College Football: How Scandal, Debauchery and Lies Broke My Heart

Ryan NelsonCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Troy Smith #10 of the Ohio State Buckeyes scrambles with the ball against the Florida Gators during the 2007 Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 8, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Until the fall of 2005, I thought anything other than pro football was awful. I thought it was stupid, and I just didn't care enough to watch.

Then, I saw my first game of college football. It was Michigan vs. Ohio State, and I was forced to take a side.

I watched the game intently, studying the passion and love that these players and fans had.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was falling in love with the tradition of college football.

On that cool November day in Minnesota, I fell in love with Ohio State football. I have stuck with them through everything since then.

Even the 41-14 BCS drubbing at the hands of the Florida Gators, a team I would come to hate in later years for various reasons, but mostly because of the BCS game against my beloved Buckeyes.

Now, it's important to note I had zero connection to the Ohio State football program, or the university for that matter. But it was that 25-21 game against Michigan.

That game, where my brother took the side of the maize and blue, and I took the scarlet and gray. It started a love affair with college football that, for me, changed the way I saw the game completely.

Football was no longer about the Super Bowl, or even about the BCS National Championship.

It was about tradition. Passion. Love for the game.

It was beating Michigan. It was watching Oklahoma and Texas, USC and Cal, Alabama and LSU, and Tennessee and Florida.

Games that, every time I saw them, deepened my love for college football. The controversy, the last-minute drives, the last-minute interceptions.

I loved it all. Even if my team lost, I could take comfort in the fact that I just saw a great game.

All of that changed this year.

When I heard of the scandal at Ohio State, I was in a hotel room in Duluth, Minnesota. I sat on my bed. Mouth agape. I couldn't believe it.

My college football innocence had been stolen. I was content before, believing everything was all right in the world of college ball. I was happy.

Now, I don't know how to look at it.

Everything seems wrong in the world. I went to football for solace. I watched the game to escape my problems.

Now football has its own problems and I don't trust it. It's like my girlfriend of 7 years cheating on me with my best friend!

I still love it. I still want it. But I feel like it's not trustworthy. I can't forgive it. I'm heartbroken.

I truly hope for college football to regain my trust. I love nothing more than sitting around on a Saturday afternoon and watching football.

But I need to be able to put my heart in it again.