Guys, look over there, it's a Cal fan AND a Texas fan. In one! That ain't right.
Let there be no mistake: College football is the most insane sport league out there. People might be fans of other leagues, because of the higher level of play. They might like other leagues, because of the fairness and parity. But for fans of college football, they don't care about fairness. What is most important is the unique insanity of it all.
ManBearCal: I was born in Houston, Texas. My grandfather went to Texas for medical school. My dad went to Texas. My uncle went to Texas. My aunt went to Texas. One of my cousins went to Texas. Thus, I was raised a Texas fan. My folks were pretty close to naming me Earl, after the great Texas and then Houston Oiler running back Earl Campbell. That would have actually been pretty sweet if not for that Jason Lee show that would have made my late adolescence a series of cliche and lame jokes. My dad owns numerous books and gametapes chroncling the many great years of Texas football, many gifted to him by my brother and I. For his 60th birthday, we flew him out to Austin and we all went to a UT game. He also owns a metallic burnt orange Texas starter jacket that i covet to this day. Yeah, it's ugly. But it's a COOL ugly.
[Twist Note: I'm only posting this here to make ManBearCal happy]
My family moved to Northern California when I was almost three. We lived in the shadow of Berkeley for most of my life, yet Cal was never a school I had a major rooting interest in. My college team was Texas. It wasn't until I got my acceptance to Cal and took a lengthy tour of the campus that I really fell in love. My time at Cal obviously led to my fan allegiance changing, but not that drastically. Cal was now my school and my team and I loved it dearly, but I still followed and rooted for Texas. Texas was my fandom mistress. We'd been flirting for my entire life...even after my union with Cal. And it seemed fine. Different conferences, different opponents, completely free of conflict. Cal never even had to KNOW I'd been seeing Texas. And it wasn't really cheating, because they were in different zip codes. It was a very clean arrangement until 2004.
2004. Meh. While I was massively disappointed for my Bears, I could never muster up the kind of vitriol and bitterness towards Texas that so many other Cal fans had in some such a hefty supply. How could I? Had it been ANY other team, I would have been fine going along with the hate and indignation. How about Notre Dame? I've always disliked them. That would have been a cinch. Hell, I would have been leading the charge, pitchfork in hand. But this was my OTHER team. I watched the 2005 Rose Bowl. It was a great game. And I was glad Texas won. I also watched the 2004 Holiday Bowl. It was a shitty game. And I was BEYOND pissed that Cal lost. I vaguely recall some heavy hate drinking...which involved various brown liquids of 80 or higher proof, repeatedly cursing Mike Leach, and ultimately having to walk home after pissing off my future wife for just generally acting like a bitter, drunken dickhead. Luckily, she's gotten used to it since then.
And you know what? I also watched the 2006 Rose Bowl (BCS National Championship game) between SC and Texas. And I absolutely rooted for Texas, conference allegiance be damned. I watched with my family, and when Vince Young scored the winning touchdown on 4th and 5 with 19 seconds left, we all rejoiced. Well, except for my brother's rather douchey USC friend who was watching with us. We screamed, we cheered, we high-fived. And when the game clock hit zero, everyone outside of douchey SC guy toasted the great victory and drank cheap champagne out of red plastic keg cups. Yep, that's how we rolled in the childhood house of MBC. We spent the hours following the game calling and taking calls from friends and family about the awesome win, just basking in it. And it was awesome. I was happy for my my dad, happy for my family and friends. And I didn't feel guilty. At all. Still don't.
[ManBearCal, you have to own the McConaughey thing. Also, the Heisman thing is ironically funny now.]
I make no apologies for my conflicting fan interests. I understand the bitterness of my fellow Cal fans towards Texas, and I understand why most Texas fans don't give a shit about Cal. I tow the line between both sides, but seldom participate in the discussions that inevitably devolve into tired geographic stereotypes...something both sides are often guilty of. But let's face it, if Cal's program were able to sustain any kind of success over the years (something Texas never had a problem with until recently), we wouldn't be so raw about 2004. It's not Texas' fault that we haven't sniffed a BCS Bowl since then. It makes me sad that under Tedford, Cal is most known for spectacular faceplants on national TV and almost going to the Rose Bowl 7 years ago. But I think Cal will have its time in the sun soon. New facilities and great recruiting classes may signal the rise of Cal as a legitimate national power. At least, that's what I believe. And I want it so badly. Texas will always be Texas. Mediocrity is an aberration for them. They'll be fine too.
I'm really looking forward to the Holiday Bowl, and I'm also looking forward to our home and home series with Texas in 2015 and 2016. While I won't make the Holiday Bowl this month, I'll be watching it very closely. I know a lot about this Texas team, having followed them all year...because I'm an unapologetic Texas fan. My family is already planning get-togethers centered around the future series between our two teams. But make no mistake, I'll be rooting for Cal in every game, Holiday Bowl and beyond. I was born and raised a Texas fan, but I was bathed in blue and gold and BORN AGAIN as a Cal fan. Go Bears.