Home » blog » A unique view-How we see the game

Posted by on August 17th, 2011 in blog, CFF Features, Jason Hildenbrand | 1 Comment

With a few exceptions… I watch College football the way Jim Kramer analyzes the market on hair restoration treatment. Ahh……the self alleged “student of the game”, or “grand marquise” of the gridiron. Let’s sit down and discuss why or why not a 3-4 Defense vs. a 4-3 base defense is utterly stupid/smart/depends, etc. Let me digress for a second and add thesis to this paradoxical absurdness that is going to be this blog. For All intensive purposes, I’m finding that how I watch football at the collegiate level is a tad obscure comparatively speaking. But when dissecting the relationship of fan and desired program, one need only walk around the 2 block radius of my Chicago apartment and realize that if ignorance isn’t bliss, it sure looks easy and a lot of fun. Let me explain…


In my opinion Chicago is not called “Sportstown” U.S.A. for the Cubs, Bears Bulls Sox or whatever other professional franchise s that represents the city of Chicago, it’s the fact that the 3 block radius around my Lincoln park neighborhood apartment is infested with bars and taverns and doesn’t let up from my neighborhood to the next. Each one offering representation to their Universities respected colors and marked by a 6X8 flag hanging above the entrance of said dwelling. Granted, Chicago is the epicenter of the Big 10 (12) conference so you’re certainly more likely to unearth a Michigan State Friendly milieu then an Arkansas Razorback locale …There is a Razorback bar however and trust me…You’re team likely has a friendly confine here and I’m sure  your colors fly proud. Before I got to this town I had no idea how much angstOhiofolk had for Blue and Yellow. The Iowa Hawkeye nation is strong in the land of Dailey… and UCLA meets Boston College in gridiron epiphany off Lincoln Ave.and so on and so on. The only commonality however, is that at 5 pm on Saturday the streets are flooded full of jersey’s and the stumbling, incoherent patrons  who wear them pour out of bars seeking refuge, usually in the form of another libation. Some happy with their teams outcome… some not. Most moaning about how their team can’t run the ball well, or how special teams are killing them, or because the QB is a statue or whatever sounds nice. I once heard an Ohio State fan slurring to a Nebraska fan about howNebraska can’t compete in the “big 10” because people will confuse them as being buckeyes due to the amount of Red in the uniform. Hmmm…Perhaps.


My girlfriend loves football (I think), she’s fromTexas, went to Texas, has flooded our apartment with burnt orange and yes, has me on the band wagon. “hook-em horns” is something I can no longer run from, I really think that her love for UT football is harmonious with her passionate, unyielding hatred of Oklahoma (sure, include the entire state)…(Texas A&M a close second). We’re going camping in Wisconsin in a few weeks and she’s going to make us drive back toMilwaukee so we can find a bar with the UT network to watch the UT vs. Rice game. I’m kind of annoyed yet have to admire/respect her commitment. Plus, she’s a chick who loves football…life could be worse. I really have no allegiance to any particular program except my Alma-mater, The University of Northern Colorado of the Big Sky conference where I played alongside notables like Vince Jackson and Reed Doughty. And will admit, UNC does not have pub representation in Chicago as of yet…working on it. I feel I’m cheating if I actively root for any other program even if mine is of little relevance to it’s BCS counterparts being apart of the NCAA Championship Series. That said, I understand keeping the peace and it’s funny what a woman can do. I’m going to use her as my primary example of how/why the college football fan is unique and when/how we watch is blissful/blisterful. What I have learned is that College football across this country is a religion and a culture of it’s own, moreover I’ve learned that watching football with folks who don’t watch football the way I do…… is awesomely entertaining and perhaps a late adopter is unfolding.


Ponder for a tic will ya? Here’s the situation; 2010, Stanley’s Bar and Grill, home of Chicago-Longhorn Nation. A struggling, and woeful season for the Longhorns and the coveted “Red River Shoot Out” is alive no less and I’m finding out, contains the fire of 10,000 suns. It’s 2nd and 10 on the 50 yrd line near the end of the 1st qtr, OU ball and they’re driving. The Texas Defensive coordinator is staring down at his clip board shaking his head, looking like he just completely disagrees with life in general.  Eleven oversized yet athletically superior beings whom consistently struggle to find shirts that fit their neck size stare back at coach wondering if the play before last was his fault, each trying to catch their breath from two snap’s earlier and the 28 yrd outcome. There is no response from the coordinator, just utter intensity and a stare that makes you wonder if his mind is right? A 6’1, 305 3 technique is jabbering something…I would assume words of encouragement to his team-mates, some mindful advice to the ref or perhaps a congratulatory synapse to the 6’6 334 lb left tackle opposite him. Without notice, the coordinator starts doing the chicken dance, making fists, screaming “Overload!” “Overload!”. The guys on the field immediately shift their focus back to the task at hand. The Coach does the typical hand on knees lean over maneuver that apparently gives them a better view of the field and spits his seeds on the ground like he’s hoping they’ll sprout the next Lawrence Taylor. Then looks up with arms crossed only to mutter something into his “Shoretell wireless” head set, which briefly looked something like… “You better be right”. 2-1 personnel, off set I formation on the left hash. Safety and Corner are screaming and pointing up in the air telling the entire world of their plans to move towards a Cloud Coverage… an obvious give away into Cover 3 and the Sooner receiver opposite the CB taps his helmet signaling something to the QB. The TE backs off the line and motions across the line. The X (receiver) moves up to cover him less to avoid an illegal formation. He motions back towards the field adjusting the strength to the right subsequently shifting the entire defense uniformly like it was expected. Linebackers and safeties are screaming as the coverage re adjusts and the cowboy stunt that was called probably turns to pure gap containment as shown by the Sam linebacker who moves inside shade of the TE. In tandem the Wanda moves to his respected D gap thinking only to jump the quick pitch or blow up the Full back while keeping his left shoulder free lest there be a toss or stretch to his side. The Mike LB is showing blitz through the weak side A Gap. A poor bluff considering the 3 technique is now angled at the Centers temple in an obvious attempt to clear space for an end to stunt behind him. Worth paying attention to apparently as the Center points and directs his line while the QB barks orders of no relevance. Safeties are moving around thinking that if they don’t hold their spot they won’t give away the coverage… which they probably all ready have…to at least someone on the other side of the ball. The QB is under Center vs Shotgun which is exactly what was game planned because in the previous 12 matchups, The OU offense has gone under Center 82% of the time on 2nd and long in between the 30 yard lines. Problem is, that it’s been 48% run to 52% pass. Good news forTexas, is that 65% of those plays were either a draw or screen pass. Assuming everyone does there job, reads there keys and the D-line holds the  heal-line, anything more than a 3 yard gain would be considered a loss for the defense. This is what I’m seeing.


I take a quick look around the bar and see hands raised with fingers turned to pitch forks indicating the notorious “hook-em horns” symbolism in a sea of crowded burnt orange. Each person is staring at the most convenient flat screen yelling 4 letter words of discouragement at the TV in hopes that all ofOklahomacan hear them. I do hear a faint melody in the background…I think it’s a Waylen Jennings/Willie Nelson jingle. I take a sip of my $5.00 Lone Star, take a look at my still beautiful girlfriend even though the intensity of this contest which is only 8 minutes old, is about to make her bleed out of her eyes. I’m convinced the only reason this isn’t happening is because the Oklahoma Red would contrast with her burnt orange, longhorn ear rings. Back to the TV I turn and the ball is snapped. I watch the play begin to manifest and try to dissect the execution of all 22 moving parts….I won’t go into detail as I think you get the point.

As I watch the play unfold, I’m nearly knocked off my chair as this warm, kind, southern Texas bell to whom I share a 1 bedroom apartment with screams from the depths of her sweet Texas heart, something so simple, sophomoric, uneducated yet completely spot on and perfect considering the magnitude of this rivalry and what it means to these crazies. “KNOCK HIM OUT Of THE GAME!  KILLLLLLLL HIIIIMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!” A 3 yard gain. She then politely orders a chicken wrap or something.


At this point I’m looking around at our fellow patrons to see who else noticed/heard this remark of verbal 1st degree attempted murder. No one blinks an eye or thinks anything of it. All seem to be satisfied, happy and exceptionally content with the 3 yard gain and take sips of there lager, slaking their thirst as if to re-fule in anticipation of the 3rd down try. It didn’t let up either. Football is a simple game that I unconsciously watch and turn into java script and for what reason I don’t know. There are lots like me, yet more like her, I like her better.


I imagine this completely irrational yet socially appropriate/expected behavior is happening across the U.S. and am 100% positive that the same words or something of the like is taking place at the Purdue bar across the street where I can hear loud grumbling of something as they take on Illinois. I’m also a bit nervous/excited to for my .4 mile walk back home and the 58 bars I’ll be passing along the way.


 We all analyze/watch the game a different way, but the name of this website says it all. College football Freaks. Have a great season.



1 Comment

1 Comment for this entry

  1. CB says:

    So true! I often find myself feeling fatigued after watching games, maybe it’s my OCD for disecting each play or the barley pops, or a combo of both. Either way, the pause and rewind capability on my directTV have only made matters worse… it’s like I’m back in film sessions all over again. We all have a sickness, but at least ours doesn’t include Bieber

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