ATLANTA—Every year the Power 5 conference championships roll around, and the debate begins anew. No, not which teams belong in the College Football Playoff; that’s pedestrian and predictable. We’re talking about questions of real import: specifically, should you throw a chest pass during the Dr Pepper Tuition Challenge?
Our answer: yes. Hell yes. Absolutely, without a doubt, yes. When there’s $100K at stake, throw the ball however you freaking want to.
Just to remind you of the stakes we’re talking here: the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway offers students the opportunity to win $100,000 for educational benefits. Ten students match up, two at each of the Power 5 championship games. All they have to do is sling footballs into a two-foot-diameter hole in a gargantuan Dr Pepper can from five yards away. Whichever student tosses more footballs into the bin in 30 seconds gets the $100K; the loser gets $25K.
It’s a lovely little bit of corporate Americana, and—much to Dr Pepper’s delight, we’re sure—it’s become quite the source of controversy because of the sharp differential between winning and looking good.
Football bros, laden with golden, CGI-enhanced memories of their own past gridiron glory, insist that the only true way to throw a football, regardless of situation, is the classic hip-turned, overhand spiral. It looks sharp, and in the mind of the football-addled, appearance trumps profit.
Sure, spirals look pretty. But this is the form that always wins:
Remember, these are college students we’re talking about here. They care about as much for appearance as they do for your tales of what the ol’ alma mater was like back in your day. They’re also experts at finding the flaws in any system and exploiting them. For instance, ask any college student how to game their meal-card system to get free food, and then sit back for a 20-minute explanation of espionage-caliber tactics and strategy.
In that vein, college students correctly looked at the Dr Pepper Challenge and realized that using a typical three-step drop-and-spiral in a timed competition was both foolish and wasteful. Instead, a chest pass—or, per some variants, an underhanded spiral—allows the thrower to fire off more passes with more accuracy in a shorter period of time. More shots on goal means more opportunity to score, something even your average mouth-breathing [INSERT NAME OF YOUR RIVAL SCHOOL HERE] fan can eventually figure out.
We’re in an era that rewards getting all you can for yourself, damn the optics. So what if you look like you’re inbounding a pass in a church-league basketball game? You know what looks even cooler than a perfectly thrown spiral? A big fat ZERO on the balance-due invoice from your college. So push away, students. Push away.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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