Indianapolis Fandom: From Bulldogs to Colts, It's Been a Rough Year

David AllisonContributor IISeptember 20, 2011

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Indianapolis Colts injured quarterback Peyton Manning looks on from the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There is an alternative universe out there where Gordon Hayward's last second heave in the 2010 National Championship Game banked in.

In this universe, the perennially-hated Blue Devil players would crumple to the floor, shocked that a tiny school in the middle of Indianapolis actually beat them. The denizens of Indianapolis would exult in paroxysms of joy that their boys overcame the long odds to win it all against bigger and better financed teams.

But that's not how it happened. Instead, the collective breath of Hoosiers everywhere exhaled in disappointment when Hayward's desperation shot careened off the glass, hit the front of the rim and then bounced harmlessly to the hardwood.

In March of this year, the Butler Bulldogs again overcame the odds to reach the championship game, only to find themselves shut down by a gritty University of Connecticut squad.

Some pundits have opined that it was amazing that the Bulldogs even got to the big game two years in a row, which is difficult even for teams with better resources and more highly-touted recruits. These apologists were just excited that they made it that far and showed that they could compete with the big boys. 

I think that it's just depressing that they never sealed the deal. It shouldn't have turned out so badly for a team with as much heart and moxie as the Bulldogs. The alternative universe is the better story.

Across town at Lucas Oil Stadium, I also wish that the Indianapolis Colts were in an alternative universe. In this universe, Manning's neck would be healed and he'd be piloting a playoff-contending team. The Colts would still be on track to achieve a league-record 10th consecutive playoff berth.

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Butler Bulldogs drives against Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis,
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Instead, without Manning they are mucking about in the depths of the NFL as one of the league's worst teams. Their suspect and inexperienced offensive line is inconsistent and Kerry Collins is too immobile to make things happen when protection breaks down.

Without Manning to bail out the mediocre defense, the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns carved up the Colts through the air and punished them on the ground to outscore them. And there is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Steelers will do the same thing to them this coming week.

While it's too early to totally write off the Colts for the season, they certainly don't look like the kind of team that will be able to turn it around after an 0-2 start.

How the mighty have fallen. Colts fans have gotten used to their team owning the AFC South and being constantly talked about as potential Super Bowl contenders. With Manning out of the picture, we have to reconcile ourselves to a pedestrian Colts team.

That better place where Hayward's shot banks in to win the championship and Manning's neck is 100 percent seems far away now. It's a tough universe here in Indy these days.