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Confessions of a college football junkie

By DuWayne Paul

All right, full disclosure from the start. I would rather watch college football on Saturday afternoons in the fall than go fishing or hunting! I love to hunt and fish, but I’m addicted to college football. It doesn’t have to be Alabama versus LSU. I can get just as much enjoyment from St. Johns versus St. Thomas.

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As I was watching football this last Saturday, my wife came in the family room and just “rolled her eyes” at what I was doing. I was watching three games at once and keeping myself updated on all the scores via the ESPN website. I had Texas vs. Oklahoma on the TV, South Dakota State vs. Western Illinois streaming on my laptop, and North Dakota State vs. Missouri State streaming on my Kindle. All this while streaming ESPN on my smart phone to keep updated on a variety of different games.

It could have gotten even crazier. I could have split-screen the TV and pulled in another game. My – how far we have come with technology!

But what was it like over 50 years ago?

I remember listening to Gopher football in 1960 – on the radio! No television, no Internet streaming. As a 12-year-old, I had all the Gopher players memorized by name and position. As I listened, I could picture Sandy Stephens (QB) rolling to the right with Bill Munsey (halfback) and Dave Mulholland (halfback) blocking for him. Or, I could envision Stephens bootlegging to the left and passing to Tommy Hall (tight end) downfield for a first down to keep a drive alive. On defense, Carl Eller and Bobby Bell just dominated any team they faced.

It was a special time and I dreamed I was there at Memorial Stadium watching it live – not streamed on something called a personal computer (which was not even thought of yet) or on a large flat screen TV with HD.

The Gophers were NCAA national champions that year, Sandy Stephens was an All-America quarterback, and Bobby Bell an All-America tackle. Even listening on the radio, I felt as if I was part of Gopher football.

I dreamed of playing football for the Gophers someday, and after my junior year in high school even got a recruiting letter from them. I responded that I was only a junior and to please contact me again next year. Alas, I never heard from them again.

It was also a time of simplicity and honor in college football. College football had not yet become corrupted by the big money system that it is today. There was no freshman eligibility. A student athlete’s first year of college was spent on the freshman team and practices were scrimmages against the varsity. It was not until 1972 that freshman were allowed to compete in varsity football games.

So what does all this nostalgia mean? For me, I think back to those days long ago with fond memories and how it spawned my love for football. But would I rather listen to a game on the radio or stream three or four games on my various devices? I’ll take the second option and live with the ramifications of technology and my wife wondering how much crazier it can get with me!

I’m just sayin’.


“There's two times of year for me: Football season, and waiting for football season. Darius Rucker