Monday, August 6, 2012

Getting to Know U: Comparing and Contrasting NCAA Football and Hockey

Remember, the NCAA Hockey Ice Breaker Tournament is this October 12-13 at the Sprint Center.  Yay!  It's a two day tourney to – more or less – open the NCAA Hockey regular season featuring four teams from four different conferences (cool!).  We should be so honored to host this here in our fair city, so don't take it for granted.  Heck, the NHL season might not get under way for a while (please play please play please play), so you may not get a chance to go to a preseason game this year at the Crystal Kool-Aid Bowl.  There is a host of reasons why a lockout might be detrimental to KC hosting a preseason game in the future, but let's not get into that right now, 'k?

Here's the schedule of the tournament, by the way:
I think Saturday's schedule means any one of those teams could play any of the other teams at any given time.
Anyway, this tournament is sure to get lost in the shuffle among KC sports fans more interested in the world of college football that will be well underway once the Ice Breaker rolls around (even though, y'know, Kansas...).  Since no area schools have an NCAA hockey program (although club teams abound – look to the links on the right), it may take more of an understanding to help get you emotionally invested in something you don't understand but totally should because I said so.  So, let's compare the two sports, shall we?  Oh, we shan't?  No no, that won't do, for you see, knowledge is power. Open your mind, mofo.

Jump for learning.

NCAA Football and NCAA Hockey are the same.  They are also different. (Best. Thesis. Ever.)

Football – NCAA Football has three divisions, with two subdivisions in Division 1.  Division 1 Bowl Subdivision has Mizzou, Kansas, K-State, Michigan, USC, etc.  Division 1 Championship Subdivision has Missouri State, Northern Iowa, etc.  Division 2 features NW Missouri State, Pitt State, etc.  Division 3 features Mount Union, UW-Whitewater, Washington University in StL, etc.  For further discussion, we will only refer to D1 FBS.

Hockey – NCAA Hockey has three divisions, but D2 only has six teams and does not sponsor a championship.  D1 features all of the teams in the Ice Breaker tourney – Maine, Nebraska-Omaha, Army, and Notre Dame.  D3's closest school is Lake Forest College in Illinois.  There are 138 member schools for men, and 86 for women.  For further discussion, we will only refer to D1.

Football – NCAA Football has...hold on... (*checks) eleven conferences – still? – with four independent schools.  In total, there are 124 member schools in D1 FBS.  But remember, with all of the conference instability, this could still happen one day.
Hockey – There are five conferences in D1 hockey, and six beginning next year.  There are two independent programs.  59 member schools in total.  There is no Sun Beast.

Football – haha almost.  Four teams starting next year decided by a committee that everyone will soon hate because they are old and white and from Texas.

Hockey – The Frozen Four, a sixteen team tournament, also selected by a committee.  Resembles playoff format of D1 FCS, D2, and D3 football, with regions and all of that good stuff.  Conference tournament champions get automatic bids, with at-larges filling in the rest.  Sixteen spots for 59 schools is pretty good, eh?

Football – Yes.

Hockey – No.

Championship Trophy:
Football – AFCA National Championship Trophy
Now with detachable crystal ball!
Hockey – Generic NCAA trophy with hockey guy on it
Football – Heisman Memorial Trophy, won by such greats like not-Reggie Bush.

Hockey – Hobey Baker Memorial Award, known best for its mention during Pittsburgh Penguins telecasts.

Via – eh...that's most of the schools, I think.
Via (not pictured: Penn State – that's not a joke, see below)
Penn State:
Football – What, you don't know?

Hockey – Former club team, beginning its first year of play at the Division 1 level as an independent.  Will be a part of the newly formed Big Ten (Hockey) Conference next season.

Football – Usually a twelve team schedule, plus one bowl game.  Possibly with a conference championship game unless you are the Big XII.

Hockey – Most teams play about forty games, playing multiple games at a location and typically over the course of a weekend.  Teams will then play in the conference tournament at the end of the season, which could see a best of three series throughout the tournament.  However, the Frozen Four is a one and done tournament.  The season runs about 25 weeks.

College to Professional:
Football – The NCAA is the minor league of the NFL, for all intents and purpose.  Players from colleges at every level literally make up the entire NFL.  Rarely does a player from another country or league (i.e. NAIA or CIS) find work in the NFL.

Hockey – Typically, NCAA players are not as attractive to NHL clubs as amateur players in the Canadian Hockey League or those in Europe or Russia.  About thirty percent of the NHL is made up of players with an NCAA background, which is a growing number.  Though many do get drafted – as this chart will show – they are not the centerpiece of the draft by any means.  Take, for example, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, a Hobey Baker Award recipient in 1999 and Team USA goalie, was drafted 138th overall.  More recently, the last two Hobey Baker winners have gone undrafted.

Football – Fighting is illegal in college football.
Hockey – Fighting is illegal in college hockey.

Football – Each offense starts at the 25 yard line and attempts to score more than the other team.  Works like an inning system in baseball.  Must go for two point conversion after second OT.

Hockey – Five minutes of OT.  After that, TIES!!!

Native American Mascots
Football – Allowed


Now you should be able to talk about NCAA Hockey around the water cooler or to your friends with confidence!  Stay tuned for more posts in the "Getting to Know U" series to become somewhat invested in NCAA Hockey.  It's really more like NCAA Basketball in that you don't have to know everything to act like you care.

As always, visit USCHO for ALL relevant NCAA Hockey info.

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