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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Five Reasons Why We Can't Wait For Football

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The dog days of summer take a huge toll on the casual sports fan. True, there is baseball, the end of the NBA Finals, and in the case of this year, the Olympics in Beijing. But for the hardcore, diehard football fan, it traditionally has become a time of anxious-filled moments, waiting the first day of training camp. For the avid college football fan, it's been tired nights on ESPN Classic and scanning message boards for any semblance of news to satisfy your thirst. So this is for all of those who sit in-between Signing Day and the beginning of summer workouts who wish to have more college football.

5. The prospect of alternative sports during the summer doesn't excite you.

No disrespect to any other sports where they have to make a living during the "dog days," but let's face it. Bass fishing, motocross, and gymnastics don't do it for the majority of folks who live for Saturdays in the fall. Seriously, how many times have you sat on the couch on a Saturday, scanning the channels and couldn't quite get into the Tennis Masters Series final in Toronto? Better yet, how have you dealt with watching softball between the U.S. team and a team of some co-eds? For some of us, it almost forces us to the unthinkable and actually spend time with our spouses doing things that could possibly be excused in the fall. Sometimes, there are no replacements.

4. Your entertainment system is itching for a boost from the action on campus.

Again, no reason disrespect any other sports (especially baseball and golf, which look great), but what else can get your adrenaline pumping like college football in HD? To see every detail from the Buckeye on the grey helmet, to the spec of dirt on the white Nittany Lion helmet, or the crease in the sweater of the hot cheerleader from USC, college football satisfies every need that you have in high-definition. Plus, if you have the sweet surround sound, what is better than a Saturday night in Blacksburg, Columbus, Austin, Athens, Gainesville, Death Valley (both of them), or Happy Valley, at full volume? Almost feels like you're there.

3. Tailgating/cooking out.

Enough said. For the hardcore tailgater, the summer gives them a chance to hone their skills on grills for the upcoming season. Something about those Saturday afternoons and the smell of burgers, hot dogs, bratwursts, steaks, chicken, and pork all offset by the aroma of the brew of your choice does something to boost the morale of fans on game day. Plus, it makes for good eating and old-fashioned fun. Hours before kickoff, grillers and tailgaters extraordinaire take pride in the successful planning and execution of a tailgate party.

For those that can't make it to the stadium on game day, firing up the grill and stove at home will do just fine. A healthy amount of friends and family all with the compliments of gameday fare in front of the tube on Saturday for the games — have you ever see this during basketball season?

2. It's "must-see TV" in its rarest form.

For hardcore football fans, to miss any game of interest feels like a cardinal sin. If you miss an NFL game, to catch the highlights is relatively easy to swallow. But missing a great deal of college football action is akin to treachery. I've faced on many occasions growing up (and being a staunch follower of college football since age 10) where I was forced to do things which made me miss the entire day of games. And every time that I have, I've always missed an infamous "Upset Saturday," something absurd like three teams in the Top 10 losing and six in the Top 25 overall.

Every college football fan can attest to this. The one time you agree with your significant other to do something away from the TV, or you take the kids out, or you mow the lawn, or go to your in-laws who hate sports, you come home in the evening and you're sickened to your stomach to see the highlights from the day's action and you missed a monumental Saturday. Part of Murphy's Law, I presume. The drama of college football has a way of working out like that sometimes.

One day that comes to mind with me: November 20, 1993. No. 1 Notre Dame lost at home to Boston College 41-39 on a 41-yard David Gordon field goal as time expired, only a week after winning the "Game of the Century" against eventual Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and Florida State. Also, No. 5 and unbeaten Ohio State was shut-out by Michigan 28-0, when they only needed a tie to clinch the Big Ten title. Where was I, you ask?: In the library finishing a fifth-grade paper on history of American football.

1. This year is "next year."

For the elite programs in the country and their fan bases who don't get to raise the crystal football at the end of the season, it's always simple: "there's always next year." The concept of "Next Year" is what keeps the fanatics hoping. It feeds the thirst of those who love the game. From the absolute end of the holiday season, through Signing Day until the first day when players move into dorms and trudge onto the practice fields, "next year" is what keeps the players, coaches, alumni, and fans in high spirits. The possibility and the probability of it all is what drives it. It's what programs like Florida, USC, Georgia, and Ohio State have said since January 8, 2008.

In about six weeks, this year will be "next year." No more waiting. Soon, the suffering will be over.

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