College football season is a season of renewal. It’s a time to forget the troubles and upheaval of the offseason and focus on the enduring images the sport conjures up in us all.
The shimmering summer heat breaks, and we are reminded of cool walks past the bell tower amid autumn’s first falling leaves, and the chill of a north breeze that adds a charge of electricity to the air.
They’ve been playing this game for nearly 150 years, but this season brings something completely new. A playoff, comprising four semifinal teams, with two of them meeting for the national championship Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.
But that’s nearly five months from now, and there’s no rush to get there too quickly. Because a college football season is always something to savor.
Here’s to something else new: the SEC Network, which delivers unto us a double header Thursday between Texas A&M and South Carolina, followed by Temple at Vanderbilt. With that in mind, here’s to A&M’s 12th Man and South Carolina’s Cockaboose Railroad and dropping the anchor on Vandy’s 50-yard line.
Here’s to big, brassy bands that have no place in the NFL but are part of the fabric of college football. Does the season really start without the Golden Band from Tigerland blaring out the first four notes of “Hold That Tiger,” and does it really end without Ohio State dotting the “i” against Michigan?
College football is the only place for great mascots, too. Here’s to Mike the Tiger, Bevo the longhorn steer at Texas, Auburn’s eagle named Tiger and USC’s horse named Traveler.
Speaking of travelers, in college football, getting there is half the fun. Here’s to Oklahoma’s Sooner Schooner, Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ Wreck, armadas of RVs descending on campuses everywhere, and the Volunteer Navy reminding us once again it’s football time in Tennessee.
College football season is spent in pursuit of the unforgettable play. Here’s to the band running on the field in the Stanford-Cal game, Flutie to Phelan, the Bluegrass Miracle and Kick Six last season between Auburn and Alabama.
Bet you never saw an ending quite like it.
Bet you’re hoping to see something even more amazing this year.
College football season is fueled by emotion, inspiring classic speeches and rallying cries. Go out there and win one for the Gipper, Bear Down and Roll Tide, War Eagle and Geaux Tigers, and don’t forget Dutch Meyer’s plea to his players at TCU. “Fight ’em till hell freezes over … then fight ’em on the ice!”
In college football, they fight not just for the championship trophy at season’s end, but for all the trophies in between. Here’s to LSU and Tulane’s Tiger Rag (will it ever be up for grabs again?), Cincinnati and Louisville’s Keg of Nails, Iowa and Minnesota’s Floyd of Rosedale (a statue of a pig, classic) and the Old Brass Spittoon that goes to the Michigan State-Indiana winner.
On second thought, you can just keep that one.
Sometimes they just fight, in a manner of speaking. So to that politically incorrect end, here’s to Oregon and Oregon State’s Civil War; Bedlam between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State; the Holy War between BYU and Utah: and the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate of Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Sometimes, college football seems like it’s just one big party, and one you don’t want to miss. Here’s to the Bayou Classic, the Iron Bowl, the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party (Florida-Georgia), a fine fall afternoon in the Grove at Ole Miss, and the Tournament of Roses Parade.
An entire college football season could, and probably should, be set to music. So here’s a toast dear old Penn, with glasses raised by the 10,000 men of Harvard. On Wisconsin; Hey Fighting Tigers; and hail, hail to Michigan.
Wake up the echoes once again, folks.
College football is back.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.