If you watch televised college football–as I do upon occasion, even binging sometimes–you get the idea that there are only about 10 teams in the country that matter and that they play in two divisions: Alabama; the other nine.
This past weekend gave the nation a look at the stories that fascinate me, the stories that have nothing to do with the Top 10, except, perhaps, coincidentally. The only story that involved an elite program was, perhaps, the most human: Southern Cal inserted a blind snapper for an extra point because the young man had been a loyal supporter of the program. It was a warm moment of humanity.
Michigan State had a defensive back come back from a stroke to play well and Alabama-Birmingham returned to competition (after cancelling its program) with a paralyzed former recruit introducing the game.
And then, there were the games: UCLA’s 34-point comeback win; the Virginia Tech-West Virginia instant classic in the resumption of a great rivalry; my own Tennessee Vols’ two-overtime win against a much better Georgia Tech team. Liberty (THAT Liberty) beat Baylor (THAT Baylor) and Maryland creamed Football Is God Texas, while Howard–a school in D.C. known as the “Black Harvard,” which requires students to be able to read–dramatically beat UNLV, which doesn’t. Howard was a 45-point underdog. Locally, Washington & Lee was an eyelash from an overtime upset of Division III power Johns Hopkins, both of which require students to be students–and don’t give scholarships for football. (W&L is one of my favorite places to go for a Saturday game–and admission is always free.)
All too often, it is the downside of the weekend card that interests me, the games with story lines beyond where they will rank Monday night. College sports is about kids, students, teams, education and fun. For the upper levels of D1, I think the fun went out of it a long time ago.