Nardone: Ranking the best offseasons in sports

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While sports fans tune in to actually watch the games, offseasons do provide for more than gossip. At its best, an offseason can provide an entire fan base with hope for a better future, a washing away of previous failures, and a fresh start to whatever inevitably awaits. An offseason, in any sport, can do that.

Some offseasons are better than others, though. A few only provide false hope, others can be more tedious than exciting to follow, and then there are a few that are more meaningless than stocking up for Y2K.

Anyway, let’s take a gander — and rank — each offseason. It is worth noting that I’m not a specialist in all of sports. This might be a bit lopsided because of that.

6 – NHL

Do you hockey?

I don’t hockey.

To be honest, I am not even sure what happens in the hockey offseason. I’m sure there are some exciting things, but if I wrote any of those things down, this author would be lying.

5 – Major League Baseball

Hot stove… or something.

Here is the dilly: MLB’s draft is pointless. There are approximately eleventy-billion rounds and 99 percent of the people drafted won’t play in the big leagues for five seasons. That is, you know, if they ever get to the highest level of baseball.

Where is the fun in that?

MLB’s bright spot in the offseason is its free agency signings. However, as history has taught me, it appears whenever a big name signs a huge deal with a prominent club, that player then — with very few exceptions — becomes a dumpster fire of a player.

The perception of “winning” free agency is that the team who won actually lost.

Plus, the MLB coaching carousel is pointless. A new manger for a team rarely equates to some sort of overnight success. Outside of Joe Maddon, which was part of an entire culture shift for the Chicago Cubs, when does a fan base truly believe the hiring of some white guy with a mustache (do managers still have mustaches?) will make everything right?

All the good trades happen DURING the season, too.


4- NFL

The NFL Draft is great, but no one knows what guys are going to be good. Especially at the quarterback position, which is the most important. So, your favorite team drafts a guy with the number one overall pick, and you have no idea if your franchise just got Tim Couch or Cam Newton.

Coaches do matter, I think…. I honestly don’t know. Do you? When the Cleveland Browns fire whoever its head coach is now, then hires another new one next offseason, does that make everyone in Cleveland get all pumped?

Outside of that, the NFL has done a great job of “dominating” the calendar year, but that’s only because the sport is insanely popular. The NFL Scouting Combine is a contrived thing, the draft is fine if a fan doesn’t mind being slightly less patient than MLB Draft enthusiasts, and a lot of the coverage circles around stuff no one knows about.

Seriously. When your favorite team signs or drafts a guard, do you know if he’s good? Of course you don’t, because who in the hell watches football to watch the linemen?

3- College Football

Yes, yes…I know. College football’s coaches do matter to large degrees, there is an entire day focused to kids putting hats on — which for some reasons makes them committed to a university — and things of that nature. But it isn’t perfect.

Basically, we have kids committing all over the place. On the mean streets of Twitter, on YouTube videos, ESPN, a McDonald’s, etc. That’s all gravy, but a lot of those kids will back off from their commitments before ever partaking in a singular college football game for the program they swore their allegiances to.

Another aspect, which keeps CFB outside the top two, is that the sport does indeed provide tangible hope, but it comes with a caveat. That new coaching hire or great recruiting class that comes in that should make you feel all warm in the belly? Yeah, about that — it doesn’t payoff, if ever, until two through four years down the road.

Patience — or really, the lack thereof — is a virtue few sports fans have, but college football die-hards need.


2- College Basketball

You thought the amateur shooty hoops was going to be first because I’m a college basketball writer, right?

Here is the good: Basketball, by design, is a sport that can have its future altered by the least amount of people. In football, hockey, and baseball, it takes a horde of humans to right the ship. In college basketball, it can take as little as one or two.

Hell, simply the addition of one big name coach can change a fan base’s fortune. John Calipari to Kentucky instantly revitalized Big Blue Nation after the Billy Gillispie fiasco.

A similar thing applies to big time recruits. While it didn’t actually work out for Johnny Jones when Ben Simmons committed to the LSU Tigers, that entire offseason provided the fan base with a tangible reason to be excited.

That can be rinsed and repeated more times than a dirty pair of socks.

Not to mention that the college basketball offseason has the nutty coaching carousel to follow, transferring, and the same kind of recruiting that is happening in college football, but basketball players have a larger and more immediate impact than their college football counterparts.

Really, the less amount of important pieces increases the higher percentage of important moving parts. One quarterback gets drafted or recruited? Great. There are a ton of other things that need to be fixed before that team gets good. One superstar gets drafted or recruited in basketball? Ask the Syracuse Orange how that worked out when Carmelo Anthony joined the program.

1- NBA

The NBA has a coaching carousel, but that isn’t what slots it at the top. It is a combination of a few things.

Basically, take everything college basketball as to offer in its offseason and amplify to a billion. Oh, then add the Summer League — which is like watching a college basketball all-star game — to the mix.

Free agency, while normally less impacting than CBB’s recruiting, is a forever happening and interesting thing to follow. I mean, how can you not get excited over the Tyler Johnson sweepstakes?

The NBA Draft, which provides more realistic hope than the NFL’s draft, turns a nation into a country full of Chad Ford clones. It is a time of the year where not only hope arises, but the have-nots — and the fans of those teams — get the limelight in a league they would otherwise not. Not to mention that the NBA Draft can change a franchise’s success for a decade.

Oh, and the NBA is the only sport to have games being played during its early offseason (Summer League). And, again, watching games is greater than not.

Nardone: Ranking the best offseasons in sports

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