College Football’s season ending ‘hurrah’ that is bowl week heralds the conclusion of the 2008 season. For the more balanced among us, this signals the start of a new year and the chance to focus on surviving ket qua bong da winter and to enjoy not having to cut the grass. For others, this time of year marks a merciful and justified end to more than four months of yelling, beer swilling, nacho loading and relationship damaging behavior.
2008 was notable for many formerly losing programs. Vanderbilt defeated Boston College 16-14 in the Music City Bowl on New Year’s Eve. This was Vanderbilt’s first bowl win since the Dwight Eisenhower Presidency and came over #24 Boston College. Not since Howdy Doody ruled Saturdays has Vanderbilt produced a post season victory. Vandy is now able to provide proof that the school indeed has a football program. Coming out of the cold after 53 years will provide enough fuel to keep the Commodore faithful happy through the offseason.
2008 saw many milestones achieved. It also saw some horrific collapses. Several formerly strong programs that expected to win, took a nosedive into the black hole of bowl in ineligibility. The Wolverines of mighty Michigan found out what life has been like for their Big-10 brethren at Indiana this year, as there was no bowl trip to a warm climate to salve the discomfort of a Michigan winter. Several programs that expected to be generating heat in the compost bin, didn’t fail to disappoint. Perennial doormats of the west, New Mexico State and Idaho managed to field teams that performed expectedly abysmally. The big surprise this year was former Pac-10 power program Washington. The team smelled like wet dogs as they competed with cross state rival Washington State to solidly anchor the worst group of 2008 football programs.
How do Husky fans survive the offseason? The obligatory firing of the old coach and replacement with poor Steve Sarkisian from USC will provide a few weeks of hope, but in the end, reality will set in just like the Puget Sound fog. The one bright spot is that expectations for Husky football are now set so low, that even a single win over a Division II school would qualify as a step in the right direction. UW is now trying to schedule Western Kentucky and Murray State just as soon as possible. But the purple dogs would be wise to remember Michigan scheduling Appalachian State at home some years ago. The maize and blue’s gagging in that game started the program spiraling into the septic tank. But well… if you are UW, there just isn’t much further to fall, so you may as well try and outbid Indiana and Nebraska to get Murray State to show up on your field.
How did we as a society get to a point where our daily happiness is dependent on how the alma mater did on the field? This question justifies some exploration as a good chunk of the autumn economy is driven by young, t-shirt clad alumni putting pizza, nachos and beer on their new American Express cards.
College football afternoons call to mind a time of hope and anticipation for university alumni. That time of being young and able to scope out the coeds with impunity is for many, the best and most hopeful time of their young lives. Many alumni get out into the world and before they realize it, find themselves with a mortgage, a wife and two great but loud kids. They wistfully look back on the feeling of exhilaration and optimism when they let themselves believe that Tammy C. from Accounting 101 might really go out with ’em. For young alums the challenge is then to recreate those great feelings of exhilaration and optimism while encumbered by a real job.