We're in week four of the college football season and already, the Washington State Cougars have a Saturday off. Again. For the second season in a row. Stupendous. I'm sure we'll get completely lucky again this year and mostly avoid injury.
But what a bye week for your college football team of choice does provide you with is a Saturday of unencumbered football watching. No WSU game to have lingering the back of your mindor worry about having hope handed to you late in the game, only to have it ripped away like that one time your mom said you could go to Disneyland in the summer if you got really good grades but then you don't go because she said they weren't good enough even though you thought they were. EIGHT-YEAR OLD ME IS OWED A TRIP, MA.
Now sure, we usually reserve this space for some long winded analysis of the football team where I attempt to sound like I know what I'm talking about by using words with multiple syllables and waxing poetic with various trite idioms. Since we don't have anything to do that with this week (I could tell you a great story about the lessons Benjamin Disraeli learned during his stints as prime minister but I'll spare you) we're going to instead talk about the completely open Saturday you have on your calendar for nothing but football watching, beer drinking, and food eating.
You see, bye weeks aren't just for the players and coaches. No, no! They are also for you, the fan. It's an opportunity to watch college football all day without a care in the world for how anyone does and to relieve yourself of the stress of worrying about the Cougs. A day where you just want to watch some good ol' fashioned FOOTBAWL.
So the most important person on this day isn't a person, per se. It's your set up for 15 hours of watching young adult males smash into each other in front of tens of thousands of inebriated people screaming at them.
1. The Screen Set-Up
Critical, absolutely critical, to your watching enjoyment. If you're like me and have a television provider that doesn't provide wireless receivers (it's 2016 by the way, Comcast), jerry-rigging computers together in your television watching space can ensure the best eyes-on-football ratio. This was my set-up two weeks ago in my media room. What? It's a media room. Fine, spare bedroom that we're using as a TV room because there's like zero good angles for television watching in the living room. Just let me have this.
I took the picture one cushion over from where I'd normally sit on the couch but as you can see, I like having the largest TV on the left, rather than in the middle and flanked by smaller screens. I tend to glance or scan right first;your preference may be different! Optimize it so you can best see all the college football action that you can possibly consume. Make sure you leave all necessary remotes/keyboard nearby for quick changes if one game becomes more thrilling than another. A late change to an incredible finish can ruin a Saturday.
2. The Coffee Table
Get yourself a nice, big table where you can set your aforementioned remotes, keyboards, etc. and still have plenty of room for the empty beers that are set to pile up throughout the day. I mean, you could conceivably clean throughout the day, saving yourself a little trouble when it comes to clean up the following morning but hey, you've got football to watch and food to eat.
3. Beer And Liquor Access
Look, you can't be going a long way or losing site of your television for long on a day like this. College football changes quicker than a teenager's emotions. Your beer, your liquor, or any mixers for your liquor, need to be close at hand. I personally recommend either a small beer fridge in the room or just outside it, as we have at our house. If you don't have one or don't want to drop $150 or so on one, grab yourself a cooler and a few bags of ice.
In terms of what beer or liquor to buy, I recommend something you can sip and enjoy. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Besides, getting up to pee takes precious time away from your screens and that's what we're all about here. Unless you got one of those fancy bathroom TVs, in which case you can afford whatever you want and in which case, hey, what's your address?
4. The Food
We're all adults here, yanno? As my esteemed colleague Britton Ransford points out, "Get something better than pizza to eat. Pizza is great, other things are greater. Like steak." I'm a big fan of some sort of meat to eat with your football watching so steak is right up my alley. If possible, find a way to watch your television from the kitchen or, less conceivably but completely epic, construct a stand for your grill outside the window in your TV watching room. You don't have to leave the room AND your top sirloin gets cooked. Perfecto.
Now, if your TVs are a ways away, I would suggest something that can be slow cooked. Our own Kyle Sherwood advises you to "start the ribs on Thursday" which is going to impart some excellent flavor. But, if you're like me, and you do not have a smoker or other fancy things to cook with from the Sur La Table catalog, I have a pretty good slow cooker pork shoulder recipe for you:
-3-4 pound pork shoulder
-1 sweet onion
-3-5 cloves of garlic (or whatever ya want, "too much" is rarely a garlic issue)
-Sprigs of thyme
-Apple cider vinegar (we're goin' eastern North Carolina, y'all)
-1 can/bottle of whatever beer ya like
Take your pork shoulder and rub it thoroughly with the salt and pepper. Mince the garlic and rub some of it onto the meat. Cut the onion into rings and then cut those in half and then cut the jalapenos into rings. Pour the beer into the slow cooker and then place the pork shoulder, onions, jalapenos and sprigs of thyme into the cooker. Sprinkle the rest of the garlic onto the shoulder and into the beer. Gently pour and rub some apple cider vinegar onto the meat. Put the slow cooker on low and let the meat cook until it pulls apart.
If you've got a vinegar coleslaw you'd like to top this with, I'd highly recommend it and then put all that between whatever hamburger type bun you'd like. You can even melt some provolone on the meat for a pretty tasty sandwich.
5. The Clothes
Oh yes, we're even going to talk about the clothes.
You're going to be watching football all day so we're obviously going for comfort here but we won't leave you looking like you're rockin' some Steph Curry kicks. Stains are probably inevitable, especially of the beer variety when something exciting happens so avoiding sweats is for the best. I typically roll with a pair of comfortable jeans so I don't look like a complete slob that is spending over half the day sitting down and a stain or two won't bother you too much.
Shirt wise, a Coug related shirt is a must here even if they aren't playing but I usually like to break out something a little older since we aren't as worried about it getting damaged in a public setting. An old Rose Bowl shirt or, in my case, the first WSU shirt you ever bought, you know, that one with the holes in the armpits you can't wear in public.
Your college football watching set-up. This week's most important person vs. Bye.
What suggestions do you have for the best college football watching weekend possible? Let us know in the comments.