Why do we love college football?
Is it the fact that the players are playing for the love of the game, not the money? Is it the lack of domed stadiums filled named for corporate sponsors, or the sacred traditions like the Dawg Walk at Georgia and the White Out at Penn State. Maybe it's the fact that the players are free of pesky, leeching agents. Well, I guess it's not that.
No, the reason we love college football has less to do with football than we think. We love it because of the rivalries, which are more intense than in any other sport. Yankees-Red Sox? Give me Ohio State-Michigan. Lakers-Celtics? I'll take Texas-Oklahoma, thanks.
We love it because of the fans, who pack the stadiums with their bodies and liven it with deafening noise. In the NFL, there may be a home field advantage. But is there one in college football? Go to Baton Rouge on a Saturday night and you'll have your answer.
We love showing up for a 7 pm game at noon, tailgating with old friends and watching the 11 o'clock Big Ten game and mooching off neighboring grills for a hamburger, hot dog, or even a little rattlesnake meat.
We love watching the Thursday night C-USA showdown on TV, having no interest in the game but desperately needing a college football fix.
We love reading Stuart Mandel, Pat Forde, and Ivan Maisel, lauding them when they praise our teams but ripping them when they slight them.
We love watching the Heisman Ceremony, and we love striking a pose when our guy wins. We love catching the earlier Awards show, seeing if our favorite defensive back, receiver, or lineman can get the respect he's due.
We love our heroes, and we hate to see them go to the next level. We love Vince Young, we love Tim Tebow, we love Ty Detmer, and we love Roger Staubach.
We love 80,000 fans, split down the middle, one half burnt orange, one half crimson and cream. We love "Enter Sandman" blared at Virginia Tech and "Zombie Nation" at Penn State.
We love Traveller, Sparty, and Big Al. We love Ralphie, Bevo, and Uga.
We love the upsets, unless they happen to us.
We love the Rose Bowl and the Rose Bowl Parade, but wish the Fiesta Bowl would go back to Sun Devil Stadium and the Cotton Bowl would return to, well, the Cotton Bowl.
We love our service academies, and we love the heroes that hit the line of scrimmage before hitting the front lines.
We love the Grove at Ole Miss, where there is an 18 MPH speed limit in honor of its the great quarterback Archie Manning. We love the Alabama championship winning coaches' statues on the Walk of Champions.
We love College Gameday, we love watching Lee Corso putting on the mascots' headgear, and we love Erin Andrews.
We love Fight On, the Notre Dame Victory March, and Boomer Sooner. We love "Rammer Jammer", the Seminole War Chant, and "Pig Sooie".
We love talking about the year we won it all, but we hate talking about the year we came this close.
Guys, as the college football season nears, don't get too wrapped up in the wins and losses. Yes winning is important, but we're just fans, not players. If we get too wrapped up in the actual game, we'll miss out on what college football really is.
And we sure wouldn't love that.