The first day of school is usually the easiest of the semester. Simple discussion topics, shortened class times and no homework make for a great way to transition into the new year.
Often, the same can be said for the first football game of the season.
College teams from the BCS conferences ease their way into the season with a cupcake team in the beginning and postpone the major challenges for October and November. Last year, Kansas started the season by beating Central Michigan by 45 points. This year, the Jayhawks put a whippin’ on Florida International.
While I don’t want to take anything away from KU’s 12-month-long football tradition, K-State has chosen to be different. Last year the Wildcats opened the season on the road against Auburn, nearly defeating the once perfect-season, championship-snubbed Tigers.
On Aug. 29, K-State beat North Texas by 39, which was still impressive even though the Mean Green were 2-10 last year. Starting a season against a FCS — formerly Division 1-AA — team might give a team a win, but it does nothing to prepare a team for bigger games.
K-State has realized that success is not only measured by wins and losses, but by the level of competition. A football season should be challenging not only in the last months of the year, but also from games one to 12.
If the Wildcats were to play a team with little talent and no chance, the game would be a waste of time. A team as young and as fresh as this Wildcat team needed to start off against a team with a shot. North Texas isn’t a powerhouse, but they did win four straight conference championships four years ago.
Besides preparation, other teams should follow K-State’s lead because the schools that were once automatic victories are now Cinderella stories. I’m sure Michigan would like to have a second chance against FCS Appalachian State. This year, reigning ACC champion Virginia Tech lost its opener against East Carolina.
The days of major conference dominance is ending. Just being part of a BCS conference no longer entitles a team to respectability. K-State figured out that respect must be earned; and while 2007 wasn’t a great year for the Wildcats, they played some legitimate nonconference games. The lessons learned by the coaches and players should make 2008 a little more bearable.
Owen Kennedy is a senior in management. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.