Rivalry Week Is What Makes College Football One Of A Kind

If you had the opportunity to tune in for this weekend of college football, you experienced some of the pageantry and emotion of what makes this venue the best game in town. College football represents all of the hard work and sacrifice that goes into achieving one common goal. There are rivalries across the nation from state to state and amongst crosstown schools that represent the true passion of this great sport. For me, Saturday represented a defining moment as a college football fan. I was able to witness, firsthand, the turning point of a program and the rewards of victory.

Akron head coach Terry Bowden and I became friends in 2001 during our tenure at ABC Sports. At the time, I was a college football researcher for ABC and Terry was the lead analyst for the ABC College Football Studio Show with John Saunders. We started to correspond over emails and talked in depth about college football. At the time, we had never met in person, however, Terry would always respond to my emails and reach out during his busy schedule to keep in touch.

Late in the 2001 season, Terry and I had finally had the opportunity to meet face to face as we spoke about our careers.  What I discovered from that first meeting was that he was one of the most personable and modest individuals one would ever meet. He is an all-around great man who loves the sport of college football. He loves to mentor and teach players. That is why he decided to get back into coaching in 2009, when he took over the North Alabama program in Division 2. After three years at North Alabama, in which he guided them to a combined 29-9 record and three Division 2 playoff appearances, the opportunity presented itself for Terry to move onto the University of Akron.

Akron had been mired in the basement of the MAC with a combined record of 5-31 from 2009-2011. Taking over the program at Akron would not be an easy task. However, Terry knew he could turn the situation around. He had done it before with Salem, Samford and Auburn with results coming almost immediately. Over his coaching career prior to arriving in Akron, coach Bowden accumulated a superb 140-62-2 record that included a perfect 11-0 record in 1993 at the University of Auburn.

 He understood, however, that the situation at Akron would take a little more time for the results to start to come to fruition. During his first season, the Zips were competitive and lost close ball games. The team finished 1-11, however, their margin of defeat decreased dramatically. 

Entering this season, the Zips were bigger, faster and stronger playing a more physical style of football than they were a year ago.  This is a true testament to the coaching staff that Terry Bowden had built around him. Terry had recognized what was needed in building a foundation at Akron and he took the steps to implement a successful plan in order to meet the needs of the team. The results of the staff’s hard work and effort are now paying dividends.

The Zips were determined to make some noise this season and they did not disappoint. During week 3 of the college football season, the Zips had taken the no. 11th ranked Michigan Wolverines down to the wire in Ann Arbor.  The Zips had the opportunity to shock the world when their fourth down pass attempt fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired. However, that game proved to be a measuring stick of success and proved to the players that they could compete with anyone within their conference.

As Saturday rolled around, the Zips knew they had to defeat their cross town rival the Kent State Golden Flashes in order to keep the pendulum moving in the right direction. The schools are separated by 10 miles and their rivalry dates back to 1923. The Zips stepped up and met the challenge, as the team outplayed the Golden Flashes in every category in handing them the 16-7 defeat at InfoCision Stadium. The Zips were able to assert their will from the opening kickoff and show their fans that there is a new winning mentality at Akron.

Head coach Terry Bowden and his team epitomize perseverance. The ability to overcome adversity and reach your goals. The team is now heading in the right direction for the coming years and the fan base has something to be excited about with regard to their football team. 

What transpired after the Zips victory on Saturday is what the true meaning of college football represents.  The celebration of the players with the band and the students of the University of Akron is pure. It is a great sight to see and for college football fans across the country, this is what makes the game so special. To see the players celebrate their accomplishment and witness the joy and passion of playing this great game is amazing. This is what makes college football head and shoulders above the rest.

Joseph Lisi is a former ABC Sports college football researcher. He is the owner of www.NCAABLITZ.com and www.GOFORTHE2.COM. Joseph is a MAC writer for www.Rantsports.com- You can follow him on YOUTUBE at: MRJAL2230 or on Twitter @Goforthe2

Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com called :