It's easy to be negative today. Anyone can find something to complain about. There are real issues in our world but the state of college football is actually not one of them.
Hang on, I know what you are thinking. How can I say that? Everyday there is a realignment story. FSU is not happy with the ACC. Stanford and Cal are homeless. Athletic directors need congress to help them when it comes to spending money. The transfer portal truly means you need a roster to know who plays for your favorite team. But the game....it's still beautiful.
College football is not the NFL and that's a good thing. The two are billion dollar businesses but the NFL business model is unique for many reasons and really can't be duplicated in college football, despite the hopes of some for a super league.
College football is rivalries, fight songs, tailgating with friends that families have known for decades. It's about fun trash talking and memories of that one game many years ago when that unknown player did something that people still talk about today.
When you step away from the noise in the game today and get back to why you love college football it's easy to fall in love with the sport...again.
I didn't go to Notre Dame or Michigan, but I know their fight songs. I'm not a fan of LSU but I love seeing a night game in that stadium. I've been to Penn State and there's nothing like a white out. I've never attended a Rose Bowl but that late afternoon kickoff is magical(although this one is going away in the new playoff era). I've experienced the Bounce House bounce. I've gotten chills as the Gators come out of the tunnel. I've experienced the spear being thrown down in Tallahassee.
Today we have 16 and 18 team conferences and who knows where all that is going but it won't ruin a noon kickoff when autumn announces it has arrived with a cooler breeze that requires that school sweatshirt you only pull out on a game day.
Look, I accepted the changes to the game and we now live in a world of pay-for-play and the portal where players come and players go but when the season starts you will root for your guys. New faces will make plays and some will break your heart. For every person telling you to donate(or flat out just give) money to your team's collective, there's someone else asking if you have an extra ticket for someone's dad in town who has never seen a game before.
We wake up on Saturday morning and we all get that renewed sense of hope. We count the hours until we arrive at the stadium. We meet friends who have parked near us for years. We cook food and share and hope others do the same. We throw football, play cornhole, toss a frisbee and maybe sneak a peek at other games on one of those fancy TVs a fellow tailgater has.
We march slowly to the stadium and the colossal palace gets bigger and louder and the anticipation grows with each step. Inside awaits something you've waited for all week. You hope your team wins and you scream for them. You yell cheers and exchange high fives with friends and even strangers. It's a common bond that this game provides week after week during the season.
If your team wins you feel great and know the week ahead is going to be better. You exit the stadium exchanging highlights of the day and hit social media to see what everyone is talking about when it comes to your team's performance. If your team loses, you feel a little sick knowing it will be a rough week. You blame everyone, including the mascot who you think didn't bring it that game and you hit social media with a different level of anger.
It's college football. Bands play fight songs, traditions are on display all around you and you are consumed by this thing. It takes you on a journey week after week and you keep coming back. You won't watch fewer games or root for your team less because Oregon State is not sure where its conference future will be. A Florida State fan will put aside their anger of financial distributions in the ACC and focus on their opening game against LSU in Orlando and should they win that will be the most important thing in the world, not if NC State is a swing vote on expansion.
We love our Saturdays and the process of sitting down on your favorite couch with the most powerful thing in the world in your hand-the remote-you spend the next 12-16 hours moving from pregame show to pregame show to the noon kickoffs to the late afternoon games and then after that sixth slice of pizza and 15th wing you settle in for the night games and maybe talk yourself into that 11p Colorado State-Wyoming game. And you know what? You'll do it again the following week.
There will be polls to argue about. There will be upsets that shock us. There will be Heisman moments and coaches placed on hot seats. When the season winds down we will argue about the playoff and then a champion will be crowned. It's an annual tradition...it's college football man.
So no matter your team, get ready for the ride. Forget the talk about who is moving to what league and what the future of streaming will be. Have fun. No game really compares to college football. We love the NFL, but our passion for college football is just different. We embrace the history of the game and our team and the romance of college football is unique for so many reasons.
It's time for a new season of college football. Fall in love with this game again because there really is nothing like it...
Final note: 50 years ago in college football...Arizona State won the WAC and Arizona was second. Three independents were in the final Top 5: Notre Dame(1), Penn State(5) and Houston(9) and Drake finished sixth in the Missouri Valley.