There's something wrong this football season. For a while, I think maybe it is just me: I'm turning 30 next week. I'll be married within a year. I've been writing this blog for a full five years now. Maybe, I wonder, it feels like I'm just going through the motions because I'm burning out, ready to turn a corner to something new.
Wednesday evening I sit down to write a preview about Baylor, stare thoughtlessly at the Bears' team stat page for a few minutes, and realize I have nothing to say. I shut my laptop, open a beer, and fall asleep re-watching Magnolia for the twentieth time.
Driving home from class earlier today, I think again about what I might write, and again my mind feels mostly empty. What is there to say about a game that Texas likely will win by 30, and even if it wins by just 3, will matter all the same? What is there to say about any of the remaining four games, in all of which Texas will be heavily favored and need only to win? At this point, Texas can only lose, and I really don't want to write about that.
An old friend calls and I bemoan my lethargic state to him, saying only half-jokingly, "Maybe I'll just post a sign on BON's front page: Closed Until January."
"Hey," he warns, "if you'd done that last time, we never would have had Scott Ware."
Like a ton of bricks it hits, before he finishes his sentence... "Not a damned one of 'em," I mutter.
"Not any what?" he asks.
"Villains," I exclaim. "That's the problem with this season! There are no villains. No Scott Ware, no USC, no nothing."
"There's always Oklahoma..." he starts to argue, but pauses. "My God, you're right."
A Season Without Villains
At last, something to write about, but the reason it's seemed such a struggle throughout this season is because Texas is, essentially, running unopposed to the Rose Bowl. The 2005 Longhorns were also heavily favored in most of their games, but not only did we at least have the early-season showdown with Ohio State, there was the year-long battle with ESPN's Team Of Destiny -- USC.
This year... nothing. Oklahoma lost their quarterback and the game in the opener to BYU, lost another in Miami before the Shootout, and have since lost the wheels to the cheat-wagon, amounting to a season that is spiraling quickly down the toilet. Oklahoma State took care of business against Georgia, but not only are the Bulldogs nothing special, the Cowboys couldn't make it to Texas week without a loss, dropping one at home to Houston in September.
The rest of the Big 12? Pitiful. The race to the BCS? Set in stone: win and we're in. With Florida and Alabama winning without dominating, there's not even a mystical dragon who we can obsessively plan to slay.
Apparently, I'm not the only one waiting for the ball to drop, as I just noticed that Doc Saturday penned a post this morning titled, "If 2009 has any tricks up its sleeve, now is the time to break them out."
And frankly, it's beginning to feel like that kind of season. As Pete Thamel pointed out in Sunday's New York Times, every game is most definitely not a playoff down the stretch, as BCS proponents are so fond of contending. There is one "playoff' game -- Alabama-Florida in Atlanta, the winner of which is certainly bound for the BCS title game in the Rose Bowl, probably even if one of them happens to slip up in a horrifying upset in one of its last three games of the regular season -- but there is mere survival for Texas, which can also punch its ticket to Pasadena by taking care of its business against apparent non-threats Baylor, Kansas, Texas A&M and Overmatched Big 12 North Champion in the conference title game. For everyone else, it looks like playing out the string for lesser stakes.That's fine, except that we're hitting mid-November, when the drama, turmoil and debate should be beginning to hit a fever pitch, and already the season feels like a foregone conclusion. There's nothing on the horizon like the familiar imbroglios that have made the rest of the decade so consistently entertaining.
He's right, and if the malaise is widespread, nowhere is it more numbing than for us. Cincinnati fans can carp about the unfair BCS system and obsess what an upset to one of the Big Three would mean for their title chances. Boise State fans are reeling to keep up with the school's frenzied blitz of moves aiming to elevate the program's prominence, now and in the future. This season is a wet dream for TCU fans who live for a chance to scream in the megaphone that THEY ARE RELEVANT. Fans of the SEC outside Tuscaloosa and Gainesville have the conference's officials; Florida and Alabama have each other.
Texas fans have... what? A crappy running game?
With no one to turn our guns on, it's no wonder that as a firing squad we've trained our sights on. There's literally no one else.
Yeah, yeah: every school should be lucky, cry-me-a-river blah blah blah. I get it. I'm happy, believe me. And if we win our next four, December and January are going to be amazing for us while for every other team but one it'll just be the end.
But I wish I had something to write about right now. I wish I had someone to hate.