It's been a tough offseason for college football fans. Nothing truly good ever happens in the offseason, but we've dealt with a lot of "college football's out of control!" talk. To me, nothing's happening now that hasn't always happened (that doesn't make it okay, obviously, but the "out of control!" talk is, uh, a bit out of control), but still ... with the agents and the crime and the free tattoos, it's been a particularly grueling spring and summer.
Oh, but what awaits in the fall makes it worth it. And with a post on soccer this past week, our very own Spencer Hall reminded me why.
I think sometimes all people want from sports is an indication, a sign, a hint that sometimes in life the calf gets away from the lion. They want one clear-cut moment of glory they can call their own, a home for thwarted hopes they pay for with years of investment, of concern sent abstractly into the ether through television sets, radios, laptops, and in person at the game itself. You make your payments, often for years on end, watching dramas with uncertain plotting and almost always a frustrated end.
Then one day, if you are very, very lucky, this happens, or this, or this, or this, or even something as random and glorious as Landon Donovan popping a stray ball into the back of the net to save the US from defeat and World Cup oblivion.
Every fall, the search for signs begins anew, and for me, no sport delivers such incredible moments like college football. Each team has its own "this, or this, or this," whether they are national title bids, wins over rivals, random comebacks, or random upsets, and whether they happened last year or decades ago. (For my alma mater, this, this, this and this immediately spring to mind.) Even if a team's "this" does not involve national titles or major bowl after major bowl, it is still glorious, it is still celebrated, it is still commemorated. It is why, year after year, alums buy tickets at Oklahoma, Tulsa and Southwestern Oklahoma State, or at Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State. It is why we choose to talk about the sport every single day of the eight-month layoff between title game and Labor Day. It is why we put up with the silliness and random scandals.
The great moments in college football are the greatest; you may only experience one per season, or one per decade, but you remember it, you talk about it, and you go out of your way to make sure you don't miss the next one.