Training camp opens today for several schools including the North Carolina State Wolfpack here locally. The season is here folks. There are boys out there grinding to get theirs. We've got coaches with whistles, managers with ball bags, trainers with extra mouthpieces and water bottles and video crews in towers. Install packets are being given out, freshman are being fitted for their gear and we're mere days away from our first set of "training camp eyes" being had.
They're getting ready folks.
That doesn't just mean tailgate in training like I've been getting after for the last few weekends. No, that is something a man must do for himself; only you know your drinking ceiling and how to properly train your body to stand up to 90+ degree temperatures, delicious grilled meats and an excessive amount of alcohol.
This is more a crash course for the fan. A manual if you will for those well steeped in the game to brush up on the finer points and a primer for all of the fans who are newly minted or wish to become truly made men in the college football world.
Much like the late, great Christopher Wallace outlined in his 10 Crack Commandments:
I been in this game for years, it made me a animal
It's rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step by step booklet for you to get
your game on track, not your wig pushed back
A few core concepts and some key terms that are going to get you in mid-season form. Read more to kickoff this fan training camp...
At the urging of Chip Patterson (who I recorded a podcast with yesterday so check it out), who was inspired by colleague Bryan Fischer, I decided to update, really clean up and streamline my feed reader. It has turned into a two day project and gah, this is brutal but in the end according to Chip, I will be spending another day pulling my favorite writers into the feed so I can cycle through that at a moments notice and get all caught up.
The reason we start out with that aside? This is not what a good college football fan does. Good college football fandom starts with the core concept of not reading articles. Do not read them. Read the headlines, maybe the italicized quote, look at the pictures and read those captions and perhaps, just maybe take a look at the first paragraph.
Reading articles is for losers, media members and stat geeks. All you need to take your info from is a catchy headline, a tweet or what you might have overheard while half listening to a slightly informed radio guy. Period.
Now, what you do read is message boards. Those are the gospel. Take them to heart. Some player looks good in practice even though you've never heard of him and he's a 5'6" 150 lbs walk-on safety? Doesn't matter that guy is poised to have a break out year. Your rivals are giving players gold bricks in dufflebags and running Thai hookers through the off-campus apartments? If it is on a message board odds are it is more true than anything a national media member can say.
The next core concept? If you have a team, great but if you don't have a team don't bother picking one. That's a waste of time folks. The key to being a good college football fan isn't how much you actually love your team; how you know your roster backwards and forwards, how you know your offensive personnel packages inside and out or how and why your team subscribes to the zone principles of coverage over man.
All of this is inconsequential.
What you need to be focused on is who you hate. The team you like will come from who you hate. What really sticks in your craw? Do you have an all encompassing need to hate the south? How about a desire to ride on the "we are clean, we haven't had an NCAA violation scandal" train? Or perhaps you hate those northerners and their non-grit eating existence? Religion really get your dander up?
All of those can be sated by the college football world because in the end it isn't about who you like, it is about how much you hate someone else and how you can most clearly and routinely demonstrate that hate. To go with this formula is the idea that you spend more time trolling your rivals writers, fans and players in comments, on the aforementioned message boards and of course twitter than you do looking at your team.
The concepts of "love of the game" or "enjoying athleticism in motion" or "being a football fan" are so late 1980's The Wonder Years folks. This is 2011. It is about who you hate and how bad. You have to make sure to take some time to catch twitter comments that speak positive of whoever you hate and come up with a "witty" retort for your retweet or reply.
How much time? ALL THE TIME THAT IT TAKES.
One last major concept that cannot be ignored; it is always the media's fault because they are out to get you. Once you do decide on whatever teams you hate the most and then select the total opposite to "like" you can begin your "media is against us" crusade.
Someone doesn't rank your team where you think they should be, number one of course, that's because they're against you. Someone exposes a possible violation and then does some investigation? Clearly that amateur gumshoe epitomizes the "Dick" in detective and just has an axe to grind with your program.
You're set on the concepts now, armed with just those concepts you can hold your own in any bar conversation, or calling into any sports talk shoe in America. You're golden. However, to truly become the superfan that you truly aspire to be you have to get your key terms and ideas down pat.
Terms like thug, snake oil salesman, entitles, spoiled and cheater have to become a part of your everyday lexicon. Every player that doesn't go to your school is a thug. When a coach steals a recruit from you that you thought you had? That guy is nothing but a snake oil salesman. All the athletes playing college sports are entitled, spoiled kids that should just be thanking their lucky stars that someone let them play football at such fine institutions.
And cheater, yes cheater. Your guys aren't cheaters but everybody else? They're cheaters. Kid or a coach violates a rule? They're cheaters.
As for ideas there are two that will work for every college football fan plus a special bonus edition for those of you who operate with a chip on your shoulder. First the idea that "their conference cheats." This is how you can point to conference superiority and explain it away. Your league not performing the way you'd like for it to? Slap the cheater, that league is dirty moniker on that conference you hate and boom, your mediocrity is explained away.
Secondly, "everyone is dirty but we do things the right way." Spectacular logic, the best actually, the idea that your team, your coach, your players are "the different ones" that you all do things the right way while all those other scourge of the earth programs just sit quagmired in filth. You all rise above it all. That's how you can look at yourself in the mirror, how the rest do it is beyond you.
A bonus is the "everyone is scared of us" ideal. This works best for programs who don't get the home and home series they wanted or when a team buys out of a deal to play a more visible national opponent. Clearly, they are ducking you. They're scared. If they had any testicular fortitude they'd line up against your squad but they backed out, ran with their tail tucked between their legs. They are the shook ones.
You're ready now folks. Go forth and prosper. You can add to the mix by making catchy tunes or creative plays on words to truly taunt whichever team you decide to hate but this right here is your foundation. Spend the next month training hard.
Hate is where the heart is.