Tuteja: Five steps to handle football grief

Oct. 23, 2014, 10:45 p.m.

This past Saturday, I was at Sun Devil Stadium, watching my Stanford Cardinal get dominated in all facets of the game against Arizona State. If you’re like me, you probably watched the game thinking, “It’s only a matter of time until our offense finally puts up some points,” or “Our defense will force a turnover sooner or later,” and the list goes on.

Spoiler alert: Neither of these happened, and Stanford lost 26-10.

However, unlike many of the recent articles in The Daily, the point of this column is not to offer my own recommendations for how the offense can get going or how coach Shaw can adjust his game plan — I get to play “armchair quarterback” enough every Saturday as an analyst for KZSU. Rather, this column is a five-step guide that I’ve perfected over my many years of being a college football fan on “How to Handle Football Grief.” (As an aside, I use the word “grief” very lightly, and if your main source of despair in life is your favorite football team losing, then you have a tremendous amount to be thankful for.) Without further ado, here goes:

Step one: Pig out on tailgating food

They say that grief is easier when combined with food, and I’m not going to be the one to counteract conventional wisdom. At any football game, the truest fans will always have extra hamburgers, hotdogs and chips and salsa. If the game really went that badly for your team, you were probably too busy stomping on your hat to eat your plethora of food, so why not enjoy it now? I’m not saying there will be a need for comfort food after this weekend, but because it’s homecoming weekend and there are sure to be many alums tailgating, there shouldn’t be a shortage of food. Just because your team loses doesn’t mean that your food should go to waste, and eating helps with the grief of seeing your offense rush for 76 yards against a less than stellar rushing defense — trust me.

Step two: Relive the greatest moments in your team’s history

Last weekend, I consoled myself by thinking back to some of the great memories that I’ve been able to witness over my four years here at Stanford. Examples that come to mind are beating USC at the Coliseum in triple overtime in 2011, beating Oregon in Eugene in overtime in 2012 and beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Thanks to the modern invention of sites like YouTube, anyone can watch highlights of these great moments to help eliminate the sorrow. I guess this advice probably isn’t so great if your team has never had any good moments (sorry, Cal), but at least for Stanford fans, there are many great ones, especially in recent years, to choose from.

Step three: Play a college football video game as your team and put the opponent on “easy” mode

The best part of this is that if your team is ranked high in the preseason, the game doesn’t know that they now are having trouble scoring points in a game. In the game, your offense is executing like we all thought it would before the season, and you’re dominating other teams in your “dynasty” mode. In case you aren’t as skilled a player as you thought, you can always set the computer’s skill level to “easy,” to ensure that your team brings home the national championship.

Oh, I guess I forgot the whole O’Bannon vs. NCAA lawsuit has ended college football video games. Never mind…

Step four: Convince yourself that your team has something left to play for

If you’re a Stanford fan, this shouldn’t be too hard. In a strange Pac-12, there are many teams with losses and a whole lot of parity, and despite lackluster performances, Stanford can still make a respectable bowl game. Again, if your team is 0-6 or 0-7, it might be hard to carry out this step. In that case, I suggest consoling yourself in the fact that your team is probably better at some other sport (I mean, how could they possibly be worse at the other sport?), and then try convincing everyone else that that sport matters way more than football. Note: If your team is truly winless in every other sport, I suggest going beyond the current definition of “sport” and expanding to board games and other activities.

Step five: Talk about how your team will return to dominance next season

After all, who cares about this season? It was just a rebuilding year, right? Once your team’s redshirt freshmen start playing, it’s only a matter of time before the team is back in the limelight of college football. While you’re at it, go to recruiting websites and see how your team is doing in terms of next year’s recruiting class. If you don’t like what you see, keep scrolling to see how your team is doing in the recruiting class 10 years from now. Chances are no recruit that is currently in the first or second grade has been signed, so your team is tied for first in recruiting for that year. So when anyone asks you how your team is doing, just say you’re waiting until the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class arrives in 10 years.

Shawn Tuteja hopes he doesn’t have to run through the five steps after the Cardinal’s homecoming game this Saturday. But when you do need them next, let Shawn know how they work for you at sstuteja ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Shawn Tuteja is a senior studying mathematics and statistics. He serves as the color commentator of KZSU 90.1 FM's coverage of the Stanford football team and the play-by-play announcer for men's basketball broadcasts. Hailing from the great state of Alabama, Shawn grew up an avid fan of college football and has written feature articles and columns on a wide range of Stanford sports. Contact him at sstuteja 'at' stanford.edu

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