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Don’t let high expectations rob you of the simpler joys of college football fandom

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 LSU at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Texas A&M is fresh off of their greatest season in half a century, going 9-1, winning a New Year’s Six Bowl and finishing as the No. 4 team in the country. Those results, plus the years of recruiting success coach Jimbo Fisher has accumulated since arriving in College Station has the Aggies primed for what has the potential to be a very special season. That was seemingly affirmed yesterday when the preseason Coaches Poll ranked A&M at No. 6 to start the year.

Suffice to say, the hype train for this A&M team is full steam ahead, and I’m one of the ones hanging my head out the window screaming “CHOO CHOO!” as it picks up speed. Texas A&M very well may challenge for the SEC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff spot this year. In fact the optimist in me would predict that they will. But to overuse this train metaphor right from the jump, it’s important that we remember that, as fans, college football should be just as much about the journey as it is the destination.

Obviously we all want to win, and win a lot. But high expectations, left unchecked, can easily lead to hypercriticism. Suddenly it’s not just enough to win, you have to win convincingly. It’s not enough to win convincingly if it it was “ugly.” On the search for perfection we can lose our appreciation for the beauty of idiosyncrasy, and the weirdness of what can happen in a college football game is often what makes it great.

These great football moments are sometimes born out of athletic excellence, but just as often, they’re a result of chaos and blind luck. Sometimes that weirdness will benefit your team, but other times it won’t, but it’s a huge part of what makes us love this sport so gosh darn much.

If all you’re focused on is your team rising in the rankings, you’re going to miss a lot of fun along the way. If your enjoyment is solely wrapped up a win or a loss, or even worse, a “convincing win,” you’re going to have way too many miserable fall Saturdays.

Winning is great, but the best thing about college football, and specifically Aggie football, is that it exists. It’s something that unites us all, giving us a common purpose and a common passion beginning each September. I’ve made many friendships, and maintained countless others, thanks to the shared joy that being a college football fan provides. Some of my most memorable football moments have been born out of otherwise unmemorable football seasons. A successful season, and more importantly, an enjoyable one, are not always intrinsically tied to wins and championships.

I’m not telling you not to root for us to win (duh). And I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t die just a little bit inside when we lose (I know I do). All I’m saying is, don’t let that singular focus rob of you the reason you began watching in the first place: because it’s fun. Even in the most gut-wrenching loss, watching your college football team play should be a joyful experience. It should be one you relish, because it only comes around 12 (15 if you’re lucky) times per year.

College football season is on the verge of being back. The rest is just gravy, so hop on this gravy train with me and enjoy every second of it.