Right off the bat, I should say I don’t like college football. I don’t mind having it on in the background at a bar, or watching it when there’s absolutely nothing else on, but it’s rare that I sit down and watch it, and when I do sit down and watch it, actually pay attention, I’m nearly always bored.
There have been exceptions. The Fiesta Bowl game with Boise State’s Statue of Liberty play to win in overtime followed by cheerleader proposal is a sports moment anyone could enjoy. But overall, it just seems like the minor leagues for the sport I really love to watch, the NFL.
There are many reasons I don’t like college football. I went to a D-III school where there was absolutely no interest in sports (even though the teams turned out to be pretty good, for the most part, at least as far as D-III goes), so I’ll never understand the enthusiasm on that level since I never got blind drunk tailgating and wandered into a crowded stadium to yell at people (what I really find bizarre are people who didn’t even attend a particular school being fanatical about a nearby team; in St. Louis, everyone loved Mizzou, and in Los Angeles, it’s USC). The defenses tend to be slow enough to allow for really boring running offenses to dominate (the option is gross). The ball even seems too big for people’s hands and has big stupid stripes on it. It only takes one foot in bounds for a catch to stand. And the system by which the national champion is decided is decidedly broken in the eyes of college football fans and non-fans alike.
Even so, I decided to watch what was being billed by multiple networks and nearly every sports media outlet as the BIGGEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME EVER. After all, ESPN took their College Gameday show on the road to Tuscaloosa, where the Alabama Crimson Tide, ranked number two in the country, were playing host to the LSU Tigers, the number one team in the country, even though the Worldwide Leader did not have broadcast rights to the game. For ESPN to acquiesce and admit they didn’t have the best football product on a given Saturday had to mean something, right?
In addition, this SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission?) matchup between top-ranked teams has been seen as a defacto national title game—whoever would win this, should bring home all the Tostitos.
I don’t pay much attention to college football, but I do follow sports, so I’m aware that the SEC has dominated the BCS landscape, winning the last five national titles in Division One college football. I know that the name of Alabama’s stadium is Bryant-Denny, not Brian Dennehy. And I know that if there’s one non-bowl game to watch this year, this would probably be it. So I decided to give in, and see if I might be proven wrong about college football: that it’s boring, that it’s sloppy, and that the NFL is a much better product. So, was I wrong?
Maybe I am, and it’s unfair to lean on one game to judge, but this overhyped deathmatch between defensive powerhouses was painful to watch. LSU ended up winning on the road 9-6 to hold onto the number one ranking, and the Tigers will almost undoubtedly play for the national title.
There were World Series games this year with higher scores than 9-6. The Alabama Maroon Laundry Detergent missed three field goals in regulation with two different kickers. LSU’s starting quarterback Jarrett Lee tossed two picks and was mostly replaced by Jordan Jefferson, who came in to run option plays. After sixty interminable football minutes, the game was tied at 6 going into overtime. But even college football’s kooky overtime scenario, where each team gets the ball at its own 25 with an attempt to score, couldn’t put any life into this game. Instead, the Alabama Crude Ladies Time of the Month Slang missed yet another field goal, LSU ran the ball a few times, and kicked the game-winner.
I get that it’s not necessarily the teams’ collective fault that this was billed as the Chick-Fil-A Eat Mor Chikin Game of the Fuckin Century, and that this is the way the game is played to win in the SEC. Many pundits will argue that this was, indeed, a great game, one marked not by laughable offense and sloppy special teams play but by great defense. Maybe they’re right, and I’m wrong, though that kind of talk, justifying hype after the fact, is just the sportswriting equivalent of sites like Pitchfork being unable to admit that the Rapture really did suck, and that’s why no one on Earth pays attention to them anymore. To a non-fan wanting to be won over, it didn’t do it for me; in fact, it pushed me farther away.
If this is the matchup of what are supposed to be the two best teams in the country in a particular sport, the biggest game of the year, then I’ll be happy to continue to take my Tostitos elsewhere.