The game has grown and diversified more dramatically than any other sport in the last half-century—in audience, in complexity, in profits, and even in numbers and sizes of players.
In his 1954 autobiography, W.W. "Pudge" Heffelfinger, the first All-American college football selection, wrote that he'd "love to live another sixty years, just to see what's around the corner for college football." By that point, Pudge, born in 1867, had seen plenty: from the reign of the Yale powerhouses of the 1890s—for which he played—to the national champions of Army, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma over the next 60 or so seasons.
But were he alive today to watch Division I-A football, he'd likely be astonished. What he'd see is a sport that has changed more radically than any other since Eisenhower was president—one that's gotten bigger in terms of audience, complexity of rules, sizes of conference, money involved, and even players' weights.
The first thing he might notice is how many games are at his fingertips. He wouldn't have to travel from college town to college town during the season to get a look at the best teams. In our time, he could get a cutaway view of all of college football in a single Saturday.
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In the 1950s, most Major League Baseball teams had many games televised, and even the NFL, which was still years away from its big boom years, had several telecasts a week, either regionally or nationally. But televised college football was a rarity then; schools were allowed one nationally broadcast home game a year. Now it's rare for any major college football power not to have every game televised, at least on local cable or on the Internet.