The 2012 Hater's Lover's Guide To The Top 25

Every year, we preview the upcoming college football season with a Hater's Guide to the Top 25, and every year I make the same jokes about Ohio State fans being dumb and Alabama fans being racist (it's true!), and it's always a great deal of fun. But this year, between the Hater's Guides and the Why Your Team Sucks installments, I dare say I'm hated out. It's unhealthy to hate so much. If I keep hating at this rate, there will a be river of pink ectoplasm running under my house, and the bathtub will try to eat my baby. The time has come not for a Hater's Guide, but for a Lover's Guide, in which we say all kinds of drunktastically nice things about every program in the Top 25.

Because college football could use the support. Between the NCAA's tyrannical ways and all the molester coaches, college football has had a rough go of it lately. And I hate to see that happen to a sport that so gloriously warps the perspective of so many Americans, particularly in the Southeast. If people are willing to poison trees and cover up rape and tear scrotums in the name of college football, well then college football is surely something special, is it not? I say YES. And now the BCS is finally DYING! There are only two more seasons until you never again have to bitch about college football not having a playoff, because it will have a playoff, and it will grow and grow and grow until it occupies four months on the calendar. It's gonna be fantastic, and so today we salute the sport for somehow, despite all its inherent idiocy, managing to unfuck itself. At least a little.

Now, as with any Hater's Guide, this Lover's Guide has been written with virtually no knowledge of the schools or teams listed. Because the key to any good Lover's Guide is not just a healthy dose of ignorance, but a healthy dose of PROUD ignorance. It's easy to be uninformed, but it takes a real man to stand up and congratulate himself for just how grossly uninformed he is. And I am just such a man. I don't know anything about Oregon, really. Looks like it's filled with hipsters and serial killers. But I LIKE that stereotype, and I will proudly fight to the death to defend it. Also, please note that I am from Minnesota, and therefore I often end up being a bigger asshole when I'm trying to be nice to people, instead of just openly speaking my mind. Now, to the AP poll, because the coaches' poll is stupid and useless:

1. USC. SONG GIRLS SONG GIRLS SONG GIRLS GOOD GOD SONG GIRLAGE. It's the sweaters that really put them over the top. There isn't nearly enough sweater porn on the Internet. There is no FUCK YEAH HOT GIRLS IN TIGHT SWEATERS Tumblr feed. There's a ugly sweater Tumblr, a cat sweater Tumblr, AND a men-in-sweaters Tumblr. But somehow, one of the hottest weapons in the female arsenal gets short shrift. It's not right. Ever see a woman in a sleeveless tight sweater? ALL KINDS OF BONER.

Turning our attention to football, how much fun is it that USC is ranked No. 1? That'll make it all the more enjoyable when the Trojans get destroyed by an SEC school in the national title game. USC is 10 times more lovable when it's getting crushed. And I remain in awe of Lane Kiffin, a man who now sits atop the college football rankings without actually having done anything, ever. He's amazing. I think the key to his success is that, late at night, he transforms himself into amiable comedian Mike Birbiglia.

When I was a kid, I had extensive daydreams about going to college in California and pulling all kinds of zany pranks with my bestest fraternity buddies and nailing hot blondes that all looked like Nicollette Sheridan in The Sure Thing. More often than not, my dream school was either USC or UCLA. This was before I grew up and found out that UCLA is the nice school and that USC is located in a shit dump and populated exclusively by dumb rich kids. It's the SMU of the Pacific region. Anyway, GO TROJANS!

2. Alabama. I appreciate Nick Saban for being, in essence, the anti-Joe Paterno. There's no illusion of affection here. No coddling. No "I'm going to turn these wayward young boys into fine young men" bullshit. Saban is precisely what a college football coach should be: a merciless, evil man who will eat your liver raw if you dare get in the way of him winning football games. Anyone not interested in winning games can go get FUCKED, and I find that kind of attitude refreshing in a sea of phony sentimental profiles of coaching legends. No one loves Nick Saban, and that's good because no one should ever love football coaches. Football coaches are horrible people.

And I salute Alabama fans for their terrifying devotion to FOOTBAW. Can you imagine what Alabama people would be capable of without football to occupy them? I think we should all be happy that the Crimson Tide are there to distract them from starting Racial Holy War. Such shiny helmets. Also, RUSHBIDDIES.

3. LSU. I've talked to many people who have traveled to every SEC school and virtually all of them agree that the greatest experience in college football is going to see LSU play at night. And one night, I will go. I will fly down to Baton Rouge, and I will get shitfaced and partake in impossibly good tailgate food. And then I'll be RUINED. I'll come home and eat dinner with my wife, and I'll be like HOOWEE THIS CHICKEN JUST AIN'T THE SAME AS WHAT YOU GIT DOWN LOUISIANA WAY GUMBO GUMBO IT'S TREH-MAY NOT TREEM GUMBO DR. JOHN CRAWFISH BOIL.

Also, college football is more fun when Les Miles is running the ball on 4th-and-26 from his own 20-yard-line with a minute left and his team up three points. And they usually convert.

4. Oklahoma. I've never been to Oklahoma, and I really don't know anything about it. All I have to go by is my IMAGINATION. There could be dragons there. There could be vodka rodeos. There could be gorgeous women fighting each other to the death in giant snakepits ALL THE TIME. Now, I don't think Oklahoma has any of these things. I think the state consists mostly of flat land and plainspoken folk who like guns, pie, and Jesus, probably in that order. Still, the possibilities are infinite.

5. Oregon. We all like to rag on Oregon for having uniforms ugly enough to extinguish the sun. But secretly, you know damn well it would kick ass to be an Oregon player getting to try on that shit every week. FACT: Every Oregon player wearing a black feathered checkered pattern likes to pretend he's a cyborg sent from the future to kill all of you.

Also, let's congratulate Chip Kelly for having the brains not to go coach the Bucs. If I were him, I would spend every Sunday watching Greg Schiano Hershey squirt his way to a 5-11 record and just laugh my ass off. Chip Kelly's no fool.

6. Georgia. You Georgians really know how to make a banana pudding, with the bits of real banana and the meringue on top and the booze and all the crushed Nilla Wafers inside. I want to be buried alive in banana pudding, it makes me so happy. I went to Will Leitch's wedding in Georgia. I ate a shit ton of banana pudding and was offered Adderall to snort at the end of the night. You're all right by me, Georgia! Alas, you have no prayer of winning your conference and actively participating in the national championship discussion, but it's always nice to have a token dark horse like Georgia to throw out there when you have no clue what you're talking about.

7. Florida State. AHAHAHAHAHAHA BOWDEN IS NO. 1 FOREVER! EAT IT, PATERNO FAMILY! Thanks to the old man's "Durrrr I don't know what sodomy is, I just wanna have-a my mamma's meatballs!" routine, Bobby Bowden is now the KING. Forever. DEAL WITH IT. Bowden may be as phony as they come—a two-bit mall preacher who would gladly look the other way while his players looted a nearby Home Goods—but he's no kiddie-rapist enabler. NICE. By the way, ever wonder what Chris Rix is up to? I know! He's homeless and trading dirt-caked handjobs for meth lollipops. Now don't you feel better about life knowing that?

8. Michigan. I went to Michigan for a whole semester, and the student section at Michigan Stadium likes hurling marshmallows onto the field. Now, that sounds like a really lame tradition, but I must let you know that when I saw Michigan play Colorado in '94 (this game), Lynn Swann was walking around on the sidelines, and all the Michigan kids just pelted the shit out of him with Jet-Puffeds. And Swanny was PISSED. Every time one nailed him, he turned to the crowd and gave them the stinkeye. So I'd like to congratulate Michigan kids for taking time out from not cheering to troll a worthless sideline reporter.

Also, NOW is the time for Michigan to do something useful on the field before Urban Meyer becomes fully armed and operational and destroys you for the next 15 years.

9. South Carolina. Steve Spurrier is the honey badger of football coaches. What's that? We lost by 30 because Stephen Garcia voluntarily fumbled the ball so he could go assault a Girl Scout? SPURRIER DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT. He works all that out on the golf course. South Carolina is the best half-retirement job in coaching. Also, I'm told South Carolina has beaches. Beaches are pleasant.

By the way, Jadeveon Clowney is a beast. That's your one not-even-useful football observation in this entire post. I hoped you liked it.

10. Arkansas. I will never get tired of this photograph of Bobby Petrino in a neck brace. Ever. I literally laugh out loud every time I see it. It belongs up there with the great photographs of our age, including that monk getting torched. It's like a Will Ferrell movie made real. I'm gonna miss him terribly. Sports needs its fair share of clear-cut villains, and Petrino was like a stock villain on Justified. Everything about him is so tacky and trashy and horrible. I love it. And I love Arkansas! There's no better place in the world for men of authority to get caught chasing pussy. Imagine if Arnold Schwarzenegger's maid scandal had happened in Arkansas. It would have been twice as funny.

Also, I was a huge Razorbacks fan that one time they beat Duke for the national title. Whenever I need an old three-point shooter to reference, I ALWAYS use Alex Dillard. Always. That guy could shoot from outside the stadium.

11. West Virginia. WEST FUCKIN' VIRGINIA! Remember when West Virginia and Missouri were thisclose to playing each other for the national title a few years ago, and then WVU blew it all by losing to Pitt? I was sad that happened. I like to see fresh blood in the national title matchup instead of the same bunch of SEC asshole schools year after year after year. I can only imagine how destructive WVU fans would be if they actually won something. And Dana Holgorsen! That man could drink Marion Ravenwood under the table. Look at this man tweet like a fuckin' boss:

Awesome. And look at that hair. He's like Ernie McCracken, and he don't give a shit. Also, when I was a kid, there was an urban legend that Major Harris could throw a football 90 yards while resting on one knee. I wonder whatever happened to him. I bet he's dead.

12. Wisconsin. I smoked weed on a Milwaukee street corner last winter, and no cops bothered us because I guess Milwaukee cops are cool. Or because the governor cut their pay and left them unable to work. Whatever, WISCONSIN IS DOWN WITH WEED SMOKING AND THAT'S COOL BY ME. And not once in my life have I heard anyone say anything bad about Madison. No one comes back from Madison saying, "Christ, that sucked." No no, it's apparently a magical place with all kinds of adorable cafes and friendly people in red sweatshirts and BARS! Each bar more spacious than the last, I tell you! I will go to this Madison one day, and I may not leave.

13. Michigan State. The good-looking women in Michigan enroll here.

14. Clemson. I knew a guy once who got into Harvard and Clemson and was such a rabid Clemson fan that he turned down Harvard. So either he's a fool (likely), or Clemson has something really special going for it. Like this reflecting pond. Now that's really pretty. Harvard doesn't have that. Harvard just has a bunch of assholes telling you they go to Harvard. It's insufferable. NO ONE at Clemson is gonna beat you over the head with their academic credentials, and I find that refreshing. Also ... THIS GUY!

His beer koozie has sleeves! Tremendous. "A mason jar full of absolute goodness! GET ON THAT." That accent is incredible. I couldn't reproduce that if you smashed me in the face with a brick and crossbred me with my aunt.

15. Texas. All the food in Austin is dirt cheap and impossibly good, and when I went to Franklin BBQ I deliberately tried to give myself a heart attack by stuffing my face with brisket and very small bourbon pies. The women there are not unattractive, and the folks all look extremely content with their lives. Meanwhile, 20 million people voluntarily cram themselves into a New York City subway car every morning wanting either to kill everyone around them or to kill themselves because killing yourself is kind of easier. Austin is better. And I like that the University of Texas has the balls to cause entire conference shifts without actually moving anywhere. They just break apart alliances and leave other schools bankrupt for the sheer joy of it. That's my kind of heartless bureaucracy.

16. Virginia Tech. FSU is better than them, right? They can't ruin a major bowl game by appearing in it and driving viewers away, right? Oh, cool! I LOVE VIRGINIA TECH WHEN THEY'RE NOT RELEVANT. I also like that announcers treat Blacksburg like some kind of existential tourist trap with no escape routes. "Life gets hard when you have to come to Blacksburg to play football, people."

17. Nebraska. Tommie Frazier is the greatest college football player ever, and I don't really give a shit if you disagree.

When I was in college, I rocked a Nebraska hat even though I had no affiliation with either the school or the state. Why did I do that? I have no idea. That's the amazing thing about being a high school or college student. You have enough free time to engage in bizarre, fetishistic relationships with other teams.

18. Ohio State. URBAN! The funniest thing I read this offseason was Wright Thompson's excellent profile of Urban Meyer, which included this passage:

Framed above his desk hung the contract he signed with his kids, written on pink notebook paper.

1. My family will always come first.
2. I will take care of myself and maintain good health.
3. I will go on a trip once a year with Nicki — MINIMUM.
4. I will not go more than nine hours a day at the office.
5. I will sleep with my cellphone on silent.
6. I will continue to communicate daily with my kids.
7. I will trust God's plan and not be overanxious.
8. I will keep the lake house.
9. I will find a way to watch Nicki and Gigi play volleyball.
10. I will eat three meals a day.

BAHAHAHAHA. He'll break every single one of those commandments by the end of the non-conference schedule. By Michigan Week, he'll be sleeping in a filing cabinet and blocking his daughter from sending him texts. Urban Meyer wasn't born to love people. He was born to be a heartless assassin who lays waste to entire conferences with his spread option offense. I guarantee you he will win a title at OSU or have his brain explode trying. That photo of him smiling and wearing his "I'm carefree now!" flip flops will be the last time you ever see him happy.

19. Oklahoma State. Listen, you people just sit tight. At some point, T. Boone Pickens will buy you a championship. If he has to buy up entire SEC universities solely for the purpose of razing them so they can never compete again, he will do it. If he has to fund $5 billion in R&D to invent Cyberball robots who can run the 40 in 0.5 seconds, he will do it. If he has to secretly hire goons to have Bob Stoops's family killed, he'll do it. In fact, he'd probably be willing to do that anyway. So don't worry! Your time is comin'.

20. TCU. Ivory Christian from Friday Night Lights went to TCU, so there's that. I bet Fort Worth has some REALLY cheap strip clubs. Like, quarters-in-the-Champagne-Room cheap. Ever go to a cheap strip club and find one really attractive stripper slumming it there? You get real value for your dollar when that happens.

21. Stanford. It seems as if Stanford is the only prestigious university that has its shit together when it comes to football. They're not delusional like Notre Dame, or pathetic like Duke. They don't try to force things, and as a result they have the mythical balance that phony schools like PSU are always so nakedly desperate to achieve. I admire for them for that, or at least I would if Gregg Easterbrook didn't suck Stanford's dick at every turn. OOOOH PLAYERS FROM ELITE SCHOOLS ARE EXTRA SPECIAL. Blow me.

22. Kansas State. My brother-in-law went to Kansas State, and I really like him. Though secretly, I'm always jealous when my mom asks him to grill the steaks instead of me, because he's really good at grilling steaks. I CAN'T BELIEVE MY OWN MOTHER WOULD BETRAY ME LIKE THAT. Also, Bill Snyder is an asshole. I know this is a Lover's Guide, but praising Bill Snyder is something I'm just not prepared to do.

23. Florida. Charlie Weis is gone now! It's OK! You can come out of hiding now! He's not around anymore, and neither are his unfunny "I'm from Jersey" wisecracks and .5-yard hitch routes. So take heart. I know you hate your current head coach, and you just wish stupid Urban Meyer had taken enough Advil to avoid the goddamn aneurysm that eventually led to him to coaching at another school. Why is he there? HE SHOULD BE A GATOR, DAMMIT. Anyway, at least Chaz Bono is gone.

Also, Florida fans? Not unattractive. Every man who doesn't go to school at Florida ends up deeply regretting it. That's the place to go for fetching women and developing a crippling online sports gambling addiction.

24. Boise State. ADORABLE.

25. Louisville. And I think we'd all like to thank Louisville for occupying this spot in the AP poll so that Notre Dame remains out of it. If we had used the coaches' poll, I would have had to say something nice about those underachieving, arrogant little cocksuckers. BUT I DON'T! And that's the greatest gift of all, because Notre Dame can go to hell. Enjoy the college football season, everyone.