I flew into FOB Kalsu in the middle of a sandy Iraqi night. When you hit the ground you walk across a long stretch of rocky ground in pitch black darkness, guided only by a small blue flashlight of the working personnell. there are no large building, no major structures, except maybe the d-fac which serves an exceptionally tasty cheesecake. It’s a rough, hot and dusty place, but like everywhere in Iraq you will find your college football fans.
At lunch I sat next to a young corporal, watching ESPN and an overview of teams considered tough enough to contend for the BCS National Championship. The Corporals contention was that the USC Trojans had to be considered the best team in the country. I immediately argued the point. We debated talent levels, with him pointing out that Joe McKnight would be the best running back in the country and me throwing out the argument that quarterbacking was a big if on the 2008 USC Trojans.
He laughed, saying “You need a decent quarterback at USC, a game manager not a hero.” I pointed to the losses to Stanford and Oregon in 2007, he pointed to the victory over Illinois in the Rose Bowl. Craftily, I lured hm into the trap of Ohio State early in the 2008 season, saying “If you’re going to conten for a crown you need to beat good teams.”
“Exactly!” I crowed, which is why, if an SEC team can rack up 10 or 11 wins, they’ll nab a BCS National Championship Game berth on strength of schedule.”
And the debate goes on. Even in the devilishly uncomfortable clime of Iraq and the constant pressure of dangerous duty, college football provides a diversion, hours of debate and good humored ribbing, and something of home to which we all cling. Let the season begin.