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Give a cheer, football’s here — who do you like?

by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | September 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

All right, ladies, it's time to get fully immersed in fall football.

I must admit that other sports such as golf, tennis, and professional women's basketball, have been my main interests for most of September.

Baseball will become more relevant to me during the playoffs and the World Series. The few Major League teams I follow in sporadic fashion have not done well during the regular season so other viewing options have kept me entertained.

It rankles one of my longtime pals that I have what he deems "quirky" football teams for which I cheer. "Where's your loyalty?" he asks, usually knowing full well what my answer will be.

Yes, I root for the Arkansas Razorbacks. I like Coach Sam Pittman. I have always been partial to the color red and as most people know, I was born in the Natural State.

I proudly pull for the University of Missouri, my college alma mater, even though I am not especially taken with Tigers' current head coach, Eliah Drinkwitz. But then, I was a student there during the Dan Devine era when really good players and victories prevailed more often than not. After all of these years, Columbia and its environs hold a special place in my heart. And being a graduate of Hot Springs High School, I have always favored the colors of black and gold.

When these two squads meet on the gridiron, well, it's a toss-up, depending on their records at the time. It's likely that Arkansas will do better than Mizzou this time around so as I tell my exasperated buddy, "Hey, either way, I am a winner."

Truth be told, I wanted Alabama to beat Texas, although I have relatives in the Lone Star State. I respect Nick Saban and I have dear friends in the Mobile and Spanish Fort areas. Can't imagine what this rivalry will be like when these two powerhouses are in the Southeastern Conference.

I usually cheer for the University of North Carolina to win most of its slate of games. The main reason is Coach Mack Brown, whom I have admired since his days at the University of Texas. (Back then, I was mostly on his side -- depending on the opposition.) My fellow sports enthusiast also likes Brown, so no arguments there. And I must add, UNC has a great Journalism School.

You out there can go ahead and say, "Boo," when I disclose that I want the LSU Tigers to beat most of their opponents. Don't particularly care for Coach Brian Kelly's snarky attitude, but have to be loyal to my dad, who was born near Jeanerette and several relatives still reside in that part of the Bayou State. I also have a dear friend who grew up there and she would be mightily miffed if I shunned the purple and gold. And, yes, my friend and former colleague, Bob Wisener, sports writer extraordinaire, knows that I am an avid fan of LSU women's basketball coach, Kim Mulkey.

Some of my other pigskin favorites include Penn State (in the post-Joe Paterno years), Florida State (I always liked Bobby Bowden and the FSU Heisman Trophy Award winner, quarterback Charlie Ward), Kansas State (great campus and Bill Snyder, one of the most respected coaches in the country.) Over the years I have closely followed the on-the-field fortunes of Notre Dame and Tennessee, but mostly the ups and downs of those schools' women's hoop rosters.

Another sports-minded friend is from Kansas and so we often trade comments about the pluses and minuses of the respective pluses and minuses of the football Razorbacks, Jayhawks and Tigers. As we've found over time, it's more fun to banter about those universities' basketball offerings.

Must admit that I keep up with a handful of professional teams, but harkening back to the good ol' days, the Kansas City Chiefs can count me among their loyal fans. Len Dawson was a super QB and I just hope Patrick Mahomes overcomes his tendency to be a one-man show.

Yes, football can be fun to watch, an enjoyable debate topic, and especially gratifying when our teams come out on top and no one gets seriously injured in the process.

Print Headline: Give a cheer, football’s here — who do you like?


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