So I was flipping through the newest Sports Illustrated last night, and came across a four-or-five page article on the great season Mizzou is having. Unfortunately, I hadn't read the table of contents and was completely unprepared for it. And you know what I felt? Not anger. Not any of the frustration that has been seemingly omnipresent in this fall of our discontent. No, what I felt was emotional pain, a feeling in my gut akin to the one you get when you break up with a girlfriend. I've been so upset the past couple of weeks, so angry over the train wreck that is Nebraska football, that I hadn't had time to realize just how big of an emotional hit I was taking.
As I sat there and read about Mizzou's dream season, the dream season that was supposed to be ours, I thought back to last week against A&M. As my brother and I sat in our hotel room following the Aggie destruction, I looked over and saw the kid with one of the most depressing, crestfallen looks I have ever seen. He noticed my look, and he explained it like this:
"It just sucks. After my family, this is all I care about. It's the only thing I read about, the only thing I watch. The other 7 months out of the year, I count down to football season. And it just sucks to invest so much of myself into something and have nothing returned."
Perhaps that is what makes sports so special to people, the connection they have to that team and the ability said team has to break it's fans' hearts, much like a girlfriend can. Like my brother and millions of other college football fans, fall Saturdays are the only thing that gets us through our bland workdays, the only thing that we can truly get excited about. What makes it even harder is the lack of any other favorite teams. It's not like I can fall back on a favorite pro team, or a different sport. All there is to us is Husker football, and when they suffer, it proliferates down to the fans, making for one miserable fall.
Unfortunately, my brother and I were too young to fully appreciate the dominance of the Huskers in the 1990's. We even went to the national title game against Florida, saw Tommie's run and everything. But when your 12, you don't realize just how special a magical season like that is. You never imagine that in 10 years your team will be on it's way to a 4-8 season and a new coaching staff. You just root for the team because that's what you've been taught to do since the day you were born. Now, I'm 23. I realize what's going on. And it hurts so bad that I'd give just about anything to be 12 again so I wouldn't comprehend just how bad the state of Nebraska football is.
I'm tired of the losses. I'm tired of the rumors. I'm tired of coaches who don't come out and admit that they don't know what the hell is going on. I'm tired of players looking like they'd rather be doing keg stands than playing. And I'm tired of the pain that results from all of it. But the great thing about sports: there's always next year.