Saturday, November 30, 2013

College Football and the Cliffs of Insanity

A friend of mine who recently moved to the United States sent me a note the other day that she and her husband were looking forward to understanding college football. She sought my advice as to what they should pay attention to.

I have to admit that it was an open ended question.

The closest experience I have in this area is when I tried to explain college football to my wife. She understood little of the game itself, despite her high school marching band years. In addition, she attended a university that didn’t have a football team. When we lived in Oregon, she would come with me to Auburn alumni get-togethers to watch at a sports bar. The only thing she learned was that I ignored her when games were on. The first college football game she ever attended was Auburn vs. Alabama, admittedly not my brightest idea. If you’re going to show a newbie The Princess Bride, you don’t start the movie at the Cliffs of Insanity.

So how do you explain college football to someone with no frame of reference? How do you explain the beauty pageant that is the BCS and the bowl system? Power conferences? Mid-majors? How do you explain that a conference called the Big Ten has 12 teams and a conference called the Big XII has ten teams?

And to do it during rivalry week?

Talk about the Cliffs of Insanity.

So, I explained that groups called conferences exist and then mentioned the most familiar names. Then I sent a schedule of important games with rankings, briefly pointing out which games might have some national appeal. From there, I decided to let my friend and her husband decide for themselves what they want to watch, hoping not to inundate them with information.

If only I’d thought of this when I first tried to explain it to my wife.

So, if you had to explain college football to someone with no frame of reference, how would you do it?

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