Every Game Counts On Every Weekend In This Sport
It’s a Saturday morning and normally I’m sleeping off Friday night, but it’s college football season and I reach for the remote and turn on ESPN just prior to 9 a.m.
I want to see Lee Corso’s pick at the end of College Game Day. What he picks has nothing to do with the outcomes, of course, but his creativity in coming up with his presentation always makes me laugh.
Then some boring Big 10 game (say, Indiana and Northwestern with that high-pitched female announcer) comes on so I flip around all the ESPN channels, over to ABC, Fox, FS1 and all the other stations which carry games to see if there’s a better offering, eventually settling on the one with the best stadium environment.
Or the worst weather. I love watching football games in bad weather. Part of that is because I’m in Southern California and bad weather to us is a few clouds in the sky.
I call this morning matchup time my “warm-up” game, because it warms me up for what is about to come, and for the rest of the day and into the evening, I’m glued to the TV, remote in hand, watching every key matchup.
It’s college football and for four months from September into December, this is my life on Saturdays. It’s a product of my upbringing; I’m from the South where college football is king and I went to the University of Alabama, where the program is on one of the most phenomenal runs of success in sports history.
The school has won five of the last nine National Championships and has 17 overall. When you go to Bama, you are used to winning at football.
And college football is unlike any other sport in that each week matters and several games matter, whether or not you school is playing in one of them. Because of the rankings system and the year-end evaluation of the top four teams, your school can pretty much only lose one game. That’s tough. Not only that, it has to be to the right team at the right time.
So if you are ranked anywhere near the Top 15, you want every team ranked near you to lose. This helps build up a little cushion if your team were to lose. I tell people who don’t know anything about college football that in all the other games, I’m rooting against the team on the TV scoreboard with a number next to its name. If both have numbers, I’m rooting against the team with the lowest number.
So even when Bama is not playing, I’ll watch other games hoping that Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin. Clemson and any other team within sight of the Tide loses that day. Often, an underdog will catch the favorite napping or looking ahead to another opponent, especially on the road, and the crowd will really be into it, the players and fans sense an upset and there are exciting, close games. I watch these with great intensity and passion.
This process goes on for some 12 hours. And then, there’s the wrap-up shows, which I watch if there’s been a big upset (or two) and of course a big Bama win. I call this “reinforcement TV,” which reinforces the positive things I saw earlier in the day. I use this term for politics; people don’t watch Fox or MSNBC to learn things; they watch them to reinforce their opinions on political issues and politics.
Because I live on the West Coast, I can actually go out on a Saturday night because all the games pretty much end by 9 or 10 o’clock out here. But I’m often so mentally wiped out or – if it’s been a big beer drinking day, too buzzed – to hit the bars.
The saving grace is that I’m not an NFL fan. I don’t have a team and after the frenzy of Saturday, I can spend Sundays either relaxing, recovering or going out to make up for what I may have missed on Saturday.
And then I do it all over again the next week.