While others hail the oncoming season of NFL football, watching preseason games and studying for their Fantasy Football draft, I'm giddy over the NFL farm league: The NCAA.
I'm a huge college football junkie. Since my undergraduate days at BYU watching Steve Sarkisian hurl the pigskin to my graduate school days at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I saw some kid named Ron Dayne obliterate Stanford's defense, I've been hooked (incidentally, Dayne cuts and imposing figure when you and he are trying to pass through the same doorway, as found several times while he was leaving his Hausa class and I was entering my Swahili class. Super nice guy, though, even when you meet him in the doorway day after day.). I watch the NFL for one reason: to see how the college kids are doing. I keep track of high school football for one reason: so I can see potential recruits and where they end up in college.
College football is where dreams are realized and hopes are dashed, where the real athletes show that they are real athletes. There's a certain precociousness to the whole thing. These kids have a lot to prove. Millions are riding on their performance. Millions that might lift mom and dad out of poverty. And for the majority who don't make millions, the educational opportunities, if taken advantage of, will change some young man's life. It's so contrary to the NFL - contract negotiations, strikes, and so forth. I half expect NFL players to line up with a lawyer, briefcase in hand, standing next to them.
Yes, the NFL has the elite of the elite, no doubt. And their precision playing, gargantuan size, and strength are wonderful to behold. But there's nothing quite like watching Boise State beat Oklahoma with a pair of trick plays from someone's neighborhood pickup football game, or seeing an under-rated Utah throttle the monster, Alabama, in a game that everyone expected to be a snoozer.
So here's to the undersized walk-on who explodes in his sophomore year and becomes the talk of the town, whose need to win overshadows any hype, and who proves to himself, to his family, to his school, and to the nation that he CAN!