Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tailgate: A Few Final Thoughts

One of a series of posts written late last night about tonight's game.

This has been the most enjoyable season I have ever had as a Florida fan. (Yes, yes, folks -- go ahead and say it: "All eight of them, Dan?" Emotionally, that makes me like a 13-year-old in "fan years.")

Every season, I immerse myself more and more -- I think about previous seasons and each is better than the last. The awareness with which I experience the emotions of the season feels so much more heightened than before.

Yes, that had something to do with the team's smashin success this year, but consider the seminal moment of the season -- for me, for Tim Tebow, for Florida -- that loss to Ole Miss.

Remember my reaction? God, I was freaking devastated. That, more than anything, was the most memorable moment of the season for me -- how horrible I felt.

I still thought the team could and should win the SEC, but I figured that even if the SEC champ deserved a crack at the national title, there was no way that there wouldn't be two unbeatens.

Then Tebow made his instant-classic statement and fates changed: Florida went on an insane roll -- each win seemingly more impressive than the last. Meanwhile, BCS rivals in the Big 12 and elsewhere slipped.

I made it to Gainesville twice: The week of the season-opener and the week after the SEC title game (where I missed seeing any football but got to actually step onto the field at the Swamp).

My wife had our second kid, and the due date was the day of the LSU game -- the baby held on until the Tuesday afterward, though that made the date of the bris too close to gameday for Tebow to attend as the mohel. (You all thought my offer to him wasn't serious?)

I introduced my older son to the tradition of watching Florida -- all college football -- on Saturdays. A year ago, he was too litttle -- I could get him to say "Tebow!" but that was about it.

This year, he knew enough to jump on me -- or avoid my enthusiastic tackles -- when Florida scored. He got a toddler Tebow jersey but remained partial to his Harvin jersey.

It was the first year I really felt like I and my wife -- who, of course as you all know, is the real Florida fan -- could share the fandom with him. I think that made it exponentially more fun.

I watched a game from the Swamp, from my couch, surrounded by friends and even an entire game in the car -- thank you, Sirius/XM -- during the worst Jersey Turnpike traffic ever.

I was able to frame and articulate my fandom in new ways -- not necessarily here, where believe it or not I tried not to stretch TOO thin your patience for my bias.

(But I am going to try to take the month after the season to finally put it all in perspective and see if anything interesting comes out of it.)

As always, thank you for coming along for the ride this season. With all due respect for KSK's love of the NFL or Leitch's love of baseball or Shoals' love of the NBA, college football is -- to me -- the perfect sport (even with, or perhaps a little because of, the mess at the end).

Would it be this enjoyable if my team wasn't in the national title game? Hey, there's still time for them to lose tonight and ruin things....

The beauty of the sport is what has always made it great: Every week is a playoff. (Well, MOST every week. Obviously not weeks ending in "45-35.") Theoretically, every team has a shot, as long as they keep winning. (well, MOST every team. Obviously not teams outside of the BCS conferences.)

And even if your team loses its title shot -- or even loses a couple times (or more) -- the individual games feel more precious than they do in other sports. It is a perfect season.

Perhaps except for the maddening finish. We will see tonight, won't we?

-- D.S.

Next hour: What's on the line for Florida.

UPDATE: I cannot possibly sum it up as awesomely as EDSBS's Holly did in this video. If you love college football, you will love this. Thank you, Holly:

1 comment:

Holly said...

Thanks, darlin'. It's a beautiful game.