LEXINGTON, Ky. — I have a confession to make.
I have been an Associated Press college football poll voter for the last few years, a task of enormous responsibility that has subjected me to a barrage of social media slings and arrows.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy voting in the poll, for which the preseason rankings were released Monday. I take it seriously.
In the dark ages, however, an AP voter ballot was as secret as the Los Alamos facility in “Oppenheimer.” These days, thanks to (a) transparency and (b) the World Wide Web, every college football know-it-all has the opportunity to dissect every ballot.
As a result, over the past few years, I have been accused of being an idiot, an inbred, a basketball state resident who knows absolutely nothing about football and — even worse — a hater. Those were the polite responses.
So I’ve decided to come clean. Yes, I hate your favorite team. And here’s why:
— I hate Georgia, even though my oldest sons in-laws are all huge — and I mean huge — UGA fans who are even now busy indoctrinating my 5-month old grandson on the wonderful ways of the Red and Black. His first words may be “Go Dawgs!”
(Actually, I very much like my sons in-laws.)
— I hate Alabama because, after leaving Kentucky, Bear Bryant ended up at his alma mater where he became arguably the most legendary coach who ever lived.
(Actually, Alabama’s tradition is one of the things that makes college football great.)
— I hate Michigan because of those helmets. What are those things, anyway? Wings?
(Actually, I love the distinctive design on the Michigan headgear.)
— I hate Ohio State because it was the late Ohio State coach Woody Hayes who said only three things can happen on a pass play and two of them are bad.
(Actually, as a kid I was mesmerized by those buckeye stickers on those gray helmets.)
— I hate USC because the Trojans are in Los Angeles with all that traffic and smog and those movie stars.
(Actually, like Randy Newman, I love L.A.)
— I hate Clemson because, well, Dabo Swinney is insufferable and the Tigers have “The Graveyard” where they place a gravestone for every road win over a ranked team. How creepy.
(Actually, I’ve only been there once, but Clemson is a great place to watch a college football game.)
— I hate Notre Dame because the Irish have their own television network, for heaven’s sake.
(Actually, I’m a sucker for the “Rudy” movie.)
— I hate Florida because even hometown boy Tom Petty left Gainesville for the Hollywood hills.
(Actually, one of my sincerest regrets is that I did not get to see Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert.)
— I hate Oregon because of those outrageous uniforms and that ridiculous-looking basketball floor — remember, I’m supposedly a basketball guy — for Oregon home games.
(Actually, I like Oregon’s endless array of sartorial combinations.)
— I hate Texas because of the Longhorn Network, which may or may not have played a role in the current conference realignment chaos.
(Actually, how could anyone not love Austin?)
— I hate Oklahoma because of former coach Barry Switzer, the “Bootlegger’s Boy” who continually thumbed his nose at the NCAA.
(Actually, back before cell phones, a media friend once was told he could find Switzer via phone at a drinking establishment the coach frequented. Sure enough, Switzer answered the bartender’s page. And did the interview. You have to love that.)
— Furthermore, I hate Florida State, Penn State, Michigan State, Louisiana State, Mississippi State and any other Fill-In-The-Blank State. And I especially hate any program from any Group of Five conference that has no business challenging the big boys.
(Actually, the surprising success stories that were Tulane and Troy made for a great 2022 season.)
So there you have it. You can look me up on social media if you like, but don’t be surprised if I take some time to respond. I’ll be working on my next ballot, no doubt searching — wink — for new teams to hate.