Rivalries in any sports are always fun, but that especially seems to be true for college football.
It’s probably because of the passion so many collegiate fans possess. Many fans get downright fanatical about their favorite team.
Some of the storied college football rivalries include Alabama-Auburn, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida-Florida State, Ohio State-Michigan and Washington-Washington State to name a few. One of the more underrated rivalries in college athletics is probably Harvard vs. Yale. Each year these games are played with passion by the players and cause fans to become even a little more fanatic when it comes to the outcome.
However, the greatest in college football and all of college athletics for that matter has to be Army-Navy.
Any college football fan with any sense of patriotism has to respect everything this game and this rivalry represents. These student-athletes represent all that is great about competing at this level. Student-athletes do not attend the service academies with dreams of playing professional football. Their life calling is much higher and we should all appreciate that.
Words could never truly do this rivalry justice although John Feinstein’s book from several years ago probably does as good of a job as anyone could.
There is no rivalry in college sports which means so much to those who may not even be die-hard football fans. The players for Army and Navy are not only competing for their teammates but for every player who came before them as well as anyone who has ever served in these branches of the military.
There is probably not a football game (other than the Super Bowl) that is followed as closely around the world as this one is each December. On military bases around the globe our servicemen and servicewomen gather around televisions and watch every play with an unmatched intensity. Even on Naval ships the game is a big deal as those serving take in the game either on television or radio.
And as heated and passionate as this rivalry is an almost magical thing takes place once it is over. Players gather together on the field as both fight songs are played. They do everything in their power to emerge victorious in the game but when it is over they know they are truly part of the same team.
In a time where our country continues to be as divided as ever fans do take sides in this rivalry contest. However, it is nice to have a rivalry where the petty bantering back and forth does end when the game does.
This is what college athletics should be all about and why it will always be the best rivalry surpassing all others.
Having a great rivalry is not about who has the most five-star recruits on the playing field. It can be, and should be, about things much more important than that.
Things that are more important to the sport and to our country as a whole are what should dictate the best college football rivalry and that is what we have with Army-Navy.
A college football dark horse in 2019
In predicting who will make the College Football Playoff for 2019 (at the highest level) we all know the usual contenders.
Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio State are the teams you will hear about early and often.
However, there is a team coming off an 11-2 record and a bowl victory in which it scored 70 points and caused the opposing head coach to be fired.
The team I refer to is Army, and if things play out right this upcoming season there could be talk of the Cadets being in the playoffs. Army’s biggest obstacle to going undefeated in the regular season will be a game against Michigan in the second week of the campaign.
While the Wolverines will be favored at home, don’t underestimate Army.
The Cadets’ triple option attack was clicking on all cylinders last season and, in all reality, should have defeated Oklahoma, a team which eventually made the Final Four before losing in the semifinals.
What a story line it would be if Army were one of the four teams competing for a national title. It would be great for college football and great for our country.
The snooty powers-that-be of college football may not like it but, truth be told, who cares?
Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former sports editor for the Barrow News-Journal and a multi-time winner for sports column writing from the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Sports Writers Association. He welcomes feedback about this column at email@example.com.