We all came to our college football fandoms at different times. Some of us, no doubt, were raised from birth to bleed crimson or scarlet or burgundy. Others came to it later. Myself? I first really started following college football in the 1996-97 season, when my family moved to suburban Columbus the week of the Michigan game. (The great thing about 1990s OSU-Michigan is that I don't have to check Wikipedia to know who won.)
With that in mind, I'll always have an outsized fondness for the particular era that followed - of course, that was the beginning of high school, when people traditionally form lifelong connections to terrible things that they liked as half-formed lurching proto-adults.
This leads me to the next thing.
At that same time, I worked in the media section of a Best Buy, stocking CDs all day and deciding which of those CDs I was going to use my paycheck and employee discount on later and look, I don't have to apologize for my collection of nu metal, it was a societal problem. The restocking was tedious, but there were two spots on our shelves I was especially fond of: first, the Black Crowes' Amorica (not linking it here, nope), and secondly: the rap section.
If there's one thing that distinguished late-90s/early-aughts hip-hop above all else to me, it was the pioneering work in shitty Photoshoppery done by Houston-based graphic design firm Pen & Pixel, who churned out dozens of covers for No Limit, Cash Money and other labels. The covers were gaudy, cheap, bombastic and they've inspired me in everything I've done since.
What's that, you say? They did work recapping that era in college football, too? Well that seems awfully convenient, given the pretense I've set up here so far.
Anyways, on with it.
I told myself in 1997 I'd find a way to combine John Cooper and Silkk the Shocker on a blog and mama, I made it.
This happened. It was a real thing.
It might come as a shock if you came to college football fandom later on, but the Seminoles teams of the 1990s combined terrific on-field results with exceedingly poor off-the-field judgment. I know, right? What an era!
Two things were allowed to happen in this era: a group called "Mersonary Killaz" released an album, and Purdue played in a Rose Bowl. We must never let either happen again. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends away from Purdue.
Sure, now it looks weird that Tennessee won the SEC and a national title, but it sounds less challenging when you say "their biggest threat was Florida". Also, Tulane finished in the Top 10 that year. What the hell, 1998.
I mean, Franchione leaving Alabama suddenly was a dick move, but at least they recovered by immediately hiring Nick Saban.
No, I don't think they played football in between 2003 and 2006, actually.
[looking around nervously] Look, leave it alone. They'll hurt us both.
Okay, one more.
Dedicated readers might notice I always save my Saban gags for last, and there's a simple reason why: because it brings me joy.