This Is Why We’re Glad To Have College Football Back
It was, in many ways, an offseason to forget in college football. The Jim Tressel mess. The ongoing North Carolina mess that led to coach Butch Davis losing his job. And the Miami saga. Oh, that Miami saga. And yet the season kicks off tonight...and we're excited. Really excited. How, when the game and its governing body have such deep, systemic flaws - and when there's a professional league that plays a higher level of football - do we work up such excitement? Well, anecdotes like this one from the Los Angeles Times' Gary Klein go a long way toward an explanation:
USC scout team players wore powder blue jerseys with gold numbers during scrimmage drill.
But why would they do that? USC plays Minnesota in its opener. And...well, actually, Minnesota uses about the same color scheme as USC. No powder blue to be found. What's the deal?
Yes, USC wasn't dressing up like its rival this weekend, but like its rival every weekend, UCLA. And that's how a school currently living with NCAA punishments of its own pumps us up for this sport: in college football, rivalries are just ingrained. It's like that with some in the NFL, but most, say, Bears and Packers fans can't ever say they were a part of those teams like UCLA and USC fans can say they were a part of those schools. That connection makes everything mean more - or seem like it does, anyway.
You can view the same phenomenon with new Michigan coach Brady Hoke, the way he refuses to say "Ohio State" and has his players doing it too. It's personal. It's about caring really hard, because of that feeling that it's personal. It's about youth, and holding on to vestiges of it.
Sure, it's nice that Andrew Luck is great at football and serious student who doesn't like attention, but college football fandom is more than those individual cases that we might use to try and make ourselves feel better about the whole enterprise. It's like Spencer Hall of SB Nation and Every Day Should Be Saturday said in his season-opening column, the "hope...that the experience validates the unfeeling, sterile framework of things." Those systemic problems we mentioned before? Sure, they're bad, they're serious, and maybe they'll finally undermine the sport to the point where it has to drastically change. But we don't care about them as much as we care about that experience. For better or worse, that experience is back today. There's nothing quite like it.
[h/t Bryan Fischer]
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