(Editor’s Note: We may be last minute on this preview, but we promise that it won’t be any less ignorant than our NFL coverage. Plus, this is 4 articles that we’re on deadline for and that’s gotta be some kind of record!)
In spite of the fact that I tried to swear off football, I have a friend that has become a bro date for much of the college football season. Like many of you, we had a bit of a falling out at the end of last year. I will spare you the details, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. It’s only relevant because of the college football playoff championship game tonight. Relax, I’m not going to talk about the healing power of sports. We just want to expand our influence this year and I figured college football would be the easiest since I’ve watched so much over the last few years.
Granted, it was sports that finally broke the ice again. He texted me about some daily fantasy contest he got entered into for winning his season long fantasy league. I got a similar invitation last year, but I bombed out of the daily contest and I haven’t tried since. I barely tolerate the week to week tinkering. I could never draft a new team and keep track of them weekly.
But, I digress. the point is that apparently football, not time, heals all wounds. At least, college football does. The NFL is mediocre at best and usually just boring. Yet another reason not to play daily fantasy football. Egad, my digressing has led to another digression. Stop me before I digress again!
Okay, enough of that stupidity. Notice that I did say “that”. If that’s your thing, relax. I’m sure there will be plenty of other stupidity. Before that happens, though, let’s see if we can’t approximate some serious analysis. After all, if we’re known for anything around here, it is taking silly games seriously.
I have, inexplicably, been a fan of Clemson since I starting paying attention to college football in high school. I have no specific ties to the school or state. Heck, I spent the first few months thinking they were in California or Nevada because their stadium is in Death Valley. Maybe it was a color scheme thing that attracted me.
I do know that part of the reason I started following “the U” was their color scheme. Since there are so many colleges in the country, it offers a wider variety of colors, mascots, and uniforms. The internet was still a few years from being widely available to the public, so UniWatch wasn’t a thing. Damn, another missed opportunity. Oh, well.
Also, Under Armour wasn’t yet a thing, so uniforms hadn’t gone Oregon bananas yet. All he budding uniform nerds had was the occasional Hurricane “mascot” or weird orange based color scheme. Miami had the added bonus of having started to push the envelope a bit with their uniforms by changing up the block numbers to a more sleek design and adding stripes to their jerseys. I may be remembering this wrong and giving them more credit for being more pioneering than they actually were.
That was the other reason that teenage me found a kinship with Miami. They had personality. They had swagger. They had cocaine fueled parties with guns and other questionably legal activities. Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t great. But, the rest of it spoke to a renegade spirit that tried my hardest to rebel against the rebel my father claimed could not be done. Turns out, in many cases, that was true. But, I still had Miami.
So, what does any of this have to do with Clemson? Who knows? What does any of my ramblings have to do with anything? Well, I don’t remember Clemson being overly swagtastic, so it must have just been the orange and purple. Hey, who knows what lights up the pleasure center in a teenage boy’s brain. I mean, other than the obvious.
Whatever the reason, fandom of both Miami and Clemson have paid off recently. With the team of the college of my birth city (Pitt, to put it more simply) moving to the ACC, I can now claim both schools as home conference schools. While Miami has only flirted with their former greatness, Clemson has been consistently at the top of the polls for the past few years.
So, what does Clemson bring to the game? Clemson isn’t quite the machine of Alabama. Other than a loss against Pitt, they had close games against Troy and NC State. The game against the Wolfpack even went into overtime. But, they did win them and 9 others and the ACC championship to impress the committee enough for a number 3 ranking.
Well, they absolutely destroyed Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl to advance. They only lost that one game (to my wildly inconsistent Panthers, I feel compelled to mention again) all season, have a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, 6 All Americans on offense, 2 on defense, and are all orange for the game. Hey, as we’ve seen, uniforms matter.
I’ve also been a big fan of Alabama. Hey, cut and paste that for future blackmail. Taken in context, it is damning enough. Taken out of context and I might lose my dirty stinking hippie liberal membership. Oh well, that’s a chance I will have to take to make my art.
After my explanation of my fandom of Clemson and Miami, it might even be more inexplicable why I’d be drawn to a team like Alabama. They are the team of solid color uniforms, always block numbers, tradition, jerk coaches, run oriented offenses, and everything antithetical to what Miami represented at the time. I even rooted for them in the Sugar Bowl against Miami in 1993. Hey, what can I say, I’m a complicated individual.
I will say that I’m no longer a fan of Alabama and it is only for one of those reasons above. Well, more accurately, I’m a fan of Alabama as a college football team. I am not a fan of Nick Saban as a college football coach. During this time when it felt like progressive ideas were taking over society and even starting to seep into the cathedral of college football, Nick Saban represents the old school methods that just need to go extinct already. That they still work so well represents an anathema to me and much of what I hold dear, especially as an aging dirty stinking hippie. And, yes, that is pretty much a metaphor for everything else, too. Hashtag, Snowflake.
So, what does Alabama bring to the game? Alabama is a machine. They churn out draft picks, All Americans, wins, national championships, and pretty much anything else you might equate with success in college football. Not many of their players are household names, at least not in my household, but they’ve won 26 games in a row. Like I said earlier, I may not like him, but he somehow gets results.
They are the defending national champions. They defeated Clemson in last year’s national championship game. They also have 8 All Americans on the team this year. It’s cliche to say, but also true. Note: I saw that statement recently and hated it so much that I just repeated it in a mocking tone. This is Alabama. They’re the best team in the country and it isn’t even close.
The pick: Everything says that I should pick Alabama and I think I’m going to have to do it even though it pains me to do so. I’m rooting for Clemson with every fiber of my being and it feels like they could be the kind of team that comes back to win the next year after losing barely the year before. However, this is not the time for such optimism. This is the age of crushing defeats and near hopelessness. The rebels might eventually win. For now, though, the empire rules with an iron fist.