My sports event of the year arrives earlier more than most, albeit a bit later than it used to …
New Year’s Day, as best it could, served as the ultimate setting to cap a college football season. Now, it’s typically the second Monday night in the new year, when the two survivors of the College Football Playoff semifinals square off. Before 70,000 or so in person and in front of a national-TV audience.
For me, it doesn’t get any better … unless you’re talking a midseason Saturday when the “classics” pile up faster than the kids’ Christmas wishes.
But, frankly, for me, this one’s a little … well, weird.
Am usually about enjoying a good game and not worrying about who wins. However, with Clemson and LSU going at it in the Superdome in New Orleans, kinda at a loss here.
Really don’t want to see either lose.
Being a college football junkie since, well, my father got me to look beyond native-following Penn State and check out Tony Dorsett, my heart opened up to the sport – the pomp, pageantry and history of it – and more than a few programs.
Chief among them … LSU and Clemson.
It is no wonder that both were considerations for me when it came time for matriculating somewhere after high school, but, alas, my choice was elsewhere. Twice.
That being said, since it doesn’t appear there will be any Temple vs. Illinois title tilt looming in the near future, the freedom to fully embrace schools, or teams, beyond my alma maters has been there.
Makes sense considering Heisman winner Billy Cannon’s legendary punt return against Ole Miss for LSU and Clemson’s Steve Fuller being an obvious NFL first-rounder in the pre-Fridge days were cemented in my soul long before attending college became a reality anyway.
Anyway, long story short … for me, we got, well, two of the best stories my college football following lifetime meeting up here, with neither quite being recognized for what they are:
Clemson as the best program in the country five years running now, and LSU as the best revival of a glorious past that most appear to have little knowledge about.
Not sure if it’s comical or sad that few grasp that Clemson isn’t this Johnny Come Lately program, having only emerged under Dabo Swinney in the last handful of years, or that LSU has more depth to it than just “oh, it’s an SEC school, so it has to be good.”
Yeah, Clemson has won two of the last three national titles. It also won another one back in 1981 with a squad the included a wide receiver (Perry Tuttle) that yours truly desperately wanted hometown Philadelphia Eagles to draft instead of Mike Quick.
LSU? In addition to Cannon’s heroics pacing the way to a national crown in 1958, the Bayou Bengals finished No. 1 in 2003 and ’07.
In short, these programs’ histories stretch beyond Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence. Well beyond.
For most, fortunately their allegiances are more cut and dry.
Me? Push comes to shove, will pull for a good game and embrace whatever each team adds to its tradition, tonight and the evolution from it.