Yesterday was a tough day for a college football fan born and raised in Alabama and currently living in Ann Arbor. Both the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Alabama Crimson Tide lost excruciatingly close games.
First up was Michigan vs. Iowa. UM trailed the entire game, but they’ve come from behind before to win the game (remember Notre Dame?), and QB Denard Robinson is one of the most explosive and exciting offensive players in college football, so I kept thinking they were going to avoid the upset. And they almost did. With time running out at the end of the game, they drove down to the Iowa 3-yard line, but couldn’t score in four tries–four
tries! To make it even worse, one play looked like it might have been a touchdown, but the replay showed it wasn’t. On the final futile play, the replay showed that maybe there was pass interference against Iowa, but it wasn’t called and the game ended.
Not a good start to my football Saturday. Luckily my next must-see TV game didn’t come
on until 8:00, so I had several hours to recuperate before The Game of the Century, #1 LSU vs. #2 Alabama. I avoided most of the hype leading up to the game because, quite frankly, I didn’t need to get any hyper. It’s weird, because even though I haven’t lived in Alabama since I was a kid, and even though I’ve actually lived in Michigan longer than I lived in Alabama (15-14 if you want the score), I’m still a bigger Crimson Tide fan. I think that as a child I imprinted on Bear Bryant and the Tide, so that’s always been my football touchstone.
So I was psyched for the game, which did live up to the hype–two great defenses determined to keep the other team out of the end zone. The score was tied 3-3 at halftime, and 6-6 at the end of the game. Great–overtime was just what my blood pressure needed. After over 60 minutes of nail-biting tension, LSU kicked a field goal and won in the first overtime. But just like the Michigan game, Alabama came so close–they could’ve won except for four missed field goals. Four!
I’m sure the internet and sports channels are full of Sunday morning quarterbacks today, moaning or gloating, criticizing or praising the players, coaches and officials of every game played yesterday. I’m sure lots of people are still upset and unhappy this morning. I used to be one of those people.
But you know what? This morning I’m over it. That may make some people feel I’m less of a fan, and maybe they’re right. I don’t think they are, but it’s all in the perception, isn’t it? I’ve just gotten old enough, or mature enough, or objective enough to see college football for the game it is. Or maybe it’s because I spent the last seven years teaching college students and realized just how young these players are. Many of them are still too young to buy alcohol, too young to have voted in the last presidential election. They work hard and play their hearts out and feel horrible when they lose. I’m not going to pile on, and I’m not going to place my happiness in their hands.
But I am going to be back on my couch next Saturday, watching the games. Go Blue! Roll Tide!