When you start throwing footballs with two hands, you've gone too far
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:
Dr. Pepper Challenge. pic.twitter.com/nzdL85RSzW— ⓂarcusD2.0 (@_MarcusD2_) December 4, 2016
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler took some time out of their busy weeks to compete against each other in this Dr. Pepper challenge pic.twitter.com/oj2wygga86— Jack McGuire (@TailgateHeisman) December 3, 2016
How can @drpepper give away $100,000 in tuition to a student who throws the football with two hands?— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) December 4, 2016
Dr. Pepper really needs to make overhand throws count double— Bobby Big Wheel (@BobbyBigWheel) December 4, 2016
As soon as people started chest passing, they should have cancelled the Dr. Pepper football toss challenge.— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) December 3, 2016
Push pass Dr Pepper halftime toss contestants are the worst.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) December 3, 2016
As long as they are throwing a football, the chest pass has to be banned from the Dr. Pepper halftime contests.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 3, 2016
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.
Underhand??!?!— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) December 4, 2016
You may have won the contest but you can't put a price on dignity... pic.twitter.com/R4A9TtOO7B
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.