I learned the rules of football and the basics of the game back in middle school. Not by playing, of course. Goodness, no. Anyone who has met me can tell you that I was not put on this earth to play football. My greatest accomplishment in the sport is that I was present for the intense game of backyard football when the Frosty Beers Super Play was unveiled, an unstoppable trick play that Urban refuses to run no matter how many times I tweet him about it. Also, it's probably illegal in actual football.
No, I learned the game because of marching band. In middle school, a lot of my friends wore plumes and performed at halftime, and I would go to the games to hang out with them until I myself joined a few years later. Despite the fact that both my parents were (and are) big fans of the game, I'd never really showed much interest, hence my lack of understanding. Being at the games forced me to pay attention, though, and I didn't really like not understanding. Why was everyone cheering? What just happened? Why was it good? Was it good? These were questions I couldn't answer.
So, I started paying attention and asking questions, and, with the help of Matt, Sean, and other friends, I learned what a first down was, all the various ways to get points, and that the best play is always the fake punt. (Okay, maybe I decided that one on my own, but I stand by it.) I went from not understanding to figuring it out, and from there to enjoying. Just like that, I was a football fan.
There's something magical about the college football season. From the end of August to the beginning of January, we are blessed with week after week of hard-hitting, nail-biting action, and every game counts. Every snap is important. See, college football isn't like other sports. Each season, your team is going to play twelve games in the regular season. Even if you go all the way, like Ohio State did last year, that still only takes you up to fifteen games. NFL teams play sixteen games, and that's just in the regular season. College basketball gets you 30-40 games, depending on how well you do in the post-season. The NBA plays 81 regular-season games. Major League Baseball plays 162! College football is short and sweet, and every game has the potential to make or break your season.
College football brings the madness at all levels, too. Sure, No. 20 Wisconsin playing No. 3 Alabama on Saturday has the potential to be really interesting, but what if I told you that FCS No.12 Montana played the four-time defending FCS champion No. 1 North Dakota State last week and won by three, the game-winning TD coming with just two seconds left in the game? Are you gonna tell me that that wasn't exciting?
We all love this sport, and we love our teams. Personally, I'm pretty excited at the chance to watch Ohio State try to make history again this season. Whatever team you're rooting for, though, you can be happy knowing that it's football season, and it's going to be magical.
Unless you're an Illinois fan. If you are, I'm sorry for what you are about to endure.