I know it must sound like sacrilege to most of you, but I am not—nor have I really ever been—excited about college football.
I understand its appeal and why a lot of people prefer it to the NFL, but I, for one, would sacrifice my Saturdays for free Sundays.
Recently this has been bothering me, because I see the joy college ball brings others, and I want to be a part of it. I root for Notre Dame—always have and always will—but it has never been the life or death fandom I experience with my other teams.
Don't get me wrong—I spend my Saturday afternoons watching NBC's lovefest with the Irish and usually tune in to the big games Saturday nights. I loved watching Vince Young win a National Championship by himself and wish USC and Florida State would just go away.
However, it's kind of like the girl you date on the weekends. I have a good time Saturday, and I'll give her a call once or twice during the week—reading some ESPN articles—but I am in no way ready to commit long term.
I have searched my inner being as to why this is the case and can only offer the following reasons as to why I cannot get into college football as much as the NFL.
Firstly, I grew up in Albany, New York. This set off a chain of events that has brought me to my current impasse. The closest thing we have to a college football team is the Syracuse Orange, who I refused to root for because they're from central New York.
This explains my allegiance to Notre Dame. With no local team to seriously root for, I would get up on Saturdays, watch Saved By the Bell and Hanging with Mr. Cooper, and leave the tube on for Notre Dame games. It seemed to be a natural fit as I was both Irish and Catholic.
(I was very happy to be a Notre Dame fan a few years later, since I felt I had more of a claim to the movie Rudy than my classmates who jumped on the Florida State or Nebraska bandwagons.)
Watching Rick Mirer and Ron Powlus was exciting, but not being in a conference hurt my college football development. Sure, we had rivals, but every week wasn't do or die. Could I really ever hate Army, Navy, and Air Force? After all, they were usually horrible, and they were the soldiers who were protecting me.
Perhaps if I had an SEC or Big Ten or Big 12 team to root for, college football would be about tailgates, BBQs, and rivalries. Maybe being formed in an environment with more pressure would have me more excited each year when August rolls around.
Secondly, I decided to go to the University of Albany. I had friends that decided to go to Maryland because they were huge basketball fans, and buddies who went to Boston College for their football program.
I thought they were foolish, but now their basements are full of Terrapin and Eagle paraphernalia, and mine is very empty (can anyone find a Great Dane intimidating?).
Seriously, UAlbany isn't exactly known for its athletic program (although we have an up-and-coming basketball program). It's known mostly for its cheap tuition.
In fact, more students would go up to see the New York Giants' fourth string D-line hit the sleds during training camp than an actual UAlbany game.
Aside from my geographical impediments, I find it hard to get into a sport where there is no clear-cut winner.
Perhaps I'd care more if I had a conference rivalry or championship to play for, but with me it's only about the BCS, which four or five teams can always lay claim to being overlooked for or screwed. It makes great sports talk, but I need a cut-and-dry winner.
The lack of a playoff system may bring in more money (debatable), but it leaves fans longing for something more. It doesn't make sense that two teams can lose to the same opponent, but the determining factor is when they lost to that team.
There is also a disconnect between the fans and players in the sense that players often do not stay four years and usually only start for one or two. Fans always know that it's going to a be a short-term relationship with their stars.
Also, I cannot stand Lee Corso. I respect Dickie V for what he's done for the sport of college basketball, but Lee Corso tries too hard to be football's Dickie V. One Dickie V. is more than enough for me.
Before I make my next point, let me be clear that I amazed at what most college athletes sacrifice simply for their love of football, and the fact that they perform feats I could not possibly imagine myself doing. However, I enjoy watching the higher quality pro game.
I know the college game is supposed to be more pure, with the players strapping on their helmets and giving their all for their brothers and school. For some, this is obviously the case. But most of them are playing for much more: scholarships, the pro scouts, the sorority girls, and the "under the radar" gifts.
The NFL also guarantees higher competition and not having to worry about legacy coaches, players with generous fathers, and boosters who don't know their limits. Every player is a world-class athlete, and every coach's paycheck depends on the outcome of the season.
Sure, there are upsets in college ball, but watching the Giants defeat the Patriots was more exciting than Appalachian State shocking Michigan, perhaps because I have more invested in the NFL. I know that if my NFL team doesn't make the playoffs or win the Super Bowl, no number of wins over their rivals will ease that pain.
On the other hand, after a college team is eliminated from BCS contention, these wounds can be healed with a big rivalry win or conference championship, or a win in the Citgo National First Bank of Cellular Telephones Bowl.
This is not to say there aren't many qualities that one could use to argue that college football is better than the NFL. I'm just not that into it. I like it, but I don't get excited about it.
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