And Then God Said, "Let There be Football"
However, as I’ve stated many times before, contrary to popular belief, it is extremely difficult to sit at the edge of another season and do anything other than make bold predictions. Yes, everybody is sitting pretty today, standing tall in the win column, without so much as a single blemish on their record. (Unless of course you're Nevada, but I digress). Here in the midwest, we are no different; Fans of nearly every team speak of hope, sunny days and a bevy of “what if’s” that will …just maybe…make their sporting dreams come true. Dreaming. Hoping. Wishing.
But lets face it folks…not everybody is going to have a great season in 2008. Not everyone is going to have the opportunity to go on fantastic bowl trips to tropical locations. Not everyone is going to have the thrill of cheering their team to victory at top volume with their peers, high fiving each other with an outpouring of happiness that is rarely seen outside of a publisher’s clearinghouse commercial. But, unfortunately, with every win…somebody ultimately has to lose. With every tropical bowl game, there is a trip to Shreveport. Worse yet...for every fan taking pictures at the Rose Bowl parade, another is watching a bevy of other teams play meaningful bowl games while they themselves sit pearched high on a barstool, sipping Elk Creek Water at Sandy’s on a New Year's Night on O Street.
I’ve spent the entire off-season trying to say I told you so. I’ve explained why I think you’re going to suck, and better yet…why nobody should believe you when you say how improved you are. (without taking another snap). I’ve rolled my eyes at your outlandish reasoning. I’ve shaken my head slightly as you go on and on about how your precious order has been restored thanks to a few Grant Wistrom pictures hanging in the hallway.
But before we kick off the season, and get to the real reason why we’re all here…I need to address, one more time, this deafening, yet understated theme of the 2008 off-season. While some off-seasons focus on recruiting, and others focus on “restoring order”…this year’s theme has become crystal clear…even before the previous season ended.
If you listen closely to our red clad overall wearing friends…. You might think that the talent of your players on the field pales in comparison to the talent you have hanging on your locker room walls. If you listen to these people, you might believe that Championship games from 12 years ago are more important than games played less than 12 months ago. If you listen to these desperate and defeated people, you might want to believe them in their hypocrisy, their excuses and most of all...their blind faith in general nothingness.
Why would “classy” and “knowledgeable” fans rely on something like "tradition" with absolutely zero relevance today’s game and today’s athletes? Why would a "traditionally" powerful fanbase be so giddy about an upcoming season where their current players couldn’t even make the scout teams for their best teams of the past? Why are we supposed to believe that 18-22 year old kids today would be at all impressed with the accomplishments of an era where they were watching Kids Incorporated and playing with Power Rangers?
Because with desperate times come even more desperate measures.
So how will 2008 shake out here in the land of all things corn? I really don’t know. I’ve spent the entire off-season listening to the rantings of both the delusional and the respected. And no matter who is doing the babbling, it all comes down to the same inexhaustible yammering:
“Bo understands tradition”
“Bo will get the most out of this talent”
“We got rid of our dead weight”
And on and on and on and on.
I don’t understand it. I’ll never understand it. I simply can not imagine playing football for a university, and relying on the accomplishments of past teams to somehow get me through to the next level. Seeing a picture of Jason Peter on my weight room wall (complete with spider tracks perhaps?) is not going to make me give any more effort come Saturday. Hell, even having a brand new coach isn’t going to make me change the amount of personal pride I would have in myself and in my teammates and thus make me want to play "harder". And even if I was inclined to such mind games (let's face it..one of your players was wowed by a temporary tattoo of his own name), if I’m not surrounded by talent, what are the odds I’m going to succeed.
This is where you and I differ. Just as Husker Ike and I’s little spat last week showed, we have many fundamental differences in the way you and I view your favorite team.
You think you still have talent all throughout your program. Trust me, you don’t.
You think your problems all were Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove. They weren’t.
You think you have hit rock bottom…If you think you have...you haven’t.
Friends, take a good look around, because you will see very soon see that weeks like this…days like this…are soon to be highlights of your upcoming season. For today, you have no losses. Today you have no worries. Yes, the future is bright…or at the very least…not quite as bleak as it was watching powerhouse Oklahoma (State) waltz up and down your field like SWAC drum line. Now that you live among the ranks of the mediocre (if that), you must now come to grips with what your victories are, and how you should celebrate and define them.
I alone cannot keep giving you this advice. For you see, I have put up with your shit for decades now, and quite frankly…you have not suffered nearly enough for my tastes. Maybe if you fall to the power that is Western Michigan, or piss away at a game in Waco will you fully understand the creek in which you are paddling up with bare hands. Perhaps when just ONE of you FINALLY sees the incredible number of issues that lie within your ranks will you FINALLY see that your troubles are here are in fact, here to say.
But in the meantime, there are still lessons to be learned and debts to pay. For that …and for every single fan you pissed off and looked down upon for all those years…I say enjoy the ride.
First POWER POLL of the season:
1) Missouri (0-0) Vs. Illinois @St. Louis
The second toughest game on Mizzou’s schedule is indeed scary. On paper, Illinois lost some key players, while most of Mizzou’s talent remains. The key to this will be if Missouri can jump out front. The longer Illinois sticks around, the better chance they have. If it’s close going into the 4th, look for that Pinkel-deer-in-headlights look creep out yet again. I think Mizzou wins, but it’s going to be tough.
2) Colorado (0-0) vs. Colorado State @Denver
This is a make or break year for Dan Hawkins it would seem. The annual beer-fueled clash at Mile High has always been a favorite of mine…however, that was when CSU had some pretty good teams. Not the case this year. Look for CU to roll with West Virginia on the horizon.
3) Kansas (0-0) vs. Florida International
Gotta hand it to the Beakers…at least they’re playing a borderline D1 program. I’m sure the Orange Bowl and “Much Fizzou” shirts will be out in full force as the strongest team in Kansas sticks it to the 18th best team in Florida. (yawn)
4) Kansas State (0-0) vs. North Texas
I really don’t see what the big deal is with 19 JUCO guys. Ron Prince has a need, and he needs to get better quickly. Hell, Old Man Snyder made a living off of those types of players. This is especially important in Kansas, where there are so many JUCO’s in that neck of the woods. Unfortunately, KU and Mizzou getting stronger isn’t helping anything. North Texas I think still travels by steam engine, so the Cats will probably get a tired Mean Green when they take the field.
5) Iowa State (0-0) vs. South Dakota State
The Clones have made a living playing like crap against 1-AA teams in the past. SDSU is no slouch, having been UNO’s NCC bitch for quite some time. SURELY Gene Chizek’s team can put the wood to the Jacks like a normal BCS school right? Probably gonna be close…but you would think so.
6) Nebraska (0-0) vs. Western Michigan
I’ve broken this game down many times…but just for a reminder…remember the name Jamarko Simmons. WMU has played in some pretty hostile environments, and look for the Hicks to be a bit sketchy with all of the unknowns surrounding their team. I doubt the Broncs have enough to pull it off..but those of you dreaming about an old-fashioned 66-0 beatdown can keep on dreaming.
Is this a joke? Seriously? Chattanooga is the best you could come up with? Is that really a city? Do they really have a college? Who says there is no pre-season in college?
2) Texas (0-0) vs. Florida Atlantic
You don’t hear a lot about Texas this off-season with all the hype following Tech. These are the types of years that the Horns usually thrive in…completely under the radar.
3) Texas Tech (0-0) vs. Eastern Washington
Congratulations Mike Leach, you’re Bill Snyder with Vince Gill’s hair. Peru State not available?
4) Oklahoma State (0-0) at Washington State
One of the best Big 12 games of the first week. Wazzu is no slouch, and Okie State has some firepower returning. Could go either way…although look for the Pokes to make some noise in conference if they can get a confidence boost out west.
5) Texas A&M (0-0) vs. Arkansas State
Arkansas State sucks. Texas A&M sucks less. The Aggies could be the most boring and vanilla team in 1-A this year. Unfortunately for them, they don’t play in a division where vanilla is going to cut it.
6) Baylor (0-0) vs. Wake Forest
Why would Wake take this game? I understand Baylor has won like 2 games in 25 years…but still. Baylor has a bit of talent, but Wake is still a dangerous team. After watching Nebraska waltz through their own home-field picnic-like atmosphere in Winston Salem, playing in Waco in front of 10,000 Caffeine-Free Dr. Pepper fueled Baptist fans shouldn’t be a problem for them.