The Open Man countdowns to the 2018 college football season with 129 — in honor of the 129 programs participating in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year — things we love (and some we hate) about the sport. Click the 129 Things tag to see every entry.
I have a confession: I am addicted to college football takes.
One need not dig too deep into The Open Man’s archives or my Twitter account to find me airing my grievances against the pro-SEC rhetoric on Paul Finebaum’s airwaves. And you know how I’m privy to those takes? I tune into the show.
Now, I am not a regular listener — not in the offseason, anyway. Come college football season, however, long drives to and from venues require an ample backlog of podcasts, and the ESPN pod team is kind enough to edit a Best of Finebaum show that makes its way into the rotation.
In the past, I’ve described my patronage of the Finebaum Show as comparable to a politically left-wing person tuning into FOX News, just to get a sense of what the other side is thinking. But this isn’t entirely accurate. College football is the shortest of all the sports seasons. I anticipate its arrival each year, and it’s over in what feels like an instant, so I immerse myself in as much of the festivities as I can.
To that end, each autumn is its own Christmas. And what would the holiday season be without a little lunacy? The show’s my Cousin Eddie…
my major award lamp…
my Harry Ellis.
Don’t get me wrong: I have taken umbrage with plenty that Finebaum has to say. I wrote at length — twice, in fact! — about the misrepresentation of comments Stanford coach David Shaw made in the 2016 offseason. The program has a decided homerism to it that can be off-putting, and results in plenty of contrived controversy to throw some red meat to the provincial attitudes of the target demographic.
However, I enjoy some contention when discussing college football. Takes with which I don’t agree, but can be supported with either facts or genuine enthusiasm add some fun to the season. Before Twitter descended into daily reminders of our culturally toxicity, and prior to the blogosphere becoming overrun with pyramid schemes, the Sports Internet had a quality akin to sitting around a pub table, talking over some beers about any and every topic that came to mind.
Disagreements will inevitably surface, but there was a jovial tone. I lamented recently, in regard to site closures and layoffs, that’s the last half-decade or so of the online sports community has been mired in the Era of Cynicism. The jokes felt more genuine and less about brand-building, and the debates weren’t so bogged down in rando Saban Avatars declaring “your bias” before demanding you retire in shame.
I often miss those halcyon days. For my gripes about Finebaum’s program, there are lingering vestiges that remind me of a less cynical time; of pulling JOX up on my web browser circa 2010 to listen to caller meltdowns after South Carolina beat Alabama.
Sports takes can be downright toxic. I avoid the works of Cowherd and Whitlock. The Finebaum-style path can be a slippery slope to heinous territory, as at least one notorious former Finebaum imitator has demonstrated. However, spirited discussion and differing perspectives on the sport can enhance the viewing experience.
With that, I live you with the following: UCF should have been in the College Football Playoff.