College football has earned a lot of negative publicity in recent months.

Ohio State, a perennial contender for the BCS title game, was rocked by a scandal in which numerous players received improper benefits. Ultimately star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, one of several suspended Buckeyes, left school.

His coach, Jim Tressel, previously thought to be squeaky clean, resigned in disgrace after it was revealed that he looked the other way and lied about what was happening on his watch.

Another elite program, Southern California, was stripped of its 2004 BCS champion because of NCAA violations. The Trojans had previously been placed on probation because of many transgressions, some that included Saints running back Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman winner-until he was stripped of that award.

Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton resigned, in part, because of major violations committed during the tenure of Lane Kiffin, who was hired by Hamilton to head the Volunteers football program.

The NCAA recently accused North Carolina of violations that included improper monetary and academic benefits for football players.

But despite all the negative goings-on in college football, the sport has one thing going for it that is of paramount importance right now - reliability.

NFL fans are nervously waiting to see when their season will start, and how much might be lost once it does. Though there are encouraging signs that a new labor agreement could be on the horizon, the lockout continues and won’t end until a new deal is in place.

Meanwhile, college football fans count down the days. LSU fans know the Tigers report to work on Aug. 4, and Southern fans know the Jaguars report Aug. 3.

All college football fans are sure the season will begin Sept. 1 and the first Saturday of the season is Sept. 3 when LSU and Oregon meet in Cowboys Stadium in an early marquee matchup.

There will be 35 postseason games beginning Dec. 17, and the BCS Championship will be decided Jan. 9 in the Superdome. Book it.

Even Ohio State and USC fans - and those of other teams with black clouds overhead - can cling to the realization that their teams will take the field as scheduled, will play the season as scheduled, and provide them a full season.

In less than six weeks, football will be back - on college campuses throughout the country. That you can count on.

Regardless of what happens-or doesn’t happen - on Sundays and Monday nights, college football games will be played on Thursday and Friday nights and Saturdays, as well as the occasional Tuesday and Wednesday night. You can count on the high schools also.

Autumn will be autumn, no matter what happens between the millionaires and billionaires that have tried to make themselves bigger than the sport.

There’s a lot to be said for reliability. Just ask any NFL fan.