We hear it every year: Team A versus Team B is the best rivalry in all of college football.
Army versus Navy. Ohio State versus Michigan. Alabama versus Auburn. Texas versus Oklahoma. The list of choices for college football's best rivalry goes on forever.
Kirk Herbstreit has said, on numerous occasions, that the nation's best rivalry is Ohio State versus Michigan. I can't imagine why he picked that one. Desmond Howard seconded Herbstreit's sentiments. Again, I am just shocked that they would feel that way.
You know what, though? They are right. Ohio State versus Michigan is the best rivalry in all of college football...to fans of the Buckeyes and Wolverines. To fans of Auburn or Alabama, the Iron Bowl is the rivalry of choice, and they are correct in their assessment as well. Ditto to those who follow Army or Navy when those two lock horns each year.
Whether it is a game with a clever name—like the Red River Rivalry, or Shootout; the Backyard Brawl; or the Civil War—or if it is a game in which a sacred "artifact" from storied games past is presented to the winner, such as The Old Oaken Bucket, the Stanford Axe, or the multiple Battle for the Bell games.
Even if it is a game that has no name or trophies and is merely for bragging rights, what makes college football the best sport in the entire world is that every rivalry game is the best and most important game of the year, no matter which rivalry game you would give your left kidney to attend.
Now, if I may backtrack for a moment, in all honesty, ranking college football rivalry games is just plain...well...stupid.
When Miami and Florida State face off each season, it has typically been an exciting game with lots of passion and emotion from fans, coaches, and players alike. But to fans of South Carolina and Clemson, the one game they want to see each year doesn't take place in the Sunshine State.
The same can be said for every other fan of every other rivalry game. To each fan, whatever rivalry your chosen favorite team plays in is the biggest game of the year—to you. That is all that matters.
More people may attend Ohio State-Michigan games, but sheer volume attendance doesn't mean the hatred runs any deeper for their fans than it does for fans of smaller venue games, such as the Biggest Little Game in America.
This upcoming season, instead of getting into arguments with fans of other rivalry games about whether your school has the best game or theirs, just accept that their "big game" means as much to them as yours does to you, and channel all that extra energy into cheering for your team in its own big game.
Your team just might need the extra boost of support from you this year.
Whatever your game of choice, appreciate that you are part of something special in your community, something only you truly understand, something an outsider could never fully comprehend. You know what it means to beat Notre Dame, Tennessee, or BYU. You know what it is to hold your head a little higher than your neighbor for the next year, because they went to that "other" school.
You are a fan of the greatest rivalry in all of college football...your school's rivalry. Enjoy the upcoming season.
And "Go Navy, beat Army!"