The pageantry. The tradition. The atmosphere.
Those are usually three of the points fans make when they explain why they love college football.
I can not relate to any of those.
I did not attend university. I finished my schooling at the community college level (Let's go Clackamas Cougars!). I didn't experience tailgating on gameday, planning out signs and chants against opposing teams, group dorm activities that occurred on gamedays, et cetera.
Alas, I still get excited every season for a brand new set of college kids to slap on the pads and hit the gridiron. Here are five things I'm excited about this coming season.
5. Autzen & Reser Stadium
I don't go to many college football games, as the last one I attended was Cal at Oregon State in 2016. I'm not a Beavers fan, nor am I a real Cal fan, but it was a blast. While on paper, Cal was miles better, they played down to their opponent. In the end, it was a 52-49 overtime victory for Oregon State. The best college football game I've ever seen live. The stadium experience was great, and the seats I had were amazing given the price. It was all I could have asked for out of a college game. On the flip side, I haven't had a chance to see Autzen get fired up as normal. This is something I've been waiting to see. In two visits, it's been a 69-7 drubbing of Portland State and a surprising 62-20 loss to Utah. Both games in hand by the third quarter. I need to see Duck fans get to the level I'm used to seeing on television!
4. College Offenses
The de facto minor league system for the NFL is changing the NFL by starting here. The offenses are more wide-open, leading to higher scoring games and alternatively, more exciting defensive plays. If you're looking for some high scoring games, check out teams from the ACC and the PAC-12. If you smashmouth defense, watch the SEC and BIG TEN. Regardless, all leagues have explosive offenses and even the worst teams can get a nice big play off. It's fun to watch.
3. Saturdays Are For The Games
Over 120 teams are playing in NCAA FBS Division 1, and most of them will only play Saturday. Turn on your television and watch ESPN College Gameday at 6 AM and then stay watching football until midnight. It's all there, all day. With the advent of the internet, you don't even need to be stuck watching one game. ABC, ESPN, FOX, FOX Sports 1, ACC Network, BIG TEN Network, PAC 12 Network, you won't miss a beat.
2. Upset City
Unless you are a fan of a team in the process getting upset, this is pretty fun. While you can flip around between games, watching a team that could be seen as lowly topping a ranked team is hilariously awesome. Because of the aforementioned college offenses, a team can make a comeback quickly if they make very little mistakes. On the other side, a game can change hands very quickly if the opposing defense makes enough plays. Remembering these are still amateur athletes really puts the game in a different scope. Can a specific quarterback make the right read, or will he panic and throw it into coverage? This is what makes upsets so prevalent. Sometimes a stud freshman makes the big plays one week but crumbles the next. It's what keeps me coming back for random teams I have no investment in.
In my day job, I work retail. As a manager, I work eight-plus hours a day, usually on weekends. I just don't have time to watch all the games I want to, and even when I do have a day off, I've got a wife and kids who do not want to spend all day watching college football. My savior? It's known as PAC-12 after dark. It's only called that because of the conference's games starting after the east coast has gone to bed. A 6 PM/7 PM west coast start time is 9 PM/10 PM eastern time. No normal east coast football purveyor is going to stay up for that. That's why college football is best consumed on the west coast. Additionally, I can be closing the store at work on a Saturday night and make it home to watch the whole second half of a game. It's amazing, it's a tradition, and it's not just my own. It is my hands-down favorite thing about college football.
I'm back, and I'm going to be covering NFL and College Football here at Craw's Corner. Possibly some other pieces. Follow me on twitter, @airweldon.