Seems like every year, sports pundits and talking heads compare college football’s best against the NFL’s worst in some hypothetical showdown. First off, it could never happen, ever. Not like when people say McGregor vs. Mayweather won’t happen. I mean legally, it can’t happen. We are talking pros playing students. But for the sake of arguments, let’s say the Cleveland Browns met the Alabama Crimson Tide on a neutral field, under the cover of darkness to settle the score. What would happen? Let’s look at this matchup from all angles and predict the winner.
Currently, the Browns are 0-13 and facing a potential zero win season while Alabama sits at 12-0 and is getting ready for the college football playoffs with hopes of yet another national championship. It’s Bama’s dominance that keeps bringing this question up, year after year. Sports writers see the Tide roll everyone they face and the natural conclusion is that they are ready to take that next step in competition. But this isn’t English soccer, we don’t relegate the lowest pro teams and promote the top college squads. And for good reason. Any NFL team would kill a college squad. Period.
Don’t get me wrong, Alabama is amazing. The best program in the country. They have skill at every position and have a top tier coaching staff that gets them ready to play every weekend. Their 2016 roster will send many to the NFL and some of those players may turn out to be superstars but this is the rub. Not all of the 2016 roster will make the pros while every member of the Browns is a pro. That’s the difference. Every Brown was a scouted, recruited talent that did all the right things to get to that highest level. Cleveland, even with a bad NFL record, is a squad of men who were the best players on their respective college teams.
“But Alabama is younger and faster.” Okay, let’s concede that point. Maybe they could score some points with that speed but football is four quarters and lineman on both sides of the ball for Cleveland will dictate the ultimate pace of the game. Those huge adult bodies will wear down any teenagers, no matter how freakishly good they are. The Browns’ pass rush would be too much for Alabama to handle. Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts is a freshman. How often have we seen some great QBs come out of college, after racking up video game level stats, fall back to earth in the pros in their first few years? There is a steep learning curve. The pro game is much quicker, the margins much slimmer. It’s just too much to ask from an 18-year-old.
The last factor here is pride. Bama loses none with a loss, they are supposed to lose. But for Cleveland? This game would be everything. Those players would go berserk defending their honor against these college kids. This issue alone is enough to tip the scales and as we all know sports is about who wants it more. Hats off to Alabama, the fact that we always talk about this is compliment enough. But enough. Let’s put this theoretical battle to bed, once and for all.