A week from today, at 8 p.m. on September 7, the Ohio State Buckeyes kick off their 2015 schedule against Virginia Tech, and the college football season will begin in Columbus. I’m feeling as excited as a eight-year-old who’s on the final countdown to Christmas.
Of all of the sports I follow, college football is my favorite. I admit it — part of it is that, as an Ohio State fan, I’m fortunate to root for a team that consistently is good, and anyone whose team is coming off a championship season is bound to be excited. Speaking from the bitter experience of Cleveland sportsfanship, it’s easier to follow winners than perennial losers. But there’s more to it than that — college football, and college sports generally, is just more fun than the professional variety. The players are younger and more excitable, and there’s an alma mater element that simply isn’t found in the professional game.
I know that some of my friends (and I’m thinking of you, here, JWR) will argue, quite correctly, that college football is just as much about generating cash as the NFL. I concede the point, but I also think that, for all of the money and scandals and boosters and cheating, college athletics still is built on a hard kernel of simple state and school pride. Anyone who grew up in Ohio knows what I mean. We care passionately about the Buckeyes because it’s kind of what Ohioans do. It’s a tradition passed down from generation to generation, and we want to hold up our end of the bargain.
The Big Ten Network is running an interesting program called Scarlet and Gray Days, about Ohio State’s training camp for the upcoming season. If you want to get a better understanding of the deep connection between Ohioans and the Buckeyes, watch the first part of the first episode — it captures some of the gut-level feelings that members of Buckeye Nation know all too well. And the rest of the show is pretty good, too.
Next Monday night can’t get here soon enough.