a challenge that will hopefully give you a new perspective on the game of college football.

It seems that almost everyone has a favorite college football team that they live and die by every year, but this season I want you to pick a second college football team to follow as well. And it has to be one that you donít hear about all the time, preferably one that is not in Division I-A. Those teams are way too easy to follow. Their games are all over the TV, they get tons of coverage in newspapers and magazines, their highlights are shown constantly on ESPN and all of the major Internet sports sites cover them to death.

No, Iím talking about using the Internet to find and follow a team that doesnít get any attention in your local area or on a national level either. The 119 teams in Division I-A get plenty of attention, but there are 510 other NCAA college football teams across the country that are out there every weekend playing for school pride and getting little or no attention for their efforts. It is from these smaller schools that a number of Arena and af2 players come from.

The Challenge

Find a small college football team that you have never heard of before, in some far off part of the country from where you live, and follow them on the Internet this season. Take the time to get to know them. Find out who their top players are, who the coach of the team is and learn something about the other teams in their conference. Every school has a web site with coverage of their sports teams, but, as always, some web sites are better than others.

You could choose one of the 123 schools in Division I-AA like the Austin Peay Governors in Tennessee, the Delaware Fightiní Blue Hens or the Youngstown State Penguins in Ohio. How about one of the 148 Division II schools like the Tuskegee Golden Tigers in Alabama, the Lane Dragons in Tennessee or the Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils? You could even select one of the 239 schools in Division III. Schools like the Emory and Henry Wasps in Virginia, the Austin Kangaroos in Texas or the Muhlenberg Mules in Ohio.

And donít forget about the 94 schools in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) like the Azusa Pacific Cougars in California, the William Penn Statesmen in Iowa or the Montana Tech Orediggers.

How about a junior college football team? There are 68 two-year schools with football programs who are members of the National Junior College Athletic Association located around the country. You could choose the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds in Kansas, the Blinn College Buccaneers in Texas or, my personal favorite, (and the one Iíll be following this season) the Snow College Badgers in Utah! Incidentally, Blinn College is where Grand Rapids Rampage quarterback Michael Bishop played in 1995 and 1996. He led the Buccaneers to two NJCAA championships and a 24-0 record over two seasons before transferring to Kansas State and becoming a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1998.

There are even 27 colleges across Canada that are part of Canadian Interuniversity Sport that you could also adopt this season. Schools like the York Lions in Toronto, Arcadia Axemen in Nova Scotia or the Simon Fraser Clan in British Columbia.

Of course, there are also 18 Canadian junior college teams that are part of the Canadian Junior Football League. Teams like the London (Ontario) Beefeaters, the Abbotsford (British Columbia) Air Force and the Winnipeg (Manitoba) Rifles.

Keep in mind that the Canadian college teams play on larger fields like they do in the Canadian Football League and they also start their seasons earlier than U.S. college teams. Therefore, they will have already played a couple of games already.

Picking a Team

So, how will you decide on which school to give your undying loyalties to this year? Maybe you know someone who knows someone who goes to a small college. You could pick a school that is located in a region of the country that you visited once, or perhaps someplace where youíd like to move to, or retire to, someday. Maybe you just like the schoolís unique nickname. However you choose a team, follow them this season and see what happens. You could even get your friends involved by having them adopt new teams also. Then, you can all compare notes on how your respective teams are doing as the season goes along. The Internet is the only way youíll ever hear about what is going on with most of these teams.

Once you have selected a team, you could even go the extra mile and order a T-shirt, sweatshirt, hat or key chain from the school with their name and/or logo on it. Then, when people ask, "Where the heck is that school at?" you can tell them all about it, just like you were an alumnus! If you are a mini football helmet collector, like I am, you might even see if they have a mini helmet available that you can add to your collection. Who else in your part of the country would have a helmet from that school in their collection?

This challenge is intended to make you more aware of the many college football teams that exist around the country, other than the ones that come into your home on television every week in the fall. You might find that this one-season experiment becomes a lifelong association from afar. Just because the schools are small doesnít mean that they donít have fine athletes playing football for them. It might turn out that someone you read about this season will go on to play professionally somewhere, and then youíll will be able to say, "Why, Iíve been following that guy ever since he was playing at [insert college name here]!"

Here are several Internet sites to get you started in your search for a new college football team to follow. Good luck.

NCAA Division I-AA - www.i-aa.org 

NCAA Division II - www.d2football.com

NCAA Division III - www.d3football.com

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) - www.naiafootball.net

National Junior Collage Athletic Association (NJCAA) - www.njcaa.org

Canadian Interuniversity Sport - www.cisport.ca/e/football/index.cfm

Canadian Junior Football League Ė www.cjfl.ca

Related article - College Football Internet Challenge (Update)


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