"Hey, I've been thinking. We need to have a serious conversation."
Generally speaking, this is the very last thing someone wants to hear if they recently started dating someone. Being the absent-minded, void-of-emotional-direction man that I am, I have usually been on the receiving end of this terrifying request. In fact, I actively avoided this type of discussion more than baseball GM's try to avoid Scott Boras.
For this very reason, I was nervous to be the one voicing this sentiment.
That's right, for the first time I was the one who wanted to instigate the serious conversation.
So what was it that I needed to tell my girlfriend of not even a couple of weeks? Was I ready to take things to the next level? Did I finally find myself in a situation that I could give my whole heart to someone that I cared about more than anything in the world? Of course not.
I realized that before things went any further, I needed to tell her about one my true love.
"If it wasn't readily apparent before, it's time you know I am a BYU football fan."
It makes perfect sense that this relationship blossomed during college football's dead-season of summer. Spring ball had long since passed and fall camp wasn't going to start for another two months, leaving me with the window of football-less weekends to find true love.
This is not to say that I'm not capable of courting someone in-season. It's just a lot easier to be attentive, supportive and empathetic (you know, the things that are important to girlfriends) when Taysom Hill isn't doing magical things on the field.
In our initial conversations, I picked up on the fact that she was more of the artistic type who grew up in a family with four sisters that didn't love sports. With that in mind I tried not to bring up my concerns about the defense after losing some key playmakers like Kyle Van Noy or what I thought of the new graduate transfer Jordan Leslie. For the first couple of dates I was able to effectively mask my BYU crazy and convince her that I was a relatively normal human being. However I knew that come fall camp I needed to tell her just exactly what she was getting into.
If this is starting to sound like the BYU adaptation of the movie Fever Pitch, then you are absolutely right. Except in this story, the relationship did not end in marriage and BYU definitely did not win the national championship.
Much to my surprise, she took our serious conversation really well. I laid all my cards on the table and explained in great detail what BYU football meant to me. Instead of being spooked she was glad that I had something I was passionate about outside of work. The only thing she didn't understand was why my family would plan an entire vacation to Texas around a BYU football game.
In the end she had her oil paintings and I my twitter account / blog dedicated to sports. To each their own, we said.
The first real test was the opening game of the season when BYU faced UConn. I made the smart decision to watch the game with some friends so that 1) I would be less likely to burst into a profanity laced tirade in front of a large group of people and 2) she would have other friends there to talk to if she got bored. BYU cruised to victory and a good time was had by all. I was a little concerned when she wanted to leave after the third quarter because "the game was pretty much over," but I was able to convince her to stay.
After the blowout against Texas, watching the following games together was enjoyable but like the victories over Houston and Virginia, not all that satisfying.
At a certain point during the Houston game she decided it would be more fun to cheer for Houston because they were the underdogs. This became increasingly annoying after that nonsense Hail-Mary touchdown at the end of the half. During the Virginia game she tuned out and fell asleep.
Then came the Utah State game.
I'm not going to relive any part of that game because it makes me sick to my stomach. Just know that before the game that Friday night, we had an argument and the result of the game didn't make things much better. I almost lost it when she said "It's just one player, how bad could it be?" She eventually started to question my general obsession over a bunch of guys chasing after inflated pigskin. One of our conversations went a little like this.
"It's just SO MUCH FOOTBALL. Before you watch a game, you watch old games to get ready for the next game."
"Yeah, in order to know more about the team we're playing against it's good to study up."
"Whatever. And then after the game is over you will watch highlights of the game you just watched and write an article about the game that everyone probably watched as well."
"That's pretty standard."
"And then you and your friend will spend a couple of hours talking about that game on podcast?"
"You need to know that this isn't normal."
I don't want to say that the entire relationship was doomed by October, but like the 2014 season, things just weren't the same. We tried to right the ship in the same way Christian Stewart tried to rally the offense, but similar to the BYU defense, our relationship had weaknesses that were beyond repair. Staying true to this perfect metaphor, we split up days after the Boise State loss.
In the end I don't think it wasn't my love for college football that drove us apart. Rather is was other differences in personality that just so happened to be magnified in our differences in opinion as it related to the sport. She wanted to play TCU's complicated 4-2-5 defense while I wanted to stick with the basic 3-4 scheme.
So as we embark on the 2015 season, both BYU football and my love life are looking forward to the prospect of a clean slate. The Cougars are recharged with a healthy Taysom Hill and I'm once again a single man, ready to enjoy a full slate of college football. There are definitely some obstacles that will meet us along the way but that doesn't mean this year can't be a special year for the both of us.
So will I ever love someone as much as I love college football? Who knows.
Whatever happens, I just hope she doesn't make me choose between her and the zone-read option.