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Carson: Catch America’s best drama

| Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I often spend large amounts of time marveling at the way European and Latin American soccer fans support their teams. The passion these fans have for their teams — from England to Argentina and Mexico to Turkey — is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a world where the team you support means more than anything else — and as John Oliver pointed out during his now-semi-famous rant about FIFA, it’s a “religion.”

Then, autumn Saturdays come around, and I’m reminded that we have this sort of passion in America — only that rather than fermenting itself in large cities like London or Rio de Janeiro, it reaches its highest heights in well, not large cities. From Tuscaloosa to South Bend and Eugene to Oxford, college football provides America’s most passionate drama.

Take Monday’s “call of the day” on the Paul Finebaum Show. If you have yet to see Phyllis from Mulga, Alabama rant about the supposed “end” of her beloved Crimson Tide’s dynasty, it’s quite worth the two minutes of your life. In fact, Phyllis calls the show so often that when she calls, the simulcast of the show on the SEC Network has a picture of the woman, right there for when she calls in. Her end to the call?

“Kiss my butt. Roll Tide!”

And when you think about it, there may be no better five words to describe America’s love affair with college football. Suddenly phrases like “War Eagle,” “Boomer Sooner,” “Hotty Toddy,” “Geaux Tigers” and, of course, “Roll Tide” become acceptable ways to greet one another.

But consider it for a second. This Saturday, more than 80,000 people will take up a seat in Notre Dame Stadium to watch a bunch of 18- through 22-year olds play a game. And that doesn’t even crack all of it — over 100,000 people will descend on College Station, Texas on Saturday when Texas A&M plays host to Mississippi.

It is — quite honestly — something that boggles the mind. We live and die on the results of these games (alright, we might not die but we sure sometimes cry like someone did) because of what are often silly reasons. Most people root for teams because of where they live. The aforementioned Phyllis is from Alabama so it makes sense that she’s a ‘Bama fan. If someone from Ohio says they aren’t an Ohio State fan, I’m a little surprised (but also really, really happy. Those people instantly become my friends). Others might root for a school because of their religion (some of you might even go to this school!) while some just go for a school because they’re good or because they have really cool colors.

But fundamentally, why do we watch college football? Easy. It’s America’s best reality show. Controversy has followed the past two Heisman Trophy winners around. You’re never sure when the next kicker is going to miss what should be an easy, chip-shot field goal that would have won the game. And, of course, who could have predicted that Mississippi State and Ole Miss would be joint-third in this week’s AP Poll?

Then there are those games, those plays that live on in infamy. Boise State’s “Hook and Lateral” and “Statue of Liberty” plays to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl? Amazing. Chris Davis returning a missed field goal 109 yards to win the Iron Bowl last year? One of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. And of course, it’s impossible to talk about great college football plays without mentioning “Hail Flutie” or, of course, shouting the line, “The band is on the field!”

Last weekend, of course, was a perfect example of why we love college football. Everett Golson’s fourth-down touchdown pass to beat Stanford was hardly the most notable thing of the weekend. Arizona going into Eugene and taking down No. 2 Oregon? A bigger story. Ole Miss knocking off No. 3 Alabama at home? Bigger again. Mississippi State having its way with No. 6 Texas A&M? Still bigger. That doesn’t even get into TCU’s win over No. 4 Oklahoma or No. 8 UCLA falling to Utah.

It’s why nothing beats college football Saturdays. The twists and turns are like no other. The passion is unmatched. And the best part?

It’s unscripted. Sit back, relax and enjoy it.

(Insert your school’s saying here.)

About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.” At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer. A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa. When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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