I love this weekend. Absolutely love it. I get to see old friends and bask in their company. I tailgate from the time the sun goes up till the time it sets. I talk football with people who disagree with my view points and we settle the disagreement by drinking beer. I eat the world's greatest fried chicken. I spend the weekend with my wife, who is just as football mad as I, and we bicker back and forth about her "Irish" and my "Wolverines." I throw a football around and pretend I'm Todd Collins, putting Michigan in the position to beat Ron Powlus in 1994, just like he did my freshman year.
I remember that this weekend is how I became a Michigan fan.
Many people can trace their fandom back to a family member, a tradition, or a sensation they felt as a child while watching a sport. This incredible sense of loyalty, truly known only to college sports fans, is usually formed early in life. Especially when you talk about the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame. Loyalties to these schools run deep in families and communities. For most alumni, you are one or the other. You can't root for both. Hell, you can't even pretend to root for both. Fandom is so ingrained that logic ceases to matter. It is as it is because that's how it's always been.
As I'm sure you know by now, growing up in Texas, Michigan wasn't a school you heard a lot about. But every year, usually at the same time in September, every TV in Dallas was tuned in to watch Michigan play Notre Dame in their annual grudge match. Everyone chose sides. It didn't matter if you were a Longhorn or an Aggie, you hated one of those nothern schools for some reason or another.
Watching those games, I became intraced with Michigan. I really can't tell you why, but I did. And nearly 20 years later I remain so. That's what this weekend is about to me. This weekend made me want to go to Michigan. It made me apply and attend the University of Michigan. To this day, I get goose bumps thinking about it.
Michigan v. Notre Dame. Two of the winningest programs in college football history. Two of the best Universities in the country. Two fanbases that are such mirror images of one another that they think the other is the anti-christ because, well, they're so similar. Friends and family. Great traditions. It's what makes college football what it is.
And this isn't just a game for the teams and fans involved, this is a game for everyone. No matter who you are, who you root for, or where you went to school, you'll follow this game. You'll root for one team over the other. You'll hate someone involved.
For all the talk of how far these programs have fallen, this is still a national game because these programs are national schools. They are schools that compete for the top talent everywhere nationally. They are schools that in many ways helped shape college football as we know it. This is more than just a Game.
It's Michigan Notre Dame.