Monday, August 17, 2009

SUNDAY SOAPBOX: On a Monday...

It's almost time, folks. If you're like me (and God help you if you are), you're getting restless. Nothing seems interesting if it's not Purple and Gold.

Major League baseball? Whatever. I stopped paying attention LONG before the doping crap. Now, I just have more reason to ignore MLB.

I only care about the NFL when I'm playing in a good fantasy football league. And I'm not this year (at least not yet). The Saints should be good this year, so maybe I'll shamelessly jump on the bandwagon (Joshua can flog me for my lack of faith).

What I'm REALLY hankering for is the start of college football. And, more precisely, the start of LSU football. And it's almost here...just around the corner. I can smell it. I can hear it. I just can't see it yet.

What is it about college football that seems so superior to me than any other sporting event?

Well, first of all, I identify with the players. Like all college athletes, the young men who suit up every fall give a shit. Most of them have not yet become jaded and insular. They are excited to play, excited about earning a starting job, excited about excellence, and they are approachable to the fans. They still appear to be (and generally are) one of us. Normal folks. Sure they possess more physical size and ability, and they've done well for themselves on the football field. But at the heart of it, most of them are still just 19-23 year old dudes driving modest cars, chasing skirt and playing beer pong.

Secondly, I love the passion and the pagentry of the game. Only in college football does a team, led by the band and the cheerleaders, march down a hill to the cadence of a drum and horn section, like a Roman legion on it's way to battle for the honor and benefit of the citizenry. I mean, really, if the march down the hill outside Tiger Stadium doesn't cause you to well up with emotion and pride, then you're either not an LSU fan or you're a robot. In essence, I guess I'm talking about the band. The Golden Band from Tiger Land plays such a central role in my emotional attachment to LSU football that when I can't hear them on TV broadcasts, the game just isn't as good. Regardless of the score. And LSU isn't the only band I love. Hold the tomatoes, folks, but I can hum the Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan and Notre Dame fight songs by heart. With Kieth Jackson saying "Whoah, Nelly" in the background. It's just awesome. I love everything about it.

Next, I love the controversy and rivalry. The college games is so unpredictable and there are so many huge upsets every year, that you cannot count any game as a sure win. The NFL is like this in some respects, but I would argue that NFL teams live and die more on the performance of a couple of skill players and less on players performing above their skill levels for a particular game. Emotion just doesn't play as big a role in the NFL. I also love the BCS controversy. It makes bowl season a lot of fun and I anticipate the arguements for and against every year. Finally, there are some AWESOME rivalries that, regardless of your team loyalties, you probably just can't resist watching. As much as I cannot stand the Big 10, I will always set my DVR to record Ohio State and Michigan. Same goes for Alabama and Auburn, Florida and Georgia, or Army and Navy, for that matter.

Finally, I have become addicted to college football recruiting. It's almost as much drama as the season itself, and it's amazing to watch these young teenagers learn the college game and become national names. The Ryan Perrilloux and Jacob Hester stories are even more interesting when you know the recruiting backgrounds and the expectations out of high school. So, this year I can barely wait to see Russell Shepard, Rueben Randle and Craig Loston (maybe) in action.

I've waited long enough. The surprisingly good basketball season is all but a memory. The baseball national championship is fading just a tad into the memory category. It's time engage my obsession. I'm SO ready for some damned football!

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