Ssssoooo on Saturday I was bored and started flipping channels. I came across the NFL Network and they were showing a Canadian Football League (CFL) game and somehow I forgot to change the channel for a few minutes. (I caught a wave of Saskatchewan Roughriders football and I rode that sumb*tch out okay. It’s happened to better men than me.) So I wondered aloud on Twitter (As I am prone to do from time to time.) if the CFL actually has a following in Canada. This lead to a conversation about college football with e-homey Keisha Brown who resides above the 49th Parallel in Toronto. She informed me that most of the CFL’s fan base resides in the middle provinces of Canada. A small but loyal following. (Shout out to Manitoba!)
Receiving my answer I then compared the CFL’s following to that of the Southeastern Conference saying “I guess it’s comparable to SEC football minus the cheating and the hate.” Detroit native Humble_One joined the conversation and my snark then opened the door to cheating and other odd occurrences in college football. As a suggestion K.B. asked for a college football for dummies breakdown. I prefer the term “for beginners” but I will break down the large and small bits of crazy that is involved with college football.
The following truths are not fundamental to anyone else but me:
- There is no logic to college football fandom or hatred. For example: I hate Clemson for reasons I can’t explain. I’m not exactly a South Carolina fan but Clemson’s failures make me warm and tingly on the inside. I pull for Alabama but I strangely pay their rival Auburn very little attention unless it’s the Iron Bowl. Because of this train of thought there are those who would question my fandom. (Honestly, if I weren’t an Alabama fan I would think all of the fans would be a bunch of psychopaths.)
- If the NFL personifies socialism via the draft and revenue sharing, then college football is the personification of classism and socio-economic inertia. Meaning: If you weren’t sh*t in 1965 you probably aren’t going to be sh*t in 2015. There may be a dozen truly elite division one football teams. (Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Miami, Penn State, Nebraska, Florida State, LSU, Florida, and Southern California)[i] The big boy clubs that I’ve named is an extremely closed off group. Only the three Florida schools managed to crack the football caste system in since 1975.[ii] A very talented pool of second-tier keeps college football’s competition balanced. This second-tier generally rises and falls every few years and membership in the second-tier is not as static as it is with the powerhouses.
- College football superstardom does not = NFL superstardom. Archie Griffin, Ty Detmer, and Rocket Ismail are prime examples of this. On the other side of the coin the best pro of all time played football collegiately in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
- College football loyalties have nothing to do with pro football loyalties. I abhor the University of Miami but I would gladly take many of their players on my pro team. Hell, my two favorite pros of all time played for Notre Dame and Southern California, two teams that I cannot stand.
- Rivalries and history are important. It doesn’t matter if Southern or Grambling are playing or it’s Michigan and Ohio State, beef is beef. That beef may not trend nationally but please understand it matters to those involved. There’s nothing more American than telling someone “I’m better than you and I can prove it!” Schools of every type and size get in on the act. Hell, the Department of Defense is in on the madness.
- EVERYONE CHEATS! Rule bending, payments, and kick backs are commonplace. I’m not cosigning any dirty deals but that’s just reality. Alumni, boosters, and other untrustworthy individuals gravitate towards college sports programs. The thing is all of the parties involved have to stay happy or the snitching starts.
- Life isn’t fair and neither is college football. If your opponent’s third-string running back is better than your first-string defensive tackle then vaya con Dios. Just hope the opposing teams coach calls the dogs off.
- Every game counts. A team will play 12 games and going undefeated is usually necessary to play for a Division One Championship. If you take a loss to the likes of Appalachian State in September, and win the rest of your games you will have a horrible December preparing to play a bowl game in Shreveport, Louisiana or Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Certain fan bases border on being cults. Outside of politics, college football is one of the largest examples of groupthink by supposedly sane Americans. I can be flat out scary sometimes. Not Nuremberg Rally scary but more so bar fight scary.[iii]
- The insane fans from item number nine coupled with high levels of athleticism and emotion makes for excitement. Whether the game is in a humidity filled stadium in Florida or a wind-swept ice box in Michigan the mood and atmosphere only enhances the product. Granted many of the spectators may be higher than extras in a Wiz Khalifa video but they only want to have a little fun.
- With all of what I’ve said in the previous ten items, please remember to act like you have some home training. Throwing things, racial slurs, scaring children, poisoning trees, and curb-stomping people IS NOT acceptable behavior.
That’s just a quick rundown of thoughts concerning NCAA football. It’s not for everybody or the faint of heart but if you aren’t familiar with it, give it a try.
Vaya con Dios.
[i] There could be more teams but these are the major ones that come to my mind as I blow off work to write this. NCAA Basketball has a probably smaller upper class.
[ii] I think this is due to the end of segregation. Florida exports speed in the way that Saudi Arabia exports oil. Prior to segregation many of the top black talent in Florida attended Florida A&M or other HBCU’s around the South and Southwest.
[iii] I happen to belong to two of the most rabid and unrealistic fan bases in the world: I pull for the University of Alabama and the Oakland Raiders.