College football addict can’t kick the habit

Yale Hollander is a dad, husband, legal professional and writer whose works have appeared in a number of local and national publications. He is currently a trustee of the St. Louis Jewish Light, however the opinions and viewpoints he presents in this blog are strictly his. Follow him on Twitter @yalehollander.

By Yale Hollander

Earlier this summer, my wife came home from an evening of mah jongg (or book club or one of those other activities for which white wine and/or Chex Mix is required) to find me pacing in the family room, my gazed fixed intently on the television. 

She took one look at the screen and asked, “Is that what I think it is?”

“Yes. Yes it is.” I replied.

“You have a problem.”

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

You see, the item on TV that had captured my rapt attention was a sporting event, specifically the thrilling, come-from-behind victory for my alma mater the University of Missouri over the University of South Carolina.

I was watching a football game.

A football game that was played in September, 2014.

I was watching it in July, 2015.

Call it a problem if you must. I prefer to call it a robust enthusiasm for college football.

I should explain that I am not only an alumnus of Ol’ Mizzou, but I have actually been a Tiger football season ticketholder since I was 11. For those who are counting, this marks season 37 for me.

Last year, the Tigers won 11 games. During my four years at Mizzou, the team won a total of 13, so every victory is a huge deal for one as emotionally scarred as me. So, yes, when I have an opportunity to watch my team yank victory from the gaping maw of defeat, I seize it even when the air is thick not with the autumnal fragrance of burning leaves but rather the sulfuric haze of Independence Day fireworks.

And my passion for college football extends well past the city limits of Columbia, Mo. I am a full-fledged college football junkie, and with the proliferation of cable sports channels and collegiate athletic conference networks, not to mention the migration of college football games from a nearly Saturday-only schedule, my “problem” has only gotten “worse.” Yes, I will watch Sun Belt and/or Mid America Conference football games on a Tuesday night. It’s not like I’ll be missing Mannix or anything else important.

I’m not saying that I’m a sucker for any college game that happens to be on, but by my count I’ve watched at least four more football games featuring the University of Toledo over the past couple of years than games featuring our fair city’s NFL franchise (they’re still here, aren’t they?).

One night, my wife walked in on me watching one of the Deep South’s greatest rivalries.

“What game is this?”

“Seriously, you don’t know? It’s Florida Atlantic versus Florida International!”

“Are those even colleges?”

Yes, they are real live colleges with real live students and real live bands and all of the fun stuff that makes college football a far superior product to the stuff that gets played on Sundays. 

And there’s so many of them — schools that is. There are nearly 130 institutions of higher learning sporting top-level football teams, not to mention a sprinkling of entertaining second-division squads that wind up spoiling one of the big-boy school’s seasons with a massive upset (this is where I take pains not to irritate fellow Light blogger Laura Silver by bringing up Appalachian State’s 2007 victory at her alma mater Michigan’s Big House.) Compare that to the fixed slate of 32 very corporate NFL teams. There is no comparison.

And while the NFL does have arguably the world’s biggest one-day circus with a sporting event embedded within (that would be the Super Bowl, in case you were curious) it decidedly does not have the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It also doesn’t have four separate bowl games sponsored by four separate restaurants that specialize in fried chicken components. And I should add that those four games are played in three separate cities, one of which is in the Bahamas. When was the last time the Super Bowl was played in the Bahamas, or for that matter, Boise?

College football is pageantry. It’s tailgating and homecoming floats, and watching Lee Corso put on a big, smelly mascot head at the end of ESPN’s College Game Day before you head over to the stadium. It’s about listening to the late games from the west coast as you drive home after a fun day, even more fun if your team didn’t get hammered by a 13-point underdog in the process.

Do I have a problem because I happen to be addicted to all of this? I’ll let you decide for yourself while I catch up on the scouting report for next week’s Incarnate Word at The University of Texas – El Paso matchup.