12/20/08: The day steelhead comes clean

This is hard to say, much less over the information superhighway, but I have a serious addiction that is affecting my life/overall well-being.  Realizing the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem, I sit here today attempting to excorcize the demons within.  Said dependence isn’t exclusive to me, but Steelhead’s addictive personality has certainly helped things spiral out of control.  The best idea would be to just quit beating around the bush and fess up, so here goes nothing: I have been playing NCAA 09 for the Playstation 2 for a month straight, and I can’t stop.

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Below is a blow-by-blow account of what transpired over the last 30 days:

Day 1

I acquire a PS2 from a friend.  Being a member of the “old guard,” that exclusively plays NES titles like Tecmo Super Bowl, there is a strong sense of skepticism that these new systems won’t compare favorably to their predecessors.  Naturally, curiosity wins out, and I purchase NCAA 09 to experience something I have always longed for: a college football video game.  Much to my dismay, the PS2 is missing some sort of cable, so there won’t be any “computer magic” today.  My opinion of this black hunk of electronic shit that lays lifeless before me is waning by the second.

Day 2

After work, I purchase the needed cables from Best Buy for a meager (sarcasm) $20, and race home to fire up my new toy.  The menu screen is overwhelming, and I eventually settle for playing the intriguing Dynasty mode.  Scrolling through the countless number of teams to choose from, one fact is certain: I want a team from a BCS conference that really sucks, and my goal is to build them into a powerhouse.  After a 10 minute debate over whether to choose Baylor, Duke, or Northwestern, I pick the Bears.  3 games into season one, it is obvious that this game is A) fucking awesome B) immensely deep with in-season recruiting/discipline C) going to suck the bulk of my free time

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If Waco is good enough for Samurai Mike, then it’s good enough for me…

Day 3-8

Season one ends with a 9-4 record, and a Texas Bowl victory over Memphis.  The fans in Waco are on cloud nine, and I am officially hooked.  NCAA 09 starts to take up more and more of my time, and I play 5+ games a day.  Baylor’s coach, a fat man with a mullet named Jack Burton, appears to be a recruiting wizard, for the Bears land a top 10 class for season two.  Expectations have been raised for this once cellar-dwelling program, and some polls are even nice enough to vote the Bears into the pre-season top 25.  I am ecstatic.

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Your program has officially arrived if you get a Tejas Bowl bid, and get to play for “The Silver Buckle”

Day 9-12

The game starts to creep into my personal life, here are the finer examples:

1. Comments on my team’s progression to unwilling listeners at local bars, eateries, etc. become commonplace.  Trust me gentlemen, women do NOT think it’s cool to hear, “Last night, I signed a 5 star wide receiver that was set on going to LSU, and also a 4 star defensive tackle from Lubbock that has great potential.  It was truly a triumph for our program, and it makes all of us here in Waco quite pleased……….What? Oh, I’m just talking about my Dynasty with Baylor on the PS2…….I’ll have another Beam and Coke please.”

2. I surf the internet at work, closely examining the Texas Longhorn defensive schemes, searching for a wrinkle that can be exploited in the evening’s Rivalry Game, which will be nationally televised.  I need a good showing to impress the voters.  Perhaps I’ll wear green on green alternate uniforms to emphasize the importance of this matchup, or perhaps not, the green and gold has been successful lately.

3. Nights are spent laying awake in bed, second-guessing my pitch to that running back from Ohio.  Perhaps I should have went over the playbook with him instead of giving a tour of the campus. Did I spend enough time on him?  What if he doesn’t want to move far away from home?  I think I’m gonna be sick……

4. While shitting, I debate what punishment will be suitable for a defensive end that allegedly stole a wallet from another player’s locker.  He is one of the stars on D, and we can’t afford to lose him for the Missouri game.  Coach Burton decides to bench him for one half.

5. After season two, I call a friend to ask whether or not it is a good idea to try to convince my Heisman Trophy winning junior receiver to stay another year instead of going pro.  We decide that since I plan to run alot more next year (with the blue chip signee from Ohio), he should be let go, since his draft stock would plummet with deflated senior numbers.

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Parting is such sad sorrow….Best of luck WR #83

Day 13-21

I put together a wonderful 11-1 season two, and beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, finishing out ranked #4.  Utterly geeked to do some recruiting (my favorite) with a newly anointed 4 star prestige team, I am rudely interrupted with some sad news.  The NCAA apparently thinks Baylor has been pulling some shenanigans, and my illustrious program has been slapped with the loss of 5 scholarships, and two years probation.  Fuck me.  That shrewd sonofabitch Jack Burton is still able to pull together a top 5 class, and the outlook for season three is quite good.

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We might have been bad, but not COKELAHOMA bad

Day 22-28

Pissed at the NCAA pulling the plug on a few scholarships, my Bears rip through a difficult schedule, and finish the season undefeated.  I put a hate pounding on Missouri in the Big XII Championship game, and earn a  berth against (how the fuck?) Oklahoma in the BCS Championship.  Now double pissed about the sanctions, and the fact I have to beat the Sooners AGAIN, the game goes in the Bears favor, and we hoist the Sears Trophy in truly climactic fashion: A 4th quarter drive that saw the winning touchdown scored with 22 seconds left.  I weep tears of joy, give imaginary handshakes to the rest of my coaching staff, hug a few pillows posing as linemen, and bathe in whiskey to celebrate the triumph.  I will surely be a 5 star prestige team now, and should easily put together the single best recruiting class EVER assembled.  My raging boner can be seen for miles.

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Congrats Baylor Bears….2010 National Champions

Day 29-30

Heading into the off-season, a repeat as champs looks quite possible.  As I fire up the PS2 ready to defend my crown, IT happened.  I say IT, because the IT I’m referring to is the single most cataclysmic event EVER to transpire in a video game.  The NCAA sends a message to Waco……..I read it……..I break my lamp…….I punch a hole in the door……I douse myself in whiskey (not triumphantly this time) trying to madly consume it to kill the rage.  Those cocksuckers ruined me this time. 

My “new” punishment is:

  •  15 less scholarships for 2 years
  • NO televised games for 2 years
  • Worst of all, NO bowl games for 2 years. 

The players can’t transfer fast enough.  My Dynasty in Waco has officially come to an end…

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Coach Burton leaves Waco…

Post-Script

Unable to justify playing two whole seasons without being bowl-eligible, and too proud to auto-skip, I start a new Dynasty, this time with eternal doormat Idaho.  The Vandals play in a funny looking barn-like fieldhouse, but that isn’t enough to pique my interest in this game anymore.  After a solid month of non-stop playing, I put the controller down, and go cold turkey from NCAA 09, with my head still spinning from the fallout in Waco.

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The Kibbie Dome houses pigs in the off-season

I have now gone two weeks without playing NCAA 09, and my life has finally gotten back to normal.  Although the game hasn’t crossed my mind very much lately, I can’t help but every once in awhile think of that 3rd and 8 option pitch that turned into a 44 yard touchdown run against Texas Tech, or the game winning interception against Kansas State, and smile.  Maybe I’ll play again someday, but no Dynasty will ever hold a candle to those magical three seasons with Baylor.  I may have no ties to the university in real-life, but the magical electronic bond we shared over the last month is something that will stay in my heart for quite sometime, if not forever……

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