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Twenty reasons to be a proud college football fan this Independence Day

Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Happy Independence Day, everyone. To celebrate hot dogs, apple pie, Ford trucks, fireworks, freshly cut grass, lawn chairs, family, friends, pools, stars and stripes, we’re presenting our 20 very favorite American things about college football. Remember to keep safe distances when lighting off explosives this weekend, and smile lots and listen to music at inappropriate volumes.

1. The Army-Navy game

It’s a tradition so grand the game basically gets a weekend to itself. A moment of tranquility in a season of madness. There’s something poetic about that, and something ever so wonderful about Army playing Navy each year. -- Martin Rickman

2. The American Athletic Conference and Conference USA

Is your conference the best in the nation? That's up for debate. How about the most patriotic? Well, that's a two-league race. While the AAC is plenty patriotic, we'll give the nod to C-USA, if only because its team names include Blazers, Golden Eagles, Miners, 49ers, Roadrunners and Mean Green. -- Zac Ellis

3. War Eagle and other distinctly American mascots

Thanks to several unmistakable mascots, college football allows fans to cheer for their team AND America at the same time. Among the notable examples: The Mountaineer at West Virginia, Pistol Pete at Oklahoma State, War Eagle at Auburn and (unofficially) Keggy the Keg at Dartmouth. Now, If only George Washington University had a football team. -- ZE

4. Les Miles on Columbus Day

Coach Miles has a way of seeing the world differently, and we’re endlessly thankful for that. His take on Columbus Day is important to remember when we’re out there celebrating freedom and the like. -- MR

5.The LSU dinosaur fan

“Welcome … to Jurassic Park.” OK, that's actually Bryant-Denny Stadium. But only in America would an extinct species surface in the LSU student section. -- ZE

6. Shirtless college football coaches

Who needs a shirt to coach football? Not Steve Spurrier and Bret Bielema, that's for sure. If history holds true, these two have likely been working on a base tan all week in preparation for America’s birthday. -- ZE

7. Texas A&M's Swagcopter

#YESSIR. What’s more American than using a goshdarned helicopter to recruit? -- MR

8. Coaches drinking Red Bull

(Via SB Nation)

“AND I GLADLY STAND UP, NEXT TO YOU, AND DEFEND HER STILL TODAY / ‘CAUSE THERE AIN’T NO DOUBT I LOVE THIS LAND, GOD BLESS THE USA.” -- MR

9. Rivalries

You want true American rivalries? Georgia and Florida set the stage for The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party each year in Jacksonville, Fla. The Red River Rivalry pits Oklahoma and Texas annually in the middle of a state fair. And the Iron Bowl is -- well, you know, it's the Iron Bowl. -- ZE

10. Red, white and blue uniforms

Teams wearing patriotic uniforms (usually for Veterans Day) are kind of a mixed bag, but there are some winners out there.

Although some teams (*cough* Northwestern * cough*) have gone a bit overboard.

-- MR

11. Bo Pelini's freedom of speech and love of cats

The First Amendment guarantees free speech for all Americans, and that includes Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. He is happy to share his thoughts in halftime interviews and at press conferences. Heck, he might even use a cat. -- ZE

12. Bud Foster's lunch pail

Bud

I went to a wedding where the cake was Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s lunch pail. I could have sung the National Anthem right then and there. -- MR

13. Brandon Weeden vs. the American flag

Fine, this happened in the NFL. But Brandon Weeden once played college football, and this is just the best thing. Heck, this video may cure depression forever. -- MR

14. From Kliff to shining Kliff

We’re not saying "America, The Beautiful" was written about Texas Tech head coach and Ryan Gosling look-alike Kliff Kingsbury. Then again, we’re not saying it wasn’t, either. -- ZE

15. The Washington State flag

“On the Road Again” should be the theme song for the Cougars' flag, which has found its way to several of America’s hot spots for ESPN's College GameDay, as well as all over the world. Washington State fans are plenty familiar with the country’s backroads. -- ZE

16. RichRod at the saloon

The description for this Arizona promotional video says it all: “It's High Noon at Old Tucson with the Arizona Football Staff. A Man on a quest for the Rose will choose the right men for the job. #HardEdge #BearDown” -- MR

17. Painting animals to look like other animals

No, we don't advise dousing the family dog in paint. But it is a common side effect of tailgating at places like Clemson and LSU. -- ZE

18. Mike Leach

He loves points and pirates. He wrote a book about Geronimo. And he’s one of the most quotable coaches in college football. America is Mike Leach. Mike Leach is America. -- MR

19. Art Briles and the championship belt

Everything is bigger in Texas, especially championship hopes. Baylor coach Art Briles demands a WWE-style Big 12 trophy. That's just about perfect. -- ZE

20. Watts Dantzler, Real American

I'll let Mr. Dantzler explain for himself. 

(No, that's not Dantzler in that final picture, but the spirit is there and certainly appreciated.) -- MR

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