The NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision season kicks off tonight!
I’ve never been a big college football fan. Growing up in the shadows of East Coast cities, college football isn’t much of a “thing” here. Not the way it is elsewhere. Add in parents who didn’t attend colleges with major football programs, a preference for intimate familiarity with programs and players (something the NFL has in spades over the NCAA), and quality-of-play issues, and I just never really sunk my teeth into the game during my formative years. I rooted half-heartedly for Michigan because my brother liked them and because they had cool uniforms and because I thought the name “Elvis Grbac” was both funny and cool. But that was about it.
In college, I regularly attended and rooted for my now-alma mater, Boston College. But that was primarily a social routine. The stadium was small, there was not much of a following, and most student fans would rather tailgate in the dorms than go to the stadium. And when I say “tailgate”, I mean something most college football fans would find unrecognizable… a bunch of drunk college kids drinking Busch Light cans and eating cold sausage. When BC moved to the ACC and supposedly picked up some new football rivals, only to have the league essentially fall off a cliff in terms of national relevance, I wrote the whole thing off.
Fast forward a few more years, and I’m starting to see the benefits of the game. First and foremost, one of my favorite activities is to drink beer and watch football. This is nigh impossible for me during the NFL season since I need to be in tip-top shape Monday morning to deal with the lil’ beasties. I actually circle the few Sundays during the season when I can drink because of Mondays off on the calendar with red pen and make note to Zazzy and all others that they dare not interfere with what I have come to call “Zazzymas”. But college football makes this possible! Secondly, I love defensive football. The more hard-nosed and hard-hitting, the better. Which is exactly what the SEC seems to have been providing these past few years. I also enjoy well-orchestrated offenses, which some Big-12 and Pac-10 (or is it Pac-12 now?) teams seem to be offering. Lastly, I love the fervor that college football seems to engender. There is just a different energy in a bar full of people watching and rooting for a college game than there is for an NFL game. It’s not better or worse… just different. I love the energy of an NFL game. But the NCAA fans bring something different to the table… and I like it.
So, my goal this season is to actually follow a full season of college football and have a rough approximation of what I’m talking about. I want to know about teams that are outside the top-5 and/or SEC (there seem to be times where those groups are synonymous). I can fake talk about any sport, but I’d like to real talk about college football… and not just the X’s and O’s, which translate pretty well from the NFL… but about the game itself: the teams, the players, the rivalries, the fan bases, the stadia, the tailgates, all of it!
It feels appropriate that I adopt LSU as my squad, seeing as how the one and only thing currently on my bucket list is to attend an LSU tailgate. I realize that makes me a bit of a front runner, but it also means I have to wear purple, so I call that a wash.
So… on the eve of the season (which is now 17 minutes old… but I swear I started this at 6:55 before Zazzy asked me about something related to something, neither of which I remember), that’s what I got.
To steal a page from the Patron Saint of MD’s Book… what do you all got?