college football


I've always believed words mean things, and "devastated" has been misused a good bit lately. For example, I know of smart people who said they were  "devastated" by the death of Princess Leia, and "devastated" some more when her mum, Debbie Reynolds, died the next day. Now, those deaths are sad, but, really, how can one be "devastated" by the death of someone who, basically, made movies? The word means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "severe and overwhelming (my italics) shock or grief." 

I thought Princess Leia was cool, but she was fictional, created for entertainment purposes. Same for her mother's roles. It was sad that there was a history of mental illness and substance abuse, truly. But for someone who didn't even know these people to be "devastated" when they died? It baffles me. Time to move on, I think.

Recently, my favorite college football team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, were demolished in the Outback Bowl by Florida's Gators. The final score was 30-3. When the game was over and I had clicked off the TV, I just sat there. My long-suffering wife took one look at me and asked, "Are you okay?"

"No," I said. "Devastated."

Photo cred: Chris O'Meara AP Photo

Just another tequila mockingbird...

Things and more things filter through my mind, snips and snatches I can't explain. And sometimes things happen to me that are just plain weird. So I'll share a few. Why do people look at the hymnal in their hands when they're singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" with 1,328 "Hallelujahs" in a row? Same for that song with all the "glorias" in it, "Angels We Have Heard On High." Same words, over and over again, singers looking at the book. LOOK UP, PEOPLE! YOU LOOK STUPID!

I never knew it before today, but "Tequila Mockingbird" was that novel written by Harper Lee. Students really need to read more. Maybe they were thinking of Jimmy Buffett.

How do I explain having a cat in my underwear the other day at our "escape cottage"? I could explain it, but I won't. But if I don't explain it . . .

I did not watch one minute of any college football game last week. No wonder I don't feel well. It's been decades since I could say that, and trust me, it's not going to happen again.

I have had two concussions in my lifetime, both provided by baseball bats. One, by my older sister. One by me. Both stories should generate concerns, by you, about my cerebral functioning. On the other hand, it might explain a few things.

I was struck by lightning one time on I-95 south of Jacksonville, Florida. That might explain some of my snarled synapses, too.

Do you detect a pattern?

We're gonna cheer until we hear the final gun

I love college football. Autumn colors, crisp air, joyful crowds, fervent tail-gating, peppy bands, and noble competition on the gridiron among mostly-amateur student-athletes. But the main reason I love college football is this: If there were no college football, there would be no Iowa Hawkeyes college football team.

Being from Iowa, being a University of Iowa grad (stunning many of my high school teachers), and being from the same neighborhood that produced Kenny Ploen made it inevitable, and delightful, for me to love those Hawkeye football teams forever.

You might be asking yourself, who is Kenny Ploen? First, his last name is pronounced "Plane." (His first name is pronounced "Kenny.") Next, he was an All-American quarterback at Iowa. Finally, he quarterbacked us to our first victory in the Rose Bowl, 117-2, against Southern Cal (I might be fuzzy on the details, but we did beat someone from out west. Mark Twain said he had a perfect memory, even for things that didn't happen, and I kind of like that.)

I was a mere child at the time and, later, when I got to shake his hand and get his autograph at a church dinner, I was over the moon happy. And that cinched it.

I was hooked on the black and gold, and have remained there ever since. Living in South Carolina makes it difficult for me to get to Nile Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, which is named after the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, Nobel Prize winner in Literature, former Governor of Iowa, and concert pianist when he wasn't performing open heart surgery with a Swiss Army knife on the battlefields in France.

But I do have a satellite dish and a wide screen HD television. And I do get to watch their games from the comfort and convenience of my living room, where I wear my Iowa regalia and shout encouragement to my Hawks, even though Lisa reminds me that, "They can't hear you, John." And I can record the games to watch again and again.

This year begins on September 1st. In Chicago's Soldier Field. A new season. Another chance to go undefeated and unscored upon.

And if you listen carefully beginning at 3:30 Eastern Daylight Time, you just might be able to hear me shout "GO HAWKS!" They can hear it, and you can, too. It takes faith.