Countdown to Football

35 Days

“Dude!  Come check this out!  Someone just posted 27 pictures of what looks like could maybe possibly be a serious or not serious NCAA violation by our rival!”

“Hang on, man!  You first have to come look at this news story about a rumor of a secret source speaking through a 5th party to a local call-in radio show about a player being purchased for an exorbitant amount of money!”

The reactions to these statements are always the same.  Excitement leads to expectations, and when those expectations aren’t met immediately, vitriolic hate becomes the fuel for conversation.

By no means am I about to speak about why the NCAA should get rid of its rule book and let universities fight to the death to obtain the signatures of high school athletes.  I’m also not going to explain why we should ignore the current allegations against numerous schools in the NCAA.  I’m not even going to really blame the unofficial investigators who stumble upon this information.

This CtF edition is about us.  It’s about the fans.  The people pulling for the schools.  The fanatics rooting for their rival to lose.

Before opening up this thread to update the countdown, I listened to CBS’s college football theme song.  I got chill bumps.  I saw memories of past games that involved CBS.  When Auburn played Alabama in 2006.  When Alabama and LSU played last season.  When Auburn won the SEC championship last year.  When LSU won against Florida the night of my birthday in 2007.

College football is the best cultural tradition we have in the South; honestly, I think it’s the best we have in the entire country.

It’s bigger and better than Christmas in my opinion.

So why do we as fans want to destroy it?

There’s plenty of reasons to believe one side started it.  It was the opposing fans’ fault.  They sent the first missile.  They ordered the first attack.

Each side will have their own opinion.

But one thing that is set in stone – no matter what the allegations are or how they’re brought up, one side believes they’re 100% true and the NCAA should obliterate that program.

This is tearing college football apart.

I have never seen in all of my experience with football this level of desire to see the NCAA punish a school for trivial infractions or punish a school based on rumors and innuendo.

We’ve reached a point where one month before the start of the season, we aren’t talking about football.

We aren’t interviewing coaches and players about the season.

We aren’t interviewing sports analysts to hear their opinions and predictions.

We’re interviewing lawyers about the bylaws of the NCAA rulebook.

We’re interviewing investigative journalists who sometimes seem like they don’t even like football.

We’re spewing vitriolic hate across the radio, blogs, and message boards just to ruining a school’s reputation and hopefully lead to ruining a school’s athletic department.

Why?

Recruiting has become the hottest topic for successful teams.  Rivals and Scout have developed into mega-companies over the last few years, and luckily for them, most of their recruiting projections have been correct.

Every national champion has done very well on those websites at least one recruiting season before their championship.

And because of those sites, fans now understand how important recruiting truly is.  And they also realize they have the power to influence it.

Maybe if enough people talk about outlandish rumors on a public radio show, recruits will second guess going to a school.

Maybe if enough websites mention baseless (see: super secret sources) allegations, recruits will decide to go someplace safer.

Most of this has been unsuccessful.  Which has vamped up even more nasty rumors.  Because it’s not that recruits don’t care.  It’s that the fans have yet to conjure up a harsh enough rumor to get their attention.  At least, that’s what the callers and posters think.

How exactly is this tearing football apart?

Well, for one, we enjoy football for the off the field discussion.  It’s already been mentioned that we aren’t discussing football off the field.  We’re sitting in a courtroom hearing the prosecution.

Two, as the hate increases, the fun decreases.

It’s not easy to figure out that if you go to an Auburn (or your favorite team) football game just because you want to see the other team lose, you aren’t having fun.  At least, not in a positive way.

The spirit of competition has a positive connotation.  It’s something that should be cherished and taught.  It’s something that should be engraved into our personalities at a young age.  And it should involve supporting your team.  Rooting for them to win.  Shaking hands after the game is over no matter the outcome.

Focusing on rumors, allegations, and innuendo doesn’t support the spirit of competition.

Now, by no means am I saying schools are innocent.  Suitgate is fishy.  If a “bagman” really exists, it’s damning to Auburn.

Schools should not cheat to win.  Athletic departments should run a clean, organized program that ensures academic success along with on the field success.

Those issues will hopefully be worked out sooner than later.

But let’s be honest.  If schools cheat to win, they get punished.  It doesn’t “ruin” college football.

But if the fans are going to insist on seeing nuclear bombs dropped, it’s going to destroy everything.

35 Days

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