When College Football Season Ends in L.A., It Really ENDS
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I'm totally jealous of SEC fans.
They get to talk about college football five days a week because everyone in SEC country talks about it five days a week. College football is all over Sirius/XM radio, all over the AM/FM dials—yep, it's non-stop—yet in La La Land, college football is currently a black hole.
Today CBS Sports broadcaster Tim Brando was in Atlanta for the NCAA tournament but talked about Louisville and the American Athletic Conference on Sirius 91 at length. I heart you, Timmy.
And I am jealous.
My brethren in the South—and now, remarkably, even in the Midwest—are getting radio hits on a daily basis talking about the latest college football news even if there isn't any college football news. Me?
I've resorted to doing my annual college football countdown on Twitter. As of today, it's 145 days until the first FBS football game kicks off on August 29. Most of the reaction to my Twitter countdown has come from the state of Alabama. Oh how I heart y'all. You get me. And I get you.
But I'm in Los Angeles. And college football is officially in the offseason. It has ended. And when it ends here, it gets final rites and a DOA tag on its toe.
I'm confused over this phenomenon because as of today, there are two local football programs in spring practice; UCLA and USC. Yet unless somebody gets hurt—wide receiver George Farmer's season-ending injury was mentioned on L.A. talk radio yesterday—it's nothing but Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers and Kings talk.
The Lakers probably won't even make it past the first round of the NBA playoffs—if they make it to the playoffs—but radio in L.A. is like chicken soup for the souls of Laker fans.
Their fans are venting about who sucks, who should be traded, is D'Antoni really the best coach for L.A., is Kobe too old, will Kobe win M.V.P, why are Kobe and Vanessa back together again, what's the name of the guy who sits next to Jack (and what does he do?), which celebrity is the hottest Laker fan (and who is her plastic surgeon?) and how much are Clipper season tickets.
Even the L.A. Kings are getting airplay. Sure they're the winners of the Stanley Cup but this is L.A.—it's not a hockey town. I know you hockey fans will disagree with me but here's proof: When the Kings were making their run through the NHL playoffs last year, a local newscast put up the NBA's Sacramento Kings' logo behind the news anchor instead of the LA Kings' logo. Well done, L.A.
Part of the problem why L.A. is so focused on professional sports is that this city is full of transplants. Folks from all parts of the country come here to work (and pay ridiculous taxes, but don't get me started on that) and they just end up following the local professional teams because college football fans generally don't switch allegiances when they move. Be true to your school.
And that may be why there is no real camaraderie among college football fans here in L.A. which in turn may explain the lack of college football sports talk on the local radio stations in the off season.
Go to any bar in L.A. and try to talk about college football—every single college-educated patron is an alum from a different school. And since most of them are removed from their local college cities and towns, they don't have a lot of broadcast access to their teams' local news. End of conversation.
If you're a Purdue alum living anywhere in the Midwest, you're on top of all things Boilermaker. If you're a Purdue alum living in L.A., unless you're regularly clicking on Lafayette's Journal and Courier website, you might as well be just living in Liechtenstein.
L.A. is also disconnected from college sports due to the proliferation of distractions in Southern California. Living here is akin to a cat living in a room full of rocking chairs—it's sensory overload. Your eyes dart around trying to keep track of all the objects in motion. Like basketballs, baseballs and hockey pucks.
The geographical make-up of college football fans living in L.A may also contribute to the lack of constant fanatical support.
While Alabama has two distinct sports fans—Auburn and Alabama football fans—Los Angeles is comprised of various professional sports fans as well as a lot of different college football fans.
L.A. has a huge Notre Dame fan base (Southern California is reportedly home to its largest alumni club) as well as Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Cal and Big Ten alumni.
L.A. has also probably staked its claim to being home of the biggest Florida Gulf Coast University and Wichita State fan bases—we're expert bandwagoners. Try catering a local radio show around all of that.
Personally, I'm all for it. If it's about college football, let's talk, dammit.
A neighbor of mine has an Ohio State Buckeye flag flying in front of her house year around. Last year a neighbor five houses down from her put up a Michigan Wolverine flag—I almost cried tears of joy. My kin. My people. We must be related.
Across the street lives a lawyer who graduated from UCLA. He's a cool guy and he always asks me how the Bruins look in practice—for the past decade I've simply shook my head at him and told him to buy a case of Scoresby Scotch at Costco because it's going to be a long season. Last spring I winked at him and told him they looked like a different team—go buy some Johnny Walker Blue Label.
Strangely, Al and I don't talk very often but during football season there's at least some conversation to be had. Predictably he, like every one else in the Los Angeles suburbs, simply goes into hibernation in January—with a wake up call in February (for signing day) and April (for spring game)—and then sets the snooze alarm to go off in late August.
Why don't football fans in LA talk about college football all of the time? You'd think a city sans a professional football team would show more interest in USC and UCLA.
Maybe if the Trojans and the Bruins won more often they would get more air time. Or, maybe they would get more air time if they won a trophy and actually ended up *cough* keeping it.
I'll admit, a little college football controversy in the off season certainly helps get the ice broken and there has been controversy in Los Angeles over the years.
When the NCAA sanctions against USC were announced in June of 2010, L.A. talk radio went into melt down mode. June is usually the time of year when the Lakers hold our local sports stations hostage—actually it's November through July, but why quibble over nine months—but the USC news brought college football fans out of their shells in almost Finebaum-esque fashion.
USC fans were whining and UCLA fans were gloating. It was incredible fodder on the airwaves. The only thing that has come close to that spike in an otherwise normally frozen college football temperature occurred last season. When USC lost to UCLA, Notre Dame and then Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, city-wide funerals and celebrations were held simultaneously on 710 ESPN. But that was four months ago.
It's now April in La La Land.
And the good citizens of Los Angeles are talking amongst themselves with college football-oriented questions like this: Are they any good this year? Maybe I'll buy season tickets. USC opens at Hawaii and I was thinking of going but isn't Hawaii really humid in late August?
Would that even fly in Tuscaloosa? Knoxville? Ann Arbor? Austin? Those folks would travel to Juneau, Alaska to watch their teams play. True football fans, they are.
And that's probably why when it comes to the day when I retire from sports writing, I'll probably move to the Southeast or Dallas-area. I need to go hang out with my people. And revel in non-stop college football talk.
In the mean time, it's 145 days until college football kicks off.
Twitter will have to amuse me until then.
LisaHorne is on twitter with her #collegefootballcountdown @LisaHorne
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