As a Gopher football fan, I’ve quite frequently been in throwing-my-hands-in-the-air mode, as I am sure many have.
There are plays, players, coaches, games and seasons that just cause me to lose the ability to react other than to sort of momentarily give up.
And the question that goes along with the hands being thrown in the air is always “WHY?”
Not as in, why did that player do that, or why did that coach call that, or why are we so terrible. It’s more of larger existential “why.” Like, why do I have to be so invested in this? Why do I have to care so much about THIS team? Why couldn’t I have been born into a _____ family? Why do bad things happen to good people?
I’m going to be honest with you guys: I hate this season of Gopher football.
I hate it so much.
I hate it worse than the 3-9 season in 2011. I hate it worse than the 1-11 in Brewster’s first year.
I hate it.
I hate it because 5 games into the season, for the first time in Kill’s tenure, I can’t see improvement.
I hate it because for the first time in as long as I can remember, what’s happening on the field actually feels like regression.
Last week I wrote about having perspective. Mostly I was talking about Mitch Leidner, but overall having some perspective about the Gophers.
Well Saturday’s shutout loss to Northwestern has pretty much caused me to lose any kind of positive perspective about this team.
I’ve got College Football Depression (CFD).
The thought of watching this football team on Saturday against Purdue puts a pit in my stomach.
The thought of spending an entire day tailgating and watching them against Nebraska makes me shake my head.
The thought that December could come and we won’t have a bowl game to look forward to makes me nearly catatonic.
In a typical Gopher season, it’s normal for the fans to create a divide between the Twin Cities media and ourselves. Sometimes there are doomsday Gopher fans who side with the TC media, but we tend to ignore them and their foil hats. A similar sect of the fanbase also resides on a certain message board that many of us choose to ignore.
But this season is different.
Sure, Reusse and Zulgad and Scoggins have gone after the Gophers, Coach Kill and Mitch Leidner, and why wouldn’t they? Their job isn’t to come up with original takes or write anything that rational thinkers could relate to. Their job is to appease readers and garner mouse clicks.
But the thing that has me hating this season so much is how bad we’ve gone after each other. You & me. The fans. It’s not fun.
Maybe it’s Twitter’s fault because we now all get an instant opinion and we all get to hide behind a smartphone or a computer.
After the TCU game, while I was waiting to get out of the River Flats lot, I got in a Twitfight with @bighatguy. He was bashing Leidner, I was blaming the offensive line. I don’t really remember what was said, but we disagreed on the larger problem. Two weeks later I met @bighatguy in the tailgating lot and he said something to me about our fight. My response was “oh, that was YOU?”
I was so fired up by the Leidner haters that night that it didn’t even matter who I was fighting with and I didn’t even remember who it was. That’s terrible.
@bighatguy is a really good dude, and he’s a really good Gopher fan and I’m not saying that he and I should agree on everything, but I’m guilty of fighting with my Gopher Football brother over something stupid.
In person, @bighatguy and I, along with a lot of other people, had some really good and thoughtful discussion about the QB situation and the Offensive Line situation, and we had not yet as a fanbase begun complaining about the play-calling quite yet, but I’m certain we would have had rational conversations about it as well.
And what I’m afraid of, and why I hate this season so much, is that I’m not sure we as a fanbase (and believe me, I put myself squarely in this camp as well because I’ve been bipolar about Mitch Leidner and I have lashed out at my fellow fan), have the ability to be rational right now.
We’re lashing out at the quarterback, we’re lashing out at each other, and for the first time I can remember, we’re lashing out at Coach Kill.
In and of themselves, none of those things are irrational, but the way it’s been happening just hasn’t felt characteristic of our fanbase.
The thing I look forward to the most on Saturdays is heading to the St Paul lots, pulling into a parking spot, cracking open a beer way too early in the morning, firing up the grill, and going through our individual Fear Level with Tre, Frothy & MV.
Generally one of us is scared to death, one of us is certain we’re going to see a blowout Gopher win, and the other two fall somewhere in between. The Fear Level typically ebbs and flows throughout the morning depending on how well the beers are going down and how the beanbag toss games are going.
But when I think about what I might possibly be thinking the morning of October 17th when I get to the tailgating lot and we begin discussing our Fear Level, at this moment I can’t imagine feeling anything but apathy.
Think about it. If we lose to Purdue, we’re all going to write this off as a lost season (if we haven’t already). If we beat them in a close game, we won’t feel any better because, well, it’s Purdue and you’re supposed to beat them and it might be our only B1G win of the season. And even if we somehow find a way to blow them out, we’ll be even more confused because “WHERE THE HELL DID THAT COME FROM?!?!”
My wife and I own an RV and in the fall when there isn’t a home Gopher game we like to get out somewhere, but our plans are always fairly dependent on me finding a way to watch the Gopher game as I haven’t been willing (yet) to pony up for dish in the motorhome.
For the CSU game, I was able to watch it in my friend’s RV. On Saturday for Northwestern, I was able to find an internet connection so I could watch it on my tablet. (Which was a horrible decision, by the way. I think the feed was fine, but the internet connection wasn’t stable and that situation added to my angst with the game as much as anything.)
This weekend we are going to be out in our RV again and I again am faced with how I watch the Gopher game. Then this afternoon, a thought came to me: maybe I just won’t watch it.
Folks, I can’t speak for you, but for me… that’s not normal. And I know it’s not normal, and yet, here I am and as I'm typing this I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of not watching the game.
I KNOW it's not normal for me and yet I've dipped my toe into Lake Abnormal and the water is a little cool, but it seems fine. Now I'm swimming in it, and it feels kind of nice. Refreshing even. My head is still above water. I haven't gotten my hair wet yet, but Saturday is still 5 days away.
That’s how much I hate this season right now. That’s how much perspective I’ve lost.
Am I broken?
Somebody tell me I’m wrong. Somebody talk me down off the ledge. Somebody… hold me.