I have loved College Football for most all of my life. From the obnoxious baby pictures in the Nebraska Cornhusker onesie (is that how you spell that? I don't have kids...) to the oversized Nebraska Apex coat in the 90s, and even into the unnecessarily expensive Nebraska gear I have acquired over the years, I have supported and been a fan of College Football. I love the pageantry of the band on the field right before Nebraska comes barreling out of the tunnel, the camaraderie of watching the game with friends and sharing the intense stress that comes with close games, the gorging of ones self and inviting others to do the same as a smorgasbord of grilled meats and melted cheeses adorns the kitchen table, and I even love the agony of defeat because it makes victory that much sweeter.
With two days left before the 2012 season kicks off, I am emboldened to remember why this sport is great. We have had a rather tumultuous two seasons in the Big Ten. Between scandals at Ohio State and Penn State, probationary measures taken at pretty much every school but Northwestern, coaching carousels, teams losing players to the South, and the terrible mantra that everything rises and falls with the SEC, a lot of us have grown weary of the sport that brings us all here. But that's just it, it's a sport that brings us all together, and maybe that in and of itself is worth praising.
Despite the reality that NCAA Collegiate Football as it stands now is nothing more than a shill for a bunch of old guys to make money on the backs of young guys under the guise of academic integrity and pursuits, I feel like College Football gives us all a short escape and a chance to connect across geographical, economic (I mean, we invited Northwestern to the party), social, and even racial divides.
I was reading an article by Charles Pierce yesterday on Grantland and he was both praising and decrying the mess that is College Football, but he had this beautifully stated thought:
The whole sorry mess is overdue to come crashing down on the people who have profited from it the most.But there are reasons why it hasn't yet, and one of them is that, in many places, especially in the places established under Justin Morrill's great idea, football began as a part of a greater whole, and it began as a statement of something that had great value to the people who spread out west and south to make new lives for themselves. It is deeper than provincialism. It is a question of hard-won identity and, if that hard-won identity is occasionally employed by small men to their own profit and advantage, that doesn't make it any less real, or its origins any less noble.
I love this point because it really does make sense of why there is such an attachment to football for me. I know it's just a game, I really do. My life is not adversely affected by a loss and there is no real net gain in a win, but there is a certain place of identity - an equalizer if you may - that makes it mean something. In Nebraska, we do not have a lot to bring us all together. With no professional sports teams and more urban sprawl than one state should ever have, there is very little to form community, but on Saturdays, we all are neighbors. I grew up with football as something I could talk about with almost everyone. Man, woman, or child, we all knew that the on thing that could bring us together was Nebraska football.
So with that little walk down memory lane, and with some slightly stretched justification for obsessing over 18-23 year old men in pads for the next four months, bring on some football! Links after the jump.
- Bob Asmussen at Illini HQ is 4 Days Away from Western Michigan and celebrates by profiling DE Michael Buchanan. A Lion Eye does the same thing for the same guy. I love how close these countdown pieces are to gameday!
- Robert from A Lion Eye gives some insights about the latest Illini Depth Chart.
- The Illini hope to make this new era of football something special.
- The Crimson Quarry looks at both the Offensive Line and Defensive Line going into the new season.
- The Five Keys, Games, and Players for the Indiana Hoosiers this year.
- So apparently the State of Indiana has police at the major state universities, including IU, who are called excise police and are focusing mainly on underage consumption of alcohol and narcotics as well as binge drinking. So if you're in Bloomington this weekend, don't be an idiot.
- Why BHGP and Iowa fans in general are such gluttons for punishment is beyond me, but Ross documents his trip to the Minnesota State Fair and all the sadness that comes with seeing their old friend Floyd.
- Even though the banner and name of the site HAWKMANIA are terrible (not to mention, Hawkmania.com is just a redirect and they can't even host this on its own), I am still inclined to post a link to their version of 10@10 (wait, we're not the only ones using the obvious moniker for material. I am shocked.) because it's a nice rundown of the Northern Illinois-Iowa tilt this Saturday at Soldier Field.
- Speaking of which, it sounds like quite a few Iowa fans will be making that trip to Chicago this weekend.
- Iowa's 'oldest newspaper' has a profile on WR Jake Cotton.
- Mark Snyder from the Free Press goes game by game for the Wolverines and finishes at 9-3.
- MnB asks, "Which game is more important to Michigan? MSU or OSU.
- Michigan-Alabama will be a clash of traditions.
- And here is a nice SBNation roundtable on that Bama-Michigan game with Todd Jones from Roll Bama Roll and Zach Travis from Maize n Brew.
- The Only Colors has a preview of the Michigan State Offense.
- Here is the more or less official game preview of MSU-Boise St.
- I just thought this was interesting because the sleeper Heisman pick was Le'veon Bell... Also, there are a whole lot of odds listed, which is always fun.
- The Daily Gopher determines upgrade/downgrade at the Linebacker position for the season.
- An interview with new Minnesota AD Norwood Teague.
- Jerry Kill is not pleased with the schedulers' brilliant plan to always start on the road... you know, for obvious reasons.
- Corn Nation invites Rodger from Sippin on Purple over for an interview and preview of 2012.
- Corn Nation also has a preview of Iowa.
- Nebraska's sellout record is going on 50 years and other numbers the NCAA would like you to know about.
- Hail Varsity says Nebraska should be aware of the Southern Miss 'Wild Bunch' on the defensive side of the ball.
- Fitzgerald apparently doesn't like Depth Charts (kind of like Pelini), but does them anyways.
- Sippin on Purple gives a rundown on all you need to know about Syracuse.
- Lake the Posts thinks game one is a great place to get the season started on the right foot for Northwestern.
- Everything's new at Ohio State this season... even the band director!
- LGHL looks at what to expect if you're an Ohio State fan.
- Urban Meyer is similar to Jim Tressel? Sure, why not. After all, the punt is the most important play in football, right?
- Buckeye Empire thinks that we should all take a, 'wait and see' approach with Braxton Miller, but ultimately believes Urban is going to make him a star.
- Some quick thoughts on Penn State-Ohio via Penn Live.
- Ivan Maisel says Penn State's staff is still learning themselves, which makes sense because it is a new staff.
- BSD talks all about Presnap Reads and something about alcohol contents...
- Hammer and Rails gives some thoughts on the final Purdue Depth Chart.
- Also, Purdue's second leading tackler, Dwayne Beckford, is suspended indefinitely for pretty much doing everything in his power to get suspended. Seriously, fourth infraction? I don't care if they're all with the team or not, that's just stupid. You were on probation with another marijuana charge pending and then this. So stupid.
- Did you wonder what Purdue's record would be under Terbush as predicted by NCAA 13? No, well here you go anyways.
- The Leaders division is pretty much Wisconsin's to lose, so says everyone...
- Graphs and smart guy stuff at B5Q, this time it's about WRs and TEs.
- Oh Brett, you're just the gift that keeps on giving.
- Madtown Badgers has a roster breakdown as well with updates from BB.
- Gene Woj... (seriously, longest last name in sports) has his BMOC return to the WWL, and mentions a bunch of B1G related things.
- The WWL B1G Blog gives their Top Ten B1G Conference games to watch.
- Pat Forde also sees his column 'Forde Yard Dash' return and has a bunch of B1G mentions.
- Bruce Feldman lists Pat Narduzi on his 10 Breakout Coaches of 2012.
Are you all ready for Thursday?!?!?! I seriously could not care less who is playing at this point, so long as football is on! Have a great afternoon.