A couple of things I think I should make clear before I get into this review. Growing up in New York City and now living near Boston (and having gone to Boston University, whose football team was disbanded after my freshman year), college football was never much on my radar. Sure, I'd watch a game or two, the big games during the year, but my football attention was devoted to Sundays, not Saturdays.
As I grew older, though, I started to appreciate more about the game. I also developed attachments (and dislikes) for certain teams due to who I knew. I always rooted for Notre Dame - one of my cousins went there when I was in high school, and growing up, my dad rooted for Notre Dame, so I did too. I started to root for Tennessee the past few years because someone I met in the teaching profession was a Tennessee fan. When I worked at the CBS affiliate in Boston, one of my closest friends there was a Michigan fan, and seeing him live and die with these games made me root for Michigan to win. I root against Florida because of one of my college roommates (he lived and died, too, but I enjoyed it more when he died with the losses...unlike my CBS friend, who I much preferred to see live with the wins). I also root against Boston College, because of my BU ties. Then, I root for and against whoever tickles my fancy - right now I keep rooting against the number 1's and 2's until I get a team I like in there. I'm rooting for Kansas right now, just for some new blood. I think my college football interest is summed up in the fact that this is the first time I've written a blog extensively about college football. And I think it should be said that I root against Ohio State simply because of my CBS friend.
All of that said, I am much more interested in college football recently than I ever was. This is in part because of my participation in a Bowl pool at the end of the season, and I like to think that having watched a couple of games during the regular season increases my chances of doing well. (It usually doesn't.) But I'm looking forward to today's Ohio State-Michigan matchup. And in anticipation of the game, I watched the HBO Sports documentary "Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry".
I need to learn my lesson - no matter what the subject, HBO Sports does a nice job. I should watch all of their documentaries. In spite of myself, I always feel myself getting choked up at a certain point, and I always end thinking that it was done very well (the same way I felt watching the documentary about the Cubs).
I went in hoping to learn more about a subject I knew little about, while hoping to be entertained, and getting glimpses of events I was familiar with. All were accomplished. The one complaint was that there was a big chunk (maybe 10 minutes) about the fans, which I could have done without. I realize how important that part is - if I was doing the documentary, I would also think the part about the fans was important to include...but as a viewer with no particular allegiances, I thought that segment was too long.
The most entertaining part was Desmond Howard, who struck the Heisman pose after scoring on a punt return in the Ohio State game. He went through his thought process about whether or not he should do it as he was running, and finally decided, "F___ it." He was an entertaining interview throughout the documentary.
A lot of time was spent on the Woody Hayes-Bo Schembechler connection. The Schembechler interview was recorded the day before he died...which was exactly one year ago as I write this. I also liked hearing about the 1950 game, which took place in a tremendous blizzard, which Michigan won, 9-3, scoring the game's only touchdown on a blocked punt. There were 45 punts in the game, some on first down, and Michigan didn't get a first down the whole game. Good stuff all around.
It made me wish I was a fan in some kind of rivalry like this - where one game means so much. The Mets have a rivalry with the Braves, but it's nowhere near this scale (and ranks waaaaaay down on any list of rivalries - it's not even in the top 10 of its sport). The Jets-Patriots rivalry is too recent...and still is more media-manufactured than anything else. The Jets-Dolphins are probable bigger rivals...but it's rare that both teams have been competitive at the same time. In hockey, I guess there's BU-BC, but the fact that it's hockey, in such an apathetic school as BU really has a negative impact. I guess I'll just continue to live vicariously through the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. I'll be rooting for Michigan...but from where I stand, it sure hurts less if they lose.
NFL UPDATE: I'm very tempted to say the Buffalo Bills will hand the New England Patriots their first loss of the season on Sunday night...but I really think Marshawn Lynch being out of the lineup kills their chances. I'm hard-pressed, looking at their roster, to say they have someone who can be as explosive. So I'm afraid the Patriots will continue to march along undefeated.
SITE UPDATE: One drawback, I've just realized, of deleting the Jets entries so they reappear here is that I'm losing pictures when I do this. If you come across a post that has a red 'x' where a picture should be, please let me know, and I'll fix it.