Friday, December 21, 2007

The 2007 College Football Season

If you are a casual fan of college football (and I don't know why on earth you would be only a casual fan if you're reading this, unless you're Mort), the 2007 season can be summed up in one word:


There were upsets galore, including Michigan losing to a team that's not even in its own level of competition. The #2 team in the country lost HALF the time it played, and if you exclude Louisiana State's performance, the #2 team LOST six of the seven times it took the field. (Way to prove you are not Number One!) And basketball schools Kansas, Cincinnati, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Duke* were all ranked at some point in the season. Basketball schools!

However, if you were a fan of formerly good teams like Notre Dame or Iowa (or Nebraska or Alabama, for that matter, though I am not), the 2007 season can be summed up in one word:


Performing below expectations, forgetting how to tackle, getting arrested for dumb, dumb illegalities,** blowout losses, horrible coaching, lethargic play …. 2007 had it all.

In older times, I'm talking 15 years ago, the Zen philosophers Beavis and Butt-Head simplified a complex and ambiguous world into two states of being: cool and sucks.

Luckily, I wasn't around much. If there were ever a season to not be in front of the TV set, this was it. Life, obligations and/or fate conspired to keep me busy during these fall Saturdays.

Why I didn't watch much football:

Week 1, Georgia Tech (Sept. 1): went to a friend's house in Jersey for a gamewatch. It was a lot of fun (up until the game started)—he had a great spread of food, a big TV, and we watched via the Internet as some tiny I-AA school beat vaunted Michigan. We were ecstatic. Unfortunately, Demetrius Jones (remember him?) went out and laid an egg and we got killed. It was like watching Iowa in the first years of the Ferentz era, except you weren't prepared for the ineptness this time.

Between the travel to/from Jersey and the focus on the Irish game, didn't see any other games really. (Iowa beat Northern Illinois at Soldier Field.)

Week 2, Penn State (Sept. 8): went to a wedding out of state (Ohio). Caught a little bit of the early games, but really didn't see much football. (Iowa beat Syracuse, who despite being awful in 2007, managed to beat 18th-ranked Louisville later in the year.)

Week 3, Michigan (Sept. 15): went to a wedding out of state (Iowa). Being back in the home state, I was preoccupied with the instate rivalry. I missed the second half due to the wedding and wished I'd missed the first half due to Hawk stupidity. Besides, this game had been written off for months. We knew Michigan was a much, much better team. However, we didn't know this would happen:

However, we also didn't know this would happen:

Yes, that's all four defensive linemen sacking the quarterback. Yes, we DID use all five offensive linemen on that play.

And Iowa managed to lose in the final seconds to Iowa State. Barf.

Week 4, Michigan State (Sept. 22): According to my records, I was actually home this weekend. To recap, that's four football Saturdays spent in four different states. (Iowa lost to Wisconsin.)

Week 5, Purdue (Sept. 29): We were preparing to leave New York forever. I spent a good chunk of the day sitting in traffic with Lynn in a rented pickup truck, as we drove our old bookcase to her place, and then went back downtown to return the rental. She dropped me off near Madison Square Park (site of the tasty BBQ Festival) where I stood in line to return the cable box to Time Warner. We boxed up stuff all day and hosted the Closing Time Party that night. The next morning, the Two Days Of Hell began as we moved halfway across the continent.

Suffice to say, college football and the 0-4 (soon to be 0-5) Irish were the furthest things from my mind. I didn't even have the opponents listed in my dayplanner—THAT'S how removed I was from football on September 29, 2007. (Iowa lost to Indiana.)

Week 6, UCLA (Oct. 6): It was the weekend after moving and before starting my new job. I suppose we had the cable hooked up by then, but I can't recall. I remember being thoroughly exhausted and not really looking forward to the Irish game. They won, thanks to horrible quarterback play and numerous turnovers by UCLA. I think I was so removed from reality that I didn't really react to the victory, which surprised/shocked Tina into thinking I'd gone catatonic or something. (Iowa lost to Penn State. I know, it's starting to sound like "New York courteously abstains.")

So six weeks into the season, I've been in five different states, ND is 1-5, the Hawks are 2-4, and the rest of the year is just playing out the string. (For the record: Iowa went 4-2 in the second half, including a win over eventual Rose Bowl-bound Illinois, but inexplicably lost to a MAC school in the final week, which kept them out of the bowls. ND reeled off four straight losses, including a historic streak-ending loss to Navy, before meek victories over a basketball school and Jim Harbaugh's tree-loving smart kids.)

Despite my unusually low lack of attention, I am looking forward to the bowl season and may even write a bowl preview if I have the chance. Enjoy the games.

The Wall Street Journal has been obsessively covering college football since the first Rutgers-Princeton game back in 1869, which included the cutting-edge technology of the dot-stipple portrait. Read their take on the 2007 season here.

* Just kidding. But they did get one vote in the preseason coaches' poll.
** Note: photographs of you with lots of cash, liquor and jewelry are not illegal, and not automatically dumb. Using 1) a stolen credit card to purchase sporting goods online 2) while logged on to a university computer with your student ID: that's dumb AND illegal. (You can decide which label belongs to Part 1 or Part 2.)