It’s College Football Eve and there’s a good chance some of the guys and girls you're working with are a bit giddy today. Jumpy in ways they aren’t ordinarily. It’s not the alcohol or drug withdrawal, it’s just because those of us who are college football fans can feel it in the pit of our stomachs—the most glorious, and shortest, sports season of the year is less than 24 hours away. We’ve only got 12 weeks out of 52 to watch our teams play, and by God, we’re going to pack as much life into those 12 weeks as is humanly possible. We’re going to drink, we’re going to tailgate, we’re going to scream louder than anyone ever thought was possible, and, inevitably, we’re going to want to cry. Yep, it’s Christmas Eve for football fans. Because, at long last, college football season is here again. That opening paragraph either made your pulse quicken or it didn’t. I get that everybody doesn’t love college football. Believe me, I know. I went to school on the East Coast where, at the time, CBS split telecasts between the Big East and the SEC. I can’t tell you how many times in college I sat cursing at my television screen because a game like Rutgers-Virginia Tech was pre-empting Tennessee-Alabama. I’ve sprinted through the streets of Georgetown, gotten on the damn Metro to ride to shady sports bars in Virginia, then gotten out and walked down the side of a busy highway to find an elusive sports bar that was showing my team. Freshman year, we didn’t have televisions in our dorm at George Washington. There were few Southerners and there was one big screen in the lobby. Invariably the Southerners would make sure the television was free for football. Because, to be clear, college football is the greatest sport in America. I say that as someone who has experienced everything from English premier league soccer to NASCAR, a tennis major to the Masters, there is absolutely nothing in sporting life that compares to being on campus for a big-time college football game. Nothing. That’s why I always find it so lame when people who’ve never experienced a college football game trot out excuses for why college football is overrated. Nine times out of ten those excuses will lead with, “There’s nothing else to do in (insert college football town here). That’s why people go.” First of all, that’s incredibly elitist and stupid. Do people go to Knicks game or Jets games because there’s nothing else to do in New York City? Of course not. They go for the same reason that everyone goes to sporting events; because we’re fans. And fans go to sporting events. It just so happens that Lincoln, Nebraska on a Saturday has a better sporting environment than any sporting event in New York City. And big city folk can’t handle that. Tough luck, it’s true. Second, the fans are all dumb, rednecks, illiterate, (insert judgment here). Also, wrong. The average person attending a college football game has a college degree. Many have advanced degrees. Somewhere along the way college football fans have been inaccurately typecast as dumb in a way that NBA, NFL, MLB and college basketball fans never are. I’d put the average fan going to college football games in an intelligence test against the average fan going to any other American team sporting event. And I’d feel pretty comfortable that college football fans would win. Third, the NFL is better than college. I’ve been to lots of NFL stadiums. The environment, the excitement, the vibe just doesn’t compare. Not even close. Oftentimes I’ll double up on a fall weekend, Vols on Saturday, Titans on Sunday. The NFL game is a pale shadow of college football’s fun. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you’re a sports fan and you haven’t traveled to the SEC, the ACC, the Big Ten, or the Big 12 for a game, then you’re wasting your sporting life. Seriously, you are. Notwithstanding all of this, as the leaves are falling down around us, as the short season sprints—with SEC speed— all too rapidly by, you like to think that there’s a timelessness to college football and that you're not getting any older. But you’re wrong. Here are 11 things that are guaranteed to happen to you this fall 1. Back in college you used to handle a loss to a rival with grace and dignity. You figured that losing would get even easier with age. Then you graduated went to work for five years on asbestos document review and are angrier now after a loss than you ever were. Lesson: beer and parties with attractive women make everything better. 2. You’re getting one year closer to being the old guy who hits on fat college chicks at your tailgate. Remember when you were in college and it always astounded you how the old guys would, without fail, hit on the most mediocre chicks when they walked past? Last year your buddy pointed out a fat chick and you guys all ogled her. Don’t bother denying it. 3. You'll refresh your debate about which college quarterback had the most sex with the largest collection of attractive women. Yet again, for the 8th consecutive year, you'll acknowledge the answer. Tim Couch. Seriously, Tim F'in Couch laid the pipe like the pipe has never been laid since.
4. Suddenly, one season, somebody is going to have a kid. And send out an email to all his friends saying he needs to go to a sports bar that doesn’t allow smoking so he can watch the opening college football games this Thursday. Because Comcast doesn’t carry goddamn ESPN U. That person is me this year. My seven-month old son is in good hands. 5. You’ll want to get in a fight with a rival fan. You probably won’t do it. At least you shouldn’t. Not if you value your job, your teeth, or your ability to explain to your wife why you should be allowed to go on the road with your buddies. But you’ll really, really want to. 6. Someone is going to suggest going by his old frat house. You really can’t do this. Fight, hard. Especially if you’re 30 or more and your own son isn’t a member there. But, you know what? You’re going to end up there. And ask them to sneak you into the KD house too. 7. If you're in the South, and you go to enough tailgates someone will offer you legit moonshine out of those jugs with four XXXX's on them. I kid you not. Some stereotypes are true. Drink more than a sip and risk your life.
8. One of your friends is going to turn down more to drink because, "I just can't handle the alcohol like I used to." Rage, rage, against the dying of the drinking light. Marshal all of your derisive skills until he continues drinking. If you must, spike his water with vodka. He knows not what he does. 9. Someone is going to send you a forward of a hot, naked girl from your school. And, for just a moment, you'll think, "Please Lord, don't let this be my daughter." Then you'll save the picture, email it to yourself and hide in on a shared computer with your wife under "2003 tax information." 10. Flush with the ability to magically walk around outdoors with a beer can in hand, you’re going to get into a debate about why there’s an open container law. You will be able to come up with no justification. Flush with this lack of justification you will claim that you’re going to start walking around with open containers everywhere. And then turn into a wuss when you get within 500 yards of a squad car and pour out your beer on a girl in a sundress. 11. As an apology to the girl in the sundress, you’re going to propose a national party for the start of college football season. It will be called, The Sundress Party and take place on open farmland somewhere in the South. Woodstock meets college football. Everyone will agree this is genius. Then it won’t happen…again.
But that will all be in the future. Because, in less than 24 hours, the greatest time of the year arrives. College football is back.