Could the best college football team beat the Cleveland Browns? Don’t make me laugh. Well, the Browns do make me laugh, but no. And the difference is like that of the Titanic, and a tugboat!
Tell me what a thing is associated with and I’ll tell you it’s value.
For instance, there are first-grade finger-paintings of turkeys, and then there are masterpieces of the Dutch Renaissance. We would say that as realistic as little Jamal’s hand-shaped gobbler appears, his painting is inferior to Rembrandt’s Bathsheba At Her Bath (an inappropriate subject for young artists, anyway) because Jamal’s ouevre is hanging next to Mrs. Granderson’s growth chart, while Rembrandt’s work is exhibited in the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre. The quality is know by the association.
Follow my logic? Dutch Masters = Parisian art museum > Prairietown Elementary art room, which means that Bathsheba > Jamal’s Hand Turkey No. 1.
If you’re still confused, think of this example: You have NCAA Division I football, and then you have the National Football League. The former is populated with semi-professional football teams and the latter with professional football teams. The difference of quality between NCAA Division I football and the NFL may not be as great as say, the difference between Jamal’s turkey and Rembrandt’s naked lady, but there is a sizable contrast, nonetheless.
Which brings me to the Cleveland Browns, who were the worst team in the NFL this year (and arguably, one of the worst pro teams, ever), and the Clemson Tigers, who were this year’s best team in NCAA Division I after beating Alabama 35-31 to win their second national title. The Tigers finished 14-1 and had their best season in 30 years, while the Browns ended at 1-15 and looked like their cleats were tied together for three hours every Sunday.
But by using the simple algorithm above, how can we deduce the Browns would still beat Clemson almost 99 times out of 100 if they played? That’s right: The Browns are in the NFL and Clemson is not. Remember: Browns = NFL > NCAA Division I.
Yet for some reason, college football fans of the goosebrained variety think that the best NCAA team could beat the worst NFL team if given the chance. Earlier this year, a Public Policy Poll revealed that 62% of Ohio voters – 62%! – believed that Ohio State could beat the Browns in a head-to-head matchup. I’m sure that number has gone done since their 31-0 Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, but knowing Buckeyes fans, most just now probably think that Ohio State and Clemson could beat the Browns.
Former Alabama quarterback and New York Jets hall-of-famer Joe Namath said of his alma mater’s chance of beating the Browns, “The size, the speed, the athleticism, the mentality, [are the major differences between the two leagues]. A pro team would really have to beat itself by fumbling, interceptions, dropping the ball…it would have to play its worst game and the college team would have to play its best.”
With all due respect to Broadway Joe, I don’t think even the Browns could fumble that many times in one game to lose to Alabama (I hear Gary from Mentor saying, “You don’t know the Browns”). Theoretically, could the best college teams beat the worst pro team in a perfect storm? Sure, I suppose. The last place horse in the Kentucky Derby could “theoretically” lose the Suwannee River Stakes if he pulled up gimp at the quarter pole, too.
“The size of the players and the speed—it’s too much,” Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt said of the disparity. ‘Big speed’ is the biggest differentiator from college to pro.”
Klatt gets it; size is secondary to speed. Yes, this year’s Alabama offensive line averaged 6’4”, 316.6 pounds, while the Browns offensive line went 6’4”, 313.6 pounds. My neighbor’s Dodge Charger and an Indy Car both run on eight cylinders. What’s your point? The Browns would smoke the Alabama line and secondary like Rollie Fingers rolling up Astrodome turf.
Do I have to do the math again for some of you people?
Okay, let me break it down like this: Some of the players on this year’s Alabama team will play in the NFL. All of the players on this year’s Brown’s team PLAY IN THE NFL! The worst pro players still play the Super Bowl-winning team almost every year, sometimes twice. Meanwhile, even a team with twenty-two Heisman Trophy candidates wouldn’t have a single scrimmage experience at the professional level.
It’s not that Clemson, Alabama, or Ohio State are not great teams. It’s just that you have to know what association they belong to before making a value judgment about what other teams they could beat. The quality is know by the association.
Still not getting it? Let me try a different equation.
These who believe that the best college football team could beat the Cleveland Browns = crazy.