A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? Well, welcome to College Football in 2007, the ultimate in unscripted entertainment, where the performers recite their lines knowing not whether the plot will lead to the juvenile giddiness of victory or the maturing despair of defeat.
Teams, players, and coaches everywhere are perched precariously on a steep-pitched precipice, peeling off riff after rhythmic riff, all the while teetering on the edge of disaster. Eager to provide the accompaniment to the soloist's melody, fans gather gape-mouthed in their respective colors and fix their gaze toward the roof. Some cheer and exhort in harmony while others hurl dissonant ridicule and scorn in hopes of connecting and claiming some small amount of credit for the virtuoso's demise.
Yes, the dedication of the fiddler is matched only by the passion of the voyeurs. Fans tick off the months, clamoring for the curtain to draw, and once the lights dim and the stage is unveiled, they hang on every improvised note of the limited engagement. Will the prodigy succeed this evening, or will a shingle give way and send him sliding down the decline and over the brink, horse hair tickling string right up until the moment of disastrous impact? Whatever the outcome, expect the dramatic.
Never has this been truer than 2007, a season that has been more Advancement by Attrition than Survival of the Fittest. Consider:
- Right out of the gate, No. 3* Michigan fell to Appalachian State, who, despite being HOT, HOT, HOT, is still in fact a Division
III-AA (now the FCS!) program.
- Just when things were beginning to shake out, Fate instigated a colossal unnatural disaster and took out five of the top ten teams in the country in one delightful Armageddon of a Saturday.
- One week later, forty-one point underdog Stanford got the best of Southern Cal, a team that preseason pundits had declared this season's best team of all time! And no, it wasn't just Jim Harbaugh saying that.
- The Fighting Zookers followed up their upset of Wisconsin by juicing No. 1 Ohio State.
- No. 1 LSU lost first to barely-ranked Kentucky, then climbed back to No. 1 just so it could then lose to unranked Arkansas.
- Cal, then No. 2 in the nation, benefitted from No. 1 LSU's first loss to Kentucky -- for about 3.5 hours, the point in time that it lost to unranked Oregon State.
- Two-thirds of the way through their tour of duty, the top 10 teams at the time were held prisoner in the Vietnamese Boathouse and forced to play Russian Roulette with four bullets in six chambers. No. 2 South Florida, No. 6 South Carolina, No. 8 Kentucky, and No. 10 Cal are all casualties. LSU and Ohio State took a turn but drew the empty chambers.
- Boston College soared to new heights, making off with Virginia Tech in the process, only to have its left wing clipped by unranked Florida State the next week and its right wing clipped by Maryland the week after that.
- Oklahoma recovered from its early season loss to unranked Colorado, climbing back to No. 3, only to be boarded and commandeered by salty Lubbock Pirates.
- Oregon recovered from an early-season loss to Cal and climbed back to No. 2 only to have its head duck blow out a flipper and lose to two unranked teams on consecutive weekends.
- The Border War (which, admit it, none of us knew prior to this season featured a match up between Kansas and Missouri) had NATIONAL TITLE IMPLICATIONS!!!!!11!!1
- The regular season concluded with a certifiable shed scene, carnage unmatched since "the great de-coachening of 2002."
But amidst all of that mess were out-and-out Dawg- and Hawg-Whoopin's, games no one gave the Vols any chance in Perdition to win. One boinked field goal attempt and a four-overtime marathon against a big blue blood brother later, and, woot, Tennessee's headed to Atlanta to represent the East in the SEC Championship.
A high-altitude gable is a perilous perch from which to attempt anything other than simply maintaining your equilibrium, but football fans' heroes make the best music when the stakes are high and the position precarious. Of course, many fail and fall, all the while accompanied by a cacophony of outrageous insults, and gravity and momentum often deposit them in locales they never would have imagined from the roof. There, at the bottom, they shake off the dust, re-climb the ladder, set their feet, and strike the bow to see what may happen the next time.
Why do they stay up there if it is so dangerous? And how do they keep their balance?
That I can tell you in one word.
*All rankings are from the BlogPoll.