Yes, I know. I Tweet and Facebook far too much during football games, especially when my Gamecocks are playing.
Yep, it’s a big deal to me that USC is ranked #4 in the nation and Clemson is ranked #8 by AP (We are #9 in BCS rankings. *squee*). This has never happened to us before. We are actually ahead of powerhouse teams such as Alabama, my husband’s alma mater (who I of course root for now. 🙂 )
I’ve always preferred college football over pro, because these kids put a lot of effort and emotion into their playing, even if it’s not always their best. Sometimes I feel like pro players are just clocking in and clocking out.
I hear snide remarks such as, “Why do you care so much about football? It’s just a game.” or “Why do you say ‘we.’ You’re not out there playing.”
Why, you ask? Because of nostalgia.
My Blood Runs Garnet
I grew up in S.C., and I was 12 years old when USC entered the mighty Southeastern Conference. My dad taught me about football from attending and watching games. Since my parents were divorced at the time, watching sports at his place was our thing. I really don’t remember watching anything else on my weekends with him. (Maybe Saturday morning cartoons.)
Dad was never one for lengthy conversations and like most men, don’t like to be interrupted while watching sports. But he always took the time to answer my questions to help me understand the game. It was our opportunity to bond.
Of course, many years later, I attended USC and had a chance to go to several games. Unfortunately, the year before I graduated was the worst year for USC football. We were the worst team in the country in 2000 and could not pull off a single win against any team, let alone our rivals in the Upstate.
Honestly, it was kind of depressing. Back then, I used to question why this game meant so much to people. But even I felt let down. Gamecock fans simply adjusted to being disappointed and having a poor to mediocre team. We never had anything to be really excited about.
Despite my faulty memory, I think I remember exactly where I was when they announced Steve Spurrier would be the head coach. I was driving up Huger Street near the old USC baseball stadium. He had made Florida one of our most feared rivals and had a disappointing coaching season with the Redskins.
After a couple of struggling seasons, folks were wondering if he was the right choice. I did too sometimes, and I was put off by his often gruff attitude. (I still think he is far too rough around the edges, but that’s just who he is.) But he was also so persistent and confident, I tried not to let doubt creep in. It was difficult, especially after Stephen Garcia was (finally) dismissed for his off-the-field behavior.
Still Bleeding After More than 20 Years
We have finally made it to the top 5. And we did it with a quarterback who never got into trouble and stayed focused. A true “student-athlete.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first person to get upset when college players take advantage of the system or don’t focus on their studies. A lot of them are greedy, and it’s unfair how much attention and dollars the program receive. I totally get that. But, in the end, as a fan, a native of Columbia, a USC alumna *and* former employee, it’s worth it.
Sadly, I’m not at home to celebrate this epic season which is another reason why I’m particularly geeked out about it. I’m in ‘Bama country now. Although USC still hasn’t captured the elusive SEC championship that Spurrier so desires, we stand victorious.
Yes, I said, “We.” Because it’s not just about the game and how important it is in the South, it’s about seeing a team grow along with you, watching it mature and become something to be proud of.
This is also the same reason why I was totally stoked about winning back-to-back baseball championships. We really aren’t used to winning, so this feels great, and we will bask in it for months to come.
Watching the BCS Championship last night, I found myself a little sad. It was crazy. I chided myself. Why am I down? Sure, it was in part because Auburn lost, but it was such an incredible game!
Then I realized I’ve spent the past two seasons here in my new state almost exclusively at home on Saturdays. I inadvertently created a tradition of watching football every weekend. Until next season!
What are you a huge fan of? What makes you geek out the most? Talk to me in the comments.