Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why I Love Fall (and my adulterous affair with Florida)

We'll get to the Florida Gators in a few minutes...

I'm sitting here watching Auburn fighting hard in a game that they should be dominating, that being Kansas State. And, of course, Brandon Cox, the QB, just went down. Of course.

I'm flipping back to the California/Tennessee game, a barn burner that has 52 points scored already.

At Starbucks, we started serving pumpkin spice lattes. I don't actually like pumpkin spice, or coffee for that matter, but the fact we're serving it means one thing... Fall is in the air. And its approaching fast.

Reasons I Love Fall, in No Particular Order

ESPN College Football coverage. That tune that comes on (you sports fans know the one I'm talking about), when Rece Davis is behind the counter, makes my heart warm and my stomach jittery. Seriously. I know for the next four months, I get to watch college football... I get to watch Auburn, ranked 18th, run the table and be shut out of the BCS because they were ranked to low preseason (they finally showed up, after 58 of 60 football minutes have been played--somewhere, in celebration, Garrett Cheney is kissing a Kappa Delta he doesn't even know).

I get to watch Troy almost win big games against Georgia and Oklahoma State. I get to watch teams like Appalachain State beat #5 ranked Michigan. I get to wonder who's going to be Boise State this year? Boston College? South Florida? Boise State?

Its college football. And who doesn't love the Pontiac Game Changing Performance highlights? I think I'm going to cry.

The Deuce Football Championships. This is year number eight for a game that we figured we'd do two or three years and we're back again. Its a simple "I send you an email with some games on it, you pick the winners and send it back, and I keep up with it"... well, this year, we'll be picking our 700th game overall. Every year, I think "do I want to do this again?" and every year, we start and I'm just giddy.

It's the NFL. Sigh. The teams I root for: The Denver Broncos, the Tennessee Titans, the Cincinnati Bailbonds, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Teams I root against: The Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders, the New York Jets. And Chris Berman and NFL Primetime? And Howie and Terry and Cris on the Fox Pre-game show? Happy sigh.

WalkAbout. It's a new season for the drama team, new kids come on, new skits are brought out, new relationships are made, new willing bodies ready to be molded by God to do whatever. Plus, this year, I got P-Maddox helping out. Not bad times, its good times, good times.

Starbucks Countdown to Christmas. There's not an actual "Countdown to Christmas", but as an ASM, you know its coming, you know what a big deal it is, and it just starts getting exciting.

The New TV Season. Now, it's new episodes of Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, Cold Case, CSI and so on. Years before, I anxiously awaited new episodes of everything from The Wonder Years to Doogie Howser to Home Improvement to Friends to Scarecrow & Mrs. King. The new TV season, plus all the magazines that tell me what new shows I should watch (I'm thinking Pushing Daisies and Life look intriguing this year)

Vacation time. My one true vacation every year, the only time I get to take a week to do anything is Thanksgiving week. My wife's family goes to the beach every year to stay in a condo for a week, and we take in shopping, reading, napping, walking, relaxing, movies, and more. This year, however? Going to Walt Disney World. Who's excited? (waving my hand crazily)

Cool, crisp air. Its coming. By Thanksgiving, suddenly I'm able to wear my favorite outfit... a pair of comfy shorts and a sweatshirt or a long sleeve t-shirt. When the air is slightly below 60, maybe 62, the breeze is blowing, and its the perfect weather to be standing in the bleachers of a Troy game, or an Auburn game, or an Alabama game or even a high school football game.

High School Football. Auburn Football. Troy Football. And yes, Gator Football. Love watching high school ball. I went to Troy, I've been an Auburn fan since 1986... but Florida? Sigh... its time to open up.

My illicit affair, my secret affair, my adulterous love affair with the University of Florida football Gators. See, I'm from Orlando... well, I was born there, anyway.

Got shipped to Texas in 1979, then we moved to Samson, Alabama, in October of 1984. The first Iron Bowl that I was a resident for, Alabama won 17-15. I initially rooted for Alabama, because I was kinda supposed to do that. That's what most people did, anyway, except for a select few... well, except for Misty Kimble, who was in my homeroom. In all my 9 years, she was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen. And she rooted for Auburn. So, I did too, for a year.

Then I was an Alabama fan--remember, my parents didn't care anything about college football, unlike most families I know. Then I was an Auburn fan. Then I was an Alabama fan, cheering for Alabama when some guy named Van Tiffen did something big, which made Alabama win in 1985, 25-23.

So, by 1986, my friend Greg Avant told me that I had to make a decision. Either I was an Alabama fan, or an Auburn fan. Pick one. Stay there. There is no in-between. So, I declared whoever won the 1986 Iron Bowl would be my team. If Alabama won, then Roll Tide and all that crap. If Auburn won, then War Eagle, baby. And on November 29th, 1986, my choice was made in Auburn's 21-17 victory.

And so, for 21 years, I've rooted for Auburn because of the outcome of one game. Don't get me wrong, I've been a true fan... I watched in agony as they blew game after game, I was pumped in Terry Bowdoin's undefeated season that counted for nothing due to probation, I watched in horror when they were ranked 3rd several years ago, only to finish something like 384th in the country, then watched in delight--then horror--as they were rooked out of a title shot (they'd have lost, but deserved to be in that title game, admit it)... I've been an Auburn fan.

But I've led a secret life, a secret I can't hold anymore... I've also been a Florida fan. I think Spurrier is a genius. I think Meyer is a genius. I've rooted for the Gators all along... is this wrong? Is this like trying to be a Tennessee fan and an Alabama fan at the same time? Can you love Ohio State and Michigan at the same time? I don't root for any of the four of those teams (I frickin' hate OSU), but you get my point... I've led a double life, trying to balance two entities that cannot co-exist together.

My problem now is that Florida is the defending national champs. Any admission of fandom to the Gators will be seen as bandwagon jumping... but for fear of sounding like every Atlanta Braves fan I know, "I've always liked them! Even when they sucked!!"

I'm out of the football closet. I cannot lie to myself anymore, I have to be who I am, who God made me to be, I'm tired of hiding it and being ashamed...

So here we go... I'm a Florida fan. I love the Florida Gators. There, I said it.

Whew... I'm so proud of getting that out.

I don't care what Scott Latta says about not being a true fan, and only jumping on the wagon because they're the champs and off of Auburn's wagon because they're about to lose (again). I don't care what Tyler Campbell says about it being bad enough I married into an Alabama family as an Auburn fan, admitting I'm a Gator fan as well might get me cast from the Campbell clan (if I was a Vols fan, I might get shot by Daddy Campbell). I'd rather be a fan of a team because I have a true connection (born there, visit often, lost of family there) then because I put my destiny on the outcome of a game. I can only hope tha NYCJenni embraces me as at least a part of the extended family.

No, I'm not foregoing my allegience to the Auburn Tigers... heck, I'm a Troy fan first and foremost--but let's face it, they are going to be well paid punching bags for the next ten years. And I won't take any celebration or pride in Florida's championship, because I wasn't a part of it, not openly anyway.

What happens when Auburn plays Florida? I'll probably root for Auburn--because that's what 22 years of instinct has taught me. My fear is that I will be forced to decide, to choose a side, to make a stand at Jordan-Hare or in The Swamp. But if you see me in a Florida shirt, hat or gear, you'll know why. I'm a Florida fan.

GO GATORS!!!! (wow, that felt good)


  1. My dad's a gator fan... though, we stopped allowing him to watch football quite some years ago. If they did badly, my dad became Dr. Jekle; it wasn't a pretty site.

    I too came from a family who could care less about football. I have never cared about either. Every fall, people can't believe that I'm not either an Auburn or Alabama fan!! But, I honestly don't care. Though, in all honestly, I'd rather be an Auburn fan; Alabama fans are just OBNOXIOUS.

    So, Friday, as my boss is leaving for the day, he walks out of the door by saying, "Roll tide!" I stare blankly at him with no comment. He said, "You know, I do sign your paycheck." I haphazardly say, "Roll ride."

  2. I told Steph that I would never, ever say "Roll Tide" and mean it... i might say it in jest, I might root for Alabama here and there depending on who they are playing... but I would never say a sincere Roll Tide. I never have. And I never will.


I want to hear your response! Click here!!