It’s worth it. The buffet of frustrating incompetence you put up with—and you put up with A LOT of it—is worth it. By now, you’re well aware of this. After all, here you are.
Your love for college football has been tested, perhaps even broken. The cracks in the foundation are more obvious than they have ever been; the flaws more pronounced than they once were.
You see them—and frankly, they are impossible to overlook these days—but you keep your focus on what matters: the game, the moments, the people, the fall and the season. The season.
The scene is Morgantown, West Virginia, and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is blasted over the loud speakers. A ravenous, dumpster fire-addicted, moonshine-consuming haven is suddenly transformed into a magnificent chorus, and a group of 60,000 football-incensed fans sway in perfect harmony.
There are now two seasons.
The good season—the one you’re primed to embark on in that beloved jersey that lost the war with the washing machine long ago. And then, of course, there’s the bad season, the one we’re hazily creeping out of—shredded Phil Steele magazine in hand—searching for the nearest light switch and untapped keg.
In recent years, the bad season has worsened. The offseason has beaten you down and seemingly picked up strength over time. It was conference expansion not long ago, greed spotlighted for the world to see. Last season it was Penn State, which requires no further dwelling, explanations or exploration.
The past is the past. Thank goodness for that.
Impossible. There must be some other explanation. The human body is not permitted to complete so many tasks at once. One hand cannot take an object out of the sky and secure it at such strange, airborne angles. It simply cannot...
2013 was different. It started early and strange, and it closed late and stranger.
It began with a story about a fake dead girlfriend, and it ended with a “controversy” over a 20-year-old signing his own name. Such plot suggestions would be rejected by desperate soap operas, choosing instead to focus on something far more realistic. Something that was actually plausible.
But it happened. One issue led into the next, and we were served a meal we did not want. We ate it—all of it—because we know what happens next. Also because we have no choice.
A man in purple is speaking English, only it is not English. It is a language you don’t understand with hand gestures and facial expressions that somehow feel important. You’re not sure what is being said, why he's saying it in such strange ways, but you know you like it and want more. It feels good on your ears.
The guardians who oversee college football have lost control they never had. The NCAA spent the past eight months cleaning up messes it was handed, as well as messes it created. An investigation that is more than three years in the making is still in the making.
Miami's investigation required an investigation into the investigators. Now we just want answers, and for once, the ones we deserve to hear.
The rulebook that attempts to keep it all together lacks one integral ingredient, something so painfully obvious it simply cannot be addressed: common sense. It's absent. There are lawsuits in the works, and the model that keeps it all together is shaken.
It's still standing but not as stable as it once was.
270-pound objects are not supposed to move at these speeds. It's not fair to the other parties involved, nor is this kind of size and strength safe for the environment. The shock waves were felt three countries away, and the resulting force is still not understood.
Perhaps it will come crashing down one day—and perhaps this collapse will be justified—but you don’t care. Nor should you.
You tolerate the ugly because the rest is beautiful. For all the flaws the offseason emphasizes, the game itself is gorgeous. And it’s not just the game, or the teams or the players. It's you.
You help make the game what it is, and it’s this passion that places college football above all others. It is beautiful because you make it so.
It’s a simple session of giving, one you embark on each and every year. It is a father and a son sharing a moment, together, over twin scraps of paper that do nothing but allow access to an open area. It is more than that, however, at least to the select few allowed access to their inner circle.
Football is worth it. It’s always worth it.