Let me preface this by saying I was not a psych major in college. In fact I have never taken a psych class in my life so you will have to excuse me as I delve into this diatribe.
As I get older, the excitement of the fall does something to my soul that is only matched by a relationship with Christ. I don't know what it is about the beginning of August that prompts a subtle but noticeable attitude change. The anticipation of a new season is a like a spring revival, while nature prepares itself for the doldrums of winter, I am hitting my stride.
For those of us who are cult-like followers of our respective teams we race home to get practice reports, hear interviews and seek whatever insider information we can about our team's status. For much of my life there was no scout, rivals or WCCP to get Clemson Football 365. It was Phil Steele and Athlon to get the low down on our teams and conference.
Growing up with my friend Buseman, we would spend hours analyzing, dissecting our teams and while he had a much better team than I did I always found a way for Clemson to go undefeated and play for a national title. A lot of that can be blamed on youthful idealism, but he can attest, I routinely would attempt to justify Clemson's claim on the National Title. For 17 years he has humored me as I weathered this yearly death march to disappointment.
As my wisdom grew with time and life experience, I found the need to be more realistic in my assessment of Clemson football. I look back on teams of yester-year and realize, we were not that good. Yet year after year, I convinced myself this is the year, my Tigers do something special. Lets just say that I am still waiting for my ship to come in...
That all being said, over the years there have been numerous great games, memorable wins, heartbreaking losses, what could have beens, special time spent with family and friends that play a large role in this addiction that I suffer from.
I know the issues at QB, I know the questions regarding the depth on the offensive line, I am aware of the absence of a go to guy at receiver, I know we are razor thin at linebacker, I know we will be extremely young at the free safety spot and I know there are questions regarding the kicking game. You know what? After three days of practice in shorts, I find myself thinking, could this be the year it all comes together! I find myself looking at the schedule trying to figure out well if this and this happens, and this guy steps up, we could be really good and I could find myself in Dolphin Stadium in early January.
Why at 30 years old and with the results that my team has rendered over the last 18 years do I do it to myself? What is wrong with me that I keep relapsing like an addict thinking, this is the year it all falls into place. I know psychologists have some type of fancy theory that would accurately diagnosis me and maybe there is a pill out there that would prevent me from having these moments of weakness to save myself and those who love me as I ride emotional roller coaster that is Clemson Football.
I am not alone in my suffering. If you are honest with yourself at one point since the schedules came out, you have been trying to figure out how your team could end up in Pasadena on January 7. Or maybe you are not as out of control as I am and you are rationalizing a trip to the conference championship game and a spot in a BCS bowl?
What makes so many people do this like clock work year after year? For me it is the desire to be in the stands that last game of the year. It is desire to for at least one year not to be the office whipping boy being forced to answer the, "What happened?" questions. I want that one moment in time, I want to swell with pride knowing that my team has reached the pinnacle. Does that make me crazy? Probably because it is highly unlikely that Clemson will find its way to the National Title game. I think there is a better chance of Barack Obama being removed from office for having a fraudulent birth certificate than Clemson playing for a National Title. Heck I need to worry about getting to Tampa first.
I cannot explain my undying and cultish devotion to Clemson Football. I cannot explain why I feel that some how all of the issues facing our team will some how magically go away. Why do I believe a guy who has only ever been a receivers coach will lead our program to heights yet unseen? Many will say, snap out of it, why do you do this to yourself? I say to my family, friends and those who do understand that this yearly ritual is what makes college football so special for so many people. It is what makes the banter between fans and alums of different schools interesting. It is the anticipation of what lies ahead that feeds our hunger for a game we cherish.