Tag Archives: traditions

Welcome back, old friend!

These are the dog days.  The weather is overbearing in a way that makes us simply want to wave the white flag.

But, college football doesn’t allow for that.  It doesn’t allow us to give int.  College football offers hope at the end of this hot, desolate wasteland that we know as the “offseason.”

As the calendar flipped to August, I was reminded of one of my favorite football movies, “The Best of Times,” starring the late Robin Williams.  You should put this on your list if only for the poetic diatribes and quotable lines.  When describing the anticipation of the annual rebirth of football, Williams encapsulates the anticipation, the hope of a new season.

“It’s that time of year again…when the first leaf of autumn falls forlornly to the barren ground below.”

The hope he speaks of is found in an ideal unique to college football.

Tradition. A three-syllable word that defines the phenomena that is the sport we love. It’s more than just what happens between the lines. Coaches and players come and go, and the sport encompasses more than Xs and Os.

It is tradition.

It’s the Vol Navy sterngating in the shadows of Rocky Top. It’s the Sea of Red releasing balloons when their Huskers score for the first time. It’s Army and Navy desperately trying to “sing second.” It’s doing the Hokey Pokey at halftime in Blacksburg. It’s dotting the ‘i’, screaming “Bear Down,” “Boiler Up,” and striking the Heisman pose.

It’s the sight of beloved mascots like Ralphie, Tusk, Cam the Ram and Mike the Tiger. It’s the smells filling the State Fair on Oklahoma-Texas weekend, permeating from Dreamland on Friday afternoon, and wafting across The Grove on Saturday morning. It’s the deafening cheers in The Swamp, The Horseshoe, The Doak, “between the hedges” and down on The Farm. It’s the driving melodies of Texas Fight, Fight Tiger, Tiger Rag and Ragtime Cowboy Joe.

The autumn spectacle makes this sport special. It has survived world wars, financial recessions, and national tragedies.

The passion and traditions are cultural – inherited at a young age, carried through tenure as a co-ed, embraced as a seasoned alum, and then taught to the next generation.

No other sport offers the color and pageantry quite like college football. Lucky for us, it’s that time of year again…

The Sooner Schooner serves as the live mascot for the University of Oklahoma and it rumbles across the field after Sooner scores. Photo taken from a message board and used by permission by the unnamed photographer.
The Sooner Schooner serves as the live mascot for the University of Oklahoma and it rumbles across the field after Sooner scores. Photo taken from a message board and used by permission by the unnamed photographer.

The Fan Commandments of 2016

One thing that really sets college football apart from the other major sports: the fans.

College football fans are some of the wildest, craziest, and most passionate fans in sports. They are some of the greatest fans out there. And they are terrible. We as fans are some of the most awesome and most awful people at the same time.

We can’t help ourselves. We don’t know any better.

And that’s why I’m here. To try and help us live with ourselves and with each other. What I’ve come up with are some “Fan Commandments” if you will. Some guidelines we can try to use to help make ourselves a little more tolerable to live with.

If you want to argue, be able to back it up

Arguing is at the core of college football. We literally live for it, the debating of who’s better and who is actually terrible despite what everyone else says. The writers here do it all the time in our special group chat and that’s what made me think of this. You can argue with us too if you get our monthly membership and join our forums. Just saying.

What struck me about the Campus Pressbox arguments is that every writer here could back up their opinions with facts. So if you’re going to argue with anyone, family, friends, or strangers, be able to back up what you’re saying. If you want to tell me that Michigan is the worst team ever, that’s fine. But give me reasons. Give me actual facts. Don’t tell me it’s because “they’re stupid” or “they suck”. Maybe they do suck but you best quantify yourself.

If your best arguments are less than five words you need to reconsider what you’re saying.

Speaking of arguing, don’t argue traditions

Every school thinks their school’s traditions are the best. We can admit that sometimes someone else’s are cool, but ours are always the best. No one tries to listen when you try to convince them otherwise.

Stop trying. Seriously.

I think the Mississippi State cowbell is dumb and they’ll never convince me otherwise. They probably think every tradition Michigan has is dumb. So what’s that point of arguing them? Michigan’s high-step marching band isn’t going to affect the game and that’s what really matters. Ohio State isn’t going to lose if they don’t dot the “i” properly. Argue what actually matters and that you can try to prove with numbers and facts.

When speaking of traditions this also extends to rivalries.

To me, there are two rivalries that matter: Michigan-Michigan State, and Michigan-Ohio State. That’s it. I care about no other rivalries despite the vast number of them.

You know what? Someone in Florida doesn’t give two craps about either of those games unless it somehow determines if their team makes the playoff. Their world revolves around games like Florida-Florida State or Florida-Tennessee. To them, that might be where their world begins and ends and that’s fine! Just don’t try and convince me that their rivalry is better and I won’t try to convince you that mine’s better.

It’s an argument that you’re not going to win and if you’re friends with those people, you might not be later. Just know that everyone loves their own rivalry and let them be. Your rivalry doesn’t need to be better than theirs. Everyone can hate their rivals without needing to hate random other fans.

Always stick to your guns. Even in the bad times

Sometimes things go your team’s way. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes your team is projected to win 11 games and they only win four. It happens and it sucks. So suck it up. Yeah, you’re going to have to deal with some crap for your rivals but don’t you ever turn and run.

Wear your shirt and hat and whatever other gear you have with pride because you never know with college football. Northwestern beat Stanford, BYU won in consecutive weeks with Hail Marys, Michigan State won on a blocked punt return for a touchdown, and Memphis trounced Ole Miss by almost two touchdowns.

Speaking of your gear, look in your closet. Do you have more than one college represented? Did you go to that college or is it an in-state one? Do you have some kind of real, actual, personal connection to these schools? Is it an Alabama or Texas shirt despite the fact that you’ve never been south of Tennessee?

Depending on your answers, you sir or ma;am might be a bandwagon fan. Stop it. Stick with your team and not the one that’s hot right now. Don’t be that person we all hate.

History is only relevant for a time

If you want to talk about your program’s history, go nuts but don’t pretend like it has any bearing on today. Yes, I’m talking to you Michigan fans.

When arguing that your team is better, you need to focus on what’s recent. The fact that your team won three championships in the 1990’s does not make you a better team in 2016. The game isn’t the same as it used to be and literally no one is going to be left from even those coaching staffs. Do not use them in an argument.

Don’t belittle your history, though. Be proud of what your school has done but if there’s no one alive that remembers the title that you’re talking about… you might want to consider using it for your argument. We live in a “what have you done for me lately” society. Don’t forget that.

If you’re arguing the over greatness of a program, then absolutely talk about your past. Otherwise, there’s basically only two historic stats that relevant: overall win percentage and winningest program. Those are only relevant because they’re still active streaks. If that’s literally all you can fall back on, though, you might not have them much longer to use. Especially with the way Alabama’s playing in the last decade.

Keep the talk about football

Again, I’m going to call my fellow Michigan fans out on this one. If you want to talk football, talk football. Unless you actually went to the school you’re rooting for or you’re a school like Stanford or Northwestern, absolutely do not bring up academics.

Some schools have rather stringent academic policies even for their athletes like the two I just mentioned. Most do not and that’s fine. First, those academics you’re boasting about? Yeah, those are mostly elevated by the guys who ride the bench and don’t spend as much time at practice as the starters. Sure there’s some smart ones but every school gives their athletes an easier academic schedule. I can’t prove it but you can’t convince me otherwise.

Secondly, do you really think that matters in any way, shape or form?

I’ll answer that for you: No. Bada bing, bada boom. Realest guy in the room.

Have you ever seen a playbook? I saw a high school one once and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I could barely understand it and these guys have to memorize it. Depending on your offense you could literally have 50 or more plays to memorize. To know where you need to be or do at any time for any situation. Look at Oregon’s spread offense. It can literally change in a second if the quarterback keeps the ball or hands it off. Then he might run or he might throw. If you’re really that dumb, you can’t keep up with that.

So stop talking about academics because you aren’t making yourself look any smarter.

Look, I’m just trying to make our world a little more bearable. Maybe you’ll listen and maybe you’ll call me an idiot. I’m just calling it like I see it. You can’t tell me that you haven’t run into one of these things and not been horribly annoyed by it. 2016 is going to be filled with great football so let’s fill it with great fans too.

E-mail Tim at [email protected].

Image courtesy Flickr

Some Traditions are just Hot Air

On Thursday morning I got an email from our own Damien Bowman with a link. At first I found it pretty funny and planned to use it for the following week’s Big Ten links. You know, do a little tongue in cheek angry bit about it, but the more I think about it the more it kind of makes sense.

You might have seen it, probably in a humorous context. Randall S. Krause, of Omaha, Nebraska has filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska to get it to end its tradition of releasing balloons after every touchdown. At the top level it does sound kind of funny. It’s a lawsuit over balloons. It could honestly be the plot of an episode of Seinfeld.

This isn’t the first time this topic has been brought up either. Back in 2014 a Nebraska couple started a petition to get the Cornhuskers to stop releasing balloons. Despite the Nebraska administration saying the balloons are biodegradable, the couple has documented one that ended up in their garden and it’s not degrading. The petition didn’t get the thousand signatures it was aiming for and was dropped.

Want to see something horrible? Do a Google search for “balloons killing animals.” I only looked at the image previews but you’re more than welcome to look at the rest. Balloons in nature do some pretty terrible things. There’s some more facts about it on the Balloons Blow website, but that’s hardly an unbiased source.

Once you really kind of think about it, how many states have laws against littering? Legalese isn’t my forte but it sure looks like Nebraska has one. I know my home state of Michigan has one and it’s not particularly cheap. I’ve heard that, I wasn’t ticketed for it, in case you were wondering. So what’s the difference between you or me doing it and a college football stadium?

Tradition.

College football, probably more than any other sport, is rooted in tradition. It doesn’t matter how dumb or outdated the tradition is, fans will follow said tradition. Even when there’s documented proof that what they’re doing is actually doing harm to their own home state the tradition continues. Because it’s tradition, dammit! You can’t break tradition just because some dumb animals get killed!

Traditions have always been strange and will always be strange but not all of them need to be dangerous. Look, I’m not a tree-hugging hippie or anything but it’s estimated that Nebraska fans release between 4,000 and 5,000 balloons, which is kind of a lot. Also as far as traditions go, it’s not even that old. The Cornhuskers started releasing balloons in the 1950’s. For comparison’s sake, a much cooler and safer tradition, Ohio State’s dotting of the “i” has been around since the 30’s.

If anything, the university could turn this whole thing into some great PR. Fund some student programs to develop a new balloon that degrades quickly and safely. They could talk about how they want to continue a tradition but start a new tradition of environmental friendliness.

Because traditions can be great, but not all of them need to continue.

Photo courtesy Flickr