5. Recruiting, Spring Practice, Regular Season, and Postseason Means Football Year-round
Before the explosion of the Internet and web sites dedicated to recruiting and following specific college football programs, college football fans had to wait until the preseason special magazines would come out to feed our starving appetite for college football.
Now we have sites like Rivals.com, Scout.com, and thousands of sites focused on our specific football program. This gives fanatics a never-ending fix for college ball.
Personally, I hit bamaonline.com, bamamag.com, bleacherreport.com, and tidesports.com at least three or four times a day each just to read the latest on all things Crimson.
I used to get into NBA a little bit, and I would flirt with MLB. I see now that all I was doing was trying to occupy my mind while the excruciating days would slowly grind by during the offseason. I had to watch some type of sports, or I would go insane with the boredom.
Now that I have all this to keep me occupied, I’ve become the stereotypical Bama fan. Recruiting is year-round. I read about it every day, even during the regular season. After regular season is over, I spend weeks picking apart the upcoming bowl game—every aspect of it.
I read all I can find about weaknesses, strengths, and tendencies of each team. After the bowl game is over, recruiting is on full-tilt. Signing day is almost as important as the first game of the season.
I’m glued to chat rooms, television coverage, and websites all day in order to track player movement. After signing day, it’s time to look forward to spring.
Recently, my friends and I have started a tradition at Alabama’s spring practice.
We wake up early, travel down to T-Town, and spend the day on campus until the “A-Day” game kicks off. We get to see our first glimpse of the early enrollees. We also get to see the new starters and the candidates that are vying for playing time in spots vacated by graduating seniors.
4. Being Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
We all have the need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This need surfaces in different ways with different people.
It’s easy to identify with this thought, though. Everyone has been part of “the wave” in a stadium.
There is no logical reason for doing the wave. It doesn’t affect the play on the field; it doesn’t support the players in any way; and it doesn’t improve the chances of winning in any way.
We all stand up in synchronization because it’s amazing to see what tens of thousands of people can create when they work together. They create something bigger than themselves.
This is also what gives us goose bumps when we take part in traditional cheers that date as far back as the early 1900’s. There is nothing like screaming that cheer you’ve known since you were a young lad and helping to shake an enormous concrete stadium.
When 90,000 college football fans join voices in a cheer or just cheering to be loud, they can actually make it hard (if not impossible) for an opposing offensive team to hear.
When you become part of a crowd, it’s almost like you are part of this larger living organism that can even change the outcome of a game.
You might say, “Why is this any different than NFL or other sports?”
That is an easy one to answer. Anybody can tell you that a team or an organization is only as good as the parts that make up the team. In the SEC, and especially Alabama, fans are more passionate. They live for this stuff.
People around the country think we are crazy. The waiting list for season tickets for the Crimson Tide is somewhere around 50,000. You might say, “That’s only because of last year’s recent success or because of Nick Saban,” but there was a long waiting list even with Mike Shula was coaching, when they was little success except the “flash in the pan” that was his one decent season.
3. Rich Winning Tradition
All the time, I hear people say, “We have tradition," but what exactly does that mean? Even churches and Kiwanis clubs have tradition.
When used in reference to college football you often here people mention the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. What do these programs all have in common? They are winners.
They all have had down years and even down eras, but, overall, they are winning programs. They win championships, bowls, and league championships.
Even if 'Bama hadn’t whipped up on Miami in the ’92 championship game, I would have been a Crimson fan, but it did solidify my membership in the Crimson Tide Nation.
I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was then 12 years old. All I had heard was how 'Bama couldn’t keep up with Miami’s speed. I read the numerous quotes from Lamar Thomas stating how 'Bama wasn’t “man enough to play one-on-one coverage” and how nobody on 'Bama’s defense could keep up with his speed.
Not only did 'Bama demolish Miami in that Sugar Bowl, but Teague showed Thomas what speed was when he ran Thomas down from ten yards back.
Not only did he run him down, but he took the ball away from him and headed the other way in what became one of Alabama’s most-talked-about “Kodak moments” ever. That game was the cement that made me a die-hard 'Bama fan for life.
2. The Pageantry Surrounding College Football is Completely Unique
"Pageantry," you hear this word on ESPN on college game day about 20 times a week.
Many NFL fans probably don't recognize this word. Not that NFL fans aren’t intelligent enough, they just have never experienced it.
It’s the sound of the marching band playing that fight song you’ve grown up loving, the cheerleaders that actually lead cheers where all 93,000 fans (in Alabama’s case) follow along, and the fortunate people who have the money and time will leave home and live in an RV for the entire season following their team.
There is no way to describe the entire campus environment that happens on a game day. To understand it, you have to be a part of it.
The smell of delicious, grilled food is intoxicating. The camaraderie that you immediately have with someone wearing your team’s colors is amazing. The anticipation that comes with a big game makes the atmosphere electric.
I’ll never forget the first time I sat in Bryant-Denny Stadium and was part of the “ALA–" “BAMA” chant that is a weekly fixture at 'Bama games. It sent chills down my spine to be part of something that was so moving.
1. The Passion of College Players is Unmatched in the Pro Game
This is the reason why most of us college football fans eat, breathe, and sleep college football. You see it on their faces at the start of the game, after a huge loss, and after a big victory.
The look on the face a young student athlete, who has worked extremely to get to this point, says it all. It’s not about money. It’s not about free agency.
It’s about winning and making your beloved alma mater a successful program. In professional sports, you often see players, after a loss, laughing, cutting it up, or just acting like they just got through eating dinner with their neighbors.
Sometimes they are even cutting it up with players from the opposing team that just beat them. Yes, sometimes these occurrences happen because they’ve played with the opposing team before.
Here in lies a major reason for college football's supremacy.
Professional players jump from team to team, and in some cases, they switch teams on a weekly or monthly basis.
They aren’t loyal to their program, and their program isn’t loyal to them. It’s all about the dough. In college, some players who played together in high school become mortal enemies because they ended up at rival colleges.
Almost always, players who play for a given college program are lifelong fans and supporters. Many of these players contribute financially to the institution, and everyone has heard the saying, "Where a man’s treasure lies, there his heart lies also."
Often times, when professional players introduce themselves during a video roster recap, they seem more passionate about announcing what college program they played for than the team they are currently employed by?
If you need further convincing, just take a look at the face of an Alabama player or Auburn player when they have lost an Iron Bowl. For that matter, you can take a look at the fans!