Several years ago when my ballet career was over I decided to leave New York City and focus on one thing, College Football! I applied to every college with a major football program on the east side of the Mississippi and, being the superstitious lady that I am, decided to go to whomever I heard from first. It was a glorious day ordained from heaven when I became a Buckeye, but more importantly I became a part of a larger family, the NCAA College Football family. Every Saturday we commune in bars, parking lots, homes, you name it, and from sun up till sundown, we cheer and scream, drink and eat, and live and die with every play, because, we are … college football fans!
I made a trip last weekend to my alma mater, The Ohio State University, and was immediately struck by how badly I longed for that most glorious time of year, football season! The first time I ever set foot in the Horseshoe on gameday was one I will never forget; a sea of scarlet and grey, palpable excitement, beer flowing like wine, making new friends every stumble along the way, The Best Damn Band In The Land playing “Hang on Sloopy,” and thousands of people there for one purpose: to cheer our team to victory. There is nothing in the world like it, and there is nothing like college football season! So here they are ladies and gents, my top ten reasons I am so desperately wishing it was football season, in no particular order…
As any college football fan knows, one of the things that makes the season so exciting is looking forward to rivalry week. No matter how the season has gone, no matter how many ups and downs, the only thing that seems to matter at the end of the day is how you handled that one team. Rivalries going back, some over a hundred years, and usually how a team ends it season, will make these matchups never get old…Ohio State – Michigan, Florida – Florida State, Alabama – Auburn, Texas – Oklahoma, Army – Navy, Harvard – Yale, Georgia – Auburn. Who doesn’t love the exchange of a ten gallon hat or wagon wheel, a backyard brawl, a battle for the bell or a lonestar showdown?!
A discussion about college football would not be complete without mention of an alcoholic beverage. Football season is a time where it is not only acceptable, but encouraged, to wake up as early as humanly possible and begin drinking. You may be of the school of thought that the homestead is the place to begin. Perhaps you enjoy kegs and eggs and your local watering hole. Or you may go whole hog, roll to the stadium, and set up the most obnoxious display of team pride known to man. Whatever your style, any gameday is not be complete with a tall frosty brew and maybe a few games of flip cup or cornhole!
3. BCS v. Championship Debate
It never fails – stand at a bar towards the end of the season and one discussion can be heard round the land. Why doesn’t college football have a playoff system. What would it look like, what would it take to change the way its been done for years? Will these crusty old men ever give in, or is there just too much money to be made in the bowl system? Even our Commander in Chief has weighed in on the situation and has said that he would favor a play-off system. I say that a play-off system let’s the best of the best be decided on the field, but hey, what do I know. I don’t know if the play-off system will be resolved, but in the meantime, a system of polls with various computer formulas determining the best teams is what we got, so lets argue about it!
4. Every Game Counts
Well- almost. Piggy-backing on the play-off debate is the problem of late season losses versus early season. The system is designed to make it possible to fail early in the year, but one loss later, and you’re cooked! At some point you can even be punished for winning early… hey, I don’t make the rules, I just complain about them! While, this concept makes no sense, it also adds to the excitement of each game. Each game matters and when those polls come out early week, there is no greater feeling than watching your most beloved or most hated team, jump from spot to spot. Just ask this guy about his late year loss… poor kid!
5. College GameDay
Waking up in a fog, turning on ESPN, and watching thousands of screaming fans with awesome signs surrounding that Home Depot booth, gets me pumped! Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Chris Fowler make a hell of a team and I must say, give us some great analysis and insight into the day ahead. Obviously my feelings towards Herbstreit are rather biased, but starring at him for extended periods of time has actually been shown to cure certain types of cancer in small domestic animals. Speed drills, what to watch, you name it, it’s all good! Let us also not forget my main man Lou Holtz and his award winning pep talks! Am I supposed to fall off the couch laughing during those? I’m not sure. The culmination of the GameDay experience is myself screaming at the screen as Corso’s idiot head dons another idiot mascot head, and makes his pick of the day that usually blows my mind!
For as long as I can remember, my father and I have been playing this game in the car. When a car passes you, you check out the license plate and name every team from that state and their respective mascot. I know, I know, totally dorky, but quite helpful, especially when playing the ESPN game and the question, which Division I teams mascots aren’t a color or end in s? And who doesn’t love a good mascot challenge! I know I love mine, even if he is a poisonous nut! Some of the highlights for me are the Zips, the Rainbows, Mountaineers, the Game Cocks, Boilermaker Special, and my personal fav.. UGA!
7. Fight Songs
I love the loyalty that surrounds college football. If you grew up liking a certain team, or your parents did, or you had the pleasure of going to that school, you love everything about your team. You memorized your fight song and have some sort of tacky paraphernalia that has your tacky mascot on it, I know I do. Sadly I grew up learning with the words, Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame, in my head, but eventually it got to Buckeye Battle Cry, Carmen Ohio and Across the Field. Maybe you enjoy the Victors, Rablin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech or On Wisconsin. Whatever your cup of tea may be, there is nothing like thousands of fans in unison to get your blood pumping!
8. Game Day Gear
I’m all for getting dolled up when the occasion presents itself, but easily one of my favorite things about the season is rocking my jersey! Second only to making fun of girls with their cans out and heels on, “it’s a football game you idiot,” although, I have been told that had I gone to college in the south, that this behavior would be completely acceptable. I love the way that polyester mesh feels against my skin and sneaks on my feet, it is just way too conducive to partying all day! Those guys drunk enough to walk around without shirts on to show their panted stomachs, in subarctic temperatures, aren’t bad either! Girl below = fail!
9. Fall Weather
I know this one isn’t epic but there is something about that first day, you know the one, it smells different, the air is thinner, the leaves are changing… you know it’s coming… THE FIRST GAME! It means I can get a new jersey, because I’m convinced last years is jinxed, it means I can put away those yucky summer clothes, it means subsisting solely on Budweiser, chips and anything you can fit on a grill, it means it’s football time and that our hopes of a winning season is upon us… THIS IS OUR YEAR!
10. Jesse Palmer
Ok, I might have had most of you until this point, and I’m sorry if I just lost you, but no college football for me would be complete with out this little item on the list. If I can’t have Braun, Jesse Palmer is my number one seed. Even though he was a Gator and a Giant, gag, my Thursdays are a little bit brighter because of this gem of a man. It could be the spikey hair, the voice, the occasional witty comment, but I’m pretty sure it’s those mini ties. You know what I’m referring to, the ones that he may have been wearing at the eighth grade dance. Regardless, I am counting the weeks until we are reunited!