I'm not one of those guys who gets all revved up about sports. In fact, I find most sports utterly boring at best, and totally worthless at worst. Perhaps I'm just not competitive enough to get it. I have friends whose TV would be tuned to ESPN nonstop if not compelled to leave their easy chair to go to work, engage with family or take a pee. I'd rather watch a good movie – not a particularly productive enterprise either, I admit.
|When I do watch a game, the action isn't all that I'm interested in.|
College sports are a somewhat different animal than professional ones because there is a certain degree of residual Alma Mater loyalty at play. Living now in South Carolina, I have a whole different perspective on college football.
Holy snikies, people here are bat-shit crazy about college football and their respective teams.
I have friends who are quite normal – well, as normal as people who hang out with me can be – but when it comes to college football, are absolute lunatics. They seem to have an emotional investment in these games that I just don't grasp. It goes well beyond sitting in their living rooms and yelling at the TV during a game – something I've been reported to do when watching the Steelers. A loss of any stripe can drive them into a funk; losing to a perennial rival can make them nearly inconsolable.
I don't have a dog in the college-football fight. I could probably care less, but I don't know how. I am glad I graduated a small, private, Midwest college lacking a national profile. I make myself crazy enough on Sundays over the Steelers; I'd hate to be equally crazed on Saturdays over my college team.
|Roll Tide or don't.|
Despite my indifference toward college ball, I was somewhat happy to hear that Oklahoma beat Alabama in whatever bowl game they played on Thursday. I don't have a reason for my reaction to Bama's loss, but it made me smile. Does that make me a bad person? There are certainly more serious shortcomings of mine that qualify me for that status. I doubt that finding some small degree of joy in Alabama's loss is even close to topping the list.
At this point you may think this post is about college football and its fans; you would be wrong.
It's about the NFL playoffs and championship, or soon will be.
Although I am an unapologetic Steelers fan, beyond doing a little yelling at the TV on Sundays, I am not emotionally tied to my team's ups and downs. Good thing, too, because this season the “downs” seemed to far outweigh the “ups.”
Yes, I was disappointed last week when it appeared the Steelers might back-door their way into the playoffs, and didn't. Four things needed to happen for Pittsburgh to sneak into a Wild Card slot. By 4:00 on Sunday, three of them had fallen into place. All that remained was for the Chiefs to beat the Chargers – not a high hurdle under normal circumstances.
The Chiefs lineup on this day, however, wasn't well represented with its starters, many of whom spent much of the game on the sidelines, protecting them from injury. Even at that, the Chargers only squeaked by.
|Define "A waste of money:" Paying to send the entire Steelers travel squad to London.|
Certainly I was disappointed, but as much by the Steelers lackluster performance early in the season that caused them to lose their first four games as I was by the Chiefs fall to the Chargers. During that four-game losing run, they should have handily beat the Titans (7-9 for the season). Had Pittsburgh only sent its special teams to London to wage battle against the Vikings (6-10 for the season), the Steelers should have won that game. They certainly wouldn't have done any worse.
|Losing to the Raiders at home: Are you kidding me!|
If the Steelers had stepped up and won either of those two “gimmes,” they would be in the playoffs this year. Moreover, Pittsburgh embarrassed itself at home against the abysmal Raiders (4-12 for the season) after finding its footing, and beating the Jets and Ravens in weeks six and seven. Losing to the Raiders at home was certainly the season's low point.
So, in my thinking, the Steelers had the talent, as well as the opportunity to make the playoffs. They muffed it. I didn't lose sleep over it.
At the start of the season I figured the Steelers would wind up 8-8, and they did. Even at that, they managed to maintain some relevancy into the final week. At least I can hang my hat on that.
I don't typically make predictions, but I will this year.
My best guess: This year's Super Bowl will pit the two No. 1 teams against one another. It will be Seattle versus Denver. And, Denver prevails. I am less confidant about Seattle making it to the Super Bowl than I am Denver. Almost any NFL team can beat another on any given week, but Denver and Seattle, I think, are good enough to survive to the big game. The Carolina Panthers, though, is my "dark horse" pick.
Other than rooting against New England as long as it's in contention, I will take no interest the balance of the season.
My season pretty much ends when Pittsburgh's does.