Let me begin by saying that there have been some awful seasons of complete ineptitude since the introduction of sports on our planet. I’m sure that the Mayans had some dismal 0-16 seasons in the ball game of pitz that probably ended in them losing their lives via sacrifice. However, for the sake of our discussion, we will only concentrate on sports that we have actual records for, and, more specifically, the sport of American football, since it is without a doubt the greatest game ever created.
Now, the sport of football itself, has seen some bad seasons. Professionally, fans in the state of Michigan would argue that the Detroit Lions 2008 0-16 campaign is just about as bad as it gets. No quarrel there. At the same time, fans in Tampa Bay would argue that the Bucs’ 1976 0-14 campaign was even worse because they had to wear these jerseys while losing every game. No quarrel there. For a single NFL season, those two years definitely set the bar high for any future challengers. Collegiately, there have been numerous winless seasons. However, for major conference teams, we needn’t look any further than my own Indiana Hoosiers to define “ineptitude” for a single collegiate season. Anytime the students adorn t-shirts with the phrases “Win the Tailgate Today” and “Win or Lose We Still Booze” and the student section of a school with 40,000 students is this full (or empty) mid-game, it becomes pretty obvious that the team can’t get much worse. (On a side note, I would like to remind everyone that the Old Oaken Bucket currently resides in Bloomington, so I guess, citing my previous sentence, that tells us a little bit about the winning ways of “Quarterback U” up in West Lafayette.)
The problem for me is that although these seasons are bad, in order to truly define the “Worst Football Season in the History of Fandom,” one needs to consider not just the professional or collegiate teams of a fan separately, but both together, and not just the record of a single team, but the actual experiences that a fan has during the games and during the work week.
Now, before I say what you all know I’m going to say, let me preface it by saying that the “Worst Football Season in the History of Fandom” is still in the process of being completed. We are currently living out a historic event. That’s what makes this post so disheartening. There is such a huge lack of hope that I can actually accept the trophy before the journey is complete. We all know what usually happens when you try to accept the trophy before the season is complete.
So, I guess the best thing I can do is just come out and say it. I AM CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING THE “WORST FOOTBALL SEASON IN THE HISTORY OF FANDOM.” No, please hold your applause! “Speech, speech, speech!” OK, well in that case….
First, let us look at it from the “record perspective.” Obviously, the Colts are the worst team in the NFL and will more than likely lose out unless Cam Newton and Matt Leinert accept bribes from the Dolphins or their own teams to throw their games, which does seem strangely possible because the Panthers would love to get their hands on that number 1 draft pick and the Texans will do anything in their power to keep the Colts from dominating the division for another 15 years. As a tangent, I would just like to go on record of the saying that the Titans will win the division this year. (Poor, poor Texans…not). The Colts are so bad that when I attended the Colts-Falcons game a couple of weeks ago, the game was so boring that I spent part of my time watching an older gentleman in front of me do a crossword puzzle during the game. No lie. Also, how many teams do you know of that have fans adorning the jersey of next year’s draft pick with half a season left to play? Pretty surreal. In terms of the overall experience throughout the week, Colts fans wake up every day to articles about trading the greatest player to ever grace the field and doubts if he will ever throw another football. All of this following expectations of another Super Bowl run before the season. Words can’t even begin to describe the Colts’ dismality.
Let me also quickly say that this ongoing argument over “what’s more painful?” a winless season or a loss in the Super Bowl is easier to answer than 1+1. Obviously, I’ve experienced both over the last couple of years, and, in my opinion, a winless season is without a doubt the much more painful experience. I never would have guessed it going into it, but this “Suck for Luck” campaign hurts more than Tracy Porter intercepting Manning ever could. I would take 4 losing Super Bowls over 4 winless seasons any day of the week (yes, I’m talking to you Bills fans. We’ve sympathized with you for way too long. I also may end up taking this statement back if Luck ends up being as good as the “experts” say he is.)
So, back to our discussion. We’ve covered the Colts, now let’s talk about the Hoosiers. Going into the year, we Hoosier football fans had our usual high hopes of winning about 4 or 5 games and absolutely destroying Purdue at the end of the year. To emphasize these high hopes, IU athletics wisely decided to display Kevin Wilson “Win Today” billboards all over central Indiana. Before the season even began, Indiana received the future commitment of the number 1 quarterback prospect in the country. Everything was looking good. The school would soon be winning Rose Bowls with Gunner Kiel running Kevin Wilson’s Oklahoma offense. Fast forward to today. Indiana is the worst football team in all of power conference football. They have lost to North Texas and Ball State. To be completely honest, they would probably finish last in the MAC. They are so dismal that fans got excited after a 14 point loss to Ohio State. No Wisconsin didn’t drop Chad Ochocinco on us this year, but they could have if they wanted to. On top of that, our prized recruit also took back his commitment, so he could consider going to brighter pastures at Alabama or elsewhere. IU football, like the Colts, is setting a new standard for ineptitude.
We’ve now discussed how awful both the Hoosiers and the Colts are this year. How do they stack up against the worst teams in history you ask? Well, quite well. Yes, the 2008 Lions didn’t win a game, but at least their fans had decent Michigan and Michigan State teams to cheer for and at least they expected it going into the season. Yes, the Bucs lost their first 24 games as a franchise, but, just as Lions fans, their fans always had the Gators, Canes, and Seminoles to fall back on. They also had pristine beaches to enjoy during the week and off season (a huge plus). So, in conclusion, the ongoing history Colt and Hoosier fans are currently living out can undoubtedly be defined as the “Worst Football Season in the History of Fandom.” (On top of that for me, my former high school football team, the Millers, went 2-8 this year and haven’t had a .500 season since my senior year of high school, which was five years ago. So, yeah, it’s kinda like that.) Nonetheless, I will stand strong behind my teams as any true fan would and accept this award with honor. There’s always hope for the future, and that’s what keeps us coming back for more. Also, at least I no longer have to worry about this during the upcoming winter.