My favorite season of the year is now underway – college football! I look forward to Saturdays and watching my favorite teams play on TV. I no longer enjoy going to the stadiums, dealing with the crowds, fighting the traffic, sitting on an uncomfortable seat in all kinds of weather, contending with long lines to get to an unsanitary restroom, paying six bucks for a cold wiener on a stale bun (erroneously called a hotdog), and four bucks for a small coke (which these days is about a half-gallon in size). I much prefer the comfort of my Lazy-Boy recliner, just a few steps from a clean bathroom, and "free" concessions (including my own "Huford Hotdog") made possible by my wife's frequent trips to the nearby Kroger Marketplace.
My loyalty is to the Tennessee Vols. Admittedly, they have fallen on hard times in recent years and still have a ways to go to get back to the National Championship days of 1998. (Give us time!) At the same time, it is no secret that I also love and root for the Alabama Crimson Tide. My son, whose blood runs orange, likes to quote scripture to me and remind me that "no man can serve two masters." But as one born and bred in Alabama I have never been able to completely abandon the Tide. (I still refer to all Alabama teams as "Bear's Bunch.") Since I do not think Tennessee has a chance at the National Championship this year, nothing would suit me better than to see the Crimson Tide repeat as National Champs. I hope they will get to play USC in the Championship game and stick it to Lane ("Long Term") Kiffin, the Judas Iscariot who coached the Vols one season then high-tailed it back to the West Coast. (Hey, guys, this is Hugh's News and Views. I can say what I want to. If you disagree, write your own News and Views! J ).
Is there a better College Football Conference than the Southeastern? Obviously not. Everybody wants to get in it, whether they are geographically located in the Southeast or not. That's fine with me. Just be prepared for some hard-nosed football. And don't go back home crying after running into teams like Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia. (Sorry I had to delete Auburn and Arkansasfrom this list.)
On a more sobering note, I am saddened by what happened at Penn State. I always liked Joe Paterno and thought he was a straight arrow. Even after he got too old to coach and insisted on hanging on, I was for him and his teams. (I like old preachers, old cowboys, old country music stars, and old football coaches.) Yes, Joe Pa had eclipsed "The Bear" in the number of victories, but I still liked him and thought he ran a clean program. Little did any of us know that he and the top officials at Penn State looked the other way and covered up for an accused perverted child molester on his coaching staff. All wins going back to 1998 (111 as I recall) have been taken away from Penn State and Paterno, moving him from first to twelfth on the list of the winningest coaches in college football. His iconic statue has been removed from its pedestal outside Beaver Stadium. How the mighty have fallen! "Happy Valley" is not a very happy place these days. What a sobering reminder of the biblical text: "For whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). Or, as Ira North, a great gospel preacher, used to frequently say, "You can't do wrong and get by with it."
In many ways the game of football is a metaphor for life. As we enjoy the new season, let us also learn valuable lessons, not the least of which is: Football is a game; our relationship with God is not. If folks took the latter as seriously as many of them do the former they would be way ahead in the game of life.
In the meantime, "Go Vols!" "Roll Tide!"
September 30: Cottontown Church of Christ, Cottontown, TN
September 11, 2012