In the spirit of Thanksgiving and being thankful, I thought it was appropriate to share this prayer written by Andy Staples for Sports Illustrated at the beginning of the 2011 season. Despite our rivalries, our fan hatred, and our extreme school spirit; this week we should all be thankful to live in a country where we have the freedom to enjoy college football and the joy/pain it brings to our lives. Thank God for Auburn Football!
Lord, it's been a tough offseason for those of us who love college football. The Auburn people could lose their trees. The Ohio State people have lost their coach. Oregon paid a street agent with a check. A former Miami booster sat in prison and admitted he paid dozens of players. Some LSU players went to a bar called Shady's and -- lo and behold -- something shady happened. My beloved sport smells like a cesspool.
Lord, maybe it is one. But it's my favorite cesspool. And after months of hand-wringing and moralizing, I only want to watch students from one school ram into students from another school at blistering speed while 85,000 people scream.
So Lord, I ask you for the strength to allow me to shut my eyes tight and forget that I love a multibillion-dollar business in which the coaches make millions and the players never get a raise. I don't want to feel guilty while I watch. I want to eat brats and scream at my coach's decision to punt on fourth-and-inches from the 50. (That millionaire pansy.)
Lord, there is so much to be thankful for in college football. Thank you for the Vol Navy floating along the Tennessee river. Thank you for the M Club banner in Ann Arbor. Thank you for Howard's Rock and for section GG. Thank you for gold helmets and a promise to play like a champion today. Thank you for nerds pulling pranks at Cal and Stanford. Thank you for "We Are The Boys" between the third and fourth quarters at The Swamp. Thank you for the dotting of the I in Columbus. Thank you for the burning couches in Morgantown. Thank you for the 12th Man. Thank you for the Blackshirts. Thank you for the flight of the War Eagle over the Loveliest Village on the Plains. Thank you for that moment in Tuscaloosa when Skynyrd blasts through the speakers and 100,000 pom-poms shake in unison.
Lord, thank you for Traveler, for Renegade, for Bevo, for Ralphie and for Boomer and Sooner, who pull the Sooner Schooner. May they not leave any gifts on the field. May Uga VIII rest in peace, and may his replacement live to see the second coming of Herschel Walker.
Lord, thank you for making Miss Americas who can name Ole Miss' backup left tackle. Thanks also for boots with sundresses and for chaps on cheerleaders.
Lord, thank you for spread offense. Thank you for the I-formation. Thank you for the quarterback, the dive man and the pitch man and the fact that they have options. Thank you for pulling guards made huge by pulled pork. Thank you for the Jack linebacker and for the twist stunt. Thank you for quarterbacks named Luck and for rush ends named Barkevious. Thank you for the Statue of Liberty and for Little Giants. Thank you for green grass and for blue turf. Thank you for Joe Paterno. May he outlive and outcoach us all.
Lord, thank you for Les Miles. Truly, we can never thank you enough for Les Miles.
Lord, I understand my beloved sport has been tainted by scandal, but please don't let those eggheads in the presidents' offices or those idiots in the press box change a thing.
Lord, please don't allow the NCAA to legalize payments from boosters, agents and endorsement deals, even though such payments wouldn't harm anyone or anything. When my head hits the pillow every night, I want to know that I might wake up and find out that Charles Robinson of Yahoo! has written something that will burn my rival's program to the ground. If Charles ever writes about my program, I reserve the right to call his story a witch hunt perpetrated by a mainstream media jealous of my team's success.
Lord, I want to believe that the color I wear will make a difference in the outcome of the game despite glaring evidence to the contrary. Also, while I realize you have many, many more important things to do, I might -- only once or twice -- ask you to intervene in the proceedings at a stadium at some point this fall. But only in the fourth quarter. I promise.
Lord, everyone says you only pull for Notre Dame, but I just don't believe that. I believe you gave us college football because you love us and you want us to be happy. I believe you gave us college football so South Carolina fans can chill themselves with sweet tea and hope every August and so Wisconsin fans can warm themselves with Leinenkugel's and rushing totals every November. I believe you gave us college football so Texas A&M students can yell. I believe you gave us college football so Starkville residents can get more (legal) cowbell.
Lord, this offseason has felt like an eternity. Scandal has dominated. Football has been reduced to an afterthought. But my faith remains unshaken. I swear.
Lord, please make them kick the damn ball already.