As the son of a University of Memphis employee, I’ve seen my share of Tiger sporting events, ranging from baseball games at Nat Buring Stadium to football games at the Liberty Bowl.
But in the 22 years that my mom has worked at the University of Memphis, the Tigers in that period of time in football have had eight winning seasons in 21 years, compared to the 20 postseason appearances the Tigers have had in basketball in that same time span.
I was taught from an early age that rooting for Tiger football was a warmup to getting ready for the basketball season; you know, preparing your voice and your cheers whenever Louisville and Cincinnati would come to town.
And given the fact that the Tigers really never had a sustained history of winning in my basic lifetime in football, I just never cared one way or the other on how they did. I will admit that in 1996, I was one of those people who ran onto the field when Memphis finally beat Tennessee and I remember well the replay of that game the following Sunday.
But it never made me a fan.
The one thing that attracts people to a team is a sense of tradition as well as a sense of winning and given the fact that Memphis was never a real powerhouse in football, I simply had an “I could care less” attitude about Tiger football.
So once I reached seventh grade, I decided to shop around and find out what team would fit me best.
LSU Tigers (A lot of people don’t realize this, but WWL in New Orleans can be picked up here in Memphis. As a kid I tuned into the 1997 Independence Bowl between LSU and Notre Dame on WWL. That Tiger squad had players like Kevin Faulk, who went on to play for the New England Patriots.
I liked the fact that they played the bulk of their home games at night and the fact that they were on television a lot and in 2000, beat Tennessee at home in a thriller in overtime, which resulted in the goalposts being torn down. I favored them to win over Oklahoma in 2004 when the schools were playing for the national championship.)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (This actually made a lot of sense because as a teenager, I played QB a little bit, mainly on Bradley Street, the street I grew up on and around that time Georgia Tech had a quarterback by the name of Joe Hamilton, who despite his size, became the greatest quarterback in Georgia Tech history.
Those Yellow Jacket teams were exciting to watch during the late '90s and early part of the decade. Problem was that they couldn’t get past Florida State, who won the ACC almost every year until 2002 when the Maryland Terps won their first ACC title since 1985. The Yellow Jackets’ last ACC title was in 1998 when they tied with Florida State.)
Missouri Tigers (One of my old friends from junior high school was an unabashed Missouri football fan and had a hand in trying to convert me. At the time, the Tigers had Brad Smith, Justin Smith, and Justin Gage on the squad.
Mizzou had some good years under Larry Smith, but after back-to-back bowl games in 1997 and 1998, the Tigers fell on hard times and wouldn’t recover until the arrival of Gary Pinkel, who has led the Tigers to three bowl games and two Big 12 North division titles in his tenure)
So what does all this tell you?
First and foremost, as a sports blogger I have to be objective and unbiased in my writings, which explains why I write opinions on ACC, SEC, and Big Ten football, regardless of fan allegiance.
Secondly, there are like over 100 teams in Division 1-A, and with all those teams, it’s hard to pick who to like and stick with it from week to week, unless if you’re used to seeing successful teams in your hometown, something I never saw in Memphis but other places like Oxford, Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, and of course, Knoxville knows how it feels to have winning seasons, rabid fans, etc.
And finally, the next person who asks me who is my favorite football team, I’ll just say this.
I have none.
Not because I don’t want to have one, but because the world of college football is fun, filled with hot chicks, beer, tailgates, and cornhole as well as exciting finishes.
No one tries to take the fun out of college football because this is the last chance these guys get to experience football without the hassles of contracts, agents, and gossip columns.
So, literally, all I’m saying is this, I love college football without any allegiance to a team.