"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

Football Season Eve

Deeper South,The Wonder — d-ashes on August 29, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Well folks it’s that time of year again. I’m a huge baseball fan, but anyone who still calls baseball the “National Past-time” has got it wrong. Or maybe it is still the national past-time and football is the “National Sports Obsession.” Either way, the waiting is over, the season is here, and I’m as excited as can be.

And, oh, to be a football fan in Southeast Louisiana in Aught-Seven. The LSU Tigers are ranked #2 in the nation and New Orleans Saints are considered one of the strongest teams in the NFC (Sports Illustrated even picked us to win the Super Bowl in their NFL Preview). Once again I’ve got season tickets for both the Tigers and Saints this year, so for the next five months I will be living the gridiron life, and that’s the way I like it (though it remains to be seen how well Dr. K enjoys sharing me with football).

I detest pre-season rankings, especially in college football, where they mean so very little. The SEC is a tough enough conference to play in without giving every team you play the added incentive to knock off a Top 5 or Top 10 team. If I could only choose one, I’d much rather be ranked in the top 5 towards the end of October than in September. But with tomorrow night’s kick off in Starkville, the pre-season rankings are out the window and the equation, at least until the bowl projections provide their yearly cluster-fuck, is pretty simple: if you win, you stay on top.

So my prediction for the Tigers this year is another great season, in which I’m quite excited to have a number of big games at home after having all snoozers last year (save for an Ole Miss game that was way more exciting than it needed to be). But I don’t see us playing in the national championship game this season. Despite our #2 ranking there are a number question marks for the Tigers and we have some huge opponents to play (one of the most worrisome being Virginia Tech in Week 2). That being said, I’m more than happy for the Tigers to prove me wrong.

And honestly, as I’ve learned more about the game of football and how it’s played, and having put in some serious time at LSU and Saints games last year, I’ve come to take a different view of college football. I guess the only way to explain it is that more than anything, especially now that LSU has won a national championship in my lifetime, I appreciate college football the most for the total experience. I enjoy college football for the crowd, the atmosphere, the tail-gating, and, yes, of course, the football itself. But with the Saints contending last season, my real passion for winning games has swung towards the NFL. When I go to a Saints game, I enjoy the people and the atmosphere, but I’m there to watch some serious football, and I’m there to see the Saints win.

My changing perspective on college football is mainly a matter of fairness coupled with my accumulation of some years on Earth. With all the money and TV exposure that the college game receives, it’s easy to forget that the game is played by kids, and while there are a few SEC teams that could give some NFL teams a run for their money, college football players are, in fact, amateurs. In the last few years, as I’ve grown older than college players, I’ve found myself cringing whenever I hear college football players being booed (especially by adults), and while I’m certainly disappointed when LSU loses a game, it’s tempered by the fact that I’m watching kids playing an amateur game. The NFL on the other hand, is a game played by professionals who are payed quite well to perform well. If they fail to deliver? Boo them, and loudly.

So my real rabidness for winning football games this year is firmly entrenched with the Saints, which is a tenuous stance to take going into this season. Have the Saints improved personnel wise for last year? Yes. Have Sean Payton and company thought up some brilliant new offensive attacks. Certainly. Are the Saints primed for a letdown season after last years magic? Absolutely. I won’t even make a prediction as to how the Saints will do. While I will be more than content for LSU to win 10 or 11 games and play in a bowl game, I’m looking for the Saints to go all the way, I believe that they have a team unlike any Saints team before to make a playoff run with and I will be disconsolate throughout February (at least until Mardi Gras) if our play off run does not go quite, quite deep.

So happy football season to all of you football fans. If you’re at either LSU or Saints games this season drop a line and lets have a few pre-game beers.



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