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As if you needed a good reason to buy a case of beer, college football's opening weekend is here, highlighted by Monday's game between Miami and Florida State.
Thus begins that special time of year when marching bands are king and adults are reminded how much real life doesn't compare to college.
Miami-FSU also marks the beginning of rivalry season. Rivalries and their traditional intensity are what separate college football from any other game. College basketball has its historic battles, sure -- but the added urgency that comes from football teams only playing once a year makes football rivalries more exciting.
Some rivalries take on lives larger than entire seasons. Anyone who disagrees should ask John Cooper, Jim Donnan and Mack Brown for their takes.
But we don't talk enough about why these rivalries are so intense. Aside from the fact that hating the other team feels nearly as good as loving your own, each rivalry has a snowflake-ish singularity. But, by and large, they fall into a few general categories:
Every state has a flagship campus, typically called the University of Your State, whose student body and alumni feel they are entitled to, well, pretty much whatever they want within state lines. That same state probably has another school -- usually denoted by the words State, Tech, or A&M -- that gets treated by the former like some Bonaduce-headed stepchild. These rivalries are usually pretty intense -- and can get pretty ugly.
Another fun set of games is those between private and public schools. Many states have some big school that can't stand the fancy-schmancy, highfalutin, sometimes artsy college down the road -- the one with the pretty buildings, the high graduation rate and the shaky football team (Miami being an exception to that). It's the accountant's kids vs. the CEO's kids. If those words don't invoke the image of a steel cage, then you clearly didn't watch enough wrasslin' in your youth.
And every now and then, religion gets in the fray. Utah/BYU is called "The Holy War." Apparently no one affiliated with that rivalry gained any perspective from the atrocities of the Crusades. How shortsighted of them!
Cal/Stanford (even though everybody's highfalutin in this one)
Familiarity really must breed contempt. Because some of the best college football games are those between schools in states adjacent to one another. These rivalries are huge because of the recruiting ramifications -- particularly when one school is dependent upon the other state's talent. Plus, fans get bragging rights over millions of people, something that's extra-special fun for those frustrated with their carpetbagging co-workers.
The comical component of these matchups is that, in most cases, it's tough to tell the difference between one state and the next. Anyone who can tell he or she is leaving Georgia and entering Florida without seeing the "Welcome to Florida" sign needs to do an internship with the Rand McNally people.