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Fri, Nov. 22

Column | College football fever comes with gastrointestinal angst

Now that America is deep into the bowels of college football season, I’m experiencing my yearly gastrointestinal angst about my Texas A&M Aggies.

I call them “my” Texas A&M Aggies because I spent an untold amount of my parents’ cash in College Station on textbooks, apartment rent, and DoubleDave’s Pepperoni Rolls in my pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts in English (yes, English) from Texas A&M University.

But despite my claims of ownership, many loyal Aggie football fans would probably label me a two-percenter. And I can’t really blame them. You see, I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch a complete Aggie football game from kickoff to post-game men’s room marathon in over twenty years. Oh, I always catch the first few series on TV, and then I simply have to escape to some less stressful activity – like giving one of my three daughters driving lessons in heavy traffic or taking all of them shopping for bras.

It hasn’t always been this way, though. My passion for Texas Aggie football began in 1987 on Thanksgiving break of my senior year in high school­­ – when I was still reveling over the fact that I occasionally needed to shave. My big brother was in his first year at Texas A&M and invited me to stay with him for the weekend and attend my first Aggie football game – the once-annual Thanksgiving Day contest between the Aggies and their arch-rivals, the Texas Longhorns. This was, of course, before the celebrated Southwest Conference devolved into the Big XII minus II and the Aggies left for greener, and bloodier, pastures in the SEC.

Thanksgiving Day began with an attempt to prepare our own home-style lunch. But our altercation with a massive skillet of hot Crisco and some raw chicken leg quarters resulted in a pile of abused poultry with a crisply charred exterior enclosing meat that probably still had a pulse. After we had choked down a tepid bite or two of the foul fowl and a few servings of undercooked Stove Top stuffing, our concerns quickly turned from salmonella to the battle about to ensue at legendary Kyle Field.

Once we were in the student section and the game had begun, I was awestruck by the size of the crowd, the electric atmosphere, and the vast number of beautiful college girls jumping and gyrating within mere inches of my unbridled seventeen-year-old pubosity. It was an unforgettable experience. And the Aggies won the game-I think.

Speaking of beautiful college girls, the Aggie football game that solidified my devotion to the team took place two years later when my future wife and I were dating. We were on hand to witness the Texas Aggies defeat the SMU Mustangs 63-14. Of course, I fully embraced the Aggie tradition that anytime the football team scores, so do you­­­­­­­ – by kissing your date on the lips. (We got engaged shortly after that game.)

So what happened? Why can I no longer watch an Aggie football game without my guts boiling like they did right after that gastronomic Chernobyl of a Thanksgiving meal in 1987? I can explain it in one word – love. I have grown to love the Aggies so much that I can’t bear to watch them suffer on the field when they fumble in the red zone, or when the defense stands around adjusting their straps while the opposing team runs unencumbered for a touchdown.

Yes, I realize that the Aggies often win – sometimes in spectacular fashion when playing against non-conference foes like Slippery Rock College for the Chronically Un-athletic. But even when they play against those so-called “cupcakes,” I find myself looking for the TUMS and an excuse to go do yard work.

So call me a two-percenter if you must. I can take it. Because I can rest in the satisfaction that all of my daughters will know how to make a U-turn safely, and they’ll never be in short supply of bras.

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