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August 08, 2013 8:33 am

Column Like I See ‘Em: How do I apply for college football fandom?

Written by Dante Geoffrey

College football season is fast approaching and I am excited for how excited you are.

Look at you, wearing your team’s colors, driving around town in a truck with your alma mater’s decal on the rear window. You know, the cool one with the outline of the animal/warrior/intertwined letters.



Or, my favorite, the best visual representation a school’s PR department could come up with for the made-up compound word that somehow became the team’s name.

Yep, you’re excited. And why shouldn’t you be? This really probably is your team’s year! I know you thought last year was your year, but this is definitely your team’s year.

It was never my team’s year. I don’t even feel comfortable saying “my team” because that excitement and passion that you direct at your beloved Location Nicknames isn’t the way I feel about the football team of my college.

I get where it would be fun, though. I can relate to the love and passion of a professional football team. I grew up in the Bay Area, where the Lombardi Trophy bought a time share in the ’80s. My first football memories are of Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. That’s how I was brought up to believe football would always be, and even though the Dennis Erickson-Mike Nolan-Mike Singletary years (I can feel the bile creeping up my throat) proved that to be false, I was already hooked. I am a life-long San Francisco 49ers fan.

So there was a chance, I suppose, that one day I would be able to apply that love of the Niners to a college team. But a dozen years after the 49ers’ last Super Bowl victory, I walked onto the campus of Sacramento State University (aka — Harvard Pacific) and any shot I had at being a fervid, face-painting, recruit-tracking college football fan was instantly dashed.

I attended Sac State (pretty cool nickname, huh?) for — you know, it really doesn’t matter how long I was there, mind your own business. The point is that I never even attended a Sac State football game or paid any attention to the program until I became the assistant sports editor for the college paper, The State Hornet.

Why would I? The Sac State Hornets (just got even cooler!) are a middling Football Championship Division (formerly Division I-AA) program with little star power.

Even if they went undefeated and won the FCS national championship, so what? It would be very, very exciting for the players, the coach (who would most certainly bolt for a new job) and whoever was the current sports editor for The State Hornet.

When the best-case scenario is only mildly exciting, chances are I’m not going to be fully on board.

What’s interesting though, if none of the preceding was, is that many of my friends from Sac State found it easy to be avid college football fans, while still ignoring what was going on at the stadium just across campus.

They were fans of USC, Notre Dame, Texas and many other schools that they had absolutely no ties to.

I always wondered how NASCAR fans (well, exist, for one) picked their favorite driver. I’m assuming it’s by using the same formula my fellow Hornets used to choose which college football teams to root for: success + favorite colors.

And while I know it would make college football exponentially more enjoyable, my obnoxious elitist sports-brain prevents me from arbitrarily picking a team to root for just because it’s more fun to have a team to root for.

For some dumb reason (and let’s face it, most reasons we like sports are dumb) I find it contrary to some unwritten rule to become a fan of a team (especially at 25) just because I want to be fan of a team. I could fake it, sure, but inside I’d know I don’t really feel anything for whichever college team I deemed my favorite (early frontrunners: Clemson, Michigan, Colorado State (kidding) and Wisconsin).

Which is another reason why Wyoming is lucky. Wyomingites don’t have to fake it. Wyomingites live in a state with only one university of any real consequence, shrinking the nation’s 10th-largest state into, for all intents and purposes, a very spacious college town.

I am not, nor can I become (not that you’d have me) a Wyoming Cowboys fan. But I will be rooting for them, mainly because I’m rooting for you, and genuine college football fandom everywhere.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link August 08, 2013 1:01 pm posted by Joe Fleming

    I am entirely disappointed you did not name drop me in here somewhere. I was your partner-in-crime.
    That said, I really never felt compelled to cover or attend Sac State football games. Partly because I have three children and who the hell has time? But, I would definitely echo your sentiments.
    It looks like Sacramento is simply a basketball town now. And I greatly look forward to beating the Warriors.
    Love me.

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