woooo, cross-promotion.

Thing you guys already know: I am a college football freak.

True, my freakishness is a bit myopic, in that nearly all of it is filtered through the lens of Ohio State football and what everything might mean for the Buckeyes. But that doesn’t diminish my freakdom, and it doesn’t mean I can’t sit in front of a TV for 12 hours on a fall Saturday, trying not to sprain my remote-changing thumb.

I’ve written about college football stuff here for years, and I’ve written about it elsewhere as well, mostly for the now-defunct Draft Day Suit blog. And that … led to this:

CnClogo

Let’s back up. I had been contributing to DDS for a while when we started kicking around ways to add different kinds of media to the lineup; one natural was to get together a weekly video chat where we could make NFL picks. They were fun, pretty good and the source of perhaps my greatest moment of football punditry, when early in the 2012 season I told Goon Squad Sarah that third-round pick Russell Wilson would be a better NFL quarterback than second overall pick RGIII. I will never tire of reminding pretty much everyone how right I was about that.

At some point during that season, my friend and former colleague Carla — who was not only a DDS contributor but also an actual sportswriter at the time — decided to branch out into picking college games. As I recall, the first season — and probably the subsequent two or three — were a bit erratic; we didn’t do shows every week and we didn’t really settle on a format for a long time. But there we were, posting the vids from our chats on the blog and on the socials.

As we went through subsequent seasons, we took gradual steps towards something that one could almost call “polished.” The above logo (which was all Carla’s doing). Consistent naming and format conventions. A Facebook page. And, as of 2017, an audio version — I believe the kids call it a podcast — that posted to iTunes and a whole bunch of other places. We’ve even added a correspondent — hi, AJ! — who gives us a rundown of the stupid fun Group of Five games I’m too old to stay up and watch.

We’re now in our eighth season. And I bring up the show here because we’re actually having a pretty good season so far. The format is solid, we have some fun little things we do each week and — somewhat oddly — we’ve actually been pretty good with our picks. And while I don’t want to speak for Carla, it feels like a lot of fun this time around, even after we spent the month of August boggling at the notion that we’d been doing this for eight years.

Look. This is a little show. I’m sure it’s mostly friends and family who are listening. And hey — that’s you guys. If you’re of a like mind as far as college football goes, give us a listen.

the good old days.

IMG_4922

Fall used to be a lot busier than it is these days.

For most of the last two decades, about half of our fall weekends were spent driving to Columbus, prepping a tailgate party for somewhere between 10 and 20 people, going to Ohio State’s home game and then coming home on Sunday. For several of those years, we would get home just in time for me to turn around and drive to work for my regular Sunday night shift.

It was a blast. And even when we were in our early forties, it was exhausting. And now that it’s ten years later? It would be impossible.

For me, there was a turning point a few years ago, with a game against, I think, a directional Florida. It was early September and stinking hot, as Columbus can be. It also rained all the way through tailgate “party,” which mostly consisted of us huddled under a canopy, eating soggy food and trying keep rain out of our beers. And when the rain ended, it didn’t help — it just made it feel even more humid.

There was talk among the adults initially — even in my mid-40s at that point, I am not one of the adults — and several decided they were going to do the comfortable thing: Go home and watch on TV. At that point, I was pretty hardcore — even leaving the game early was something you just did not do; skipping a game entirely was out of the question.

But once the sweat became so profuse that I could feel it running down my back, I started listening: Air conditioning. Cold beer. No lines for food or bathrooms. A 70-inch television, comfortable chairs and no danger (well, not much) that someone would dump a gallon of Diet Coke down my back.

OK. I relented. And it was awfully nice.

With the exception of the mostly-annual big deal non-conference game or the home opener, the September games were the first to go. They generally didn’t mean much, and Columbus can be as hot in September as it is in July.

Next, we started paring back on the not-as-big-deal Big Ten games. You know the ones — they would be historic upsets if they happened (and they occasionally did), and who wants to brag about watching Illinois upsetting Ohio State in Cbus in 2007?

(Spoiler alert: We were there. BUT I’M NOT BRAGGING.)

Once my folks made the decision to stop going to games, this became a bit easier. We had one season, two years ago, when we had four seats together, and four of us made it to a few games that season together — and they were awesome. But there were only a couple of them, and realistically, it was too much of a chore for my folks to get into the stadium, deal with the crowd and still be able to enjoy — or even see — the game.

I’m not at all suggesting that they are responsible for this change. It was part of it, but we’re getting old too. And when we were able to do a full weekend, we were exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday.

So we don’t do it. And life is better. We did four home games last year, and we’re about to go to our second of four this season. Mom and dad still love the tailgate parties — so do we — and we’ll have four good ones in 2019. They go home and watch on TV, and we go inside the Shoe and see some college football that many fans would kill to see live.

I haven’t made too many concessions to my 52-year-old self yet, but this one has been good. And I still get to see Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State, have great tailgate parties with the Killer Nuts Tailgating group that’s been doing this for 20 years — and I don’t feel like I’m doing to die by the time December begins.

 

2. one.

A couple nights ago, I was flipping channels and came across Urban Meyer’s B1G kickoff luncheon news conference from Chicago last week. After watching Urban’s far-too-brief presentation, I started feeling the familiar twitch that i seem to come up with at around this time every year.

I type the schedule into our calendar. I start thinking about tailgating food. I note the Saturdays when we won’t be traveling … but when I’ll still need to be in front of a television. The players don’t report until next week … but I’m starting to get ready now.

And if the Big Ten Network turning towards football isn’t enough, there is this surprise treat from the Associated Press: A ranking of the top 100 college football programs of all time.

Guess who tops the list?

And guess who’s now really ready for the season to start?

just like the good old days.

harbaugh

Forgive me if I behave like a normal, rational human being for a moment, while discussing college football. I promise you — it’ll last just a minute or two.

That’s all the time I’ll need to explain why I’m excited that Michigan landed Jim Harbaugh.

(I know, I know. Stick with me for a second, OK?)

* The best thing about The Coaching Change Up North is that Harbaugh should bring that program back to its traditional place in college football — and that is nothing but positive for the Big Ten. The shine has come off our conference recently, and it’s for one simple fact: we don’t compete. This isn’t all the fault of the team up north — look no further than a horrible loss at home to Virginia Tech as an example, ahem — but having one of the conference’s marquee teams struggle to earn bowl eligibility goes a long way towards hurting the perception of the B1G. Ohio State must be consistently good for the Big Ten to be respected, and the conference’s other big name programs — Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan — must match that consistency as well.

* If you believe what Harbaugh said in his news conference today, it’s good to hear that Michigan is getting a guy who believes in — who understands — what’s different about college football. We’re not watching the same level of football as we do on Sundays. But we care more, and that passion is what makes Saturday football better. NFL reporters and execs won’t understand why Harbaugh left. I do.

* Finally — here’s a Michigan coach I can really hate again.

unpleasant decisions.

UPDATE: A number of people whose opinions about college football I respect have pointed out that I could be wrong about this, especially when considering short-term pain (yet another freaking SEC championship) versus long-term pain (Oh, god, Notre Dame fans shut up already). Perhaps I should reconsider.

Or perhaps I should justĀ watch the end of the Purdue game over and over and over.

Part of being a grownup is having to make the best of a no-win situation.

Except that in this case, someone is going to win. And neither choice is going to make me especially happy.

Notre Dame plays Alabama for college football’s national championship tonight. And on what would normally be a practically holy day for me, I find myself instead thinking about skipping the whole thing and going to bed early.

Notre Dame and Alabama. Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide. Elves and Elephants. Bleh.

My default in this situation would normally be to cheer for the team that’s not in the Southeastern Conference; I know we can’t do anything about the Superiority Of The SEC myth until the SEC starts losing title games (although I’d still love to see what would happen if the SECers ever stopped padding their schedules with the southern branches of the Little Sisters of the Poor, but there’s little chance of that happening anytime soon), so tonight’s game should, in theory, be an easy one for me to figure out.

In theory? Sure.

In practice? Ah, crap, it’s Notre Dame.

The leaders of College Football Entitlement have finally worked their way back into relevance, and a win tonight would touch off months of unbearable cackling, even though the program hasn’t mattered since I was in high school. Also likely on tap: an extension of its NBC television contract, which will make things that much more complicated when the Domers finally realize the inevitable, that full membership in a conference is necessary for its survival.

So what do I do tonight?

saban

Nick Saban — who very well could be the sleaziest man in football — and the SEC? Ugh.

notre-dame-football-fans

Notre Dame and its insufferable fans? Gack.

I should probably just flip a coin. Or, better, maybe bag the whole thing and watch the 2012 Ohio State highlights DVD I just got for Christmas.

But I feel like I am duty-bound, as a Serious College Football Fan, to order up a mess of wings and watch the game. And for nearly arbitrary reasons — Midwest versus the Southeast, I guess — I’m going to swallow hard and be a Domer for a day.

There you go, Irish — I’m in your corner. For today, at least.

8. not feelin’ it.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about college football here.

There are a couple reasons for that. Most of what I have to say goes on Killer Nuts Tailgating, the blog I set up for that express purpose a couple years ago.

And then there’s this: I haven’t had much happy stuff to say about college football recently.

Ohio State plays at Nebraska tonight. It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve been waiting for this game since the very day we heard Nebraska might be joining the Big Ten. And now that it’s here … I’m just not nearly as engaged as I should be.

Some of that has to do with my expectations of what will happen in Lincoln tonight. I’m generally OK with the notion that this is going to be a rough season, but that isn’t going to make it any easier to get ready for a game that Ohio State doesn’t have much of a chance to win.

Some of it has to do with what I’ve been calling The Unpleasantness at KNT, and the fact that it hasn’t really let up with the dismissal of Jim Tressel and that other guy who would have been starting at quarterback this year. The newest suspensions, particularly those of players who had already been suspended because of the tattoo thing, is disheartening. I’m not naive, and I know no college football program, including the one I support with everything I have, is completely clean; it’s almost impossible to do. But every single time this year I’ve thought the university has turned a corner and I could get back to cheering for a program that I could also be proud of, something else — cash at charity events, no-work summer jobs — buries me again.

We’re going to a party tonight, a going-away shindig for a very good friend of ours. I’ll do my best to keep an eye on the game — as I would have done if this had been a more typical football season — but I’m not expecting to have to watch very closely.

And I’m not sure I’ll want to anyway.