There is no game this week. I am really pissed off about this. Only one week into the season, and the Arkansas Razorbacks get to enjoy the season’s only Off Week. This is nothing good. A week of rest following the least taxing game of the season, and then we are staring down the barrel of three months of non-stop football. 11 consecutive weeks, starting with the Georgia Bulldogs, ending with the Louisiana State Tigers, and featuring midseason appearances by the Florida Gators, Ole Miss Rebels, and Alabama Crimson Tide. Yeouch. That’s 33% of the Preseason Top 15, by the way But enough about the team, let’s talk about who this Off Week really screws up… ME.
For me, the Off Week is something of a necessary evil. Sure, the absence of Razorback football on an otherwise perfect fall Saturday is unwanted, unwelcome, and unequivocally wrong, but it does serve a purpose. Three, in fact, and I shall take this opportunity to flesh them out. And then tell you why this particular Off Week falls short.
1. People love me. It’s true. I can’t help it. There is apparently just something about me. In fact, so many people love me that there is just not enough to go around during football season. Round about midseason, family and friends alike will begin the barrage of passive-aggressive cries for attention. A non-ticket-having buddy sends a text about losing me to “football season friends.” Mom leaves a voicemail “making sure you are still alive…” The Off Week gives me a chance to give these wilting relationships a super-concentrated dose of water and sunshine that will sustain them until basketball season.
Normally. Not this year. It’s too early. Too soon. Nobody has had a chance to miss me yet. No wilted relationships to water. No texts. No voicemails from mom. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that they may still be a little tired of me after the BVC-heavy summer I graced them with. I do, after all, try to cultivate their adulation judiciously. This is no good. This ill-timed Off Week is just laying down the foundation for a distraction during the late season push. The team needs me at tip-top condition for the LSU game, and how can I get there when I have to split time between prepping for the game and coming up with an excuse for not getting back with the friend who wanted to catch up over lunch… on SATURDAY.
SATURDAYS ARE NOT FOR LUNCH.
They are for one thing. Attending, or at the very least watching on television, your favorite football team. And before and after that, every college football game you can feast your eyes on. Don’t get me wrong, food plays a very substantial role in this… it’s just that “dining” and “catching up” do not.
2. Fall Weddings. For some reason, women love to get married in the fall. The idea of a fall wedding, with fluttering leaves of blazing red and vibrant orange dancing about, is a very romantic one. It is also terrifying to the groom. And his friends. And the spouses of her friends. And pretty much every male…everywhere.
This is an issue near and dear to my heart. The sanctity of football season and the sanctity of marriage can coexist, even if sometimes it seems the dexterity required to balance both can rival that of a laid out flanker trying to land with that first foot in. When I was engaged, I even went so far as to seek counsel from author and SEC guru Clay Travis:
Trent Woolridge writes:
Clay, belated congratulations on the success of Dixieland Delight: A Football Season on the Road in the Southeastern Conference. It is definitely one of the most enjoyable reads that I have had in a long time, though I wish you had gotten to experience a better game in Fayetteville.
Anyway, I come to you seeking input into and advice concerning what I consider to be a very critical issue. I recently got engaged, and my fiancée and I are currently bandying about possible dates. To her credit, she has taken off the table all dates that would coincide with the Razorbacks' football schedule, home or away. However, she has suggested the date of Sept. 27, 2008, which is an open date for the Hogs.
My question is this: What, if any, obligation do I have to negotiate on behalf of fans of other schools? Should a television at the reception be mandatory? Lastly, is this covered in Man: The Book? I am ashamed to say that I've not yet read it. Any light you can shed on this issue will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
This is a question worthy of an entire column but I'm going to try and answer it here. Basically it's my contention that southern weddings should never occur during football season. At least not if you have lots of family of varying allegiances. Thanks to the guy who always does the SEC football helmet schedule (that inevitably ends up e-mailed to me 14 times after I lose it over and over again), you can break down the SEC games on that day. Here's the helmet schedule link.
Thanks to television deals you can sort of project who will be on television come Sept. 27 and at what time. At 11:30 a.m. CT, JP/LF/Raycom will probably accidentally carry Tennessee-Kentucky from 1998 (legitimate guess -- they will carry either Miss. State at LSU or Ole Miss at Florida, say the latter because LSU fans don't want to have to get up and go to a football game that early). CBS will carry either Alabama at Georgia or Tennessee at Auburn (my guess is Alabama at Georgia). ESPN will take the one left over (likely Tennessee at Auburn) for the night kickoff.
So if you have family that are fans of either Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, or Auburn, chances are those family members are going to be cursing you all season. Balance the time for your wedding based on family allegiances accordingly. Is it a night or day wedding? My call would be to go with Saturday night because if you go with a day wedding then you basically cut out everyone's football watching.
If you absolutely must go with a Saturday wedding in the fall, go with the evening. Start at 7:00 (CT) and whatever you do, for the love of God, you absolutely have to ensure that a television is easily accessible at all times.
Depending on the parking situation, here's something that's really cool to do (that your wife and all her girlfriends will hate) -- set up a tailgate in the parking lot of the wedding. Get your buddy who has the satellite dish and the good televisions to set up there just in time for the early afternoon kickoff and make sure he gets the best spot that is easily accessible to an exit from where the wedding or reception is taking place.
People can go outside after the wedding, check the score out and still feel like they're at a game. Of course you'll be tailgating in a suit, but still, it's close. Put someone's eighth cousin twice-removed in charge of keeping an eye on everything outside during the wedding. Good luck.
The problem with this year’s Off Week? You guessed it. Too early. You can’t have a fall wedding when it’s not fall. We haven’t even celebrated the autumnal equinox! I have no wedding to attend this weekend. On the surface, this is a good thing. But my loyalty to the Arkansas Razorbacks and their propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory prohibits me from looking at this optimistically. The Off Week being this early can only mean that one of my wife’s college friends who I don’t even know has decided to get married on the day of the South Carolina game, and Stephanie is just hiding to invitation until she figures out what to do. The other shoe will drop…it’s just a question of when.
3. I like to watch football. This seems like a strange purpose for an Off Week, but stick with me. Whether the game is home or away, early kick or late, watching the Razorbacks is an all day affair. In the event of a home game, there are travel to and from and tailgating considerations to be made. For road games, there is typically some sort of a watch party organized. Long story short, time to sit in front of a television can be diminished. And what time is available is typically done so under the influence of alcohol. It just usually happens that way. Away games offer some opportunity for good football watching, but home games are especially tough. I remember listening to the Texas-Texas Tech game on the radio on the way home from a home game last year and thinking every other college football fan in the country was glued to his television…except me.
Off Weeks, strangely enough, provide me with an opportunity to watch a lot of different football teams with a clear mind and minimal rooting interests. I see teams and players I don’t normally see. Off Week might be my only chance to really pay attention to the play of Matt Barkley or this year’s dark horse mid-major.
This year’s Off Week? Once again, too early. What are the marquee matchups? Who cares? Time dictates that they will matter little toward the end of the season. Yes, USC does travel to The Horseshoe to take on Ohio State, and yes, both are ranked in the Top 10. But really, how big is this game going to be at the end of the season in an “I was *here* when I watched it” sense? They played early in the year last year. Do you remember it? I sure don’t. Early season college football is great…because it is football. Not because it is particularly compelling. It’s one reason why the Red River Shootout is so often forgotten by the end of the season…although that worked out particularly well for the Sooners last year.
The sun will rise again tomorrow. College football fans all over the country will greet it with that familiar knot in their stomach. Their team is playing tomorrow, and they get to experience again the best time of the year. Me? No Hogs. No other big game to plan around. No home-cooked dinner at Mom’s. No catching up with friends. Hell, not even a wedding. This sucks all around, and will prove to be a problem later in the year. For the Razorbacks and myself. Mark my words.