Tonight is every red-blooded American male’s version of Christmas Eve: It’s college football eve in America. We lay our heads down tonight with visions of Michael Clay laying out for that Rose Bowl fumble, while Chip reveals his white socks/black shoes fashion faux pas in the background. We yawn with a smile and settle into bed as we remember the cut-away shot of the lock-jawed, bitter K-State fan shaking his head after college football’s modern day Picasso laid down his brush in the end zone. Yes Mister Manhattan, you paid $600 per seat to watch DAT shred your kick coverage in twelve seconds. De’Anthony replied to your scornful disdain, “Are you not entertained?”
We lay our heads down with warm memories, but we also lay them down with hope. We hope for what the final season of the current format of college football demands: six months of perfection. Is it a fair expectation? No. But this is what dancing with the spoiled rich girl called the Bowl Championship Series has done to an American pastime. It has turned level-headed fans into raving lunatics every Saturday for half the year. We are all lunatics because we have come to expect normal flesh and blood eighteen year olds to become our superhero avatars, representing only the very best sides of millions of fans under the brightest of spotlights, on and off the field. We’ve poured millions into these avatars, crossing our fingers that their character flaws never show, that they never reveal themselves as human. It’s a wonder that at the professional level, paid athletes are often allowed five or six losses (and can still be crowned champions) while amateur athletes and their coaches can be considered failures with one or two off days. We in the media often feed the lunacy tiger fresh strip steaks of hype, yet we chide suspended players for acting out the often natural results of the instant fame we’ve given them.
To combat this hysteria we know and love as college football, I offer our incredible fan base the same advice I give as a father to my three beautiful school-aged children every Christmas Eve. You may not get every present that you want or think you deserve tomorrow. You may want to look around with jealousy and scream that you deserve more. Don’t do it. Don’t be selfish, and certainly don’t act spoiled.
Appreciate a new head coach with a humble demeanor and local-boy-made-good charm. Enjoy the senior year of a wide receiver who endured unfair fan criticism while not breaking rank and divulging a valid excuse of injury for a few mediocre performances as he learned a new position, worked on his hands, and perfected his blocking technique. Delight in a blue collar senior defensive line class who collectively logged thousands of hours in the gym since January to become the strongest men on the field. Cheer on the road graders who level linebackers and safeties for De’Anthony, Byron and Thomas to trot untouched into the end zone this season. Be grateful while watching generational talent in crisp Ducks uniforms on the field at the same time. Be thankful for the joy of whatever new toys you are blessed with this football season, and then go give Uncle Phil an awkward hug and tell him thank you for the sweater.
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