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How To Pick A Football Team

54b checks in with another fun post, weighing in on how he'd go about picking a team to root for if he didn't already have Texas.

Last week ESPN Columnist Bill Simmon's wrote an entertaining piece on how he went about choosing an English Premier League Soccer team to root for after he'd been bitten by the soccer bug in the wake of the World Cup.

I found it thought provoking, and wondered how I would pick a Division 1 college football team to root for if I hadn't attended or grew up near one. In other words, we're still a month of away from the season opener and I need to kill some time...

So like Bill, I made myself some guidelines to follow:

FOOTBALL PEDIGREE My adopted team doesn't have to go back 100, years or even have won a National Championship, but they must have some history and tradition beyond the time their mascot got put on the endangered species list and their Math Club took top honors at the Mathletes Meet.

NO PERENNIAL LOSERS I'm no sadist; my team has to win more often than not. It doesn't mean I'm not willing to get my heart broken, but going 2-9 year after year is like being Jared before he found Subway. Won't work.

GREAT GAMEDAY ATMOSPHERE My team has to play in a great  stadium, feature a kick-ass tailgating scene, and a knowledgeable and friendly fan base who acts like "they've been there before." In other words, no tearing down the goal post after a win over Directional Tech.

A SOLID RIVAL My team has to have at least one good rival. Even if my team is having a down year, I can still look forward to that one game that always means everything even if the rest of the year is in the toilet.

NO BANDWAGON I'm in this for the long-haul, so I'm not going to root for the flavor of the month, nor the football schools that win the conference championship every year because they play in a basketball conference. We need some suspense. 7-4 and 8-3 can be fun.

Because I don't quite have the time to research all 113 D-1 teams (though 3/4 of them could probably be eliminated in about two seconds) I've decided to break down the Big XII in descending order of what school affiliation I'd most like to join if I was from outer space and didn't already know the Texas Longhorns were God's chosen school:

11) BAYLOR When the semi-annual mercy game against North Texas State is the closest thing you've got to a rivalry and one - count it, one - conference win constitutes a big season... it's going to be hard to attract some new fans. On top of that, going to a game at Floyd Casey in Waco is a lot like attending a funeral for a distant Uncle you never met.

10) K-STATE Before Bill Snyder came along, the Wildcats couldn't beat the School for the Blind, and now that Snyder's leaving, it Seems Like Old Times, again. On top of that, Manhatten is one Wal-Mart 25-cent electrical pony ride short of one-horse town status, and though most people haven't even bothered to notice, the K-State fans are trying their darndest to become Texas Tech Jr.

9) KANSAS  Lawrence is not half-bad as far as college towns go, and they have a heated rivalry with Mizzou going nearly non-stop. But rooting for the Jayhawk football team is like rooting for rain to fall. They never seem to win when they really need it - only when it's too late in the season to matter. Plus, mark my words: Mt. Mangino will explode at some point soon, killing everyone in a 3 mile radius of the local Pizza Hut, and I just don't want to chance being anywhere near that.

8) TEXAS TECH  Even though the sign on the Lubbock city limits should read, "Welcome to Brown Town," the Red Raiders do play an entertaining brand of offensive football and usually put a decent team on the field year after year. Then again, their fans tore down a goal post after a meaningless win and tried to impale it on some A&M fans as they tried to exit the stadium. I'm just not into joining the Insane Classless Clown Posse.

7) OKLAHOMA STATE Stillwater can be fun...if you don't mind driving 500 miles to the middle of nowhere to drink beer that promises half the alcohol and twice the number of trips to the pisser. The stadium looks like a movie set bunker from Saving Private Ryan and I just can't join a group of fans that celebrates whenever their team gets "another 1st down."

6) TEXAS A&M When your school has more weird traditions than it does winning seasons, that doesn't make you rich in tradition, that makes you a
religious cult. If I wanted to wear overalls, paint myself and woo sheep by whooping all the time, I'd join a carnival.

5) IOWA STATE  To be honest, I've never been to Ames, but I've seen a
brochure and it reads, "At least we're not K-State." On TV, the stadium looks slightly bigger than the one my Junior High team played in, and I'm pretty sure I saw some corn growing in one of the end zones. It is true that the Cyclones have been winning a few games here of late, and just missed going to the Big XII title game for like the 8th year in a row, but I just can't root for a team whose Red and Yellow uniforms should come with a side of fries and a Happy Meal toy.

4) MIZZOU Fun stadium, fun town, decent fans, solid rivalry with KU and
they actually do have some football history, especially back in the late 1970's. Pinkel is a decent coach,and though they probably won't win the Big XII North anytime soon, they put competitive teams on the field. There's just something about this school that I can't sink my teeth into. They're like a laxative. They do a good job, but all things being equal, you never really wanted to get involved with them in the first place.

3) COLORADO Carbon copy of Mizzou, but with more wins. Plus Boulder tops Columbia for overall aesthetics. But I can't go with the Buffs because at the end of the day, I think their fan base lacks passion. I know the Buffs were long shots to beat Texas in the Big XII Championship last December, but I saw more Aggie fans in the stands at Reliant than I did Buffs fans. And after getting pasted 70-3, I'd imagine most Buffs fans just shrugged their shoulders and went skiing or smoked a J instead of going into a coma like I did after they narrowly beat Texas in 2001. Where's the love?

2) OU Except for Norman being slightly more exciting than the world's
biggest ball of mud, OU has it all: History, Tradition, Good teams, solid rival, passionate (though misguided and ignorant) fan base. If anything, you could argue that they're a bandwagon team because they win so much, but even after three trips to the big show in five years, the only people that like OU are Sooners. At the end of the day, I think it's just a fan base you have to be born into. They're like the Free Masons or some group like that.

1) NEBRASKA Back in the mid-1990s, they would have failed the bandwagon test, but now they're almost perfect... History, atmosphere, winning  teams, great fans, almost everything you could want. The only thing they're missing is the solid rivalry, but the one with Colorado is starting to work itself up into a frenzy. If they still played OU every year, that would make them almost
perfect.

So there you have it! If I wasn't just a dyed in the wool Longhorn, I can see myself adopting N.U. And becoming a closet Cornhusker.

And just for shits and giggles, I ran through the other BCS conferences
briefly...

ACC: Maryland, or maybe Virginia... Yes, Virginia. Forget FSU, and Miami just scares me. I love the story that just came out about the Miami DB who got shot in the ass, complete with teammates who were packing pistols in their pockets and returned fire. I tell you, isn't it about time those video game people came out with an "Off-the-field" altercation option on NCAA 2007. I mean, what Texas fan wouldn't want to go looking for stolen flat screens with Cedric? Or go party hopping in the stix with Ramonce and 5 lb bag of grass?
Update [2006-7-26 15:56:15 by HornsFan]: 54b has been sufficiently convinced by the Peanut Gallery to root, root, root for Clemson and Georgia Tech. Well done, guys.

BIG EAST: Syracuse, but they'll have to pay me. No to WVU (football school in basketball conference, though it's not their fault V-Tech, BC and Miami ditched them) and no to Louisville. I'm not going to home games in a stadium named Papa John's. That's just wrong, unless your name is Mangino and you get paid in Pepperonis.

BIG TEN: Tough call, but I think I'm going with Wisconsin (with Penn St. a close second). No to Michigan and tOSU - fails the bandwagon test, and they don't need my money anyway.

INDEPENDENTS: Give me Navy; no question about it. Terrific rivalry situation, and they can play anywhere and have 20,000 fans in the stands. And can I get a Hell No! for rooting for Notre Dame? I'd rather be an Alter Boy at St. Gluteus' than root for the God Squad.

PAC 10: This one is next to impossible to pick. Besides eliminating USC on the bandwagon rule and Oregon State on everything else, almost every other team can make a case for itself. They all have rivals - great rivalries in fact. It's like the conference said, "You can't come in unless you come in with a rival." And while they don't all have the best football pedigrees, they've all experienced a decent amount of success. In the end, give me UCLA, though the uniforms make me uncomfortable in a Brokeback sort of way. But still, you can't beat the Rose Bowl.

SEC: Another potentially tough decision, but when I think about it for a second, it's Georgia, in a heartbeat. Auburn and Alabama, a tie for second.

Okay, there you go, that should kill at least a couple of hours. Is it
football season yet?

--54b--