I am in serious need of a psychologist, a therapist, a mental counselor. I need an intervention. This is because I have an addiction.
No, it’s not drugs, alcohol or any really harmful things. It’s college football and I’m so obsessed with it that I continually find myself spending entire Saturdays – I’m talking from 9 a.m., to midnight – on my couch with the remote switching from game to game or in a sports bar sometimes so focused on a game that I barely notice what’s happening around me.
I suppose this would not be toooo much of a problem if I lived in some foul-weather climate where it’s constantly raining, air conditioning hot or heater-at-full-blast cold. Or in a small town where the main entertainment is listening to a bad cover band at a Holiday Inn bar. Hey, I have that t-shirt.
But I live in Southern California. San Diego, to be precise. Here it is sunny and 75 for an average of 330 days a year. There’s a beach in my backyard, bike paths that run for miles in all directions and so many events and things to do on weekends it’s often a game-time decision on what to do or which one to attend. I should be spending my Saturdays at the beach, riding my bike along the coast, around Mission Bay or attending one of those events.
But come Labor Day Weekend, and continuing through early December (or, hopefully, into early January), I can’t do anything but watch college football.
I blame my heritage. I’m from the South where it is often said there are only two sports: football and spring football. I am from Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee (in high school, I sold Cokes in Neyland Stadium) and went to the University of Alabama.
The latter is the real culprit for my overboard obsession and current mental state, for the Tide has won more National Championships (18) than any other school. It has had more legendary coaches – Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Bear Bryant and now Nick Saban – than even Notre Dame can match. We have also had our fair share of losers – “Ears” Whitworth, Mike Dubose, Mike Shula, etc. – to be sure but right now the Tide is on a roll that is unprecedented in any sport by any organization.
And – as any Ohio State, USC, Michigan, Clemson or Georgia fan and even the savvy ones from schools like Oregon can confirm – when your team is in contention for a National Championship you watch it.
But that’s only part of the story. Because college football is not like the NFL in which a sub-.500 team can still win the Super Bowl, you have to be near perfect to be among the final four playoff teams. Lose once and you have lost your thin margin of error. (Once college football goes to a 12-team playoff this will no longer be the case, unfortunately.)
The current system means that you not only watch your team’s games, but those of other schools ranked anywhere around yours hoping they will lose. If they do, it’s a sigh of relief; maybe they will fall in the rankings and even out of contention. If one of them loses twice, it’s good riddance and onto the next Saturday.
This is why I spend my Saturdays either at home or at “Tuscaloosa West,” San Diego’s awesome Alabama alumni bar instead of being outside and enjoying all the things this great city has to offer me right out my door.
At least I’m not alone here. It’s something that affects diehard college fans of every contending team in the country. Lose a game and you lose interest in all those other games because they don’t matter anymore. You may still watch your team or peek in at times when you’re listening to a band in a beer garden but your nerves no longer hang on every reviewed call or field goal attempt as if you’re waiting on test results from the doctor. Heck, my Oregon friend always texts me after the Ducks lose to state “at least I can have my Saturdays back now.”
So someone help me. But frankly, it won’t do any good until Saban retires. Because, as a Tide player once said decades ago when he ran off the bench to tackle an opposing player to stop him from running for a touchdown, “I have too much Bama in me.” And too much college football, too.