America loves the homeless, right?
Ever since the colonies nagged the highly favored Brits in Lexington and Concord, the little one has held a special place in the old America of A. Did Steve Jobs start Apple in his parents’ garage? A Cinderella Story. Does Jay-Z go from housing projects to a billionaire hip-hop mogul? Only in America. Did the children of Miracle on Ice beat the Russians and then win the gold medal? You didn’t have to be a sports fanatic to feel the absolute joy from one sea to another.
But sports fans in particular eat the underdog. The people with Duke diplomas on their walls were the only ones who supported the Blue Devils against Butler in the 2010 national championship. When the Giants defeated the Patriots 18-0, 44 states rejoiced. Hickory High over South Bend Central? Pure magic.
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So why isn’t the average college football fan fighting for Cincinnati in the college football playoff against No. 1 Alabama? Sure, Cincinnati has its vocal defenders, but the fact that the Bearcats even needed defenders is peculiar. There was a lot of backlash as Cincinnati made its way into the polls and then stayed within the coveted top four. It seemed that most college football fans didn’t want an imposter to cross the sea and challenge the ruling class. The college football game of thrones is not for commoners.
The modern-day creator of the Cinderella college story was George Mason, who beat Michigan State, North Carolina and UConn en route to the 2006 Final Four. It was fun, it was shocking, and everyone was hoping that team, which barely made it. to the NCAA Tournament, he would somehow complete the miracle and top the table. There was no protectionism around the Final Four as if it were a sacred fiefdom that only the blue bloods could inhabit.
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And yet that’s the feeling around the college football playoff. Sure, college football fans love it when Appalachian State defeats Michigan or Boise State stuns Oklahoma. But the national championship? THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP? Nerd. We like it when superpowers take on superpowers, and we don’t have room for any other than superpowers. We don’t even want there to be no superpowers in the room. Sure, those cheesy surprises during the season, when a Colorado state beats an Arkansas, or a Florida international beats Miami, or a blank fill beats Texas, are great. We like them.
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And I’m sure there were a lot of people who wanted Cincinnati to stick to Notre Dame in October, and they celebrated when it happened. But when the Bearcats began to advance into the playoffs, the fans seemed to change, hoping UC would stay out of the CFP.
Wherever you come from in the Group of 5 debate, the fact is, we really do have a David vs. Goliath showdown on Friday, and in American sports, that generally means that the majority of the public is supporting David. Alabama has the money, the Hall of Fame coach, the national championship trophies, the endless NFL prospects. Cincinnati plays in a small stadium, has never made it to a college football playoff or national championship game, and does not have the Heisman Trophy winner as a quarterback.
But the Bearcats are talented, they have responded to every challenge to date and will put their collective chest against the SEC bully. They may not win. They may not even be competitive on Friday.
But it’s okay to support them.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.