Let's face it: Life requires rules. Precepts to live by, laws to abide by, dictums to follow, lest civilization devolve into a Hobbesian state of nature, "Lord of the Flies," with all of us grasping for the conch and no one agreeing if it takes one or both feet inbounds for a sideline catch to count.
College football fandom is no different.
If you win the whole darn thing you can pretty much do what you want. Well, almost anything.
Is it OK to root for two schools? Is it ever OK to root for a rival? As a fan, how many Freedom of Information Act requests can I file before it seems creepy? Such are the questions that try boosters' souls. But fear not: Page 2 is here to help.
After months of careful deliberation and a two-week retreat to the College Football Hall of Fame, Page 2 has compiled a list of 57 rules for college football fandom. Learn them. Love them. Step out of the confusing darkness, and into clarity's* sweet light…
* Note: Clarity does not apply to BCS debates
I. ALLEGIANCES, OR WHO YA GOT?
1. As a fan, you have to pick a school, one school, same as if you were filling out applications to, you know, go to school there. You may not be a fan of a conference, teams from a specific state, "West Coast football" or college football in general. Nobody is a fan of college football in general, not even Lee Corso. Nor may you root for Harvard and Yale, any more than you could matriculate at both places, unless you're really, really smart, in which case you're probably building prototype military surveillance nanobots in your MIT dorm room, and/or devising a computerized ranking system* to shame Jeff Sagarin.
* Note: In scenario No. 2, you are allowed to root for the spread. Just make sure Skynet never becomes self-aware
The trendy team? Only if you went there, or someone you married did.
1a. Under extenuating circumstances, however, you may have up to three Division I-A rooting allegiances, so long as the schools meet the following criteria:
(a) Your birthplace/family school – especially if an inheritance is at stake, or if a campus library bears your last name.
(b) Al(most)ma mater – the school you transferred from.
(c) The school that actually handed you a diploma. Or would have, if you hadn't finished three credits short.
(d) Your spouse's school, especially if the program is vastly superior to your own, or your spouse cares waaaay more than you do, in which case: good call on getting married!
(e) You're a bandwagon-jumping, low-self-esteem weenie and scurry from Notre Dame to Miami to Ohio State to USC to Boise State depending on the year, the polls and the amount of water flooding into the ship.
If you can't be true to a school, at least be true to your own weaselly nature.
2. Your schools of allegiance must be in different conferences. Unless the conference in question is the ACC, in which case you may root for Duke and anyone else, since the Blue Devils might as well play in another conference – like, say, the Patriot League.
3. If your schools of allegiance ever play each other, you must pick one to root for, before the game, and put your preference in writing, ALL CAPS, preferably in blood. No sitting on the fence, no qualified endorsements, no switching sides at halftime, and especially none of this:
4a. Or you can just root for Appalachian State every week.
4. If you attended a lower-division or NAIA school, you're allowed to pick a D-I school of your choice. But you must consistently root for that school year in and year out, and it's preferred that the school be geographically close to you.
4b. Notre Dame? How very original.
5. You may not bet against your favorite team unless you're:
(a) trying to purge it of a rotten coach; (b) in Vegas and about to sell bodily fluids or organs to cover your previous losses (thanks, Michigan!); (c) looking at a huge spread and you think your team will win but not cover, probably 'cause its coached by Phil Fulmer.
6. You may use the Freedom of Information Act once per decade on your favorite team. This is America , after all.
7. Unlimited use of the Freedom of Information Act is permitted for your rival schools. America: [Expletive] Yeah!
8. If a team from your conference makes the BCS title game and is a sworn rival, you cannot root for that team. Not now. Not ever. Not even if under duress, gunpoint or waterboarding in an Eastern European black site CIA detention center.
Movie-based trash talk is always welcome.
8a. Michigan fans should not have been rooting for Ohio State in the national title game. That's just wrong. And, frankly, a little sick.
9. You are allowed to root freely against the following schools for no specific reasons:
--Notre Dame in their puke-green jerseys
--Notre Dame when playing on "Triumph of the Will"-shaming propaganda house organ NBC
--any school that plays its fight song approximately 4,387 times per game like USC
--any school like Ohio State with a pretentious "the" in front of its name, because otherwise how would we know which Ohio State university they were talking about?
--any school coached by Steve Spurrier
--any school coached by Nick Saban
II. ATTIRE, OR WHAT TO WEAR
10. Please observe the following age limits on male attire:
Kudos to these Longhorns fans: Shirtless but wearing body paint.
• 25-and-under: Team jersey or shirtless (body paint mandatory)
• 26-35: T-shirt, jersey, shirtless if you work out at least three times per week and/or have a BMI reading of less than "morbidly obese"
• 36-50: Polo shirt
• 51-75: Sweater vest with polo shirt underneath; sweatshirt from bowl victory two decades ago
• 75-over: Shirtless, alcoholic steam rising from graying chest hair
11. Please observe the following age limits on female attire:
• 25-and-under: Baby-doll tank top, or sports bra if spelling out letter with body paint; cowboy hats; short shorts with team nickname on rear; nothing but a letter of intent and a smile (recruiting hostesses only)
• 26-35: T-shirt, jersey or sweatshirt
• 36-50: Any outfit accented by bead-heavy team necklace
• 51-75: Any outfit accented by glittery hat or electric glasses
• 75-over: Hair must be dyed school colors; polyester pants to match.
12. If your team changes its uniform, go ahead and buy the new jersey – as long as it's on your parents' credit card.
Politically correct? Come on! This is college football!
13. University of Oregon fans are exempt from all jersey-wearing rules.
13a. When using crayons, University of Oregon fans also are exempt from having to color within the lines.
13b. University of Oregon fans are permitted to put on a jersey, look in the mirror and proclaim: My god, it's full of stars.
13c. University of Oregon fans wearing jerseys may qualify for federal Superfund status. Contact the EPA.
14. Team hats should never contain more animal hair than the family pet.
14a. Unless you're a Tennessee fan.
15. If you weigh less than 150 pounds, you can spell out only the following letters when shirtless and wearing body paint: I, L, T.
15a. If you weigh more than 275 pounds, you can spell out only the following letters when shirtless and wearing body paint: O, W, M.
15b. If you're a hot coed, paint yourself with Chinese characters for all we care
16. Southern frat boys not wearing khakis and a tie to the game must forfeit one bourbon and Coke.
16a. Southern fans wearing team-colored seersucker suits with matching bow ties drink free for the season.
17. Midwestern adults not wearing jersey of favorite white player to the game are penalized one Old Style.
18. Los Angeles fans really ought to have a tan.
19. "COCKS" hats? Good one, brah!
20. "Property of School Athletic Department" sweatshirts are acceptable, but they work best as an ironic comment on the state of student-athletes.
III. LIFESTYLE, OR WHY DID I EVER THINK GRADUATION WAS A GOOD IDEA?
21. You must know the rules of beer pong. Even if you're "retired."
21a. Dude, no one ever retires from beer pong.
22. You must be willing and able to sing the school fight song at any moment, in any location, under any circumstances.
22a. You must be able to remember the always-forgotten second/third verse of the school fight song, but only when utterly intoxicated.
23. You may have a school license plate if you are not an alum, but only if your car horn also plays the school fight song.
24. It is OK to deny the existence of your school's male cheerleaders.
24a. Even if they someday become president.
It is against any and all rules to dis the USC song girls.
25. It is never OK to deny the hotness of the USC song girls.
25a. Not even if you attend UCLA.
26. Please observe the following age guidelines on appropriate thoughts to have while ogling the USC song girls:
• 11-15: What is this strange tingling feeling?
• 16-18: College is going to be awesome.
• 18-24: I wish she'd wear that skirt to sociology class.
• 25-35: College was awesome.
• 36-50: I wish she'd wear a burka or something. That could be my baby daughter!
• 51-75: Gee, what a lovely young lady. I hope she meets a nice boy.
• 75-over: What is this strange tingling feeling? Do I have to go to the bathroom again?
27. You are allowed to start tailgating six hours before kickoff.
27a. If you want to remember the game, do not drink heavily during those six hours.
27b. Four hours of drinking is more reasonable.
28. Always yield to the rich alumni driving the decked-out Winnebagos.
28a. They mix the best drinks.
28b. And they might be hiring you in six months.
29. If you have a TV at your tailgate, you must expect and allow other fans to congregate around your area and sneak a peek. Share your bounty!
29a. Especially if Notre Dame is on and is getting its golden little teeth kicked in by Georgia Tech.
30. If tailgating at South Carolina and there are more than six people present, one must be wearing a real, stuffed gamecock on his/her head.
30a. Sorry, PETA.
If anyone has an extra jaguar, Southern is looking for a new one. (Sorry PETA.)
31. You must leave your tailgate at least 20 minutes before kickoff and be in your seat for the national anthem.
31a. Unless you're getting digits.
32. Never leave a game early, unless: (a) it's a blowout and there's a great game just starting on TV; (b) it's time to use those digits.
33. When arguing with fans from another conference, you are allowed to cite the accomplishments of rival schools within your conference.
34. You must have at least two bobbleheads or stuffed animals on your office desk, or a combination of one bobblehead and one stuffed animal.
34a. No refrigerator schedule magnet? Then the terrorists have already won.
35. If your significant other went to a rival school, no sex on rivalry game day.
35a. If your significant other went to a rival school, all wagers should involve sex.
35b. If rule 35a is in effect, waive rule 35.
36. You must buy a letterman's jacket to display the letter you won in band.
36a. You must not write Page 2 to explain how band members are really athletes.
Friends don't let friends date body painters. In fact, real friends don't let friends date Ohio State fans.
37. (For men): Never hit on a woman while wearing face paint.
37a. (For men): Always hit on a woman who is wearing face paint.
38. (For women): Never hit on a man spelling out the following letters in body paint: O, W, M.
39. Anyone who calls Division I-AA by the new name "Division I Football Championship Subdivision" must receive one punch directly to the throat.
39a. If you are giving the punch, remember: This hurts you more than it hurts them.
40. You must make at least one road trip while in college without tickets or a hotel room lined up ahead of time.
40a. Bonus points if you spend the night in a sorority house.
40b. Double bonus points if you spend the night in a sorority house wearing nothing but a stuffed gamecock on your head.
IV. GLOATING, OR WHY ANYONE BOTHERS TO BE A FAN IN THE FIRST PLACE
41. Observe the following statutes of limitations:
(a) Bragging about national title: 25 years
(b) Bragging about a top-five finish: 15 years
(c) Bragging about a top-five finish if you are Ohio State, USC, Florida , Miami, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma: 0 years
(d) Bragging about a BCS bowl win: 10 years
(e) Bragging about a blowout BCS bowl win over Notre Dame: one year, or until someone else joins the club
(f) Bragging about Heisman winner: 10 years
(g) Bragging about Heisman winners whose last names rhyme with "Baretta": six months
(h) Bragging about Heisman winners named "O.J.": null
(i) Bragging about a big upset of your rival: Five years on a daily basis, for eternity at least twice a year
(j) Bragging about a victory, any victory: Two years*
* Note: Applies to Duke only
42. You must never be proud of your 6-5 bowl team.
42a. Unless, of course, it's Duke.
Uh-oh, Notre Dame ... here comes Navy!
43. You must always overestimate the strength of your favorite team's conference.
43a. You must always overestimate the strength of those plucky service academies, if your favorite team is Notre Dame.
44. You must cheer at the stadium when the public-address announcer reveals that your rival school is losing.
44a. You must let out an "oooooooh" when the public address announcer alerts you to an upset in progress.
44b. You must let out an "ooooooh … ahhhhhhh!" when the public address announcer alerts you to an upset in progress involving your rival school.
45. If your team wins the national championship, you are allowed to spend $1,000 on commemorative items with absolutely no questions asked.
45a. No questions means no questions, not even about the leather hardbound Sports Illustrated just-add-water Chia book.
46. You must change the bumper stickers on your car every five years.
46a. Note: Please remove the "1985 Orange Bowl champs" sticker immediately.
V. TAUNTING, OR THE ONLY THING BETTER THAN GLOATING
47. Always assume that your league rivals are cheating. Always assume your school's great kids epitomize throwback student-athletes, with footballs under one arm and textbooks under the other.
47a. Pay no attention to the fact that said textbooks are for: (a) physical education; (b) sociology; (c) theory of football; (d) theory of ballroom dancing.
48. If you root for an SEC school, you are not allowed to act sanctimonious when a rival conference program is busted for academic fraud, dirty recruiting or any other NCAA rules violation. Instead, give thanks for your see-no-evil compliance department.
48a. You are, however, allowed to snicker.
48b. You may also file a FOIA request.
49. Feel free to spread a rumor that your rival's head coach is having an affair. You heard it from a very reliable source at a frat party.
50. You must always deny – with great conviction – that there are patsies on your favorite team's schedule when attacking the schedules of rivals. Youngstown State is a formidable opponent! And there are no American tanks at the Baghdad airport!
51. Never call to taunt a rival fan when the game is still in progress, unless your team holds a lead of 28 points or more in the second half.
51a. A snarky text message works fine.
52. Never answer the phone after your team loses a big game.
52a. Better still, unplug your phone.
52b. Even better still, throw your phone out the window. Then run it over.
And always be willing to take your I-AA medicine.
53. Never skip work the following Monday after your team loses a big game. Take your medicine like a real fan.
54. If you get on the message boards and/or call talk radio demanding that the coach be fired after your team loses the opener, you must stick with it and continue to pay the domain registration fee for FireLloydCarr.com for the next five years.
54a. Even when they turn it around and go 11-1.
54b. Or when Carr is fired.
55. Statute of limitations on ripping Lee Corso for not putting on the headgear of your team, and then having the nerve to pick the other guys instead: one year.
56. You are allowed one e-mail per season to a media outlet – local or national – bitterly complaining about the lack of respect for your school and the obvious media bias against your conference.
56a. More than one such e-mail makes you a paranoid crybaby.
56b. If you're a Pac-10 fan, just shut up already.
57. Do not call the opposing punter a wuss from the safety of the stands. He's probably tougher than you are. And if he's from Northern Colorado, he might have to cut you.
57a. Besides, throwing a ziplock bag of urine works much better
Someone on the page added, "If you are an Alabama fan, you are obligated to yell "Roll Tide" at least every 30 seconds. Even if it is the middle of your friend's wedding/important presentation/birth of your first child."