Love and Football

September is finally here, and you know what that means: College football is back!

I have always been an avid college football fan. I even prefer collegiate football to the National Football League. Over the years, my teams have changed, and though I graduated from the University of Southern Florida, I’ve always rooted for higher- ranking teams. For the past few years, my team has been the University of Tennessee Volunteers. My wife, Marjorie, doesn’t agree. She’s been a lifelong University of Florida Gators fan.

When Marjorie and I were first dating, we attended the University of Florida versus Florida State University game. At that time, Bobby Bowden was coaching for the Seminoles, and I thoroughly enjoyed his coaching style. He was a man who coached for his players, not for the glory of coaching college football, and his game strategy was top-notch. Steve Spurrier was coaching the Gators, and let’s just say I didn’t like the man because he was no Bobby Bowden. Naturally, I had to root for Florida State, much to the dismay of my then-girlfriend.

So there I was, in a sea of blue, rooting for Florida State to beat the Gators. The only other person in The Swamp who was rooting for the Seminoles happened to be sitting right behind me. Every time Florida State made a good play or scored, I turned around and high-fived my brother in garnet and gold while Marjorie gave me a nasty side-eye. The Gators ended up taking the win that day, which was good because I might not be married if it had gone the other way! I believe that date led to what would be a lifelong college football rivalry between Marjorie and myself. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Over the years, I became an avid Volunteer fan. Both Tennessee and Florida play in the SEC, so even though they don’t play each other every week, we are still in competition in the conference. When Tennessee and Florida do play each other, we are a house divided. I understand that Marjorie loves the Gators because her whole family cheers for Florida, but there’s just something special about the Tennessee stadium and the way the crowd goes crazy when the team splits and runs onto the field. It’s magnificent.

College football has been a part of Marjorie’s and my life since we first got together, and I love that we are able to share a passion for the same sport, even if it’s not for the same team. Every Saturday during this season, we put on our blue and orange shirts, dust off our pompoms, and Marjorie gets out her Gator dishes, pillows, and napkins. This season will be no different, and I look forward to our tradition. I tend to be happy for Marjorie when Florida does well, but Marjorie is not so happy with me when Tennessee dominates. I just have to remind her that in the last 10 years, the Gators haven’t given her much to be happy about. No offense, Gator fans! Go Vols!