Saturday hit a bit different this week. While we had college football on our television sets a week ago, this past weekend brought the return of Power 5 football as both the ACC and Big 12 were back in action. It was, as with the week before, both refreshing to have some sense of normalcy, and disappointing to see big time college football without the Hawkeyes or Big Ten in action.
With the second week in a row of games giving us mixed emotions, we’re starting to see a new normal for college football Saturday. It’s not the same. It’s not as good. There’s no dog in the fight, which means no jubilation when the Hawkeyes pull of the big win and no heart ache when they fall short.
But it’s not all bad. The obvious benefit is to the health of our collective hearts not dealing with close games and disappointing defeats. Beyond that, it’s safe to assume more than a few families are enjoying some benefits to having less pressing issues on Saturdays (yours truly has a new desk for the kiddo, a freshly sealed driveway and a re-roofed and painted play house in the backyard to show for it).
Perhaps the biggest perk, however, has been the ability to sit back on a Saturday and enjoy college football without a vested interest in any outcomes. At its core, college football is fun. It’s objectively not as good as the NFL in that the players, on the whole, are not in the same universe. The execution is worse, the coaching is often questionable and more than occasionally stupid things happen. That’s what makes it great. And when those things don’t involve the team you root for, it can be incredibly fun.
It’s 2020 and Louisiana is running up the score on Iowa State— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 12, 2020
Watching Iowa State get bulldozed by Louisiana at home was peak college football fun. Sure, as Iowa fans, we had our fair share of fun because we are Iowa fans, but it was fun for anyone who wasn’t an Iowa State fan. Ditto Kansas State. And Kansas. And well, I guess the Big 12 in general. It was fun because it was pandemonium and it wasn’t the team we root for getting their dreams crushed. It wasn’t our loud mouthed fanbase eating crow.
And that’s the new normal. For the foreseeable future, we’re going to be watching college football purely for the entertainment value. There won’t be Iowa football until October 17th at the very earliest, which means there is no heart ache on Saturday other than the void left by our lost tailgating, family gatherings and Hawkeye game days. There is no I-O-W-A chant or wave to the Children’s Hospital. There is no swarm or Back in Black. No bubble gum chomping or writing on note cards. Saturday’s are different.
But that could be changing as early as this week after the Big Ten presidents and chancellors met over the weekend and supposedly made good progress on a potential return to action October 17th with a vote to come this week.
The proposed start date for the Big Ten, when its voted on, is expected to be weekend of Oct. 17. There's flexibility built in for that to be pushed back, if needed. https://t.co/M6tr4BcFd8— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 13, 2020
In the meantime, college football for the sake of college football can be a lot of fun. Especially if Iowa State, complete with an obnoxious fanbase gloating on preseason expectations and a lack of Hawkeye football, continues to look as comical as they did last weekend.
So enjoy it. Embrace it. It’s not normal, but it is the new normal. For now.