College Football’s Fumbles

Paul H. Yarbrough Freelance Writer
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College football once was an entertaining, rousing sport. Its appealing activity with its bump and grind, often in the rain and mud, played on real grass; its cheering and cheerleaders and marching bands and school colors and fight songs were exciting and offered great sources of conversation, debate, and an occasional fist fight. The amalgam of these rudiments came together as a consequence of one common denominator: regardless of whether the team was Michigan State or Harvard or Georgia or U.C.L.A or Kansas– Localism. Your locale, your home. Hoorah for our guys! Many Mississippians well remember Halloween night in 1959, while at the top of the world with a second consecutive Miss Mississippi, Lynda Lee Meade, named Miss America late in the summer now having their hearts ripped out by Billy Cannon and his 89-yard run for a 7-3 win for L.S.U. against Ole Miss (Ole Miss got some revenge in the Sugar bowl, a 21-0 win over L.S.U., but it wasn’t the same). But it was local. It was college football. It was fun (at least for L.S.U.).

And the players for the most part were students in the academic sense. They sought real degrees (though admittedly many fell short). But they had to seek them through an honest, collegiate curriculum and not through some half-ass tenured professor’s dreamt up bilious make-up-your-own-degree such as “General Studies” or “Liberal Thoughts of Gay Heaven.” And the players had enough character to not get tattooed like some freak-show dazzler in a road-show circus. Today even the cheerleaders get tatted on the boob or butt in order to bring out their true beauty–barf. Often, one of the stalwart eleven announces to the fans that he and his “girl friend” are expecting their first. Ahh, the pitter patter of little bastard-fitted cleats.

Students once could actually attend and not be relegated to a tiny section in the end zone or perhaps outside on the parking lot viewing the game on big-screen T.V. allowing them to be treated to T.V. girls prowling the sidelines with microphones looking for coaches to ask inane questions in their nasal, high pitched voices such illuminating questions as: “You are down 42 to nothing Coach, what do you say to your defense?” And back when the game was good there were no girl trainers taking opportunities from boys, who weren’t big enough to play after high school, in the name of the monstrous concept of equality; the same girls often lurking around the locker room waiting for a big lawsuit payday.

But coming back to home-team love: The SEC said the Big Ten was a bunch of cold-weather Yankee sissies. The Big Ten said the SEC was a bunch of redneck hicks who shouldn’t be in college in the first place. The Ivy League said that maybe they couldn’t play football worth a damn, but they had the highest tuitions. Texas said Oklahoma and Arkansas were the evil twins. No one knew what the Pacific Eight said because everybody was asleep by the time they said anything and most everybody back then had to get up early Sunday morning for church. But it all was local. It was your team, your boys, your fight song, your school colors. And finally, on the first day of the New Year the Rose Bowl arrived and at last we learned what was going on out west. But like everything else, now the game is national. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Yawn.

Now, it is a professional game, a minor league for the debased NFL (God I miss Vince Lombardi). Players attend college on some negligible degree of scholarship (most having attended the corrupt public school system with riches for football equipment but I.O.U.s for books) while attending a few classes, whereas coaches who make millions continue the pretense that they are not simply teaching football but are teaching life. Horse dung! They are teaching the hurry-up offense so they can hurry up to the bank (if they are teaching life why did they eliminate the tie and provide for overtime? That ain’t life).

Often, plays are dragged out interminably by the instant replay provision because the balance of the world hangs on the notice that a knee was down at the one-inch line instead of the two-inch line. And for god’s sake the winner of a college football game is at stake–we must get it right!

As well, the game has become a defensive joke. And a more dangerous one at that. The offenses are more like a run-and-gun basketball scoring spree with scores (in regulation time) of 57-45 etc. typical rather than exceptional. These monstrosities have developed as the game has become a game of speed and rules changes to “open up” the game. Some rule changes are for safety but actually have resulted in more injuries as a result of speed. The only reason to open up the college game is for an autopsy.

Concerns about injuries not seen since Terry Roosevelt got involved have brought on “targeting penalties,” when you would think a brief study of rugby or study of boxing history would be a revelation as to how to reduce injuries.

The end of the year once brought the great final game Saturday rivalries: Alabama-Auburn, Southern Cal-U.C.L.A. . . . and the biggest one, Army-Navy.  But they are all scattered now for television, and the Army-Navy game with the feminization of those two former excellent institutions would be better enjoyed with a traditional Army-Navy girls’ volleyball match of future officers and gentlemen and gentlemen-etts.

But interstate highways, and private jets and television commercials for one-in-the-same foods and hotels and culture (the egalitarian society of modernity) have assaulted localism. And rooting for the home team is a memory for old folks.

So, college football is just a lower-level professional game now. But that isn’t all bad. After all we all know football isn’t about X’s and O’s and money. It is about life. God bless America, Land that I lo…