Not my College Football Championship

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ESPN prepares for another the biggest rating’s disaster of this bowl season Monday, this time at the hands of the Deep South.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Until about  8:18 p.m. PST New Year’s Eve 2015, my interest in this year’s four-team college football playoff could have been described as moderately bemused to waning: something between season three and beyond of 24 and I wonder if Captain Ron is on somewhere. After Alabama duped Michigan State into believing there may be a way to score negative points and Oklahoma decided to play their spring game four months early vs. Clemson, I’d say that interest level went somewhere south of whatever desire I have to get adult braces or checking my calendar to see when my next full-body mole scan is.

Here’s where if you a) believe more guns = less gun violence b) think Jesus rode the dinosaurs c) are hoping Ted Cruz taps Sarah Palin for a dream-ticket in 2016 d) were almost afraid to step into Wal-Mart on Black Friday because ISIS but just couldn’t resist that pricing on the PS4 e) know Ruby Tuesday as the place to get an onion dipped in grease and spread out so it looks like Freddy Krueger’s complexion—not as track three of the US release of the Stone’s Between the Buttons—aka Brian Jones’ magnum opus where he played 10 instruments including vibraphone, recorder, saxophone, electric dulcimer, percussion, oscillator and harmonica f) know your local Planned Parenthood only as the place your uncle is planning to blow up as soon as his truck gets fixed g) drive around with a bumper sticker—any bumper sticker—but notably one that ends with “…my cold dead hands” h) think A Time to Kill was a pretty accurate documentary until the final monologue… and g) are from Pelham, Alabama and are more torn than last month’s credit card statement about who to root for.

…You may be tuning into the college football national championship Monday.

Everyone else in this country: Does. Not. Give. A. Fuck.

Personally, I’m vehemently in the latter category: I fucking hate the ACC and SEC’s brand of football. It takes twice as long as football normally does (which is fucking long to begin with) because of whatever variant of two-runs-up-the-middle/one deep-route then pan to the JC Penney khakis’ perma-frown on the sidelines. With bonus commercial breaks, tomorrow’s game should finish just after midnight with the over/under in the single digits.

I’m also of the mind that the Deep South’s genteel pockets of julep-soaked hospitality and chicken-fried charm fled sometime during the Carter Administration. The good ones only to return for Thanksgiving to watch toothless grandma gnaw on a turkey leg and wonder out loud when they started letting the blacks on Wheel of Fortune as she regurgitates Trump’s foreign and domestic policy talking points with a reaffirming, “I’ve been saying that for years.”

Need proof? Here’s what those left behind in Alabama most searched (in order) on Google in 2015: FOX News / God / Impeach Obama / Jesus / Jessica Simpson / Obama Is The Antichrist / Polka / Satan.

My favorite has to be the Jesus/Jessica Simpson/Obama is the antichrist triumvirate (followed, of course, by Polka and Satan…actually they may have something with those last two). How did How to get Blood and Ash off White Sheets and Most Effective Way to Re-Start A Cross That Won’t Burn not make the list? Or are those top searches on some white supremacist engine from the Deep South deep web.

The only favorable impression I’ve ever had of Alabama was the lovely wrap-around porch of Forrest Gump’s plantation which upon first viewing made me want to go visit; till I figured out the movie is just pretty much the manifestation of every Alabaman’s wet dream: how to be a slow-witted white man and still be the fastest skill set player on the Crimson Tide, win a congressional medal of honor, start a successful business with no aptitude and down all the Dr. Pepper you can drink…oh and bang Princess Buttercup in the process.

As for you South Carolina, you’re not much better—albeit you at least keep it a little more interesting. Your top Google searches: The Benghazi Attack / Golf / Hootie & the Blowfish (band) / Nudist Colony

Nothing says “I’m living in the fucking past where I pretend things seemed OK…even clothes optional” than South Carolina—and this proves it. Here’s an excerpt from the piece the Guardian ran on South Carolina last year in the wake of the Charleston church shooting: Outside the South Carolina statehouse, William Bader stood tall and defiant as he brandished a large Confederate battle flag. It was not unlike the one embroidered on his black shirt, or the one a local honor guard recently removed from a flagpole outside the legislative building where he protested.

Bader, an imperial wizard in the Trinity White Knights, drove hundreds of miles from Kentucky—or, rather, “Klantucky”, as he quipped—to Columbia, all in hopes of defending the flag on a sweltering Saturday afternoon.

“They took our flag, so be it,” said Bader, a member of the Ku Klux Klan for the past two decades. “They’re taking our heritage from us. They’re taking the freedom out of America.”

…I love how this guy fucking drove from a place he affectionately refers to as “Klantucky” to a place that’s even MORE of a safe haven to let his racist freak flag fly (South Carolina) to talk about his heritage and his freedoms. If we learned anything of the Deep South in 2015, it’s that there’s no better way to celebrate your freedoms than to continue the tradition of taking away the rights and agency of others.

So, for now I’m giving up on college football and its brutally short-sighted and regionally weighted four-team playoff. Any system that so systemically relishes and rewards this country’s backwater and bruised side of the apple merits not to be taken seriously. To mention nothing of the irony that the season finale is happening at University of Fucking Phoenix Stadium. Nothing like a fake for-profit college namesake stadium hosting a fake for-profit college namesake final.

Now, as far as the teams themselves go, Alabama and Clemson have every right to be there in the context of the current playoff system. A system gerrymandered by the CFP selection committee worse than a voter base in a low-income neighborhood (or should I just say neighborhood in the context of the participating states: Alabama is the fourth poorest state in the union with a median household income of $42,830 and a poverty rate of 19.3 percent; South Carolina rounds out the top-10 poorest with a median household income: $45,238 and a poverty rate of 18 percent). Until the playoff system is expanded to 12 or 16 teams, college football quite literally may be the only thing to infuse hope and economy into the most moribund part of the country.

On the other hand, kowtowing to the eastern timezone feels bereft of completeness this year. Stanford proved against Iowa on New Year’s Day that if it were given the chance to deploy Christian McCaffrey on any top-shelf defense that he would explode all over their faces like on whatever sites you cleared from your history before reading this. It’s a damn shame this iteration of the Cardinal—with a tone-setting defense and senior quarterback Kevin Hogan finally figuring out his footwork is better when his laces aren’t knotted together—didn’t get a shot at the big vagina trophy.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Viewership for the two NYE playoff games was down 39 percent from last year. Overall, holiday bowl game ratings were mired somewhere between Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas on Hallmark and Michael Buble’s Christmas in Hollywood on NBC.

Last year Oregon vs. Ohio State drew almost 34 million households in the championship tilt. Compare that to the semi-final games which drew about a quarter of that; predictions for tomorrow are in the 15-20 million household range*—roughly the same numbers The Bachelor will take home in prime time…but then again, who doesn’t like #bachelorben?

The ACC, SEC, Big 10 and even the Pac-12 will continue to dig in against a playoff expansion in order to protect their lucrative networks’ performance during the regular season. This inability to create a viable postseason tournament has left us with Monday’s awful, unwatchable mess that like many of this country’s biggest disasters is once again confined to the Deep South.

*Numbers could drop in the region that cares if the neighbor’s generator goes out again.

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