College Soccer: A Game for All Seasons?
The NCAA Division I football shakeup may have consequences beyond its milieu.
Its jock watchers will descend from their ivory tower next week to hovel with power conference poobahs as a prelude to giving the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big XII, SEC, and ACC more leeway in tossing around their megabucks. And most of that spendfest won't land anywhere near the 'other' schools.
That was enough for a frustrated June Jones of the AAC's Southern Methodist University Mustangs to muse aloud about the soon-to-be have-nots in Division I shifting their season to the spring.
But while that notion got swatted away with a huff of disgust by just about everyone with a boda bag or portable grill, another NCAA sport was thinking along the same lines. And it may follow through with it.
College soccer is spreading its recruiting wings far and wide and is offering an attractive package to top-tier players:
But those who coach in the college ranks say they're playing too much in too short a time period. Those a reasons why they can't land many players who would actually benefit from that level of development.
Think Freddy Adu, who went from fast track to flameout in near-record time.
In order to attract and hold the next wave of Adu's, respected college soccer voices are calling for a longer season. In fact, they're advocating a split season: playing matches in fall, taking winter off for training and conditioning -- not to mention more attention to classes and injury rehab -- and then resuming their schedules in the spring.
It's not necessarily radical. A number of European pro leagues -- including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland -- take a winter break for the holidays. Even the vaunted English Premiership has considered it.
The American game clearly got a huge boost with its showing in the World Cup. College sports -- even the so-called secondaries like soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and hockey -- are high profile in the USA culture.
Such a move may escape notice amongst the casual sports fan, but it could be a key step in advancing soccer's cause.