I spent the last week and a half driving around Ireland on what appeared to be a vacation. (Many thanks here go to Jane for filling in during my absence, which I'm sure you f-you didn't even notice? It was better without me? Oh. Well, then.)
In fact, I was busy conducting an exhaustive survey of college football fans in a foreign country. The work was difficult and often frustrating, especially when nobody appreciated my Limerick Neuheisel graffiti. But, in the end, I think the results were worth it. In order, here are the brave fans carrying the torch for college football to new lands:
1. HUSBAND AND WIFE IN LEATHER TENNESSEE JACKETS
This couple was on the flight to Dublin, but I didn't really get a chance to appreciate their jackets until we were in line at Customs - white leather in the torso, orange in the sleeves and trim, with "ROCKY TOP" emblazoned across the back and "VOL NAVY" on one arm. I did not see what hers said on the other, but his said "TENNESSEE LAW." A football patch was on the front on one side and a Power T on the other. They appeared to be made from that kind of leather you only see on couches at your uncle's house. The single uncle. As I have not found a similar model through a cursory internet search, I can only conclude these were custom made, and probably not for cheap.
I deeply regret not following this couple around for the duration of their trip.
2. MICHIGAN STATE HOODIE TEEN
Seen walking around Galway on a rainy day without an umbrella. Was his surly demeanor a reflection of his age, the weather, or Mark Dantonio's disposition? There was no way to tell, and I was disappointed that none of the locals took the opportunity to kick him while screaming "PASS INTERFERENCE."
3. STATUE OF WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER
I forget where I saw this, but I'm counting it because the Acts of Union 1800 basically triggered conference realignment as we know it today.
4. KANSAS STATE WINDBREAKER PARENTS
Also seen in Dublin, this pair lacked the investment and panache of the Leather Vols, sporting identical purple windbreakers that looked to be Starter brand or the like. The jackets also seemed far too light for what was a very cold wait in line to see Bill Snyder's first offensive play chart, the Book of Kells.
My personal favorite, Trey was standing on a sidewalk in Cork wearing a South Carolina visor, a golfer's rain vest, and shorts. I know his name is Trey because he was on the phone, and this is what he said into it:
"Hey man, this is Trey. Call me back before I get too fucked up."
I hope he was calling the Leather Vols. Or William Pitt the Younger.