Inspired by the "Legends of the Fall" fanshot, I humbly offer another off-season, pre-practice time-waster for everyone else who goes to sleep at night thinking about college football.
My question for the group: What team that rarely (or never) shows up on Texas' schedule do you detest most? Do you find yourself tuning into their games in hope that they're losing? Are you a displaced Texan who finds himself in a college football hotbed that seems like an alien world? Or did you just grow up hating on a particular program?
Oklahoma, A&M, even Arkansas -- those teams don't count for this discussion.
My Least Favorite Program, naturally, comes with family ties attached. First, some background: Unlike many of you, I am not a native Texan -- I got there when I could, as the saying goes. I grew up in South Bend, Indiana. My father still teaches at Notre Dame and as a child I sold programs outside Notre Dame Stadium and attended every home game, rain or shine. Or, quite often, snow. Growing up in South Bend taught me to love college football. But I knew college would take me elsewhere and after visiting other schools I set foot in Austin and knew I was done looking.
Fast forward many years -- I was UT class of '97 -- to Thanksgiving weekend of 2009. I was visiting my then-girlfiend's parents in Ohio for the long weekend. Aside from enjoying a nice meal and some hospitality, I arrived on a mission: I was going to ask my girlfriend's father for his blessing; I was planning to marry his daughter. For those of you who have gone through this, you know it is a nerve-wracking experience. But I was ready. I had my speech all planned. What I had not planned on was walking into my girlfriend's childhood home to see my future father-in-law decked out, head to toe, in Ohio State gear.
And here we come to the crux of it: I hate Ohio State with a burning, hot passion. And I always have. Now, Notre Dame and Ohio State do not play each other often -- only five times ever. The games I remember, during the Lou Holtz glory years, were OSU wins. And we all know the history between UT and OSU. So it's a hate based on just a few impressions. But those impressions had a common theme: These guys are assholes. The players, the holier-than-thou coaching staff, the fans... Oh, especially the fans. The taunting, the poor sportsmanship, the smug assuredness that theirs is the finest program in the land, the rioting and car-burning in Columbus after a loss. It all seemed to me the opposite of the classiness I came to expect from football fans when I attended games as a child in South Bend and Ann Arbor and later in Austin.
As for my future father-in-law, he's now my actual father-in-law. He's a great guy and I love his daughter more than anything. She doesn't like football, but her entire family bleeds whatever damn color Ohio State is. When I visit her family in Ohio, I keep my mouth shut and try to ignore the OSU posters, hats, and sweatshirts I seem to see everywhere I go. And when the Buckeyes are playing, I stay quiet while silently hoping that Terrelle Pryor suffers a season-ending injury. (Nothing to cripple him, mind you -- just enough to wreck their season.) And every once in a while someone will say to me, "Who are you cheering for?" And I say, "The University of Texas. And we're 2-1 against you."