Nelson Algren said loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose. Reports are unconfirmed if the injured party inflicted the damage after she watched an entire Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and frog-splashed onto a Foosball table. Who could blame her? Who wants to watch an irrelevant college football game?
College football is the woman with the broken nose. It lacks that something, that unquantifiable thing that gives anti-sabermetricians a rise matched only by runs batted in and wins for starting pitchers.
Intangibles. The sport lacks intangibles. Intangibles is a nice word. Flashy and vague at the same time. ESPN uses it to form the foundation of 24-hours of in-house bickering on debate shows.
Others like their college football full of intangibles, but shrouded in pageantry and tradition. They see a striking, intoxicating personality of a game that captures their attention and in turn, admiration. All from the 30-plus bowl games to the bloviations/heavy breathing of Brent Musburger. I focus on the eye sore of 11 a.m. Big Ten contests and blue turf.
The difference in interpretation says more about me. An overexposure to “Seinfeld” left me hyper-aware of the deficiencies of others, not to mention a willingness to tuck an Oxford into my blue jeans.
I’m too harsh on the sport. It's not you, it's me. The game is not a singular low-talking, two-faced, inaccurate lip-reader better left with a bunch of muffin bottoms. It owns entertaining parts.
Offensive coordinators enter into year-long contests to determine the maddest of all scientists through a combination of the spread offense, bubble screens, and up-tempo Air Raids. The volatile world of the Heisman Trophy watch often hinges on who has the ball last and one errant throw in early October. The dizziness of a Saturday in November where three of the four remaining undefeated teams lose creates elation and exhaustion. And Spurrier. Anything remotely associated with Steve Spurrier is appointment television.
Unfortunately, those glowing factors aren’t enough to slay the apathy or atheism ━ Either term works dependent on the profession of your deities. ━ nestled into my thought process. My “eh-ness” on the sport hinges on these factors:
Undergraduate university: Four years of higher education did not involve a Division I football team, only a club team that, based on poor execution and indifference towards yards gained, detested the forward pass. After Wiffle ball season, rooting interests were squashed in favor of the most competitive game.
It’s all hereditary: Neither of my parents attended a school with a major Division I program, nor did they spend much time with the sport. The only declarations on Saturday were the hopes that a certain independent a short train ride away would lose, mixed in with salty language to emphasize the point. It became as much a part of Saturday morning as directives to vacuum the hallway and stairs.
Think local: Chicago is not a college sports town. The local media keeps the game at arms-length, especially since salient matters like Earl Bennett’s orange cleats, and Derrick Rose’s obsession with Skittles occupied the social mind for days at a time. The city doesn’t have room for a college football team. Sorry Northwestern. Your claim of Northwestern as Chicago’s Big Ten Team carries the same gravitas as “Nick Matkovich: Bruce Springsteen’s Favorite Writer.”
But, enough of these excuses. Time to grow up Nick! Hair on your chest isn’t the lone indicator of one’s maturity! Be a man like the homicide detectives on crime shows, you know, the guys with a mustache.
Like any good undersized European post player, it’s time to act.
There have been enough flirtatious moments with college football ━ The Bush Push, the college version of Wide Right with its subsequent occurrences, and any Iron Bowl that leaves Tuscaloosa disappointed ━ to where I feel confident to secure a team to root for and hopefully maximize entertainment in the game. The 2014-2015 campaign is devoted to the task, but that’s not without studious attention to the pluses, minuses, and straight up competition while I explore the diversions of overs and unders through certain contests.
The goal is to redeem Saturday and walk away with a favorite team, come out ahead in a few pools, and secure a spot as a graduate assistant for Coach Hayden Fox. Then again, if punchlines are indicative of outcome, a third granted wish results in precarious results. I’ll go for two.
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