(Mikey’s Note, this is long and I love roundtables and I haven’t been included in one in a while so I cut nothing. READ AWAY PEOPLE)
NCAA FOOTBALL BITCHES
Michael H: In my very humble opinion, the atmosphere at a college football game – especially in the South – is as close as we get in American sports to the atmosphere of a big European club soccer match. Generation upon generation of folks root their guts out for their beloved college football team.
My wife’s family is from Tennessee and are gigantic Vols fans, natch. I have been in Neyland Stadium amongst over 100,000 Vols fans clad in yellow and white. No other sporting experience I have had comes close to the electricity and elation I witnessed their – I also was lucky enough to watch a come-from-behind overtime win against South Carolina a few years back. It was insane.
As for myself, I’m an Illinois Fighting Illini fan (smh). We have had little to be optimistic about recently (thanks Tim Beckman). Sure, we have had some decent players: Red Grange, Dick Butkus, Rashard Mendenhall, Brandon Lloyd, Vontae Davis, Jeff Allen…uh…Arrelious Benn? Anyway, yeah. But now Lovie Smith is here. He is the biggest football coach the Illini have probably ever had (apologies to Ron Zook, psyche). This year will most likely be a rough one, but hopefully future potential recruits will give Illinois another look simply because of the name recognition. He has to keep Illinois boys in-state, and own Chicago.
They open with Murray State (yay!), but don’t play Indiana somehow (insane), and end with a Michigan State-Wisconsin-Iowa-Northwestern trail of tears. Still, I am really pumped for college football Saturdays. I-L-L.
Shaun: I’m here to teach things people. Study up. – The Big XII Conference has represented itself as one of the power conferences in college football, boasting the motto: “One True Champion.” During the 2014 season, the Big XII awarded conference championship trophies to the Baylor Bears and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. ONE true champion; TWO champions. And this decision to award two champions hurt big time. Both Baylor and TCU were poised to make an appearance in the first official College Football Playoff, although the odds were admittedly slim that both would make it. That would come down to the results of conference championships in the other power conferences in the final week of the regular season. Then, when the final College Football Playoff seedings were released, both teams were stuck on the outside looking in. Ohio State leapfrogged both Big XII schools, winning the Big Ten championship, and on the final weekend of the college football season, Baylor and TCU sat at home, with no opportunity to help themselves get into the inaugural CFP in any way. Their conference failed them.
For ONLY ONE MORE SEASON WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. As of 2017 (next season) the Big XII will once again implement a conference championship game, and we can no longer laugh at the Big XII for such a staggering level of ineptitude for handing out two trophies to two teams just a few years ago. The Big XII has 10 teams in the conference. This just keeps getting stranger, I know. But nonetheless, there are two, five-team divisions, and the conference has announced that they will reinstate their championship game for the first time since Colorado and Nebraska left for other conferences in 2010. Last season, Oklahoma made it into the final four-team playoff, despite not playing in a championship game. Now that the NCAA allows conferences with less than 12 teams to host a championship game, the Big XII is the first conference to jump at the opportunity (why this was an NCAA rule in the first place, I have no idea). Hopefully there is no controversy at the top this season.
(Oh, and the millions of dollars that will come into the conference for hosting a championship game won’t be too shabby, either.)
BONUS FEMALE PERSPECTIVE COMING IN FIRE FLAMES
Emily: This will be my first football season where I actually have a semi-grasp on what’s happening on the field. I’m not in a fully committed monogamous relationship with any given team – but am open to suggestions if you think one would be a good fit for me. What usually gets me going about football season is the fact you can Sunday Funday with a legitimate excuse and more than likely everyone in your office will be on the same page Monday morning. In a word (or three), what sums up football season for me is: buffalo chicken dip.
Eric: College football is back and I could not be happier. Is it because I am a Boston College fan and think this is their year? Definitely not but anything is better than last year for them. The real reason I am so excited: college football gambling. While I am not putting my rent money on the line each week, I do like to place some bets during these upcoming fall Saturdays. Gambling may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it can be quite the thrill even with smaller bets being placed. Most Saturdays you won’t get the big time games until later in the evening but why not enjoy every game a little bit.
Week 1 puts UMass up against Florida, obviously a mismatch that does not look like a win for UMass. How do you make it interesting? Well, UMass is a 37 point underdog so why not put down some money and give them a 37 point lead and make Florida score more than five touchdowns more than UMass. Another one of my favorite bets to place on most Saturdays is a multiple team parlay bet for a small amount. Basically I pick about ten or so teams with a spread and place like $5 on it. Depending on the odds, if all of those teams cover the spread, that $5 can turn into $500. If you win the first nine games though, the tenth game is not for the faint of heart even if it is only $5 on the line.
(Editor’s Note, Yes I know this is illegal, Yes I love Eric. No I won’t omit this.)
Matt:This season, college football has a massive opportunity to change some social conversations. For and foremost, I am hoping a new storyline comes out which will finally extinguish the Harambe memes. Dabo can help out by once again setting the internet ablaze with his OG dances moves. Secondly, I’m excited for the discussion on amateurism to take a step forward. Leonard Fournette is a human bowling ball who should be my flex option every Sunday this year. The usual pundits will be back on the scene to promote proper compensation for our athletes. This time has the potential to be different, however. Let’s add up some ingredients and see if a major sports story is in the making. Football is religion in the South. The American South is still dripping with racism. Major college football stars are African American. These stars do not get paid to perform for many white, bigoted fans. America is approaching another boiling point regarding racial tension. Stars are starting to protest on the field… You do the math.
Now for some actual football talk. Clemson is my team. My best friend went to college there and I have had the pleasure of piggybacking on his personal fandom. Plus, I went to see Clemson play Florida State in the Famous Jameis days and it was one of the wildest sporting events I have ever been to. Pencil them in for a playoff bid. Ohio State should get one too. I think Oklahoma returns as well. Finally, pencil out Alabama. Nick Saban wins too much and I just don’t like it. I respect his greatness but I’m rooting for him to lose every single game. If Pop and Belichick had a son it would be Nick Saban. I mean, do we all have to treat the media like they are annoying idiots only there to be a nuisance? No. So Nick Saban, I hope when you open your yogurt today it’s disgustingly watery and you decide it’s not even worth it. Roll damn Tigers, go Clemson.
` And one more thing. College football is back! Which means college basketball is right around the corner…
Mikey: For me, college sports trump the professional level if your measuring device is entertainment instead of quality. The sheer depth in the pool of plotlines to choose from allows you to select the most important, impactful stories instead of skimming the top for 7 stories about Dak Prescott. There are hundreds upon thousands of participants, and finding something you can root for and support is easy once you begin to understand the aspect of collegiate sports as a whole, and the fact that they are college kids at the end of the day.
The thing I am most excited for this season is a player by the name of James Conner, a Pitt running back who has battled cancer to take the field this season. He was a heisman hopeful, then became a cancer survivor, and now has a chance to rise back to the top.
I love sports. I love college football. I am happy it is back.FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD