The Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway — in which students compete against each other by throwing footballs through giant, inflatable Dr. Pepper cans — has provided some of the greatest moments of championship weekend over the years, such as Ivon “Dr. Pepper is the seriously the best thing to ever happen to me!” Padilla-Rodriguez in 2011.
But recently contestants have realized they can be much more accurate and efficient if they chest-pass footballs into the cans since they stand just five yards apart. At first, I tipped my cap to the ingenuity of the contestants, like how Takeru Kobayashi changed the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest forever by gobbling the meat and buns separately and dunking the latter in water to save room in his stomach.
But there’s a key difference in what Kobayashi did and what has happened to the Dr. Pepper challenge: Kobayashi’s revolutionary competitive eating tactic has enhanced the “sport” because competitors are now able to eat an ungodly amount of hot dogs in the span of 10 minutes.
The Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway, on the other hand, has been bastardized by this gimmick that has turned it into a basketball skills competition. We saw it all weekend at the championship games for the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC: Students chest-passing footballs into giant Dr. Pepper cans while those on Twitter lambasted the practice:
The “winner” of the ACC Championship Game’s giveaway even had the stones to throw the football underhanded as if he was competing in horseshoes.
That’s why I’m calling for an amendment to the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway to limit throws to an overhand motion or — gasp! — move the can 10 yards away from competitors.
And I vow to not drink a single Dr. Pepper until this change is implemented.
[Full disclosure: I don’t drink any soft drinks because of a bad kidney stone problem since high school, which makes this boycott quite convenient.]
Because at a turbulent time in this country when we are desperate to find issues we can all agree on, requiring a football passing competition to involve actually passing the football is a good place to start.
— Written by Jim Weber, a veteran college sports journalist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Weber has written for CBS Sports Network, NBCSports.com, ESPN the Magazine and the college sports website he founded and sold, LostLettermen.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber.