The offseason — all 234 days of it (yes, I counted) — is officially over. We can stop writing about the off-the-field muck and speculating about who’s going to end up in what conference.
Well, for now, anyway.
Tonight through Monday, we can finally get around to concentrating on exactly why we gather on this here site every day:
To watch sweaty college kids knock the sense and literacy out of each other.
And, for that, I want to say thank you to a certain few that make college football one of the greatest sports ‘Merica has to offer.
First of all, thank you, Wisconsin. How could we not mention you first? We get to kickoff the 2011 season with you and your premier college town. Your beer-and-bratwurst-guzzling students, fans and marching band are the definition of what college life should be. National Lampoon made a huge mistake filming “Animal House” in Eugene and not Madison. You’re what every fan base should strive to be. Or strive to avoid on game day. Either one.
Thank you, Boise State. You’re the team everybody loves to hate. You keep college football interesting by defeating “big boy” opponents and sparking months of BCS debate before promptly nullifying it all by losing to Nevada. Your clearly unfair home field advantage, which, strangely enough, was only publicly lamented over after you started winning, has caused hoards of people to pay an unhealthy amount of attention to field pigment. You’re a good, well-coached team, and I hope you beat Georgia Saturday night. The chaos that follows will be delightful.
Thank you, Texas, for being a prime example of capitalism in action. You’ve a taken a bulk of the blame for the Big 12’s recent stability woes for it, though. And why? You’ve spent your entire existence pushing the Longhorn brand, and now it’s paid off as one of the most recognizable and profitable in all of sports. Yet, others classify you as greedy. Who do they think they are? I know what they are: communists.
But, seriously, don’t broadcast high school games.
Thank you, Nike. I don’t care what anybody says about your relationship with the University of Oregon and their 500 million uniform combinations. Talk about recruiting advantages; you got inside the head of the 17-year-old recruit and figured out what they really wanted: to look good. The game has evolved, and you caught on to it before anyone else did.
Thank you, SEC, for being the self-proclaimed center of the college football universe. But instead of pointing out all your faults, let’s concentrate on what you really bring to the game of football. Let’s just forget the whole Texas A&M drama for a moment. And the Cam Newton saga. And LSU’s off-the-field troubles. And oversigning. And your tree-poisoning fans. Let’s concentrate on the fact that you are the top conference in college football and there are few things I enjoy more than sitting down on a Saturday night to watch an SEC game under the lights. Your tradition and pageantry is only surpassed by your competitiveness and ability to cheat*.
(*note: ACC, I suggest taking notes)
And, while we’re at it, thank you, Pac-12. Your commissioner Larry Scott is a bottom line genius. When it comes to exposure and marketing his product, the dude gets it, hands down. I know your conference is dealing with some NCAA issues at USC and Oregon, but you can always fall back on your tremendous academic institutions. However, you did not manage to keep Andrew Luck from shaving his hobo beard. For that, you will be subject to a year’s worth of my most blatant East Coast bias.
Thank you, outspoken, quirky coaches. Les Miles; Steve Spurrier; Joe Paterno — you guys are the best. Do not change a thing.
Finally, thank you, Eric LeGrand and former Syracuse punter Rob Long. Your stories of courage in the most extreme adversity has been an inspiration to us all. You both refused to give up, and all of us should get out of bed a little easier every day knowing our situations could be much, much worse. You’ve also shown us there is far more to this life than football.
Thank you all for what you bring to college football and I can’t wait to see what this year has to offer. It’s been a long offseason for all of us, but it’s behind us now.
Time to sit back, relax and enjoy the game.